Vegas People and Jobs: We’re Talking Concrete!

Some 65,000 people were expected at 2010's World of Concrete.<br><em>Photo by Diane Taylor</em>
Some 65,000 people were expected
at 2010's World of Concrete.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Today, Las Vegas may be crowded with Super Bowl bettors, but last week, the Las Vegas Convention Center bragged it was once again home to 65,000 people attending “The World of Concrete”. The event is well-known in the convention business, though I had never attended. I must admit, however, the title had always seemed mildly amusing.

It turns out, that the four-day World of Concrete is both interesting and fun. In addition to a strong lineup of educational seminars, the convention halls are filled with lively exhibits related to construction and renovation. (If rebar is your thing, have we got a bunch of experts for you!), Outside in the silver parking lots, still more exhibits, food stands and competitions mean comfortable walking shoes are a must.

Want a John Deere PowerTech PVX 9.0L Interim Tier 4/ Stage III B 187-224 kW (250-300 hp) engine? <br><em>Photo by Diane Taylor</em>
Want a John Deere PowerTech PVX 9.0L Interim Tier 4/ Stage III B 187-224 kW (250-300 hp) engine?
Photo by Diane Taylor

I made only a couple stops as I walked through the convention halls. The John Deere folks had a display of gigantic engines that, frankly, were beautiful. The engines, I was told, could go in John Deere or other manufacturers’ equipment. Want one for Valentine’s Day? Expect to pay “about” $12,000.

Moving on, I saw the word “sustainable” on a sign for the BASF exhibit. A company representative told me BASF provides chemicals that make construction materials last longer….therefore being sustainable by reducing the need for replacements. O.K. And why did I know the BASF name? I was reminded BASF used to make the videotape I used, though that part of the business had been sold. Today, the German company is known as “BASF, The Chemical Company”. Well, I’ll be….

Melissa Wilson, Portland Cement Association<br><em>Photo by Diane Taylor</em>
Michelle Wilson, Portland Cement Association
Photo by Diane Taylor

And then I met Michelle Wilson, a gal with a job title I had never imagined. She is the “Director of Concrete Knowledge” for the Portland Cement Association. Wilson is an engineer with a 10-year history with “PCA”. So tell me, Michelle, just what is Portland Cement?

“As our website explains, cement is an ingredient in concrete. It is the fine powder that, when mixed with water, sand, and gravel or crushed stone forms the rock-like mass known as concrete. A typical ratio of concrete ingredients by volume is 6% air, 11% Portland Cement, 41% gravel or crushed stone, 26% sand and 16% water.”

And the cement is named after?

“The powder’s name has nothing to do with Portland, Oregon but was named after high quality building stones quarried at Portland, England.”

A designer countertop by CHENG.<br><em>Photo by Diane Taylor</em>
A designer countertop by CHENG.
Photo by Diane Taylor

See what a non-handy person can learn at a convention? Thanks, Michelle. I also learned The Portland Cement Association is headquartered in Skokie, IL, just around the corner from where I formerly lived and worked on Chicago’s north side. I could have driven five minutes and met the Director of Concrete Knowledge; instead I ran into her 1800 miles west.

And where are those concrete countertops I hear about in every third program on Home and Garden television? I found one particularly stunning countertop at an exhibit with a big sign that said “CHENG”. Apparently California designer Fu-Tung Cheng sells training on how to produce designer-quality concrete countertops and also sells countertop mix. Too bad I’m not redoing my kitchen in the near future; loved the countertop.

And finally, I went outside to see why so many people were there. Yes, the outside exhibits were a draw, but the multiple food booths surrounded by tables and chairs were obviously quite popular. In addition, on Thursday afternoon, the Wacker Neuson people were having the finals competition for drivers racing Wacker Neuson cement finishing machines (yep, cement finishing machines). The riders were timed on an obstacle course with the fastest time winning $20,000 for the driver’s company. The weather was sunny; the air crisp; the Wacker Neuson M.C. was flinging t-shirts into the audience and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Except for the many statements from exhibitors that “this is a tough time for construction”, the World of Concrete was full of good feelings…quite the right place to be just before Super Bowl weekend.


One response on “Vegas People and Jobs: We’re Talking Concrete!

  1. This is a show I attended my first year in town — I loved seeing all of big, super-duper pumping trucks. It really is a magnificent show for gizmos and gear-heads.


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