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Overview | NRMCA Facilities | Staff | Board of Directors

NRMCA History

In 1966 Farewell, NRMCA°«s Leader of First 36 Years Provided Insights Relevant for Today

Decades of Dedication: The NRMCA Story

1930-1939 | 1940-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2005

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association was formally launched on July 10, 1930 in Pittsburgh. Although ready mixed concrete had been used since 1913, the industry grew slowly in its early years, with only a few new plants built around the country. However, as ready mixed demand began to increase, many suppliers who had previously only worked with sand, stone or gravel became active in the ready mixed concrete business. A 1928 editorial in Engineering News Record generated much interest in the up-and-coming industry and caught the attention of the National Sand and Gravel Association (NSGA). The association held a special session during its 1929 annual convention to discuss creating a separate organization for the ready mixed industry, as many of their current members were beginning to deal in ready mixed concrete as well as sand and gravel. With very little known about the industry or the types of problems and challenges it might face, members of NSGA voted the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association into existence.

The purpose of this new organization was 'protecting the welfare and best interests of those engaged in the production and sale of ready mixed concrete.' Any business active in the production of ready mixed concrete was invited to join NRMCA, while suppliers of materials and equipment used by the industry were invited to join as associate members. The association shared office space as well as an executive secretary, Vincent P. Ahearn, Sr., with NSGA at the Munsey Building in Washington, DC.

During the early years, NRMCA's most important concern was dealing with the internal problems of the industry. Old equipment designs and engineering techniques were quickly being made obsolete by new and improved devices and ideas; many ready mix businesses had difficulty keeping up with these rapid changes. Furthermore, there was little collective understanding about the variety of markets that the industry might serve or the potential hazards that might be encountered on the job. The association quickly gained its foothold and by its second annual convention in 1932 was well on its way to developing a plan of action. These early conventions brought members together to discuss such topics as control tests, haulage methods, sales techniques and the effects varied weather conditions had on concrete mixing and placing. They were held in conjunction with those of NSGA and featured a Concrete and Aggregate Show of equipment used in aggregate mining, concrete production and delivery. NRMCA also joined in hosting annual safety contests, a tradition started by NSGA in 1929, the winners of which were honored at the conventions.

With the country in the midst of the Great Depression, the young association very quickly became active in government relations. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 was designed by President Franklin Roosevelt to stimulate the nation's economy by establishing codes for all manufacturing and mining industries. An effort was made to include the ready mixed concrete industry under the act's Code of Fair Competition for the Building Supplies Industry and NRMCA encountered resistance to its claims that the ready mixed industry was a separate and exclusive production business and therefore entitled to this recognition. Because of NRMCA's protestations, the fight for acknowledgment as a separate industry was won and the ready mixed industry was included in the code. Although the act was found unconstitutional and repealed two years later by Congress, an important precedent had been set: the ready mixed industry was a legitimate business in its own right and would thus be treated as such.

 The association continued to speak for the industry while dealing with the ramifications of the Walsh-Healey Act of 1936 and the Federal Wage-Hour Law of 1938. Among other things, these acts set minimum wages and maximum hours for all workers engaged in interstate commerce. Soon after their enactment, questions arose regarding the laws' potential interpretations, limitations and what exactly 'interstate commerce' meant in relation to the ready mixed industry. Field inspectors advised some member companies that they were subject to the law if they purchased cement from another state, even if the final concrete product itself didn't leave the state. The association protested and quickly obtained a ruling from the government that using cement from outside the state in which the ready mixed concrete was produced did not cause the Wage-Hour Law to apply to those ready mixed employees. It was also ruled that ready mixed employees were not subject to the law simply because the concrete they produced might be used to build highways and bridges for interstate travel. The association was active in preventing the use of unfair enforcement methods, which, unless successfully challenged, would have cost the industry great amounts of money in fees and fines.

From the beginning, NRMCA dedicated a great deal of time and effort to concrete engineering and research activities. The association helped support a research laboratory originally founded by NSGA in 1926, which moved from Washington, DC, to the University of Maryland in 1938. The association's first director of engineering, Stanton Walker, was a leader in the field of concrete technology and wrote NRMCA's first publication, Estimating Quantities for Concrete, in April 1931. Walker was active in ASTM and instrumental in the adoption of the first tentative ASTM C 94, Standard Specification for Ready Mixed Concrete, in 1933. It provided for ready mixed concrete to be sold in a fresh and plastic state and was made possible in part because of research performed by NRMCA.

As early as 1932, the association held forums regarding standard methods of testing concrete, quality control and plant operations. NRMCA spent the latter half of this decade continuing to deal with the issues that affected the industry, gathering its members for annual conventions that featured seminars and open forums to discuss the industry's most pressing concerns. The conventions were held in different cities each year, including St. Louis, Chicago, Memphis and Cincinnati. At the 1933 Detroit convention at the Book-Cadillac Hotel, single rooms were rented for $3 a night and doubles for $5.


Nobody seemed unwilling to concede that the ready mixed industry stood on a separate footing, that it had an important job of its own to do, that it was fulfilling a necessary function in carrying out the construction program of the country, and that it was destined to grow and expand pg. 22, 1948 history


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