Last week one of our sales managers called me. His neighbor, a concrete production professional, had just learned that his position was being eliminated. “He's a great person and a great parent. I'd really hate to see him have to move from our neighborhood,” said our sales manager. “Is there any way you can help?”

I know how my associate's neighbor feels.

I've had the honor of losing my managerial position four times. Three time I was booted due to a buyout or sale that eliminated my position. Each time the incoming manager said he was dismayed by my loss, and that he'd be happy to provide a great reference. And each time, often due to the help of the incoming firm, I was able to discover an even better opportunity.

As a result, my resume looked great. I had easy-to explain job moves, a clear progression of managerial growth, and well-rounded experience in production settings. Then when things were seemingly going well working at a small family-owned company, times got tough, and I was out. Blood is thicker than performance. That's how I ended up as a writer/editor.

In the last six months, requests for help from concrete production professionals who have been laid off have risen to an all-time high. This indicates we are entering a new employment world whose final map won't be unveiled until our industry readjusts itself to meet the new business climate. And for these professionals who are now searching for a safe harbor, the journey is uncharted.

How can we help? When I was looking for a job, keeping in touch with industry associates was key to my sanity and hope. So I'd like to offer a modern way to keep in contact. I've established Concrete Producer Network as a user group on LinkedIn. This group may become the industry's professional conduit through which producers can reach out to fellow associates. LinkedIn lets people reconnect with former friends, classmates, and business contacts. It offers an employment search function. But most importantly, it can link together people who share similar career interests.

In this issue, we are honoring three industry professionals who are positively influencing the long-term growth of our industry. Each has provided a unique effort that offers others an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. While each is a leader, each honoree exerts his influence in a supportive manner. Bruce Ingram has encouraged industry investment in education. J.C. Roumain has helped us view concrete as a means to create a sustainable world. And Kamal Khayat has provided our marketers and quality control departments important information on how to use self-consolidating concrete.

To start the new year, I urge you to also become an industry influencer by joining our LinkedIn group at www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/2561855/. By participating, you will have the opportunity to influence the success of other concrete producers. You may not receive a special profile in the November 2010 issue, but at least you'll know you have tried to help.

Editor in Chief

ryelton@hanleywood.com