There's nothing abstract about the concrete made by Holcim (US). The American arm of Swiss building products giant Holcim Ltd., it produces, imports, and sells cement, ready-mix concrete, asphalt, and aggregates to manufacturers, builders, public works managers, and architects around the nation. Holcim (US) operates 15 manufacturing facilities and has an annual production capacity of more than 18 million metric tons; it also imports products from overseas affiliates. The company has about 75 distribution terminals in a dozen sales regions. Top customers include manufacturers of concrete products and building materials dealers. Holcim (US) accounts for about 14% of its Swiss parent company's sales.
Holcim (US) operates 17 cement and grinding plants, 118 aggregates plants, and 275 ready-mix concrete and asphalt plants throughout North America, mostly in the US.
Net sales in North America declined nearly 8% in 2011 vs. 2010 (compared with an overall 12% gain in net sales at the parent company) as the moderate economic recovery had a limited impact on the US construction sector. (On a like-for-like basis, factoring out consolidation and currency translation effects, sales in North America increased 1.3%.) Reduced public spending on infrastructure projects negatively impacted demand for cement. Indeed, cement consumption fell in the southern US in particular, partially offset by slightly higher volumes in the northern states. While Holcim's capacity to produce cement declined by more than 5% (due to the closure of two plants) in 2011 vs. 2010, volume cement sales rose 3% over the same period. Volume sales of ready-mix concrete grew by 25% (supported by acquisitions), followed by an 11% increase in volume sales of aggregates. Asphalt was essentially flat, while volume sales of mineral components fell 2%.
Although the building products industry continues to suffer from economic uncertainly and weak demand, Holcim (US) optimistically continues to make moves in anticipation of an eventual recovery. The company in March 2011 acquired the rest of the shares of Texas-based producer Lattimore Materials Company that it didn't already own, giving its ready-mix concrete business a major boost in the important Texas market. In November the company took over the assets of Ennstone, Inc. in Virginia. Ennstone owns strategically well positioned ready-mix concrete plants, sand and gravel works, and limestone quarries. The 2012 outlook for demand for building materials remains moderate as private sector construction remains subdued due to economic uncertainties and continued high vacancy rates. Huge federal and state budget deficits will hamper infrastructure construction going forward. Rising distribution costs and intense competition will also continue to challenge Holcim (US) going forward. – less