The more things change, the more things stay the same. I thought of that in April when I learned Bill Palmer was returning to Hanley Wood as editorial director for the company's Commercial Construction Group.
In addition to his editorial director duties for The Concrete Producer, Palmer also is editor-in chief of Concrete Construction magazine. He is a professional engineer, writer, editor, and program developer with more than 25 years of experience in the construction industry, specializing in concrete, masonry, building design, and public works. He has a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado (1980) and a master's from the University of Iowa (1982). He is a licensed professional engineer in Michigan and Colorado.
Recently, I spoke with Palmer about his role with TCP and Hanley Wood, in addition to his thoughts on the state of the concrete construction industry.
Bagsarian: What background do you bring to your position as editorial director of TCP?
Palmer: I may not be an expert in concrete production, but I do know concrete and I also understand the publishing business of today, which is so much more than just magazines. I've been working in the concrete and masonry business since 1984 when I started as an engineering editor on Concrete International magazine at ACI. Th at's where I met my wife who was the other engineering editor. Our daughter's favorite toy when she was little was a plastic ready-mix truck. So concrete's in my blood, so to speak. I was educational director at ACI, executive director of the American Society of Concrete Contractors, and editor of Concrete Construction magazine for six years. I am a fellow of ACI and a member of the Educational Activities Committee and the Certification Programs Committee.
Bagsarian: What will be your role with TCP?
Palmer: This group has never had an editorial director, so hopefully I'll be a help and not a hindrance. For TCP, I will mainly take a passive role, providing advice and oversight rather than hands-on participation. I will make sure you have the resources to provide readers with the best information in the business. Bagsarian: How do you view the relationship between contractors and concrete producers? Is it changing? Palmer: The relationship among all of the members of a project team today has changed. The old adversarial approach to construction is a poor substitute for cooperation and collaboration. Smart contractors and producers understand that. And frankly, most of the dumb ones haven't survived the last few years.
Bagsarian: What major issues does the concrete industry face?
Palmer: The capability to use new technology to the best advantage is becoming critical to success as a concrete producer. Communication, information management, and optimization of resources will define this industry, especially in this age of vertical integration. Producers will be required to certify that their mixes meet the specifi cations and will have to work closely with contractors, testing agencies, and owners. The days of sending a truckload of unidentified mud are coming to an end.
Bagsarian: What lessons can the industry take away from the painful recession we have experienced?
Palmer: The producers that have survived the past few years are efficient, smart, well-financed, and well-managed. That's the lesson: If you know how to run a business in good times, when the lean times arrive-and they always will-you'll be ready.