As I sat around a table in a fine establishment in Buxton, England, eating and drinking with representatives from quarrying magazines in the U.K., Australia and France, it became apparent to me that we had solved all of the problems of the global aggregates industry, not to mention the entire world.
Unfortunately, 15 minutes later we forgot the answers we came up with.
But that didn’t diminish the importance of the discussion, one of the highlights of my trip to Hillhead 2012, the U.K.’s primary industry trade show, and the largest working quarry show in the world. It was refreshing, enlightening and educational to get the perspective of my peers from different countries.
While our discussion veered wildly from regulations to profitable production, to the failure of the Euro to French politics, to trade-show etiquette to a discussion of the merits of casino gambling in an election year, the real reason for my trip to Hillhead revolved around the millions of tons of iron down on the floor of Tarmac’s quarry in the English countryside.
The Hillhead show featured more than 17,000 people from all over the world gathered under mostly sunny skies to check out more than 450 exhibits. I learned a bit about using water resources wisely in parts of the world where water is a precious resource. I learned what it takes for a company from Europe to set up a distribution network in the United States. I learned how safety measures and enforcement impact quarry operations in the U.K.
And I saw first hand what I already knew: in other parts of the world, they face the same economic issues, regulatory concerns and production challenges that we do in the United States, but we pay WAY less for diesel fuel than they do.
The aggregates industry is really more global than you might think. The market may be local, but the equipment and opportunity for commerce are common. Hillhead was a good experience. I plan on going again two years from now.
Mark S. Kuhar, editor
Member: Construction Writers Association