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Focus - Truck drivers and concrete

image James Eric Holeman, Quality Control Manager, Allied Concrete, Houston, TX

HOUSTON - Holeman has been in the concrete industry since 1998. He has served as president of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) Houston Chapter since 2016 and is a member of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA).




What are the “hot button” issues in the concrete industry?
    I think the hottest button is first and foremost for all ready mix companies is having a lack of qualified drivers. 

How would you describe the state of the construction industry in general terms? Have you experienced an increase in business? Slowdown?
    The market is strong now and home buying sales are up.

What factors are driving this increase/slowdown?
    The driving force I think now is there is not enough housing in the Houston area and homebuilders can’t keep up with demand. New subdivisions are popping up to accommodate the influx of residents moving into the Houston area.

How has this increase/slowdown affected your company and how you conduct business?

    This has resulted in growing pains including drivers, sales dispatch and materials. Getting them all has an impact on the industry and on businesses.

What are the major changes in the concrete industry in recent years?
    There have not been many major changes in the industry. Recently we have seen changes in materials and trucking. There has been a push to decrease the cement content to help reduce the carbon footprint.  In addition, TxDOT is continuously making changes to trucking regulations and the industry has to adapt. 

What is the most significant challenge your industry faces? Labor shortages? Other?

    Again, I would have to say it is the lack of qualified drivers. This is affecting all companies across the nation, not just ready mix companies and the Houston market is no different. Finding skilled truck drivers with commercial licenses who are willing to work long hours is difficult. Truck drivers in our field don’t just drive trucks; there is a lot of labor involved in running a ready mix truck. In addition to driving the ready mix truck, drivers release and direct concrete down the truck chute and, in some cases, may have to assemble the cement chutes and clean the trucks and chutes to prevent the concrete from hardening in the mixer, chutes and on the trucks.

How are you dealing with these challenges?
    Changing the way hiring and training is done along with providing attractive benefits will help in the long run and is something that is on-going.

What are the cost increases (if any) relating to your industry?
    The costs of equipment, trucking and materials have the most impact on rising costs in the concrete industry and the construction industry as a whole. 

    Allied Concrete is an integrated aggregates and ready mix concrete company based in Houston. -cmw

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