Reflecting on the 2023 construction materials market (Part 2)

By |  April 15, 2024

The following transcript was edited for brevity and clarity from one of two concurrent Feb. 2 discussions at the 2024 Pit & Quarry Roundtable & Conference. Part 1 of this conversation can be found here

Jay Mizack (pictured at right) says some Carmeuse markets performed better than others, resulting in an overall uptick in volumes. Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

Jay Mizack (pictured at right) says some Carmeuse markets performed better than others, resulting in an overall uptick in volumes. Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

PIT & QUARRY: For the producers here, how were your construction materials sales in 2023 and how did they compare to the previous year? How did your production volumes and pricing trend last year?

FRANK SUAREZ (VULCAN MATERIALS): 2023 was a very good year for us. Our sales and operations teams worked to deliver value to our customers by offsetting the impact of inflation and meeting demand.

CHRIS WILLIAMS (CAPITAL AGGREGATES): Our volumes and prices were up in 2023. Our sales team has been phenomenal and able to match double-digit pricing increases despite continued inflationary pressures.

JONATHAN KOLBE (ALLEGHENY MINERAL CORP.): We had single-digit growth in 2023, as well as strong pricing momentum last year. We expect that momentum to continue into 2024.

JAY MIZACK (CARMEUSE): Volumes were slightly up for us. A lot of that was regionally driven, so some markets were much better than others. Pricing was up everywhere – double digits for us. 2023 was another record year for us, so hopefully that trend continues.

PIT & QUARRY: What dynamics at play in your state or region drove or hindered demand? What construction markets drove material demand? What impact, if any, did Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) funding have on your state in 2023?

CHRIS WILLIAMS (CAPITAL AGGREGATES): Speaking as a mostly regional producer, the states we operate in have made tremendous strides in the last couple of years. We had a state gas tax increase pass that has immediately benefited the industry and our volumes and pricing.

Additionally, in Missouri where a large number of our operations are, our state legislature passed a multi-million-dollar general revenue project outside of transportation directing funding to I-70 from Kansas City to St. Louis. That has us looking to the future with a lot of optimism, having those scalable projects in our region.

GREG DONECKER (KEMPER EQUIPMENT): In the last year, we had substantial growth in our business. A lot of that was in new processing plant construction of crushing and screen circuits and conveying circuits. I believe a lot of that came about because of optimism that IIJA was going to come. The funds may not be in place yet, but we saw most producers were willing to do plant upgrades and prepare for what they anticipate coming together.

JEFF AVANT (ATLANTA SAND & SUPPLY CO.): 2023 was flat compared to 2022 from a volume standpoint, but we also enjoyed some close to double-digit price increases.

Says Vulcan Materials’ Frank Suarez: “2023 was a very good year for us. Our sales and operations teams worked to deliver value to our customers.” Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

Says Vulcan Materials’ Frank Suarez: “2023 was a very good year for us. Our sales and operations teams worked to deliver value to our customers.” Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

As far as the rollout from the federal funding, we have seen a tremendous amount of it. I think Georgia slow played the rollout of the funds because of the inflationary pressure they were seeing on the cost of jobs. Hopefully, we’ll start seeing more funding now that we’re seeing inflation numbers come down.

PIT & QUARRY: For equipment suppliers and others, what were your observations of the 2023 construction materials market? What were your equipment sales like last year? Did your sales to the aggregate industry last year meet or exceed your expectations?

CHARLES GILBERT (ASTEC): We experienced our fourth consecutive record year in equipment manufacturing and distribution. One thing that I think has driven that is we have gone through a period where things haven’t been replaced because of whatever financial reasons that companies had, such as concerns about the industry or interest rates. I think the states really stepped up when they started doing their own infrastructure bills after 2008, and I think that’s what’s generated this last boom for all of us that we’ve enjoyed.

JOHN BENNINGTON (SUPERIOR INDUSTRIES): We had a record year in 2023. On the construction materials side of things, what we’ve seen continually is that plants are not getting smaller – they’re getting bigger. They’re getting more complex, so there’s a larger requirement for the size of the equipment, plus the number of pieces of equipment in the plant.

E.J. BURKE (QUICK SUPPLY CO.): We had a record here with double-digit growth. It was an excellent year not only in explosives, but also in drilling. More and more of our customers are asking us to do the drilling, as well as the explosives. So, it was a very good year, and we anticipate 2024 to be equally strong.

PAT JACOMET (OHIO AGGREGATES & INDUSTRIAL MINERALS ASSOCIATION): 2023 was a good year for our members across the board. We benefited from a state gas tax increase that captured some of the money left on the table from EVs. It included a fee attached to electric vehicles that helped to make up some of that shortfall.

Also, I think IIJA has been very helpful. We have a record DOT budget, and we’re fortunate enough to have Intel building a couple major lab facilities in central Ohio.

That’s drawing a lot of resources from central Ohio and helping our members on the fringes, as well, because they’re trying to make up for the draw toward central Ohio.

We had a good year and record attendance at our annual meeting with record vendors, so that, to me, is an indication that the industry is very strong in Ohio.

KELAN MOYLAN (TCI MANUFACTURING): 2023 blew 2022 out of the water for us as far as having a record year. We have record backlog, as well.

We’re excited that our customers are having good, profitable years and that they’re reinvesting a lot of those profits into their plants. We’re seeing a lot of plant optimization, and I think that’s because producers can generate more production and they’re able to improve safety around their plants.

We’re trying to do the same thing: optimize our operations for the rainy day that’s eventually going to come for everybody in this room. We don’t know if that’s going to be in two years, five years or 10 years, but optimized plants and reinvesting these profits not only makes hay while the sun’s shining right now, but also helps our whole industry continue to perform well in those softer times.

Related: Reflecting on the 2023 construction materials market (Part 1)


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