I initially trained as an electrical and mechanical engineer but have spent my entire career of 53 years in the concrete industry, primarily in ready-mixed technical and marketing management, but I have experience in all aspects of the concrete industry. For the last 22 years or I have been a self-employed technical consultant and trouble-shooter, advising on the rapid solution of the most difficult of concrete problems. I have worked all over the world in over 65 countries. In recent years I have concentrated more on industrial flooring, particularly on the prevention and investigation of surface delamination.
I am a particularly practical and pragmatic concrete technologist with considerable experience of being on site and in the thick of it. I started at the bottom and learnt my trade from real experience. My first cubes were 6" and in those days it was sets of 6 and the compacting factor ruled, none of this wimpy slump stuff! And concrete plants worked with air pressure systems, no fancy load cells.
I am also a quality assessor, not only in the concrete industry but also in many other industries including inflatable boats, solar panels, wind generators, heat pumps, biomass heaters, fuel cells, admixtures, working for a number of government agencies around the world. I have extensive experience in the Far East and China in both of my disciplines.
I am also very successful at reducing ingredient costs for ready-mix producers and precasters around the world from the very biggest rmc suppliers to a lamp post manufacturer in East Thailand.
Born in 1950 in Bristol, I attended Bristol Grammar School then Ashley Down Technical College to study electrical and Mechanical Engineering via an apprentiship with the Central Electrical Generating Board. After gaining my permit to work on live 400,000 volt lines (can you imagine that nowadays!) I was put to task doing the 3rd check on the design of transformers, all slide rules then, no calculators. Boring as hell, so I packed it in and and sold prepacked frozen meat, where I learnt my first sales lesson when I got a huge order from Butlin's and promised 7 days delivery, but it was more that my employer could produce in 3 months, so couln't supply!
Then I went materials testing on motorway sites with Messrs Sandberg, where I initially got hooked on concrete. Moved to Telford Development Corporation as site testing engineer to organise and supervise all site testing for roads and drains in the new town. Then offered regional technical manager at Steetley Construction Materials in 1979 for concrete, blacktop, quarries. mortar and precast and later moved up to be company technical manager. I set up the first rmc plants in UK to make GGBS and PFA and microsilca readily available and made my own admixtures. I developed and marketed the first range of high performace proprietary concretes in the UK with the SMC range of mixes at Steetley. When the recession came in 1990 the specials were making more than conventional concrete. But an accountant was put in charge of the company and he blew out all the special products, heaven knows why?
So I took the whole kit and caboodle, staff, equipment and supply deal with Elkem to Tarmac Topmix and set up the Toproc range of specials, running the technical and marketing functions. Again, when the next recession came this was their prime earner. I later moved on to technical management in Tarmac to demonstrate my ingredient cost saving methods, develop the computer systems and not work 50 hours every day due to the success of Toproc.
Concrete advisor and product manager at Hydronix was my next stop, where I travelled all over the world sorting problems with their excellent moisture probes and developed a unique way of measuring the hydration of concrete with disposable dielectic inserts.
I then started working full time as a self-employed consultant, not only in concrete but also as a quality assessor for factory process control for the UK government Microgeneration Certification Scheme for solar panels, heat pumps, fuel cells, wind generators, biomass boilers, etc. which attract feed-in tariffs and grants. This took me all over the world, particularly in the Far East and particularly all around China.
In recent years I seem to be concentraing more on industrial flooring, where I have researched the causes and prevention of delamination and the measurement of shrinkage in floor slabs, advising many major flooring contrators around the world. But I also keep my finger in the rmc industry as technical consultant to small companies, particularly site batchers.
50 years after making my first cube, when I should be retiring, I seem to be starting a new career advising and promoting sustainabilty, particularly methods to reduce the use of the grey Devil Powder, cement. I am assisting many clients right across the industry, including building owners, fund mangers and pension funds in practiacal ways to be more sustainable with their concrete construction.
curing all your concrete ills