August 2016: Special Report

Words: Dan Kamys

Masonry Finds Positive Indicators Pointing to Growth

Oldcastle APG Invests in Future of Masonry

By Ken O’Neill

Despite a series of challenges and a shadow of uncertainty about the masonry sector in past years, new technologies (including integrated wall systems), a higher level of aesthetics in manufactured stone veneers and a resurgence in the desire for mixed material looks, all bode well for the industry. Manufacturers are noting an optimistic uptick in masonry demand as well, validated by research group IBISWorld, which projects an annual growth rate of 5.8 percent by 2020, from $23 billion in 2015015. The number of industry operators is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 3.8 percent to 49,788. This rising demand will also boost employment, which is forecast to increase at an average of 6.0 percent per year over the next four years to 197,084 workers. [caption id="attachment_13363" align="alignnone" width="600"]SpecialReport-Oldcastle-Light-Corner-and-units Performance wall systems, like the InsulTech ICMU and EnduraMax, deliver innovative masonry solutions that expedite installation time, help meet code and expand the portfolio offering of masonry professionals.[/caption] Coupled with advancements in both production and performance of their products, masonry manufacturers such as Oldcastle APG are bullish on the industry, with reason. Masonry contracting — using brick, block and concrete — accounts for an estimated 68.4 percent of industry revenue, the highest revenue-generating service in the masonry profession.* While the masonry industry faces a number of daily challenges, such as sourcing new jobs, meeting deadlines, finding quality labor, reducing callbacks, and increased competition, there are promising solutions from dedicated partners like Oldcastle APG, who can keep them ahead of the rising demand for masonry materials that include wall systems, manufactured stone and advanced mortar formulations. The ability to embrace all of these solutions will help ensure the future of masonry. From retail and hospitality to senior living facilities, the demand for structures that blend in well with the community, as well as feel more like home, has increased. Buildings are also now warmer and less institutional, as facades of stone around the foundation, in entryways and foyers and even interiors serve as an economical accent. While solid block remains an economical way to build, the exteriors lend themselves to more thoughtful designs where masonry serves as the perfect accent. It’s also a growing trend for block construction in new buildings like hospitals, schools and retail to rely on high-performance wall systems to meet codes, save energy and manage moisture. These systems often feature a masonry unit as the final exterior layer. As part of a commitment to making substantial investments in these new products for a more sustainable industry, Oldcastle APG recently launched a stand-alone consolidated masonry brand under the name Echelon Masonry. This multi-million-dollar endeavor delivers a first of its kind, integrated one-source solution backed by a national network of regional expertise. However, Oldcastle APG’s commitment to the masonry professional extends beyond brands and a broad array of products. The company has pledged substantial funding to The Masonry Foundation for use in the promotion and expansion of the industry. Although masonry has seen a dip in the skilled labor pool that installs it, masonry technology continues to evolve as means to solve this challenge. Oldcastle APG is betting on the future with its investment in innovative solutions to the issues dogging the masonry community and supporting organizations charged with the same goal. From funding training for a new labor force, to increasing efficiency on the jobsite with high-performance wall systems and innovative new products, Oldcastle APG will continue to demonstrate confidence in the future of the industry. It will take the willingness of manufacturers and the masonry community to solve these issues, not just talk about them. Architects make up another group of professionals betting on masonry, especially for customized projects with very specific material performance demands and a level of artistry, such as the Museum at Prairiefire in Overland, Kan. Unveiled last year and featured in the June 2016 issue of Masonry Magazine, the museum’s architect needed very specific custom colors not found in nature. Working closely with D&D Masonry, the architect was able to bring the concept of the region’s prairie fires, intentionally set for land management, to life with the look of flames and charred embers. Another example is the new Mesa Community College Performing Arts Center, featuring exposed masonry and raked stucco on metal stud framing on its 450-seat amphitheater, installed by M.A.G Construction, Gilbert, Ariz. The venue also relied on a masonry interior to achieve its acoustical quality. Hundreds of other examples of municipal, civic and religious structures all point to the demand for quality masonry. Of course, masonry will not be used for every building being constructed, but with a proven track record of tangible innovation; current trends in mixed materials; environmental needs for wall system solutions; and the strides in new manufactured masonry aesthetics, the sky is the limit on how the industry can charge ahead. Oldcastle APG is poised to become a powerful asset and partner for the masonry community and category. With the right investments, innovation and skill, we can all ensure the success of our livelihood for generations to come. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of masonry. Contact us at www.EchelonMasonry.com.
Ken O’Neill is the executive vice president of sales, marketing and product development for Oldcastle APG, Atlanta, Ga. *Source: IBISWorld, a global market research firm, is based in New York City.  
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