John Nash
John Nash

I believe it's safe to say that people who are different and stand out from others for whatever reason fascinate the rest of us. I'm not referring to oddballs on reality TV or athletes who play to the cameras after making a good play.

Rather, I'm speaking about people who sometimes have a knack for greatness, creative thinking, or instituting change that makes life better for the rest of us. John Nash is one of these people.

Born in 1928, he started conducting experiments when he was 13, and he attended classes at Bluefield College in West Virginia while still in high school. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology when he was only 20 years old. His specialty was mathematics and game theory. He has studied and taught at some of our best colleges and universities: Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton.

If that were the entire story, Nash would have received little notoriety outside of academic circles and I wouldn't be writing about him. But you are probably more acquainted with him that you realize. His life was the subject of a book and later an Oscar-winning movie, A Beautiful Mind. Nash suffers from schizophrenia and has been admitted to hospitals and received medication to combat his condition. Although not cured, his condition has improved and he was a keynote speaker at a conference as recently as 2007, when he was 79 years old.

The concrete industry has its own beautiful minds, and we have recognized them in our annual Industry Influencers feature you can find on page 20 in this issue. There is no shortage of influential leaders in our industry, and it's always difficult narrowing the list and making the final selections.

This year, we honor Jerry Larson, executive director of the Indiana Ready Mixed Concrete Association, for being at the forefront in promoting roller-compacted concrete. Bill Allen became a consultant after running his own ready-mix business and taught the importance of reliabale data and the industry's cost structure. Finally, D. Gene Daniel, another former owner of a ready-mix business, has become the voice of the small producer, as he continues toiling on ACI and ASTM committees. I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I have.