Heidelberg Materials CEO addresses Georgia producers

By |  February 23, 2023

“We’ve talked a lot about automating our facilities and doing more with less,” Ward says. “Frankly, what’s coming is more artificial intelligence and the ability to use data that has sat in our plants. For us, it’s about making sure we get all of that data in our hands and out of the field.”

With people who are willing to work in short supply, Ward says technology presents a tremendous opportunity to address labor shortages.

“We think this is the big opportunity for the digitalization of the industry,” he says. “This is where we all have to be thinking about how we can be more efficient. The people just aren’t there. So, whether it’s in logistics or in our own plant operations, we believe digitalization is the key.”

Market outlook

In addition to talking trends at the Management Workshop & Expo, Ward offered thoughts on key construction markets and what the coming months should offer.

“On the residential side, we’re expecting further weakness,” he says. “In the long term, we’re still very bullish on housing. The U.S. is still underbuilt when it comes to houses. So, while we may have a small decline in housing, we’re still bullish over the medium term.”

According to Ward, Heidelberg Materials is also bullish on commercial construction and it is optimistic about highways and infrastructure.

Vulcan’s Worthington also provided reasons to be optimistic about construction markets during his general session presentation. Worthington pointed out how the average recession lasts about 12 months, and that those stretches are typically followed, on average, by 80-month periods of growth.

“The nice thing is we spend the majority of our careers in these better times,” Worthington says.

For Georgia, now is as good time a time as ever for growth. The state’s producers, after all, continue to exude strength.

“For all of the people who support this industry – from our vendors to the producers – it’s quite a special group here in Georgia,” Ward says. “We’ve got class-act professional quarry companies here in Georgia who are all pulling to find ways to improve the industry and our position in it.”

Ward, too, was encouraged by the record turnout at the GCAA Management Workshop & Expo.

“Supporting this type of event turns out great leaders and makes this industry as powerful and productive as it is,” he says.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

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

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