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Assessing the aggregate industry as 2020 nears its end

By |  December 3, 2020
Headshot: Stewart Petrovits, Route 82 sand & Gravel

Petrovits

Cautious optimism is the industry sentiment of the day, with aggregate producers generally relieved with their 2020 outcomes and their attention turning to what a new year might bring.

Producers identified the Nov. 3 election as a turning point for their businesses, with many late in the year still trying to determine what construction will look like in 2021. Still, with a pandemic inducing a severe recession and a recovery that could take years, producers end 2020 with a sense of gratitude that operations remained open and business largely continued.

“I am still amazed at the overall resiliency of the construction and aggregates industries to find a way to survive in these difficult times,” says Stew Petrovits, an owner and vice president at Route 82 Sand & Gravel in New York state.

Looking ahead

Producers across America largely support that sentiment, but they also fully realize additional obstacles will pop up in 2021.

“2020 has been a pretty good year considering everything that is going on in the world,” says Seth Ames, whose responsibilities at New Hampshire-based Twin State Sand & Gravel include sales, special projects and IT systems administration. “However, if the pandemic continues into next year, I have serious concerns about what the economy will be like.”

Ames is far from the only producer with concerns about next year. Just about everyone with a stake in the industry has at least a few worries.

Photo:

Wise

“I’m still cautiously optimistic that 2021 could be another good year,” says Travis Wise, vice president at Wisconsin-based Wingra Stone. “There are a lot of things that need to fall in place. If we get COVID under control, get an infrastructure bill and get some of the uncertainty in the market cleaned up, I think that would [give] a lot of these projects that are on hold the green light, and we could have another good year.”

Clay Albright, vice president at Caldwell Stone Co., has a similar outlook in his home state of Kentucky.

“It’s normally difficult to look ahead year after year for us,” he says. “It will be even more difficult given the COVID-19 situation. We are cautiously optimistic that private (non-government-funded) work will continue to be strong for us.”

Wm. D. Scepaniak’s John Scepaniak, meanwhile, believes 2020 presented a test – one that, if passed, should position companies rather well in the years to come.

Headshot: John Scepaniak

Scepaniak

“This year was maybe an overdue gut check for us as a country, as an industry [and] as an economy to see what we’re really made of,” says Scepaniak, project manager at Minnesota-based Wm. D. Scepaniak. “How good are we? Anybody can make money in an excessively strong economy, but I think [2020] helped a lot of companies reflect internally, recognize some issues and try to resolve some of those issues. I think there are a lot of companies within our industry that are learning about themselves.”

And those learning moments present opportunities for growth, Scepaniak says.

“Times may get a little lean in 2021, but remember we’re playing the long game here,” he says. “A lot of our success is going to be determined by how we look internally and solve problems throughout these leaner periods.”

Featured image: P&Q Staff

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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