Published March 1, 2006 | March 2006 issue
We've been falling short the last couple years with the Pacific Rim booming as much as it is: China, Singapore, India. So that's really slowing down the imports coming in to the U.S. And getting a new cement facility or more production in the U.S., that's like trying to build a new nuclear plant; it takes a long time. ... At the minimum I think that a short-term repeal of some of the tariffs on imports from Mexico may alleviate the short-term shortfalls in cement production in the U.S. until such time as U.S. companies can make up that difference. ... Most of the bigger companies are making some huge investments in their production facilities to try and alleviate that shortfall, including our own company. We're probably going to be building one of the largest cement production facilities in North America down in Missouri that will be online in about four years.
Roy Sander, Ready Mix Operations Manager
Aggregate Industries—Moorhead, Minn.
I think intuitively that there were certain areas, or certain periods in time in the 2005 construction season, where things were probably pretty nip and tuck, from a demand/supply point. But to say that we were denied cement at a given time, no, that wasn't the case. Did that have an effect on pricing? I'm sure it did. If there's a limited amount of cement relative to what the demand is in North America/United States, I'm sure the effect on pricing is felt by everyone. Now with the supposed increase in supply, I would hope that not only is there less concern in 2006 of the possibility of not getting the cement as we requested, that it not be available. I would hope that that's a lesser concern, and I would actually think and it would seem to make logical sense that that should affect the pricing as well.
John Kloet, President/General Manager
Upper Peninsula Concrete Pipe Company—Escanaba, Mich.
Our Dacotah plant, as you may be aware, supplies the Dakota states and parts of Minnesota, but it also supplies Colorado and Wyoming. And we have a significant production allocation to Colorado. ... The Colorado market can also be reached from Mexico with imported cement. We did it in the past, before acquiring Dacotah, we were shipping to Colorado at the end of the '90s. So if we're permitted to bring in more cement from Mexico into Colorado because of the repeal of the duties, then we will have the ability to ship more cement from the Dacotah plant into the Dakotas and Minnesota market, instead of shipping it to Colorado. So that will be an indirect way to alleviate the shortages of cement there.
Enrique Escalante, President
GCC of America/GCC Dacotah—El Paso, Tex./ Rapid City, S.D.
Well, what I see is happening, the price continually driven up and it just gets passed on to the customer, and there's going to be less home-improvement-type projects. People that are already in existing houses that already have their driveway that might not be in mint condition are going to probably say, 'Well, this is going to be good enough for now until the prices are going to come back down within reason.' ... I am not really aware of the duties and what the situation is there, but I think if any supplies that would be able to be brought in for less rate than we're paying now is going to help. It's obvious that the shortage has been driving up the price for a number of years.
Cory Krizan, Owner
Northland Concrete—Chippewa Falls, Wis.
We really don't deal with anything with cement at all here. We sell Quickcrete, but that's about it. We've been OK with that. It's not really a huge seller here. It's just something that we sell mainly to people who are making fences for fence posts and stuff like that.
Todd Ostrom, Assistant Manager
Mack's Hardware—Fargo, N.D.
I don't believe the repeal of import duties on cement from Mexico will have a significant impact on construction in southwest Montana. For one, the high cost of transportation will presumably keep Mexican cement from being competitively priced. Additionally, aside from some rationing last fall caused by the typical rush to pour concrete before winter, there hasn't been a noticeably sustained problem with supply. In fact, Montana only keeps about 20 percent of the cement that is mined here.
Jeremy Shea, President
Southwest Montana Building Industry Assoc.—Bozeman, Mont.