Segmental Concrete Pavement product sales achieve post-recession high
For the seventh consecutive year, combined sales of segmental concrete pavement products in the United States and Canada have increased, according to the 2018 Industry Sales Profile released by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI).
The 2017 projected total of 750 million sf. is a post-recession high, representing a 2.5% increase from the 721 million sf. in 2016 and a 63% increase from the low of 472 million sf. in 2010. The 2017 mark is approaching the all-time high for sales (800 million sf.) established in 2006 prior to the recession.
The study surveyed 26 manufacturers representing 25% of the producing companies in the U.S. and Canada. These companies own approximately 54% (136) of the paver producing machines in the two countries. The survey was conducted by Industry Insights, an independent research consulting firm based in Dublin, Ohio.
The estimated combined U.S. and Canadian use of concrete pavers in 2017 equaled 2.07 sf. per person compared to 1.94 sf. in 2016.
“The demand for traditional and new segmental concrete pavement products continues to increase,” said Kendall Anderegg, ICPI Chair. “In fact, both residential and commercial sales grew because many homeowners, businesses, and government officials realize that no other pavement system offers the durability, design flexibility, sustainability, long-term cost-effectiveness, safety and appearance like concrete pavers.”
Sales growth was 2.8% in the U.S. and 0.2% in Canada among survey participants, compared to 2016 for all segmental concrete pavement products. Products for residential use represented 77.9% of sales, while commercial applications comprised 12.5% of sales. Public/government and industrial sales were 8.2% and 1.4% respectively.
Interlocking concrete pavers comprised 81.3% of products sold by survey participants, while paving slabs were the second-most popular product at 10.2%. Permeable interlocking concrete pavers represented 5.8% of sales, followed by concrete grid pavers at 0.4% and other products at 2.3%.
The report attributed low interest rates and energy costs, modest growth in new home construction, increased infrastructure investments by the public sector, and increases in commercial construction as key contributors to growth for the U.S. segmental concrete pavement industry. Canada presented a mix of growth or contraction depending on the region.
The report also pointed out, “While difficult to measure impacts on sales, another factor attenuating industry growth is lack of a sufficient labor force to install segmental pavement systems.” This skilled workforce shortage has been identified in other recent ICPI studies, causing the Institute to create a workforce development program that will launch later this year.
“While ICPI continues emphasizing programs that will spark sales, we are also focused on the workforce challenge our industry faces,” said Anderegg. “Three of every four contractors who have participated in recent studies by ICPI have indicated that their top business obstacle is recruiting and retaining qualified employees. We are creating a program to attract young people into the installation/contracting business and teach them the skills they need to succeed in installation and hopefully manage a contracting business someday.”