More than $1 billion1 Oldcastle Inc. | Atlanta
The North American arm of the Ireland-based CRH plc, Oldcastle saw profits decline dramatically in 2008, citing rising energy costs and a drop in demand in the U.S. construction market. The Americas Materials division that makes Oldcastle's ready-mix concrete and aggregate suffered a 13% drop in operating profit from 2007 to 2008, which the company blamed on unusually high energy costs. CRH's chief executive Liam O'Mahoney retired at the end of last year. He began his career with the company in the U.S., becoming the CEO of Oldcastle Materials in 1994. He moved to Dublin to head all of CRH plc in 2000. www.oldcastle.com2 Cemex Inc. | Houston
This had been, since 2000, the largest growing cement producer in the world. But the company is a glaring example of the negative effects of the recent recession. The 2007 acquisition of Australia's Rinker Materials cost Cemex $15.3 billion and greatly increased the company's market share in the U.S. Almost immediately, the company began divesting its assets in an attempt to pay down its debt. This year alone, Cemex owes $5.7 billion, and some analysts have predicted that the company may be out of cash by the end of the year. www.cemexusa.com3 Lafarge North America | Herndon, Va.
North America accounted for 22% of the revenue of Paris-based parent Lafarge S.A. in 2008, down from 27% a year earlier. While Paris devoted most of its resources to developing emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the North American division spent 2008 growing its share in the U.S. by buying quarries and plants in Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. For the fifth consecutive year, Lafarge was listed as one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World in 2008. www.lafargenorthamerica.com4 HeidelbergCement | Allentown, Pa.
Heidelberg vaulted ahead of Holcim in revenue, and sales were up 23.5% in North America due to its 2007 purchase of Hanson. This was the first full year that revenue from Hanson was on the company's ledger. Hanson reported more than $1.2 billion in revenue last year. Discounting Hanson's contribution, the rest of the company saw revenue drop almost 16% in North America, which proved to be the roughest region for Germany-based Heidelberg. Chairman Bernd Scheifele told Construction Europe that Heidelberg's record profits were due to “the exceptionally fast and successful integration of Hanson.” www.heidelbergcement.com5 Holcim Inc. | Dundee, Mich.
After a down year in 2007, sales declined again in 2008, off almost 16%. The company suffered when the Canadian economy began to feel the effects of the faltering U.S. market. The company pointed to the proposed infrastructure spending in the U.S. government's stimulus plan as the only bright spot in the U.S. construction market. In September, Holcim donated 123 acres to a city in Texas to develop a park. www.holcim.com/us6 Vulcan Materials Co. | Birmingham, Ala.
This is the largest U.S.-owned company on the list, and the country's biggest producer of aggregates. Vulcan's revenue grew by more than 10% in 2008, largely because of its 2007 purchase of Florida Rock. Ready-mix concrete accounts for 17% of Vulcan's business, with aggregates taking up the largest share. Vulcan serves 25 states and Mexico. Up to 60% of the $27.5 billion set aside for bridges and highways in the federal stimulus package could go to the states the company serves. www.vulcanmaterials.com7 Colas S.A. | Roseland, N.J.
French parent of Colas Inc., Colas Canada and Barrett Pavement (the North American arm) account for 18% of the company's business. Colas is the world's leader in road construction products and road maintenance. It does business in 45 countries. Road construction, maintenance, and road materials make up 85% of the company's worldwide business. Colas saw an increase of 10% in revenue and a 3.4% increase in profits compared to 2007. www.barrettpaving.com8 Martin Marietta Materials | Raleigh, N.C.
Company continued expanding in 2008 and into 2009, bucking the trend of most concrete and cement producers. Most of the growth came in the aggregates sector, as it bought six quarries in Florida and Georgia from Vulcan in 2008. The purchase was part of an order by the U.S. Justice Department that Vulcan sell certain assets following the acqusition of Florida Rock. In June of 2009 the company bought quarries in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah from Cemex. Aggregate makes up most of Martin Marietta's business. www.martinmarietta.com9 MDU Resources | Bismarck, N.D.
This producer saw a slight decline in its concrete revenue, but an increase in energy profits bumped the company into the Fortune 500 for the first time. MDU Resources is the first North Dakota company to make the list. North Dakota has avoided much of the recession's damage. Its 4.6% unemployment rate is less than half of the national average. Chairman Harry Pearce is also the chairman of Nortel Networks and was formerly the vice chairman and director of General Motors. www.mdu.com10 Buzzi Unicem | Bethlehem, Pa.
Most ready-mix operations are centered around Memphis, Tenn. In 2008, Buzzi bought City Concrete Co., which was owned by U.S. Concrete. City Concrete of Memphis was bought for $7.2 million and was merged into Memphis Ready-Mix LLC. Thanks to purchases like that one and company consolidation, the company's ready-mix profits were up 18.9% in the U.S. even as cement sales fell 10.5%. www.buzziunicem.it