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The History of TCA

By: Kimberly Kayler
Constructive Communication, Inc.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA). Formed in 1986 by a small group of industry professionals who realized the need for an organization devoted to the interests of the Tilt-Up Concrete industry, the TCA has since grown to become an influential trade association that serves as the industry voice on site-cast Tilt-Up construction with more than 450 members in 44 states and 13 countries.

Tilt-Up construction is a method in which concrete wall panels are cast on-site and tilted into place. The origins of Tilt-Up can be traced back to a quote by Thomas Edison in 1903 stating, “Tilt-Up construction eliminates the costly, cumbersome practice of erecting two wooden walls to get one concrete wall.” Considered the father of Tilt-Up, Robert Aiken began using this method around the turn of the 20th century. Constructed in 1918 by Aiken, the Zion United Methodist Church located in Zion, Ill., still stands today and serves as a testament to the strength and durability of the Tilt-Up method.

The original idea for TCA came from an employee of the Portland Cement Association (PCA), Don Musser, who later became the first Executive Director of the Association. In addition to PCA, other industry trade organizations saw the need for an organized Tilt-Up organization. The Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI) and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) each gave funds over a three-year period to help get the movement started. They also provided support by sending representatives from their respective organizations to board meetings to help provide direction.

The organization’s original mission was to provide input to code bodies, develop technical information
to meet the needs of the Tilt-Up industry, and promote the benefits of Tilt-Up. It did not take long for TCA to begin meeting its goals — the first technical publication, “Tilt-Up Tips,” and the first promotional brochure were both published in 1987-1988.

Recognizing the importance of building a strong membership base, TCA held two seminars at the University of Dayton in 1989 and 1990 to promote the benefits of Tilt-Up. The efforts continued with Symposiums held in the fall of 1997 in Atlanta, Ga., fall of 1999 in Dallas, Texas and spring of 2002 in Arlington, Va. Today, TCA hosts a Symposium every other year that draws attendees from around the world.

Initially, TCA’s Executive Director split time between the TCA and his full-time position at PCA. Musser received aid from dedicated individuals throughout the industry who devoted their time to ensure that the organization was a success. Now, TCA has a professional staff that includes an executive director, technical director, administrative staff and consultants. Since 1992, Ed Sauter has served as executive director of TCA. Prior to this position, Sauter was CEO of a manufacturer of insulated sandwich wall systems for Tilt-Up and precast construction and a practicing architect. TCA’s technical director, Jim Baty, boasts a career long emphasis on thermal design efficiency. Before joining the TCA staff, he served as Composite Technologies Corporation’s technical services manager.

No history of the Association would be complete without addressing the significant changes in the Tilt-Up industry itself. Once labeled the medium for box warehouse space, Tilt-Up is now viewed as an architecturally appealing, cost-effective and durable solution for schools, religious facilities and community centers, office, retail, and more. The medium grew more than 111 percent from 1995 to 2000 alone and continues to grow both in terms of volume and diversity.

Finally, the Association’s efforts have responded to the tremendous growth with expanded offerings and services. On the technical side, TCA represents the membership on industry code bodies, offers seminars and a variety of technical documents to aid members in their Tilt-Up efforts, and has developed a joint certification program with ACI. In terms of marketing and promotional efforts, TCA has developed a variety of marketing materials members can use in their sales efforts, embarked on a public relations campaign, and even offers marketing seminars.

TCA’s focus also has switched from simply educating the contractor and engineering markets about the benefits of Tilt-Up to a concerted effort to educate the architectural and owner communities. Looking toward the future, Executive Director Ed Sauter wants to increase the use and acceptance of Tilt-Up throughout North America and beyond. To accomplish this goal, he believes TCA should encourage architects to develop more creative uses for Tilt-Up in a wide variety of building types. With education a top priority, Sauter wants to increase educational opportunities, including the creation of a self-study CD series and expansion of the website to include the ability to deliver all marketing, technical and training information via the Internet.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.