The national approach to promoting a lightweight concrete masonry wall system is gaining momentum. Grand Blanc Cement Products, Mich., is one of a small but growing number of concrete block producers that are expanding the traditional promotion method used in the gray block market. United under an Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate Institute (ESCSI) promotion effort, these producers are converting masons, architects, and building owners to a systematic building system that helps the concrete masonry industry compete against metal and frame building systems. Lightweight masonry is not a new concept, but a national promotional effort of a lightweight building system is. Also new is the source of the promotion effort, expanded shale, clay, and slate: the lightweight aggregate producers themselves. "The end result is a construction method that helps contractors reduce workers' compensation claims, provide safer scaffolds, shorten construction time, and provide a building that gives its owner long-term energy savings in lower heating and cooling costs," says John Ries, executive director of ESCSI. In many ways ESCSI found simplifying the message of a higher-quality lightweight CMU was more difficult than they first thought. Over the years they had used numerous marketing approaches to promote lightweight units. The masonry industry's multicustomer approach that uses fragmented messages has placed block producers and masonry contractors at a disadvantage when positioning their product against competing systems including wood and steel, suggests Ries. In our view, the SmartWall banner unites the masonry contractor with the block producer. As a block producer, what Steve Minnock, vice president of Grand Blanc, likes about the SmartWall promotion campaign is that he can market one aspect of the system to each participant in the construction circle. Grand Blanc's success under the SmartWall promotional banner has a direct effect on its business. "In the last three years, we almost doubled our business," Minnock says. TXI, Dallas, compared the SmartWall system with tilt-up construction. In a head-to-head comparison of the construction and annual costs for a large-platform, prototype retail facility in Houston that utilized 50,000 12-inch CMUs, the study indicated that the SmartWall system was a better buy. Keywords: SmartWall, high-performance, masonry, Grand Blanc Cement Products, Minnock, Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate Institute, lightweight, TXI, U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories, Reese, ESCSI, CMU, Consumers Concrete Products, Michigan Certified Concrete Products, Koltcz Concrete Block Co., PyroTherm, HPCMU, Palestine Concrete Tile; Southwest Concrete Products, Blocklite, Orco Block, Featherlite Building Products, Eagle Concrete Products, Revels Brick and Block, Cooper, Larson Cement Stone Co., University of Nebraska-Omaha, CERL