THE ASCC MISSION: "Enhancing the Capabilities of Those Who Build with Concrete"

An Interview with Tommy Ruttura, 2003-04 ASCC President, and ASCC Executive Director Bev Garnant
By Jim Vlcek, Concrete News Editor

This editor was recently privileged to pick the brain of Tommy Ruttura, one of the nation's most notable concrete contractors. The owner and president of Ruttura and Sons Construction Company in Farmingdale, New York, Tommy recently completed a two-year stint as President of the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC).

With a total membership of 441 contracting companies, ASCC is one of the nation's largest professional concrete organizations. Tommy Ruttura describes the ASCC simply: "We're a group of fellow contractors striving to 'raise the bar' to do a better job."

The ASCC mission statement is short and sweet: Enhancing the Capabilities of Those Who Build with Concrete. Short and sweet it is, but not taken lightly by Ruttura! The passion and dedication held by Ruttura and ASCC Executive Director Bev Garnant for the ASCC mission comes out loud and clear in the following interview.

JV: Tommy, talk to me as a contractor. At what point in time did you realize that a more effective connection was needed in the concrete construction industry to bridge the gap between architects, engineers and contractors?

TR: I've been in this business for over 35 years. Long ago, I realized that unless we, as contractors, don't try to raise the bar, we can only expect the same standards year after year. Let's face it, Jim, concrete is wonderful and all that, but it has its limitations. If we as contractors don't get the word out about new procedures, products, machines, testing and push our industry to higher levels, it's our own fault. Bad work just perpetuates more bad work! This is really what ASCC is all about; not just to raise the bar, but to enhance the capabilities of all of our member contractors.

JV: Tell me some of the proactive things ASCC does to benefit its members.

TR: We don't just focus on the concrete contractors, Jim. We are an active partner with ACI, engineers, architects and the building owners. Currently ASCC is completing a large project of writing 25 Position Statements that address critical concrete placement and finishing issues that contractors face every day.

JV: You mentioned earlier that concrete has it limits. Explain what ASCC is doing to work around that.

TR: One of the most important and rewarding parts to my position as past ASCC president was to keep challenging these limitations and to find new uses and procedures for concrete placement. Over the last few years, we're encouraging many new uses for concrete, especially with new methods of finishing concrete floors, decorative concrete, and also polished and hardened concrete.

We are seeing concrete being offered as a replacement for other Division-9 floor coverings (laminates, epoxy, wood, tile, terrazzo, carpet) and being accepted as a highly cost-effective floor system. ASCC continues to play a large role in that transition.

JV: Tommy, tell me about your 430 contractor members. What concrete construction segments does your database come from?

TR: First of all, about 60% of all the top-100 largest concrete contractors are members in ASCC. Our membership also includes engineers and architects, as well as residential, paving and decorative concrete contractors.

JV: Speaking of architects and engineers, what areas does the ASCC cover?

TR: To name just a few: improved concrete specifications, tolerances, curing, controlled cracking, and safety. ASCC also strives to open up the lines of communication between the building owner and the contractor.

JV: Can you tell me of a notable benefit you personally received from being a member of ASCC before you became president of ASCC?

TR: I can honestly say that if it were not for ASCC helping me with some technical representation on a big job and dispute back in 1987, it would have cost me an additional $100,000. Back then, I looked to ASCC for answers and I still do today. Over the years ASCC has saved me a lot! That's what motivated me to want to become president of this ASCC, I wanted to give back to the association.

JV: You've talked a lot about ASCC contractors in a general sense. Today, it seems like the largest evolution in your industry is in concrete floors. Tell me what ASCC is doing to support this rapid growth.

TR: It is my opinion that on many projects the most important part of a building is the floor. Although concrete has its limitations, there is much ASCC can do to support building owners and spec writers to properly order a concrete floor. Large retailers and other large companies, who have such a huge investment in their floors, are now including exposed concrete floors as a standard in all their new buildings. Over the years, there has been a lot of money spent by building owners to research the initial placement and long-term maintenance of concrete, and it appears that hands-down they choose concrete over division 9 flooring materials for all their new floors.

JV: Bev, as executive director, you must have a lot of responsibilities. Tell me about these.

BG: I'm responsible for our membership database. I help organize and execute the educational activities and programs. I am responsible for ASCC networking, Management Information eXchange (MIX) groups, publications, and all ASCC events.

JV: Speaking of communications, tell me some of the things ASCC does to foster communications.

BG: ASCC develops position statements outlining many critical issues involving contractors. We worked with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) to develop a pre-pour checklist to improve quality control. We work with other industry groups to discuss issues such as tolerances and moisture that involve numerous trades.

JV: How does this all come together with ASCC working with other industry groups?

BG: ASCC promotes and fosters strong partnerships with ACI, NRMCA and many other concrete related associates. We offer ACI flatwork finisher certification and we're currently working with ACI to establish decorative finisher certification. Our partnering program really does enhance the capabilities of concrete contractors, and brings concrete to a higher level of excellence.

D. Thomas Ruttura is president of Ruttura & Sons Construction Co., Inc., a concrete, excavation and drainage contracting firm begun by his grandfather in 1918. He is a member of the ASCC Membership, Finance, Safety and Strategic Planning Committees. Ruttura has 36 years of experience in the concrete construction industry. He was ASCC president for 2003-2004

For more details on how to join ASCC, Log on to their website at www.ascconline.org or contact ASCC Executive Director Bev Garnant at 314-962-0210.


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