Established in 1946, Irving Materials, Inc. (imi) is a building materials supplier operating throughout the midwestern and southern U.S. Its concrete division serves Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, southwestern Ohio, southeastern Illinois, northern Alabama.
What sets imi apart from other ready mix producers in the market is the quality and reliability of its concrete and its innovative approach to adopting new technologies.
In a recent webinar, Jeff McPherson, Vice President of Customer Development and Darrin Litteral, Quality Control Manager at imi shared their experiences testing, implementing, and selling one of the industry’s newest innovations: CarbonCure.
Putting CarbonCure to the Test at imi
In July 2017, imi began initial trials with CarbonCure at its Whiteland plant. Over a one-year period—testing in all weather conditions—the team set out to answer questions like:
- Does the CarbonCure Technology work?
- What impact does it have on fresh or hardened properties?
- What will it do to its strength and durability?
- How will it perform with other admixtures like fly ash, slag, and so on?
- What are its limitations?
- How is it going to impact operations?
- Will this actually help our business?
- Does the Midwest market care about sustainability and carbon reduction?
The Whiteland plant delivered CarbonCure mixes to up to 30 different finishing crews per day. All the most common mix designs (4,000 air, footer mixes, floor slab mixes, and so on) were tested for strength, set time, finishability, density, air entrainment, slump, and shrinkage.
“The CarbonCure strengths were a hit in every class of mix that we put it with. We tested it with mixed designs that ranged from 2500 PSI all the way up to 6000 PSI,” said Darrin.
Set time was another important factor as imi is renowned for its FreezeGuard program. “Our imix FreezeGuard is guaranteed to resist freezing down to 20ºF, set, and achieve specified strength so we had to be sure we’d get the same performance with CarbonCure, despite the lower cement content,” said Darrin.
“In our area, air entrainment is a pretty big deal, as is slump and shrinkage,” said Darrin. Finishability is also key as imi needed its sales and quality control (QC) teams to be confident in the mixes they were putting into the field—there could be no noticeable difference compared to their other mixes.
Overall imi was thrilled with the results from the testing phase. Customers had no idea that anything was different in the concrete. “This was pretty big for us in terms of the finishability, set time, and overall performance,” said Darrin. “If you had two trucks side-by-side, you'd be hard pressed to tell which one had CarbonCure and which didn’t.”
Gaining Internal Buy-In for Sustainable Concrete
After the testing at Whiteland, the imi team decided to implement CarbonCure in more plants in the central Indiana market and expand from there. First, they needed to secure buy-in from internal teams.
“We started at the top,” said Jeff. “We approached local Vice President General Managers in the local markets and were pleased to find that the leader in Indianapolis was a big proponent of CarbonCure. He really helped us get it off the ground.”
Once the VP GMs were on board, the leadership teams and CarbonCure presented the innovation to the sales managers, QC managers, sales reps, and production teams. “They presented the solid results we were getting from Darrin's hard work and assured teams that we’d maintain the quality concrete that we've always delivered,” said Jeff. The key message presented to internal teams was,
“It's the right thing to do; it's good for the environment; so why wouldn't you do it?”
imi has always used sustainable solutions as an everyday business practice so it was an easy sell. Plus, sustainability was already creeping into the codes and specifications in several markets so most of the teams were already convinced it was a good move for imi.