From Richard Szecsy, vice president, new product development/risk management, Lattimore Materials Co., McKinney, Texas.

As a concrete producer in a very competitive marketplace, I am always trying to devise and implement new and advantageous strategies for marketing and pricing.When I read the most recent "Concrete Returns" article ("The Science of Pricing Concrete," December 2007), I was a bit shocked and dismayed.

While the author concedes the fact in the fifth paragraph, "I realize that we exist in a world where the producer who submits the lowest price per yard usually wins the job." The last paragraph makes a contradictory statement, "...develop a marketing approach that convinces the buyer that your quality, service, and reputation are worthy of a higher, fairer price."While I don't disagree with this philosophical statement, the reality is much, much more difficult.Don't misunderstand. Yes, there is hard work, and it takes a serious financial and resource commitment to create and implement a marketing strategy. In fact, such a statement is akin to a branding strategy as applied to ready-mix concrete. There is no doubting that ready-mix companies can develop brand recognition (and possibly reputation), but brand quality? Brand service? While I don't dismiss the power of a good and well-organized branding campaign, I think we need to consider the actual marketplace conditions that are in direct opposition to such a strategy.The statement, "...develop a marketing approach..." is overly simplistic, and unrealistic, given the actual conditions that exist in the market.While there is opportunity, we need to make sure that the resources expended on such an effort are not wasted. . .click here to read the complete letter (Word document)