Over twenty people attended the Mass Timber Forum held October 29 over the noon hour at the ARM office in Eagan. That is good news! The bad news is no contractors were able to attend due to backed up work in the field!

John Lee, Director of Business Development for Cemstone briefed the associates/suppliers/staff members on the growth trends of use of wood in the commercial construction industry fueled by the large amount of money being invested by the wood industry to promote its products. The T3 Building in the north loop of Minneapolis was the largest mass timber office building in the country when it was built in 2016. The seven-story 222,000 square foot building at 323 Washington Ave. North was designed by Michael Green Architecture of Vancouver, British Columbia and DLR Group of Minneapolis and is home to Amazon Industries and others. Building with wood is considered “green” and LEED friendly with the environmental community and several architectural firms embracing its use in place of concrete and masonry. A lack of science-based facts and figures are being used in the promotion of the wood and fire safety is a big concern.

Lee updated the group on the efforts of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and its “Build with Strength” cause to counter the wood industry claims. The NRMCA is working to promote the resiliency argument of concrete and masonry in commercial and residential buildings. Lee, as national chairman of the Build with Strength national effort, is working to pull together a Minnesota Resiliency Council of concrete, masonry, precast, and other organizations and interests to work together to promote the long term and short term benefits of our natural resource based products over the untested, unsafe use of high rise wood structures. NRMCA dollars are being invested in these efforts already. MC&MCA is expected to be involved.

John Pederson of Amcon/TCC Materials updated the attendees on the eight-year effort to establish a “check off” of 1 cent per eight-inch block produced, collected nationally, and redistributed through regionally run councils to promote masonry or counterbalance competing building materials and systems. A producer’s referendum is expected next summer and if passed, funding of programs could begin in 2021.

Thor Becken of Cemstone also spoke to the group regarding the work of the Concrete Industry Management Program (CIM). Started in 1996, the program works with four colleges around the country and provides four-year BS degrees and a minor in business administration or marketing in concrete. The objective of the program is to recruit local young people to get four-year degrees in construction related areas and then employ them in the industry locally when they graduate. There have been 1183 graduates from the four schools to date and over 80% of the graduates have stayed employed in the construction industry—many in the concrete area. Currently there are around 500 students in the program.

CIM is hoping to raise enough money to form a partnership with a fifth school—this one in the upper Midwest. Nine states are in the regional running including Minnesota!  Becken oversees fundraising and hopes to raise $100,000 per year for five years in a row. He has raised $70,000 to date and is looking for more! The MC&MCA office has pledge forms available if you would like one.

Thanks to all the Amcon/TCC Materials/Cemstone speakers/presenters and for providing lunch! Also special thanks to John Cunningham, ED of ARM, for hosting the event!