As recently as November 2004, Colorado was listed by industry researchers at the Portland Cement Association as not experiencing the shortage that was affecting 35 other states. But times have changed.At this month’s meeting of the El Paso County Contractors Association, more than 60 construction company representatives turned out to voice their growing frustration with partial allocations and rationed materials.
Tom Urbina, marketing manager for cement manufacturer Holcim told the association that one reason for the local shortage was that two kilns at the plant in Florence had to be shut down for repairs. Holcim provides as much as 90 per cent of the cement to large users in the Pikes Peak region. Holcim’s downtime coincided with production problems at other plants, limiting production and creating competition for cement.
Brad Schenck, senior project manager with JE Dunn, said his company has been able to secure the cement it needs for the Memorial Hospital North project, but the future looks challenging.Both Harms and Schenck said construction prices could begin rising to compensate for the cement shortage. Mid-sized companies also are facing challenges because of the shortfall. Vince Colarelli of Colarelli Construction said the lack of cement forced his team to reschedule work on a local hospital.
He estimated it will take at least two months to catch up with demand.In the short term, local ready mix or batch concrete companies have tried to accommodate customers’ needs by importing cement from Mexico, but it comes at a premium price, spurred by 55 per vcent tariffs upon entering the United States.Contractors predict that job estimates could include clauses that advise clients about cost surcharges for materials. Good planning will help, Colarelli said, but supply shortages will still affect the bottom line.