As the Grateful Dead sang, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” 2023 has been a year of surprises, excitement, progress and unexpected developments.
Going into the first part of the year, I would have bet my last two-dollar bill we would see increased aggregates production in 2023. While the final numbers are not in, it is pretty apparent final calculations will reveal that production is down for the year.
A decrease in total production is typically a sign that companies are having a down year. But nothing could be further from the truth. The publicly traded companies are mostly reporting solid financial results. Healthy inflation-driven price increases have created a beneficial spike in revenue.
This was a ConExpo-Con/Agg year, and it was a monster. More than 139,000 people attended the show. With a gleaming new West Hall and a vast, fully stuffed Festival Lot, I can say without hesitation it was the busiest and most spread out show I have ever attended. And I have been to 10!
If there was a recurring theme at many of the exhibits, it was alternative energy solutions, largely being driven by Big Iron. Reduction of our carbon footprint was in evidence, and with it, the new technologies that will drive the future.
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association did its usual great job staying on top of legislative issues and representing the aggregates industry in Washington, D.C.
Then there were the mergers and acquisitions. At press time, Martin Marietta announced that it had divested its South Texas cement and concrete operations to CRH. This follows Martin Marietta’s purchase of Heidelberg’s western assets, Eagle’s purchase of Martin Marietta cement plants, Heidelberg’s purchase of RMS, the Summit purchase of certain Argos assets, and a plethora of smaller acquisitions. Also, MDU spun off its Knife River segment into its own stand-alone publicly traded company.
Meanwhile, quarry operators at ground zero had their hands full. Labor shortages, MSHA inspectors and production challenges kept everyone on their toes. More and more, producers are relying on technology solutions to address production challenges. Manufactures and service suppliers continue to expand their offerings in this area.
Speaking of manufacturers and service suppliers, once again we finish out the year with our annual Q&A Forum. Head to page 24 for some of the most informative reading of the year.
Mark S. Kuhar, editor