Industry Outlook

Spring 2017

New report shows significant growth in sales for segmental concrete pavement contractors

by David R. Smith


Industry Outlook

Gross sales for segmental concrete pavement contractors in the U.S. and Canada increased by 8.8% in 2016, according to a new report recently released by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI). In all, 218 contractors from all-sized companies participated in the 2017 ICPI Contractor Industry Survey conducted during January for ICPI by Industry Insights of Columbus, OH. Three-quarters of the companies responding to the survey pave residential projects and the remainder place commercial pavements, including housing and publicly funded works.

Most of the respondents to the survey were company owners, presidents or executives. Most companies have been in business 10 years or longer and almost half had annual sales of $1 million or greater with 10 or more employees. Most companies provide on-the-job training on installation best practices as well as on worksite safety and equipment maintenance. 69.1% of contractors required crews to review and participate in formal, documented safety programs, an increase of 4.1% from 2015.

Over half of the companies use wet saws for cutting, dust masks and/or respirators to reduce silica inhalation on job sites. Over two-thirds use wet saws for cutting with a vacuum dust collection system. Almost one-fourth use dry saws for cutting with a vacuum system.

The strengthening economy is making reliable labor harder to find, as reported by almost three-quarters of the respondents. The next most challenging aspect of running their businesses is increasing overhead costs. Almost all respondents have at least one ICPI Certified Concrete Paver Installer on their payroll. Average wages/salaries increased by 3.0% in 2016 and are forecasted to increase again in 2017 by 3.2%.

Man cutting pavers at jobsite.

Since new OSHA rules on reduced exposure to silica dust start in June 2017, the ICPI contractor survey specifically addressed how employees avoid dust exposure when cutting pavers at jobsites.

While all companies install interlocking concrete pavements, the largest companies install most of the segmental paving slabs, likely in commercial projects. The average annual total installed area of pavers is 71,000 sf. Larger companies installed as many as 300,000 sf in 2016.

About three-quarters of all projects are sand-set and 12% are permeable interlocking concrete pavements. To support sales, ICPI Tech Specs are the most often used resource, with ICPI guide specifications a close second. ICPI’s detail drawings are the third most used resource.

While about 13% of all jobs in 2016 required an ICPI certified installer, almost half of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that ICPI certification helps increase business.

Marketing expenses constitute 4% to 5% of revenue and most leads come from referrals, jobsite and vehicle signs, dealers or general contractors.

The report also includes respondent answers about length of construction season, gross sales, salaries and wages, number of employees during the construction season and more. The detailed study provides deeper insight into an industry that installed over half-a-billion square feet of concrete pavers, slabs, and grids in 2016, as well as other paving and wall products. The complete 59-page report is available for purchase for $100 at ICPI members can purchase it at the member discounted price of $25. Shipping and handling are extra.