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

Fortunately, the bag held together for my trip home from World of Concrete India. I shared the WOC experience with thousands of engineers, contractors and producers. India was the second stop of a three developing country expo run. Before that was Brazil. Then I was in the Philippines three weeks ago during the typhoon.

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

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

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

In the Philippines , I met a true 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 behind the introduction of fly ash to the Philippines. Now a consultant, Schroeder spends his business time helping the industry incorporate ASTM and ACI into their business procedures. “The Philippines producers are quickly incorporating better quality into their mix designs," he says. "But we need to do a better job of making more economical mixes."

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? In my last business move, I’ve 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 be about to shape your future. These 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, their efforts and ours are about to shape the whole world of concrete.