I could immediately tell my son was worried about something. Sitting at the kitchen table, he closed his laptop when I walked in. “Dad, we need to talk,” was all he said.

I was floored. It was the first time in a long while that he started any conversation with me. And the last time he began this way, it was a conversation I actually don't want to remember.

No one said a word for a moment. Then, he awkwardly held out at an object wrapped in an old sock for my inspection. “Dad, what is this? Are you okay?” he asked.

My son had found my hidden treasure that I had nestled in the back of my sock drawer. The object was a Stan Musial autographed baseball. It's been my prized possession since my eighth birthday. I've hidden it from the light of day for more than 40 years.

Before you start to agree with my soon-to-be college graduate that I've been experiencing a premature senior moment, I have a good reason why I did it. I once read that if the signature is exposed to ultraviolet light, the pen's ink will eventually fade. By hiding the ball in my sock drawer, I knew that I would always have that special note, “To Rick,” as a remembrance of my youth.

For our younger readers, Stan-the-man Musial was a lifelong St. Louis Cardinal baseball player, who represented everything good about baseball to a young kid. He's not my hero, but he's a Hall of Famer who still holds several batting records.

Isn't it funny how some of us hide our treasures? I was so afraid of losing a special piece of my past, that I never shared it with my kids.

I was thinking about this when I started our work on the Influencers of the Concrete Industry. Our industry has been blessed to have so many individuals who have given so much of their time, talent, and treasures in promoting the cause of concrete.

Like my autographed baseball, these leaders are our industry's treasures. In an industry that's so broad and complex, our treasures are often hidden from view. But their efforts aren't. These folks have transformed and influenced our industry in subtle, yet effective ways.

This year, our staff has chosen Thor Becken, president of Cemstone; Bill Holden, president of Block USA; Sidney Freedman, director of architectural sysems, industrial operations, and safety at PCI; Eugene Martineau, chairman of the Concrete Industry Management Steering Committee; and the Committee on National Concrete Canoe Competition.

Each represents a unique, vital portion of our industry and has played a role in both national and local affairs. And as an industry participant for more than 25 years, I've come to respect each of these individuals for the legacy he has left to my son and others just entering this industry. You can read about them beginning on page 32.

I'm certain many of you would like to congratulate each of these Influencers. Please send your comments to me at ryelton@hanleywood.com. We'll gather these notes and give each person a CD containing your comments at the reception. The deadline is Jan. 10, 2008.

We will honor these individuals, along with CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION's Influencer recipients at a reception at World of Concrete.

After all, as you'll notice in our special preshow coverage starting on page 67, WOC 2008 will be the place our industry displays its best innovations, products, and treasures.

Rick Yelton
Editor In Chiefryelton@hanleywood.com