Several years ago, a leader of a national masonry association accused me of being an enemy because I had ties to the concrete industry. If he was still around today, I wonder how he would comment on the events planned for the next few weeks.

In St. Louis, during the last week of October, members of the International Concrete Repair Institute will hold their fall convention. The focus will be masonry repair.

Several of our industry's most respected experts will offer insights on the innovative and effective repair techniques now being employed to safeguard masonry structures. It's a market segment that will continue to grow.

There are several important reasons why masonry repair is growing, and most of these will be discussed at the ICRI meeting. .

Perhaps the most exciting aspect is the growing effort by urban planners to do what they can to retain traditional masonry neighborhoods. This effort is supported by the recently published U.S. Greenbuild Council guidelines on how to rate the rehabilitation of existing structures. Planners are urging architects to be more creative with what we have, rather than starting from anew.

As the experts evaluate the damage to structures in Galveston and the surrounding areas, I'm certain that one common comment will be on the status of building codes. Many of these structures were constructed prior to the new wind load requirements now in place in many of these communities.

Structural reinforcement to existing buildings is one way to help mitigate such damage. The use of fiber reinforcement technology is likely to expand from seismic areas into regions of potential high wind loads. Contractors trained in this technique can not only repair existing structures, but work on new ones as well.

One challenge in repairing older structures is the condition and quality of the masonry materials. Many structures contain materials that would not pass current ASTM standards. Rather than replacing an entire wall, there are several techniques involving polymer injection that effectively strengthens the wall from the inside out.

And as every masonry contractor knows, effective moisture control is the key to structure life. Many of these new approaches are not only effective in directing moisture to where it should go, they are less labor intensive, and thus cost-effective.

Attending ICRI's St. Louis conference isn't an act of aiding the enemy. It's an opportunity to learn how to expand your business into growing markets. Someone will take on the tasks of masonry repair, and it should be us.


To learn more about the ICRI conference, go to our Web site,