Our industry needs some big ideas. This is literally life and death for the concrete business as we know it. Today, environmental groups attack the use of carbon-generating cement and rail about the dangers of “cement” trucks on our roads. The wood industry begins to dominate the low- and mid-rise commercial buildings market. Big construction projects are grossly over budget and behind schedule and productivity stagnates. Workers are in short supply and those we have are aging out. These threats invite disruption in ways we may not be able to even guess at today.

Concrete 2029 aims to address all of these problems and more. A group of concrete construction industry leaders met in Salt Lake City on Sept. 7 to set audacious but achievable goals and to build a roadmap for success. At the group’s first meeting last spring, five big goals were identified: improve the workforce, increase productivity, improve the quality and durability of concrete structures, improve the concrete industry’s image, and address possible barriers in the building codes. During several meetings over the coming year, Concrete 2029 participants (and it’s open to anyone who’s interested) will move from these vague goals to very specific actions intended to move the industry forward.

For example, say the Concrete 2029 group concludes that the industry needs 1000 new college-graduate-level workers each year. We would then come up with specific steps and resources to accomplish that goal. Maybe we decide that we need to fund three new Concrete Industry Management programs at universities in Florida, Iowa, and Southern California. Or perhaps we provide scholarships to other existing programs.

But it’s important to understand that Concrete 2029 is not intended to do anything itself. This is not a new organization but rather an industry-wide plan supported by the Strategic Development Council and ASCC. Concrete 2029 will accomplish its goals by begging, bribing, or cajoling existing organizations or programs to take action and will support these efforts with resources. Remember that the concrete industry is about 12% of the North American construction industry. That’s a huge, powerful, multi-billion-dollar group of companies and organizations that employ some very smart people. We are not helpless in the face of a changing world. We can respond and adapt and find solutions to our most vexing problems. This is the start of a very exciting journey!

This was originally published in Concrete Construction magazine.