PACA structure proves beneficial for Pennsylvania producers

By |  March 24, 2021
The beauty of the Pennsylvania Aggregates & Concrete Association’s (PACA) staff is that it serves as an extension of PACA member company staffs, says Masters RMC’s Bob Housel. Photo: Peter Vlahos

The beauty of the Pennsylvania Aggregates & Concrete Association’s (PACA) staff is that it serves as an extension of PACA member company staffs, says Masters RMC’s Bob Housel. Photo: Peter Vlahos

Winners and losers were picked at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

In Pennsylvania, a number of businesses were designated as “life-sustaining” and able to keep their doors open. Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Pennsylvania), however, originally deemed aggregate-producing businesses as “non-life-sustaining” while allowing their ready-mixed concrete counterparts to continue producing.

“If you understand anything about the industry, you need aggregate to do anything,” says Peter Vlahos, president of the Pennsylvania Aggregates & Concrete Association (PACA).

Fortunately, aggregate producers were able to rapidly reverse their initial designation, with thanks to organizations such as PACA that quickly captured the attention of Wolf and his staff to right a wrong. Vlahos does not expect the industry’s “life-sustaining” designation to become an issue if the pandemic persists deep into this year, but the association is prepared to act, when necessary, to protect the interests of its members who produce the Keystone State’s aggregate, concrete and cement.

“When the vaccine starts circulating, we see brighter days ahead,” Vlahos says. “The big question is what the economy looks like and the presidential change in (Washington), D.C. Can we have pragmatic problem-solving for our nation and our state?”

Providing value

The Pennsylvania construction materials industry’s list of concerns is a growing one, from funding issues at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to climate change, whose activists seek to impose overreaching regulations on producers.

But PACA, by design, partly exists to extend the voice of construction materials producers to the Pennsylvania General Assembly and regulatory agencies. Because of its size, PACA can deliver a variety of advocacy benefits to its members. But it’s those PACA members who invested over the years to build a PACA that now boasts a five-person staff.

“Because we have a diverse membership organization with the aggregate, concrete and cement working together, that provides us with a larger membership base, which provides more funding, which allows us to have a more robust professional staff,” says Bob Housel, president of Pennsylvania-based Masters RMC, who currently serves PACA as chairman. “Some states have a smaller group of individuals. But we’ve been able to afford this level of staffing, and it, in turn, provides great value to our member companies.”

Pennsylvania, of course, is one of nation’s top crushed stone producers. Only Texas outperformed Pennsylvania in 2019 in crushed stone production, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. But with 40,000 roadway miles and more than 25,000 bridges to maintain, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regularly demands a lot of stone.

Some of the nation’s top aggregate producers are based in Pennsylvania – Carmeuse, for example, and New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. – but most producers don’t have the personnel on hand that these companies do. And that, Housel says, is where PACA steps in to provide expertise or advocacy to producers in need.

“We have a lot of family-run businesses,” Housel says. “Some don’t have the benefit of the large corporations, and it really helps them to be able to call on PACA for a technical or regulatory issue. The PACA staff can walk hand-in-hand with them to resolve challenges.”
As Housel describes, the PACA staff is there to serve as an extension of PACA member company staffs.

“Peter ‘leads the band,’” Housel says. “But we have a number of professionals on board who make PACA one of the best state associations in the country, in my opinion. The staff is really qualified, but they are also motivated and engaged in all of our issues.

“The uniqueness of PACA is we have been able to create a model here that has thrived, even in difficult times,” he adds. “Through a lot of progressive and creative thinking, we are able to keep the organization moving forward.”

Working together

One unique aspect of PACA is that it operates by “community” rather than by committee, as most associations do. According to Vlahos, the structure is beneficial because of the variety of businesses the association represents.

“We have three key markets,” says Vlahos, referring to aggregate, concrete and cement. “They’re all equivalent. If you’re an aggregate producer and we have a concrete technical community, you’re more than welcome to come in and be part of the conversation.”

That open-door policy is in effect for PACA’s other constituencies, as well.

“We have a different flavor in the way we organize,” Vlahos says. “We ask our members to get engaged. Our members run the organization. The staff are stewards on behalf of our member companies. But we’re here to serve our members because we are thinking not just about today, but making those companies better for tomorrow.”

Structuring the organization in such a way also affords PACA’s “sixth staff member,” contract lobbyist Hank Butler, the opportunity to more broadly engage the governor, legislators and their staffs on the role construction materials play in Pennsylvania’s way of life.

“I call PACA ‘a community of value,’” Housel says. “There are so many opportunities as a member to realize tremendous benefits to your individual company if you’re willing to engage your people with PACA’s various communities.”

Avatar photo

About the Author:

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

Comments are closed