This bag has traveled far and wide this year, helping its owner promote World of Concrete, America’s main concrete event.
This bag has traveled far and wide this year, helping its owner promote World of Concrete, America’s main concrete event.

I’m still waiting for a call from British Airways. My suitcase was smashed, twisted, and torn as it entered the Hyderabad International Airport in India. They’ve promised to replace it. Even so, I’m still a bit sad. That bag accompanied me around the world this year, as I’ve been called on to promote America’s main concrete event.

Fortunately, the bag held together for my trip home from World of Concrete India, where I shared the WOC experience with more than 3,200 engineers, contractors, and producers. India was the second stop of a run of three developing countries. Before that was Brazil. And then I was in the Philippines during Typhoon Haiyan.

Through these travels, I’ve realized producers and contractors worldwide share very common problems and successes. Quality, labor efficiencies, and owner-relations are themes that permeated my conversations.

At World of Concrete India, I met Prabu Ethiraj, a marketing manager for an Indian ready-mixed concrete producer. Ethiraj told me of his uphill challenge in growing his market. “About 80% of all concrete in my area is site-mixed because our engineers don’t trust the concrete producer,” he told me.

Just across from our booth was Anil Kumar, owner of Preca Solutions India PVT Ltd. He was exhibiting to show the benefits of precast concrete and has invested in Hyderabad’s only hollowcore producer. “I’m going to help build my country with the efficiencies that precast offers,” said Kumar.

In the Philippines, I met a true world of concrete man. Timothy Schroeder was lecturing to a class of QA technicians on the ins and outs of ASTM C-94. Schroeder, a 25-year transplant from Buffalo, N.Y., is credited as being the driving force in introducing fly ash to the Philippines. He’s now a consultant and spends his time helping the industry incorporate ASTM and ACI into its procedures. “The Philippine producers are quickly incorporating better quality into their mix designs, but we need to do a better job of making more economical mixes,” Schroeder said.

But perhaps the most touching encounter was my brief conversation with Stalin Lagman, who works for a Manila-based producer. “Can you help me replace a bound volume of Concrete Construction?” he asked. “In my last move, I lost the 1996 edition.” Lagman had been a reader when our sister magazine was sponsored by the Philippine ACI chapter.

In this month’s issue, we are drawing attention to a few more folks who are working on industry initiatives that could shape your future. These Industry Influencers are not only shaping the North American concrete industry, but thanks to the World Wide Web, and now with our expansion plans for World of Concrete, our efforts are about to shape the whole world of concrete.