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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

RR061819 ShakespeareJune 18, 2019 – At the recent Texas Aggregate & Concrete Association's National Industry Leadership panel, Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association identified the 800-lb. gorilla in the room, and how aggregates producers could end up, shall we say, between a rock and a hard place. Johnson noted that the upcoming presidential and legislative elections would have a profound effect on the industry. “If we end up after the 2020 cycle with an all-Democratic line up (presidency, Senate and House),” said Johnson, “we would most likely have a $2 trillion infrastructure bill passed within 90 days. However, it would also present a bit of a paradox because the regulatory landscape would also change dramatically, creating a situation in which we would have to be wary of unreasonable regulations and rules based upon unsound science that would make it more difficult to meet the increased demand for our products.” As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, "ay, there’s the rub!"

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Chao Under Fire

Chao 1June 17, 2019 – Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao sold stocks in two companies after a Wall Street Journal report revealed she held onto them after she pledged to sell them. A Transportation Department spokesperson told CNN the issue was due to a misunderstanding about Chao's ethics agreement, and there was no conflict of interest with her holding those stocks, but the secretary divested from them anyway. The secretary sold her stock in both Ingersoll Rand and Vulcan Materials. Chao is also under fire for designating a special liaison to help with infrastructure grants for her husband Sen. Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, the only state to receive such a liaison, according to Politico.

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The Metso-McCloskey Deal

RR061319 mergersJune 13, 2019 – Big news in the world of crushing. As you probably have heard by now, Metso is acquiring McCloskey International. The deal supports Metso's expansion plans and the company will now be able to offer customers multiple complementary product lines. The deal also brings McCloskey greater international market presence. But is the deal an early precursor to an even larger merger possibilities? It certainly opened some eyes when in 2017 John Deere acquired Wirtgen, and with it the crushing capabilities of Kleemann. Could we see another heavy-iron manufacturer cut a deal to get in the crushing business? Don't count it out.

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A Look Inside the New USGS Report

RR030519 USGSlogoJune 11, 2019 – According to the U.S. Geological Survey – which just released its first-quarter report – the estimated production-for-consumption of construction aggregates in the first quarter of 2019 increased in five of the nine geographic divisions compared with that sold or used in the first quarter of 2018. With a nice overall increase of almost 9%, it begs the question, what happened in those four districts that saw declines? The New England region, which consists of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, was off 8.9%. The West North Central region, which consists of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, was off 0.7%. The Mountain region, which consists of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, was off 0.3%. The Pacific region, which consists of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, was off 12.6%. I think it is fair to predict that lingering winter weather hit both the New England and West North Central regions, and to some extent the Mountain region as well. The Pacific region also felt the impact of lingering winter weather at higher elevations, but add in forest fires, torrential rains, drought conditions and more. It could have been much worse than a 12.6% decline. When you read the quarterly reports coming from the publicly traded companies, almost every report now notes the impact of adverse weather conditions on operations.

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AEM to Rock Summerfest

RR061019 AEMJune 10, 2019 – To help mark the Association of Equipment Manufacturers' (AEM) 125th anniversary and bring awareness of the contributions of the manufacturing industry, AEM will sponsor the first-ever Manufacturing Day at Summerfest in Milwaukee on June 28th. This will be the first time off-road heavy equipment will be on display at the event. Summerfest is considered Milwaukee's cornerstone summer celebration drawing crowds of 800,000 from around the world each year. Featured performers are Thomas Rhett, Willie Nelson, Phil Lesh and Friends, Counting Crows, Allison Kraus, Jason Aldean, Bon Iver, Zac Brown Band, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Megadeth, The Killers, Billie Eilish, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg and Schoolboy Q.

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