Trump has it Wrong

By | September 20th, 2016|

The presidential candidate and others have no reason to be so gloomy. IN EARLY APRIL, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump [...]

Sally will Save Us

By | February 5th, 2016|

The Millennials promise to jumpstart housing and the overall economy. ONE TRUISM THAT  came under the magnifying glass during the [...]

Finally, a Recovery!

By | November 5th, 2015|

Profitability has recovered from recession lows, but volume remains at 1996 levels. FOR THE PAST 10 years, I’ve written about [...]

Tepid at Best

By | September 12th, 2015|

Correctly guessing six out of eight predictions over 10 years ain’t bad. LET’S FACE IT: The recovery in the construction [...]

Happy Anniversary

By | July 12th, 2015|

Correctly guessing six out of eight predictions over 10 years ain’t bad. TEN YEARS. WOW. is marks my 10th anniversary [...]

How Consumer Sentiment will Shape 2015

By | March 12th, 2015|

Many factors come together to make the new year bright. LAST MONTH, I wrote about the easing of mortgage qualification [...]

Fighting in the Trenches

By | January 12th, 2015|

2014 NRMCA Industry Data Survey reveals slow progress toward protability. IN WORLD WAR I, the two armies engaged in bitter [...]

A Tectonic Shift in the Mortgage Market

By | November 12th, 2014|

The U.S. went too far in constraining lending. IN THE LAST ISSUE, I wrote about the state of our industry, [...]

The State of the Ready-Mixed Industry

By | September 12th, 2014|

Ready-mix demand will increase to 450 million cubic yards by 2018. AFTER ALMOST two decades as an adviser to the [...]

The Current State of Housing

By | July 12th, 2014|

Much of the economy is recovering, but housing starts face headwinds. AFTER YET ANOTHER slow spring this year, with our [...]

A Jump In Growth

By | March 7th, 2014|

Construction activity should catch up with the rest of the economy this year. A series of interesting year-end economic reports [...]

This Bull is on a Run

By | February 12th, 2014|

The construction sector’s performance in 2013 shows that things are improving. I HAVE BEEN shamelessly bullish on the construction industry [...]

A Pension Plan Solution?

By | June 9th, 2013|

Your retirement security could depend on pension reform. CONCRETE PRODUCERS operating as union shops across America are well-versed in the [...]

What Lies Ahead

By | April 16th, 2013|

Our industry’s recovery will be very robust. For only the second time in 15 years, I was unable to attend [...]

Shoulder to the Wheel

By | December 30th, 2012|

Leaders have no choice but to reach agreement on the Fiscal Cliff. The morning after the election last month, someone [...]

Our Startling Federal Budget

By | October 24th, 2012|

Infrastructure spending helps the nation, the middle class, and the construction industry. When I was a kid, an older neighborhood [...]

On the Upswing

By | August 18th, 2012|

Construction and housing will lead the nation back to prosperity. I have spent the last couple of columns talking about [...]

The Emperor’s New Clothes

By | April 22nd, 2012|

Here are three lessons the recession has taught us. In the last issue, I suggested that a key to our [...]

I Hate it When I’m Wrong

By | February 8th, 2012|

The housing collapse’s serverity and recession escaped many forecasters. I have a wonderful expression, printed on an 8 1/2- x [...]

Housing: How bad for how Long?

By | January 8th, 2012|

Psyches must heal before housing makes a comeback. For a couple of years now, I have been telling our clients [...]

Can You Spare a Dime?

By | September 8th, 2011|

Producers with strong balance sheets can secure loans. Much of this summer was a roller coaster of uncertainty for the [...]

M&A on the Mend

By | August 8th, 2011|

Mergers and acquisitions have slowed with the economy, but have not entirely gone away. It has been a long time [...]

The Housing Recovery: Is this the Year?

By | April 25th, 2011|

More cash sales means stability has returned. Over the co urse of the past two issues, I have written about [...]

Escaping the Housing Slump

By | March 23rd, 2011|

The vacation home market makes an unexpected recovery. In January, I focused on multifamily housing, particularly the rental market, as [...]

Space for Rent

By | January 24th, 2011|

Rental units will drive the housing recovery. LAST YEAR, I wrote about the long-awaited housing recovery and made the argument [...]

Speak Now

By | November 24th, 2010|

The midterm elections could mean growth for our industry. AS I WRITE THIS, our country is winding down after a [...]

Time to Cash Out

By | October 24th, 2010|

Corporate America, not housing, will lead the recovery. THE FALL conference season is in full swing, and I have been [...]

Hardly a Depression

By | August 24th, 2010|

AS I TRAVEL AROUND the country and talk with people across the industry, from producers to material suppliers to contractors, [...]

The Bullwhip Effect

By | April 24th, 2010|

There are strong signs companies are replacing inventories, just what the economy needs to recover. Back in September, I wrote [...]

Going Vertical

By | January 23rd, 2010|

A new type of business strategy is taking hold on this economy. One interesting trend I have been watching during [...]

The History of Recoveries

By | November 23rd, 2009|

This recovery's strength may surprise you. The Current Great Recession, as some call it, has destroyed confidence as much as [...]

Growth Spurt?

By | September 23rd, 2009|

We may experience a stronger recovery than expected. It ’s no secret that we are long-term bulls when it comes [...]


By | August 23rd, 2009|

We will begin a slow turn toward recovery in 2010. In revIewIng thIS year’S tCP 100, I am struck by [...]

Revisiting the Stimulus

By | May 23rd, 2009|

Construction industry unemployment has passed 19%. In FEBRUARY, I speculated on the legislation that was winding its way through Congress [...]

The Loan Default Shakedown

By | April 23rd, 2009|

Here are some pointers for wrestling with your bank. L ast month, I wrote about the credit market meltdown and [...]

Where to Find Credit Relief

By | March 23rd, 2009|

Credit is available if you look hard enough. I read something recently that speaks volumes about what has happened during [...]

Is Infrastructure Spending the Answer?

By | February 23rd, 2009|

As a college student in the early 1970s, I marveled as the nation’s interstate highway system was being completed, less [...]

Finding the Right Balance

By | January 23rd, 2009|

The cement industry is adding capacity in a poor market. I was recently in the office of a ready-mixed concrete [...]

Wall Street: Changed Forever

By | December 23rd, 2008|

Last month, I wrote that we could see a recovery in the construction materials industry by late 2009. But since [...]

My Economic Outlook Redux

By | November 23rd, 2008|

Ready-mix operation may total less than 375 million yards in 2008. I wrote about the subprime mortgage debacle last year [...]

Revisiting My “No Recession” Call

By | October 23rd, 2008|

Several scenarios come to mind for 2009 In February, I wrote a column titled “Calm Down: No Recession.” While I [...]

The China (Cement) Syndrome

By | September 23rd, 2008|

China's thirst for cement is on producers' lips. As we experience one of the concrete industry’s roughest downturns in memory, [...]

The Train Keeps Rolling

By | August 23rd, 2008|

We have a great old passenger train based here in New Orleans called the Sunset Limited. In the 1950s and [...]

Hang on a little longer

By | July 23rd, 2008|

The end of the housing depression may be in sight. Ed Sullivan, the Portland Cement Association’s chief economist, turned from [...]

A Tough Road

By | May 23rd, 2008|

As concrete producers, you deal with aggregates in one form or another. But did you realize what a behemoth the [...]

So You’ve Built it… Now What?

By | April 23rd, 2008|

There is a great word in the dictionary called “pluck,” or a “resourceful courage and daring in the face of [...]

The Looming Tax Dilemma

By | March 23rd, 2008|

Okay, so I have stuck my neck out and called, “No recession in 2008...” Since I wrote that last month, [...]

Calm Down: No Recession

By | February 23rd, 2008|

The concrete industry faces tough questions whenever the economic horizon is cloudy. Managers must decide on the timing for capital [...]

Digging Out

By | January 23rd, 2008|

I recently wrote about how the housing bust has affected our industry and its prospects for 2008. I have been [...]

The Science of Pricing Concrete

By | December 23rd, 2007|

The problem with economic downturns in the concrete industry is that the competitor down the street often doesn’t value his [...]

Rocky Times for Aggregate

By | November 23rd, 2007|

Last month, I reviewed Florida’s aggregates shortage and how it affects that state’s ability to supply the material required for [...]

The Looming Aggregate Crisis

By | October 23rd, 2007|

For years now, California and Florida have led the nation in growth, and there is no doubt that these two [...]

Housing’s Perfect Storm

By | September 23rd, 2007|

Last November, I predicted a stable year for concrete production in 2007, with total yardage “at least as strong as [...]

A Concrete MBA

By | August 23rd, 2007|

Recruiting and training middle management personnel has challenged this industry for decades. Men and women who have grown up through [...]

Into the Mix

By | July 23rd, 2007|

Building a giant cement plant is a lesson in perseverance. This Article Features a Quote by Pierre Villere Like other [...]

Breaking Even

By | July 23rd, 2007|

I am amazed by the number of concrete producers who have never calculated one of the most important indices in [...]

A Look at Tech

By | May 23rd, 2007|

Last month, I wrote a big-picture view of what our industry will look like in 2015 and beyond. I only [...]

A Crystal Ball Redux

By | April 23rd, 2007|

Almost two years ago, I wrote about the trends I believe our industry will experience through 2010. Here is a [...]

Timing is Everything

By | March 23rd, 2007|

Following the stock prices of large multi-national and smaller public domestic construction companies gives a sense of how Wall Street [...]

The Slow Slog

By | February 23rd, 2007|

As many of you know, New Orleans is my hometown, and our national practice is headquartered in a suburb of [...]

Bullish on Building

By | January 23rd, 2007|

This past fall, the U.S. Census Bureau announced with great fanfare that America’s population had surpassed 300 million. I found [...]

Two Ends of the Spectrum

By | December 23rd, 2006|

Exactly one year ago, I wrote about the results of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association Industry Data Survey, and [...]

Housing’s Big Fall

By | November 23rd, 2006|

I remain very bullish on the ready mix industry over the next quarter century. But near-term, such as the coming [...]

A Dizzying Game of Chess

By | October 23rd, 2006|

I have always been fascinated with the game of chess, and played it extensively in my youth. The game has [...]

A Bright Future

By | September 23rd, 2006|

The long expected housing slowdown, predicted in this column and in other business publications has finally taken hold of the [...]

A Look Back and Ahead

By | August 23rd, 2006|

As we head toward the home stretch of 2006, it might be interesting to review some of the predictions I [...]

Boom or Bust: Prosperity or Recession?

By | July 23rd, 2006|

I am not an economist; I am just an investment banker trying to keep my finger on the pulse of [...]

A New Threat

By | May 23rd, 2006|

The Institute for Justice tells the story of Susette Kelo, who dreamed of owning a home that looked out over [...]

Why Fly Solo?

By | April 23rd, 2006|

After determining how much your company is worth (see last month’s column), it the becomes time to ask yourself, “Is [...]

What’s Your Company Worth?

By | March 23rd, 2006|

I regularly receive phone calls or am approached at industry conferences with the same basic question: "What are ready-mixed concrete [...]

Getting the Mix Right

By | March 23rd, 2006|

It’s a matter of discussion at every concrete industry meeting. Wherever producers gather, rumors about consolidation seem to capture everyone’s [...]

Farewell, Mr. Chairman

By | February 23rd, 2006|

Jay Leno loves to call attention to the general dimwittedness of the average person walking on the street with his [...]

Housing’s Hiccups

By | January 23rd, 2006|

At a Rolling Stones concert in San Diego this past fall, fliers were being handed out offering condo buyers a [...]

How The Industry Leaders Outperform The Rest

By | December 23rd, 2005|

Last month, I wrote about the 2005 Industry Data Survey, and I talked about what a terrific tool it is.  [...]

A Healthy Industry… And a Personal Note on Katrina

By | November 23rd, 2005|

The 2005 Industry Data Survey, a terrific tool offered by NRMCA to its membership, is finished and has been circulated [...]

Jane Jetson was Cool

By | October 23rd, 2005|

When I was a kid in the early 60s, I watched Saturday morning cartoons like most of the other kids [...]

Concrete’s Ups and Downs

By | September 23rd, 2005|

There is much to consider when pondering the future of cement prices, which have increased by up to $40 a [...]

Bigger and Fewer

By | August 23rd, 2005|

Have you looked closely at your market recently? All across the country, major and secondary markets are facing rapid changes [...]

Our Crystal Ball

By | July 23rd, 2005|

Bill Allen and I love to debate the big picture. My partner has been expressing accurate opinions about trends and [...]