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American cement industry recognises industry leaders

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World Cement,

At the Portland Cement Association’s annual fall committee meeting, the finalists and winner of the 2014 John P. Gleason Jr., Leadership Award were announced. The award is named after John P. “Jay” Gleason, Jr., who served as PCA president from 1986 until his retirement in 2007. Gleason was known for his consensus building among both members and allies and for his strong leadership skills. The awards honour employees of PCA member companies who have exhibited industry leadership by taking the Association in new directions and are presented in the categories of Business Continuity and Market Development, as well as Young Leaders. The Young Leaders category recognises up-and-coming member company employees under 40 years old and who will lead the cement industry in the future – individuals that demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong commitment to PCA and the cement industry.

The following people received recognition as finalists:

Bruce Blair, Vice President of Product Performance for Lafarge North America, finalist: Business Continuity category

Blair is a leader in industry standards development, industry sustainability initiatives, research, and addressing technical issues to improve business continuity. He served as chair of the PCA Durability Subcommittee, leading PCA efforts to address alkali-silica reactivity, sulfate attack, and join deterioration in pavements.

Blair is currently co-chair of the Product Standards and Technology Committee, providing key guidance in the development and use of Portland-limestone blended cements and their acceptance by DOTs and specifiers.

He is actively engaged in the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub program, working to steer the program to better address the program to better address industry needs and opportunities. Blair works tirelessly with standards organizations, industry allies, and specifiers to advance PCA technical initiatives.

Spencer Weitman, President of National Cement Company of Alabama, Inc., finalist: Business Continuity category

Weitman has been a long-time advocate for the cement industry and an integral part of the PCA-Southeast Region from its founding days; he has worked tirelessly to further the industry.

When National Cement announced suspension of its plan to build a US$350 million new kiln in Alabama, it became a case study for US House of Representatives republicans in how environmental rules kill jobs. National Cement estimated it would take approximately 1500 construction workers to build the kiln and approximately 20 additional employees to operate it on a permanent basis.

The Republican leadership in the House recruited Weitman and a dozen other private-sector job creators to demonstrate how American employers are being hampered by excessive Washington regulations.

In August 2011, then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) named the red tape facing Weitman and National Cement to a list of “Top 10 Job-Destroying Regulations.”

Ernie Peterson, Regional Sales Manager for Ash Grove Cement Company, finalist: Market Development category

Peterson formed alliances with several partner organisations and was vital to the passage of the “Build Nebraska Act” that dedicates one-quarter of existing sales tax to transportation. Working with PCA-North Central Region, concrete and cement industry participants were involved during the entire process, including attendance at public hearings and the contacting of legislators and the governor.

As a board member of Nebraska AGC and Better Nebraska Association, Peterson raised the visibility of this critical opportunity early on. This included financial support and management of professional lobbying; creation of a “Road Facts” book utilised at public hearings; a presentation at the AGC Annual Convention; and creation of Better Nebraska Association website. Peterson co-authored the Better Nebraska Association website.

Scott Palmer, Manager of Market Development for Salt River Materials Group, finalist: Market Development category

Palmer has been a tireless champion for the use of concrete walls systems as a resilient and energy efficient technology for single-family homes. Most recently, he has spearheaded work with Meritage Homes to value-engineer HercuWall® and establish a (6) home pilot project in Goodyear, AZ. The result is for the first time ever a major national home builder is offering a concrete wall system for the same price as wood.

In addition to the Meritage Partnership, Palmer worked with Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona to build the Greenbuild Demonstration Home featured at the 2009 Greenbuild Convention; co-founded the Smart Home Alliance to promote sustainable, energy efficient residential construction with concrete; partnered with other local affiliates to construct another demonstration home in Sedona, Arizona featuring HercuWall®; and was a founding board member of the Green Builder Coalition.

Chip Hussey, Vice President of Cement for Argos USA, finalist: Market development Category

Hussey is a key part of the Argos leadership team and was instrumental in the seamless transition of Lafarge southeastern assets to Argos in 2012. Through that transaction, Argos expanded its cement territory to include Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. In 2014, Argos expanded its southeastern presence through the acquisition of Vulcan Cement and Ready Mix assets in Florida.

In addition to his duties at Argos, Hussey serves on the Board of Directors for the Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

Jim Mack, Director of Market Development of Cemex USA, finalist: Market Development category.

Mack has been has been a critical component in PCA paving advocacy efforts. His research and analysis has been integral to past and ongoing life cycle cost analysis research, the integration of MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub work into advocacy, and the melding of technical engineering aspects with financial aspects.

Time and again, Mack has been an industry representative at meetings with such agencies as the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Highway Administration, and the US Government Accountability Office to illustrate concrete’s LCCA benefits.

He is also active in sending the message to local advocacy arenas.

Read about the winners of the three categories here.

Adapted from press releases by

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