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Innovative Technologies Forum

Invited companies presented transformative technologies that save time and money while increasing productivity in the production plant or on the job site. Presenters included Permaloc, Solidia Technologies and iActEx. Permaloc presented research, practice and cost savings with edge restraints in PICP construction using geogrids that eliminate edge spikes. Solidia Technologies explained accelerated product curing with carbon dioxide sequestration plus a new low-carbon emissions cement. iActEx provided a live demonstration of a paver production plant using their software to identify and address formerly unseen downtime of production line components and processes. To qualify for presenting at the forum, companies submitted an application and provided a presentation in advance reviewed by ICPI committee members for relevance and educational content without commercial touting. 

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2014 HNA Installer Champions

Integrity Landscapes from Bismarck, ND, was declared the 2014 HNA Installer Champion, narrowly beating last year’s champion by just 3 points. Team members included Brandon Bailey, Cameron Cook and David Cross. Integrity Landscapes received a prize package valued at approximately $10,000 which included $1,000 cash, an iQ360 14-in. masonry saw with fully-integrated dust collection plus accessories and a Weber MT CF3 Pro forward plate compactor. Integrity Landscapes will have their name engraved on the HNA Installer Champions Cup and will have full bragging rights until next year’s championship.

Decorative Paving, Co. from Loveland, OH, came in second place. The team included Daniel Krammer and Zach Goodspeed. The third place team was Cooper Paver, Inc. from Mannington, NJ. Team members included Bob Cooper, Adam Cooper and Ed Moniot.

HNA and the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute thank all participants and spectators for making the event a success. Huge thanks go to the companies that donated materials and prizes: Bon Tools, iQ Power Tools, Pavestone, PaveTech, Pine Hall Brick, SRW Products and Weber MT. Thanks also goes to the sponsors: Alliance Products, Belgard, iQ Power Tools, Pavestone and Weber MT.

Next year’s HNA Installer Championship promises to be even bigger and better! Those companies wishing to test their skills in a race against the clock for a chance to be crowned the HNA Installer Champion, please visit http://www.hardscapena.com/hna/installerchampionship for eligibility, rules and information.

The Hardscape North America Installer Championship tests the skill, dedication and passion of hardscape contractors in North America. Each team that competes in the championship has their understanding of industry best practices and guidelines, safety, quality and craftsmanship tested in a race against the clock and other top installers in the industry. This championship determines the best of the best in the hardscape industry.


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Green Alleys of St. Louis

Taking cues from the successes of projects in cities like Chicago, St. Louis has installed several green alley projects since 2007 utilizing permeable pavers and interlocking concrete pavement. The Tower Grove Heights Green Alley Paver Project was completed in two phases from 2011 to 2014. It updated 400-year-old alleys with permeable pavers through a federal Community Development Block Grant, a state Department of Natural Resources grant, and local tax-based funding. PICP was used to reduce stormwater runoff and maintain the historic appearance of the alley, originally laid in brick over clay.

In 2009, the City of St. Louis commissioned a Pilot Green Alley project using donated materials and labor. Three alleys were installed that year with pervious concrete, porous asphalt and PICP. The performance of the city-owned alleys is being evaluated over time. All of these are built over open-graded aggregate reservoirs, allowing stormwater to drain through the system per the City’s specifications.

“We helped fund a portion of them because of the experimental nature of the materials at the time,” says John Grimm, of the Metropolitan Sewer District. St. Louis also used tax funds for the $41,000 Cherokee Green Alley Concrete Project, a 150-ft long by 12-ft wide alley completed in 2009. The pilot project’s outcomes are still being tested, with MSD conducting a report on flow measurements scheduled for completion at the end of 2015.

Green alleys are not unique to St. Louis, but the city’s history and layout with centuries-old alleyways and roads lends to more paver installations in the future, Mr. Grimm says. “There are some suburbs that have alley arrangements, but they are not as prevalent,” he says. “It’s mainly particular to the city.” 

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Tech Specs Update

The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) released three new Tech Specs and updated another. The Tech Spec titles and content summary are provided below. All publications can be downloaded at www.icpi.org. ICPI has published its Tech Spec series of technical bulletins since 1995.

Tech Spec 16: Achieving LEED Credits with Segmental Concrete Pavement consists of a complete rewrite covering how segmental concrete paving products can support earning credits under the latest version (v4) of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) sustainable rating system for buildings. The 20-page document presents excerpts from the LEED BD+C Reference Guide and comments on the role segmental concrete pavements can play in support of earning credits.

Tech Spec 19: Design, Construction and Maintenance of Interlocking Concrete Pavement Crosswalks provides guidance on selecting and detailing assemblies based on anticipated traffic loads. The assembly choices are based on full-scale load testing and evaluation by the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology. The eight-page bulletin covers assemblies using aggregate, stabilized and concrete bases using sand and bitumen-sand setting beds for the concrete pavers. Specify interlocking concrete pavement crosswalks, bases and edge restraints with more reliable performance.

Tech Spec 20: Construction of Bituminous-Sand Set Interlocking Concrete Pavement provides a well-illustrated and thorough description on how to construct this durable system for sidewalks, crosswalks, intersections and streets. The eight-page bulletin outlines the tools, materials and steps for bitumen-set concrete pavers on a concrete base. This application is essential in high traffic, urban areas subject to buses and trucks. The text is aimed at contractors while presenting a procedure of high interest to civil engineers, landscape architects and architects. The bulletin accompanies ICPI’s guide specifications and detail drawing on bitumen-set applications.

Tech Spec 21: Capping and Compressive Strength Testing Procedures for Concrete Pavers informs paver manufacturers, paver testing laboratories and specifiers on recent sweeping changes to the compressive strength testing in ASTM C140: Standard Test Methods for Sampling and Testing Concrete Masonry Units and Related Units. The eight-page bulletin provides step-by-step cutting and refined capping procedures for crushing paver specimens using flow charts and photos to help testing labs produce consistent compressive strength test results. The bottom line on the changes to ASTM C140 is it now adjusts compressive strength results from concrete pavers with different thicknesses, thereby eliminating the confusion resulting from lower strengths from thicker pavers.

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David Quinn, ASLA

David Quinn, ASLA, Sales, Angelus Block, Los Angeles, CA

 

ICPI’s efforts include the development and support of industry research, technical resources, university courses, specs and standards, contractor training, and marketing. Looking back at the Institute’s 20-year history, which of these efforts have been the most successful?

In looking back at the 20-year history of the ICPI and my own 18-year history in the paver industry, I would say the most successful effort has been in the technical resources from ICPI.

Any new person to this industry can quickly understand the advantages, performance, and function of ICPs and PICPs by reading and understanding the technical resources. This allows them to confidently carry that information to market, and provide the designer with valuable information instead of a sales pitch.

I have used the Tech Specs [technical bulletins] many times to provide information from ICPI, giving designers confidence that they are specifying the product and system correctly. Recently, the industry research has been very successful in providing information to engineers, so that they may specify the products with confidence. This has particularly been of value on PICPs where engineers have been slow to embrace this new technology and the research has been able to validate the ICPI’s design recommendations.

Another major benefit that ICPI provides is access to industry people and information, which have allowed for me to become a technical resource to local designers. There’s enormous advantage in talking with other members and finding out what trends they see, and what’s been successful in their markets.

We are all aware of the widespread use of segmental pavements in Europe compared to North America, understanding that there are centuries of tradition behind this widespread use. What do you think will accelerate acceptance here in North America?

For pavers to accelerate acceptance in the market there has to be an understanding of life cycle value, particularly in the municipal and commercial market by the decision makers and engineers. As more municipalities and commercial projects use programs such as LEED or building codes like CALgreen (California’s Green Building Code) which have a greater focus on life cycle, they will begin to see that they are not only green in the environmental sense but in the green financially with lower maintenance costs, lower repair costs, and longer performance with the use of ICPs and PICPs.

From a personal perspective, what are the main benefits of your ICPI participation?

The number one benefit to participation in ICPI has been access to industry people and information that has allowed for me to become a technical resource to the local designers. Also there is the benefit of talking with other members and finding out what trends they see and what has been successful in their markets.

Where do you see the industry in another 20 years?

In 20 years I see the paver industry having a larger share of the municipal and commercial markets. ICPs and PICPs will continue to prove their value as durable, functional pavements and with advancements in concrete technologies they will be more efficient, cost effective and environmentally responsive, leading to their greater acceptance and usage.

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Dave Hein, P. Eng., VP and Principal Engineer

Dave Hein, P. Eng., VP and Principal Engineer, Applied Research Associates, Toronto, ON

 

What trends have you seen in the past few years that could contribute to the increased use of concrete pavers in North America?

Definitely we’re seeing stormwater management and environmental awareness as major trends that are driving increased use. Sustainability is a big topic right now in all industries, and that makes it easy to talk about all the benefits that concrete pavers offer when you consider their advantages in terms of sustainability.

Also, I think some cities are beginning to see the differences between using asphalt and concrete versus using permeable pavers, and they’re hearing about the success other cities have had with pavers. The performance with a surface like asphalt is affected by how it’s applied, and that can be frustrating for city engineers. Also, you can’t test concrete or asphalt before you put it on a roadway, the way you can with pavers. So, I think all of those add up to more awareness and higher usage.

Another big trend could be the use of pavers in countries like Bolivia and China, where it’s relatively inexpensive to get into the business and you can lay the pavers by hand. That’s leading to major employment opportunities, especially for women in South America. As local municipalities begin to see that kind of usage increase, I think it’ll have an effect on what happens in North America.

From a personal perspective, what are the main benefits of your ICPI participation?

My history with the ICPI goes back 20 years, when I was approached by David Smith while I was at a conference. We talked about whether I would write a technical manual, because they wanted to use paving stones for an airport. I thought it was a crazy idea, but I did it anyway. I got input from ICPI members and technical folks and it turned out to be a pleasure working for these guys.

I think back then and now, they’re just out there trying to get the word out about using more paving stones. They’re meticulous in ensuring that standards are high. The bottom line is the barrier to get into this industry is not that high — you can buy a machine and off you go. It’s an exciting, accessible industry, and that’s creating numerous companies and each has its own agenda, but ICPI brings them all together. 

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What’s the Right Business Structure for You?

Different contractor business structures provide the right one for each business development stage. Each offers money-making opportunities, but the space between each and the money made can decrease in the transition from one to the next. Emerging from contractor networking sessions that specifically track this from thousands of data points, these natural transitions shown in the diagram below follow company sales growth. This article covers the advantages and barriers at each stage, and some tips on what’s required for success in order to move to the next one. 

porter2Professional Tradesperson: This contractor works in the field, charges high prices and gets most work by referral. This contractor model typically has $200 to $300k in sales. The owner works as foreman, has one or two other employees and does a few estimates at night or on the weekend. Because he still is on each and every job, he does not need a lot of systems or record keeping. He or she also does not need a lot of advertising, as he does not have to sell very many jobs to keep busy. He also does good work so referrals are strong. This model works for those who like to work with their hands and don’t like to manage many people.

There are several drawbacks to this model. First, it is hard to stay small because when doing good work and just earning wages, business can grow quickly. When this owner stops working on the job the profit numbers no longer work.

Another mistake is most contactors working at this level don’t charge enough. They basically charge a little above normal wages, say $25 to $35 an hour, and never make it financially. Such a low rate just does not cover all costs. They need to be charging $40 to $45 an hour or more. For example, the average cost to operate a heavy duty pick-up truck including gas, insurance and replacement cost is $14,000 a year. Working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year equals 2000 hours, so a pick-up truck costs $7 an hour. That’s why many contractors of this size drive older trucks because they do not build replacement costs into their prices. There are many other unrecovered costs such as disability insurance and retirement savings. 

Home Alone Contractor: This contractor does about $500k to $1m in sales with administrative help and at an inexpensive (home) facility. This contractor begins developing key lead field people while the owner sells projects and oversees them. The biggest mistake contractors make at this level is having inadequate administrative help. Contractors tend to have an inexperienced family member or a $10 to $12 an hour employee who just answers the phone. Some contractors by nature tend to be disorganized so a strong, organized administrative person can help by keeping the books, do the job costing, screen and set appointments, order material, call customers about colors and schedule deliveries. The right person will not need to be told what to do but will rather take charge and guide the owner. A contractor working in this setting needs a highly skilled person at $16 to $18 hour for 20 hours a week rather than an inadequate, full-timer at $12 an hour.

Because this company has only two or three crews, the owner can still check jobs regularly. With the administrative person at the office, the owner can spend much time selling. This type of contractor can make $100k to $200k salary and profit.

Common mistakes for this type of contractor other than having a poor administrative person is to start adding salespeople and production managers without competent office staff and systems. This results in much less profit and disorganization sets in quickly. Without a plan to develop lead people and some preplanning, the owner can become a glorified job site babysitter and material picker upper. If you want to make $50 an hour, you have to do task work that pays $50 an hour.

Owner-Driven Organization: This contractor does $1m to $1.5m in sales and is the most profitable model. This model is much like the Home Alone model except the owner is a high energy sales machine and the administrator is extremely strong and manages details. Strong foremen have been developed so jobsite babysitting is minimized. One senior field person might help schedule, do warranty work etc. but they still spend enough time in the field to pay for themselves. This type of contractor can make $200k to $400k a year and can be extremely profitable, but this is all based on owner capacity.

When these types of owners tap out their time and capacity, begin to add assistants, project managers, salespeople, etc., profits do not grow with this expansion. Many of these owners simply want to sell and do not have the personality or will not take the time to manage other managers. Again our advice for this type of owner is to have disability insurance and at least someone in the organization who can measure, estimate and quote jobs should he become sick. Frequently, this type of business makes no more than $1.5m and $2.5m in sales.

Contractor Management Team: This business will have sales between $2.5 to $50m and success depends on the owner’s ability to manage managers. Owners of this type of business must realize that their job is no longer being a star but rather about their ability to create stars. This business will have managers over departments and/or branches, or a controller who can maximize IT and constantly works to build a field organization to do the work. Owners who appreciate the analytical nature of business tend to do better and enjoy this type of business. This organization is an institution and not as dependent on the owner to drive sales. Many contractors strive to get to this point but a lot of them do not have the patience or personality to manage this type of business. Time and commitment is required to build an organization that will be profitable at this level.

In summary, my observations come from 30 years of contractor consulting and I have the data to prove it. Allowing growth to push beyond the maximum profit level of each business type creates a painful transition to the next business structure with more stress and less profit. If you would like less stress and more profit while getting to the next level, call me at 800 864-0284.

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Permeable Design Pro Upgrade

Permeable Design Pro, a software application for hydrologic and structural design of permeable interlocking concrete pavement, now features CAD drawing output (see example drawing). Drawings are generated by the program after calculating the subbase thickness for water storage and subgrade infiltration, as well as the required subbase thickness to support anticipated traffic. The program automatically selects the thicker of the two subbase solutions and presents the CAD drawing from a menu selection. The drawing can include an underdrain, geotextile, and an impermeable liner if no infiltration into the soil subgrade is desired. The CAD drawing also specifies the height of the underdrain outlet, if the designer indicates this in the program, as a means to detain some water for infiltration.

Also, the user can modify the CAD drawing by changing the subbase thickness and the underdrain pipe diameter, as well as the presence or absence of geotextile or an impermeable liner. The CAD drawing can be saved as a .dwg file for use in project drawings or submittals.

Permeable Design Pro can be downloaded from www.permeabledesignpro.com for a 30-day free trial. The purchase price is $190 per license with a discounted price of $95 for design professionals and ICPI members.

Permeable Design Pro

Permeable Design Pro software now features CAD output of design solutions for permeable interlocking concrete pavement.

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Ed Fioroni, VP of Marketing

Ed Fioroni, VP of Marketing, Pavestone, Dallas, TX

 

How has ICPI helped to accelerate the acceptance and use of concrete pavers?

ICPI has been outstanding at providing technical support and standards that we all have to follow, which puts all manufacturers on equal footing.

Another major contribution in accelerating use of concrete pavers has been ICPI’s strong representation with government, to make sure that laws don’t affect the industry in a negative way. For example, keeping an eye on potential legal issues that might crop up from laws that mandate silica content in products.

Thirdly, the organization has come up with some strong marketing ideas that manufacturers can use, especially in getting architectural engineers and city planners to listen to us. That’s helped to get a foothold in the commercial and municipal arenas.

All of these are important because when you look at Europe, there’s such widespread use of segmental pavements there compared to North America, but they have the advantage of history. Pavements have been used there for centuries, and people are used to seeing roads and other surfaces with pavers, which leads them to want that same look for their homes or businesses.

We don’t have that kind of widespread use that inspires people to ask for pavers for their own projects, so ICPI efforts become incredibly helpful for creating awareness, and providing standards that advance the industry forward. Their efforts are an asset for all of us as we try to duplicate Europe’s success. The only way we can get anywhere close to their level — and I’d be happy with even half their square-foot-per-capita numbers — is to keep increasing awareness. I think we’re on the right track, with ICPI thinking strategically.

From a personal perspective, what are the main benefits of your ICPI participation?

Obviously being a professional research guy, I really enjoy the exchange of information that you can have as an ICPI member. You meet people in the same industry at events, meetings, dinners, and you have the chance to talk with top contractors and distributors. That creates benefits you can’t even explain. As a past chairman, I think it’s made me a better person. I learned to be a better leader through that experience.

What trends have you seen in the past few years that could contribute to the increased use of concrete pavers in North America?

The fact that we’re environmentally friendly will make permeable pavers major for us. The government will be mandating zero runoff and permeable pavers offer tremendous opportunity for meeting that goal. Residential should be important, since pavers are going into patios, pool decks, and outdoor living. What we need to do is help homeowners see pavers as an option for their driveways because that’s a big area where we can increase awareness.

Where do you see the industry in another 20 years?

Our goal will be to duplicate European success, and to go in that direction. The only way we can get that done is by increasing awareness in the commercial world, because once we do that, residential will follow. I think we’re on the right track, and that we’ve changed our way of thinking strategically. But pavers in the U.S. are still thought about in an aesthetic way, and in Europe, it’s considered functional. So, in the next 20 years, we need to be closer to getting people to think that way here.

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Chuck Taylor, Commercial Hardscape Advisor

Chuck Taylor, Commercial Hardscape Advisor, Oldcastle, Dayton, OH

 

What advice would you offer the next generation looking to follow in your footsteps?

About 30 years ago, I was just starting out in this industry and I had a friend ask me why I’d chosen to get into this field. I told him that it seemed to be an excellent industry for young people because it was still growing, and it had huge potential.

Now, when I’m not so young anymore, I can still say the same thing. I believe that this industry offers a great opportunity to build a future, not just for yourself but also for your family. My sons are in the business, and my nephew, and I expect the generation after them will also consider being in this business because that opportunity for growth still remains.

In addition to making a living and being in a solid industry that’s on a growth track, I’d tell anyone looking to follow in my footsteps to remember that this is a field that can make you proud. I know that I’m proud to be involved in it. When I started, my mission wasn’t just finding a career, I wanted to make a difference in the world, and I feel like I’ve done that. I’m still doing that. This is a way to address storm water management, and create more sustainable systems that are important for clean water. I look forward to seeing the impact of the next generation.

We are all aware of the widespread use of segmental pavements in Europe compared to North America, understanding that there are centuries of tradition behind this widespread use. What do you think will accelerate acceptance here in North America?

Well, the European culture has definitely had a head start, since they have so many roads built with stone. If you look at a place like Holland, with its high water tables, they use segmental pavers that can be moved every 10 years. In general, Europe just tends to be more sustainable in their thinking. I don’t think we’ve embraced pavers as a utility here the way they do in Europe, to many people here, pavers feel more like an accessory.

Another challenge is that asphalt here has always been popular because it’s cheap, but the problem is that it’s expensive to maintain. We just haven’t had the level of educational awareness needed here, but people are beginning to recognize that sustainability is an issue.

How as ICPI helped to accelerate the acceptance and use of concrete pavers?

I think ICPI has endeavored to be the voice for the industry, and they’ve provided research and technical papers that have advanced the industry. That’s important because we need a third party that’s not biased — it’s not like speaking to a manufacturer and hearing them talk about why their product is superior or necessary. ICPI has provided a format to teach contractors, and has developed programs specifically for residential and commercial markets.

What trends have you seen in the past few years that could contribute to the increased use of concrete pavers in North America?

I think stormwater management is going to be important, because we have the right system for that, and you’re seeing more municipalities making that a priority. I think the growth of our industry will be in that arena. Also, ports will be an area for expansion, like the Panama Canal. We should also see growth in the residential market. All of these are factors that builders and developers need to look at for new opportunities.

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