Article tools: Share:

Dedication – 25 Years of TCA Membership

By: James R. Baty II | Tilt-Up Concrete Association

It is hard to believe that this past year, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association turned 25 years old.  It seems only yesterday that we were celebrating the 20th year with our friends during the World of Concrete and in a blink of an eye another five is gone.  “Gone”, however, is a relative term as there is no point in the 25 year history of the TCA where one could say that the passing of time was wasted, or ineffective…in essence “gone” from a chance to make an impact.  Quite the opposite is true.  One has to look no further than to some of the stalwart companies that helped establish the TCA and have actively participated, as well as observed from an experienced perspective, in the transition of an industry thanks to the leadership of membership companies and dedicated staff.

Equally as likely as the fact that many may not believe TCA has reached 25 years already, is the origin and how TCA came to be.  I’ve had a chance to comb the early records full of hand-written minutes (since this was before the computer became commonplace) and carbon-copy typed letters to unveil just how challenging those first steps were to introduce a new opportunity and administrative entity to a mature industry that needed a spark to explode.  It was in committee meetings for ACI 551, the Tilt-Up Concrete committee of the American Concrete Institute, where the concept of an association dedicated to all things Tilt-Up was born.  The leaders of this initial movement were some of the most recognizable names like Don Musser (the first Director) who passed away earlier this year and Peter Courtois (the first president).  Joining them was an all-star cast of what it meant to be in the Tilt-Up industry.

  • Dave Kelly
  • Bob Truitt
  • Hugh Brooks
  • Bob Foley
  • Dave Compton
  • Murray Parker
  • Harvey Thigpen
  • Jim Wishnia
  • Bob Theisen
  • Ron Wertz
  • Bill Lester
  • John Bailey

Impressively, many of these names are still involved and quite active in the new horizon of the Tilt-Up industry.  Others are enjoying watching the seeds that they planted grow to maturity.  What they collectively share is the legacy that each of you reading this article are taking up as they are the founding members of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association.  They and their companies set in motion an amazing momentum that to this day surprises those still trying to learn just how big and how diverse this industry is and might become.

Rather than taking my word for it, we thought it best to close this 25th year with some interviews of today’s leaders that represent many of these founding companies as well as additional companies that are part of the exclusive 25-year member list.  I was privileged to be able to entertain conversations with:

TCA: What would you say are the most distinguishable characteristics of this Association today versus 25 years ago?

Thane: Twenty-five years ago it was a bunch of guys meeting at TCA to explore and grow the Tilt-Up world, to give it validity and credibility.  It was also important to give each of these original board members renewed confidence with Tilt-Up when they went back to their market area.  There was a sense of survival for the association back then as people often had to chip in to keep things running through the lean years. Today, we have a very professional association at the other end of the line – the next initiative might be to determine where to go from here – back then they weren’t there so to go somewhere else was laughable.

Hugh: I am privileged to have participated in the Tilt-Up industry since the early 1950s.   In those early days, there were probably fewer than a dozen Southern California engineers experienced with Tilt-Up and it took a sales effort to persuade a client of the cost savings and reliability of this new construction method.  The founding of TCA was an industry turning point.  Now Tilt-Up had a national voice.  Through seminars, newsletters, and other media the term “Tilt-Up” came into the lexicon of the entire construction industry.  Architects saw a creative challenge, contractors saw economies, clients recognized the advantages, and engineers were quick to acquire the expertise to design them.   Under the excellent stewardship of Ed Sauter, and his predecessor Don Musser, numerous seminars were given by TCA members – all well attended — and committees formed to inject the unique features of Tilt-Up into building codes. Probably the most effective proponent of Tilt-Up was the publication Tilt-Up Today launched in 1992 and now distributed around the world.  Although no longer practicing I look forward to each issue.

Mike: The association has grown tremendously over 25 years. It now reaches out to all parts of the Tilt-Up community to include design, engineering, contractors and suppliers both nationally and internationally.   The membership of the TCA can answer most any question related to Tilt-Up concrete.

Joe: The association has changed in many ways since it’s founding.  Obviously the website, since we didn’t have Internet or websites then.  This puts TCA resources, information and association archives immediately available to all members.  The TCA is now recognized as the representative voice of the Tilt-Up industry.  It is a much larger and more diverse organization.

Dave: When the TCA was first starting, we were taking over for the PCA promoting slender wall design.  We continued to push what size could be permitted with slender wall design and then went into how diversified they could look with all the architectural shapes and finishes.  In other words, the TCA finished changing the little caterpillar into a large butterfly that could be very large and look like anything you wanted.

Shannon: The TCA has a strong North American presence and is in the early stages of international outreach and importance to the global industry.

Gerry: It is hard to believe that this was 25 years ago.  We have enjoyed our association with the TCA over the past years, particularly the interaction of ideas and exchange of technology, which has been of significant benefit to our company.  We trust that our contributions were also of value to the other members and would encourage the continuation of this concept of mutual cooperation.  It seems that this has brought out the best in all those involved in the industry and we have confidence that you and the TCA staff will continue you fine work in the coming years.

Robert: The most distinguishable characteristics would be: the numbers and diversity of membership among all categories; contractors, engineers, architects, and manufacturers, the increased industry influence; i.e., market impact through publications, self-policing through certification programs, prime resource for dissemination of new technology, focal point for communication -“voice of the industry”. Also, the quality of publications, particularly Tilt-Up TODAY and the diversity and caliber of TCA Board Members.

Larry: Initially TCA was established with the intent to improve the quality and acceptance of Tilt-Up construction.  Today, through education, developing standards and code provisions TCA is actively meeting the goals set forth.  TCA has become a mecca for networking with the best Tilt-Up professionals in the world.

TCA:  Through 25 years of the TCA, how would you describe the difference in the market between now and then?

Thane: You almost don’t have to sell Tilt-Up at this point – it has begun to sell itself.  Starting out you needed a client who trusted you and a lot of wind to share the plan of Tilt-Up and that it was worth it.  Tilt-Up was a warehouse option back then – it is an option now for almost every structure.

Bob: Developers and investors are more comfortable with fact that Tilt-Up is a legitimate building method.

Hugh: Explosive until our current economy problems.

Mike: Over the last 25 years, Tilt-Up concrete buildings have gone from only big box or warehouse use to buildings of all styles such as schools, churches, movie theaters and even monuments!

Joe: The market is much more diversified and accepting of the Tilt-Up method of constructing all types of buildings today.  Twenty-five years ago, outside of California and Texas, Tilt-Up construction was not used very often, except for the occasional large warehouse.  It was up to individual design builders to convert projects designed with another material to Tilt-Up. Today, Tilt-Up is used to construct all types of buildings and structures.

Dave: TCA continued to promote Tilt-Up as the leading method of construction and the promotions got it accepted in many new markets by Architects and builders that hadn’t considered it.

Shannon: Early on, Tilt-Up was more utilitarian in design, used for warehousing for the most part. Now it is much more diverse with architecturally pleasing and challenging buildings and uses.

Robert: In the 1980’s Tilt-Up was a novelty in some areas of North America and completely unknown in many others. Marketing was largely focused on the education of architects, engineers, contractors and owners. And, the product was usually utilitarian; warehouses and factories. Today, thanks in large part to the efforts of TCA, the Tilt-Up building method is available in every market in North America and has demonstrated its versatility as a competitive construction method for mid-rise class “A” office buildings, up-scale retail centers and sculptures such as the Kansas City Korean War Memorial. Today’s marketing builds on the successful education efforts of the past 25 years and focuses on communicating the latest in architectural sophistication and advances in state-of-the-art technologies that make Tilt-Up the method of choice for architects and building owners.

Larry: Originally the market was much smaller.  Tilt-Up had a, “Big Warehouse Box” stigma.  We were still proving to the customer the advantages, (energy efficiency, durability, speed of construction etc).  Today all of the advantages are recognized and in general already well known.  25 years ago the economy was much stronger and not as price driven as it is today.  Quality is always on every owner’s mind, but unfortunately in today’s market, an owner is more willing to sacrifice quality for price.

TCA:  Over 25 years of development, what technologies do you feel have most significantly shaped the landscape of Tilt-Up construction?

Thane: Basically, I think the technologies are fairly simple (that’s what makes Tilt-Up popular).  The lifting, the hardware, bonding agents, special conditions, big braces, thin brick are all perfected now in their own right and do shape the landscape of Tilt-Up.

One discouraging note is that increased structural requirements of code changes has made it increasingly more difficult to continue to grow the applications of Tilt-Up as fast as they might have otherwise.  We work with these changes but concrete is heavy and usually impacts cost factors.

Bob: Architectural freedom and creativity along with the ability to adapt Tilt-Up to all industries, not just warehouses and manufacturing.

Hugh: Computers and software to assist the design process and the use of CAD.  Also, innovations in lifting hardware and the establishment of building code design guidelines, primarily through the efforts of ACI 551.

Mike: Ground release inserts, fixed length braces, helical anchors, thin brick and bond breakers.

Joe: Panel lifting and bracing hardware (ground release hardware, high capacity pipe braces, helical anchors for braces), bond breakers, mobile cranes, laser screeds, concrete pumps, panel coatings and finishes, computer software.

Dave: Initially Don Musser and Peter Courtois were influential in getting the TCA news out and Bob Foley helped a lot with promotions and building designs for his customers.  Meadow Burke, Dayton and Richmond promoted Tilt-Up and the TCA through their networks to help things grow.

Shannon: One of the biggest things in my opinion is the computer and the advancement in the engineering required for complex panels.  Also, the various surface treatments available – form liners, thin brick/block, retarders, stains, etc. has made a big impact in the aesthetics of building design.

Robert: Computers; hardware and software, particularly CADD, equipment: larger mobile cranes, larger braces, laser screed, specialty products such as remote release lift inserts and integral insulation (Thermomass), architectural products: thin brick, synthetic stucco (Dryvit), colored concrete, retarders.

Larry: I know there are a lot of new products, engineering systems and technologies present today specifically designed for Tilt-Up that were not available 25 years ago.  As we all know, Tilt-Up panels are a mirror image of the floor slab.  Being a concrete guy myself, I believe the advent of the laser screed has significantly improved the quality and flatness of floor slabs thus resulting in superior Tilt-Up panels.  Another technology that has greatly helped L.D. Clark Building Company is the development of the Thermomas Insulation System.  In our cold climate, this system has been a key benefit used to sell buildings.

TCA:  Describe what you feel is the one thing that has changed the most in the Tilt-Up industry for the 25 years your company has been a member.

Thane: For us the improvements and availability of cranes has made a large difference in our area but I guess the real noticeable change is the quality and innovative development of Tilt-Up finishes, particularly as it has taken off in the retail sector.  Finishes are not only varied and plentiful but the quality has improved dramatically as well.

Hugh: Architects should be credited for adapting Tilt-Up to an ever-increasing variety of buildings and to their engineers’ who make them feasible and economical.

Mike: Safety has become a priority and several of the innovations mentioned previously above have advanced it.

Joe: Software applications developed specifically for the Tilt-Up construction industry.  Personal computers were just coming on the scene and very little design/drafting software existed then.  Almost all of the design and drafting was done manually.  Current software has dramatically increased productivity and capabilities.  Tilt-Up projects are being designed and built now that couldn’t have been done without the computers and software of today.

Dave: Too many to name names, but the really large distribution centers like Target and Ikea and the Architectural wonders form Florida.

Shannon: More architecturally diverse and challenging building structures.

Robert: Broad acceptance of the Tilt-Up method by the architectural profession.

Larry: 25 years ago, manufacturing and warehouse buildings were the most prominent buildings utilizing Tilt-Up construction.  Today, with architects and engineers unbridled creativity and industry suppliers providing innovative products specific to Tilt-Up, the design possibilities have become limitless.  Churches, office buildings, multi-story, virtually all building types have become both possible and economical.

TCA:  25 years of consistent membership is a substantial commitment.  What would you say are the reasons why your company has maintained the commitment to the TCA this long?

Thane: We are committed to Tilt-Up and TCA represents part of that commitment.  This association has grown and changed and will need to continue to morph as conditions dictate.  You need to be in for the long haul to get to where something is worthwhile hauling – TCA has done that for Tilt-Up.

Bob: Architectural freedom and creativity along with the ability to adapt Tilt-Up to all industries, not just warehouses and manufacturing.

Hugh: To assist in advancing the market through seminars, committee participation, and, of course, our dues to support the finances of TCA.

Mike: It keeps our company front and center in the driving force association for our business.  I am not afraid to say that I’m not sure what the TCA would look like without Meadow Burke, not as strong I’m sure.  The TCA has been very beneficial to MB as it helps us maintain leadership in what we provide to the Tilt-Up community thru Tilt-Up Today, conventions and website advertisement.

Joe: Keep up with new developments, the opportunity to participate in guiding and shaping the development of the industry as it grows and matures, the contacts with other members, support of the industry.

Dave: After the slender wall introduction, Tilt-Up stagnated until greater capacity lift inserts and stronger and longer braces were developed to make Tilt-Up speed and size really practical.

Shannon: We originally were a concrete sub-contractor, but now are a General Contractor who still self performs concrete work, both for ourselves and still as a sub-contractor for other GC’s. So as a contractor who self performs concrete work, we want to promote the use of concrete as much as we can of the projects we are involved with. We were also one of the early adopters of Tilt-Up construction in the Louisville / Southern Indiana area (where we are located) and for years were the only major local contractor who self-performed the forming, pouring and erection of Tilt-Up panels on a consistent basis in this area. While we perform all aspects of concrete work, Tilt-Up is still our “brand” that we are most proud of.

Robert: Giving back to the industry by supporting through membership and active participation on board of directors and committees, exposure to industry leaders in construction, architecture, engineering and manufacturing, being aware of and having a voice in responding to the issues that affect the Tilt-Up industry, providing opportunity for key staff to have the experience and exposure to all of the above and displaying the TCA logo for our own marketing purposes.

Larry: I have always prescribed to the theory in business to surround myself with good people.  These people possess knowledge, good character and a desire to work.  TCA allows us to network with other contractors and industry professionals that have these same characteristics.  TCA keeps our company informed of new technology along with creating a confidence in our customers who appreciate that we belong to such a professional organization.

TCA: The next 25 years certainly will evidence as much change in the industry as the past 25 years.  What would you like to see most in the TCA for the years ahead?

Hugh: Perhaps adaptation of Tilt-Up to the housing industry.

Mike: Tilt-Up promotion in areas that do not understand the benefits of its use.  This would be the municipality/government market and international use.

Joe: To grow and become a much larger organization in order to have the budget necessary to be much more active in representing the Tilt-Up industry with code writing bodies and to obtain funding for research and development.

Shannon: I would like to see more involvement from architects and engineers, as that is where the designs begin. It’s tough to change a design once it gets to the contractor for bidding. Reaching out to the design community and large clients with building projects (school systems, government agencies, national retailers or property investment groups, etc.).  I think the involvement of the TCA in the certification programs, first for individuals and now for companies, is a big advancement in being more involved in the industry that will continue to prove beneficial for both the association and its members.

Robert: I would like to see expansion of the certification programs to include contractors and Tilt-Up sub-contractors (already in process), an expanded national education program offering monthly 1 to 2 hour seminars for architects, engineers and contractors that provide CEUs and LUs; TCA develops the programs and trains regional members to deliver quarterly (Could be developed as a source of revenue for TCA.) Also, I would like to see us maintain aggressive initiatives in marketing, education and membership

Larry: The future of TCA is limitless.  As we approach the years to come, we must be open to new ideas, new people, new technology and continued growth.  At the same time we cannot forget the lessons of the past.  Let us continue to build on the legacy established 25 years ago.

TCA:  What would you like to see most in the Tilt-Up industry for the years ahead?

Thane: I think the adventure into stacking panels and integration to a site cast floor system that allows competitive comparison to conventional building methods will allow continued growth and flexibility for Tilt-Up contractors as they become more comfortable with residential multi-story and higher buildings that use multiple panels to achieve the height.

Bob: Adapt lightweight, high strength concrete to Tilt-Up. Safe economic bracing for larger panels is needed coalition with crane associations would be a good step forward.

Hugh: Economic Recovery.

Mike: Continued innovation and growth.

Joe: Continued development of the Tilt-Up (site cast precast) market in the North America and further expansion and development of Tilt-Up construction globally.

Shannon: The acceptance of Tilt-Up as a viable building option by more architects, engineers and large clients with building projects (school systems, government agencies, national retailers or property investment groups, etc.).

Robert: The evolution of specialty sub-contractors who offer general contractors and owners a complete design-build Tilt-Up building shell; including design and construction of foundations, floors, walls and structural steel, the introduction of engineered component products that standardize design and make Tilt-Up construction ever more competitive, and continued efforts in design and construction to advance the sophistication of architectural concepts and finishes.

Larry: The current economic conditions have to improve.  Why can’t Tilt-Up be an intrinsic part of an economic recovery?

TCA:   Think of the other members in the TCA that you have met over the 25 years you have supported this network.  Who would you say has been the most influential person or persons on your company?  Why?

Thane: Meadow Burke has been the company for us in this regard and the backbone of their work was always Dave Kelly.

Bob: Peter Courtois and for his commitment to the Tilt-Up industry and to the many engineers who developed techniques that make Tilt-Up viable. (connections, etc.)  There have been so many individuals that I hesitate to name any for fear of missing someone.

Hugh: Many friendships over the years – mostly old-timers now – such as Dave Kelley, Bob Truitt, Bob Foley, Malcolm Davis, and many others.  But early-day seminars by Peter Courtois (and others whose names I don’t recall) inspired me to take copious notes which found their way into my book The Tilt-Up Design & Construction Manual, first published in 1988 (subsequently acquired by TCA).

Mike: Meadow Burke has always listened to the wants and desires of the people who build the buildings.  The Tilt-Up contractors.  Our innovations and changes have been driven by observing and listening to the field, the guys in the trenches who get the job done. They depend on our safe and efficient products and we depend on them.

Joe: I have been fortunate to meet and become friends with many notable and influential people through my 25 years of involvement with the TCA, too many to single out any one person.  They are consulting structural engineers, architects, general contractors, specialty subcontractors, manufacturers and suppliers.  All have brought tremendous knowledge and value to the TCA and its membership.

Shannon: We have used some ideas that Shawn Hickey has spoken of in his seminars – wax in the floor saw joints is a practice we have been doing for several years and continue to do to this day. We use to buy scrap wax from a local candle manufacturer in the beginning, but now are buying wax by the pallet direct from a supplier. It was always funny when I would have to explain what we, a construction company, would be doing with the wax as nobody understood (and I think never really did) why we would buy it just to pour it down a floor saw joint. But Shawn always has some good success… and failure… stories in his seminars we’ve taken over the years.

Robert: Don Musser: was the moving force in founding TCA. Recognized the void in the industry and got funding from PCA, NRMCA and CRSI to get it started. Pete Courtois: well known “personality” in the industry used his considerable influence to bring in members and establish legitimacy of the fledgling organization. He was a tireless promoter of Tilt-Up (his Ohio licence plate was “Tilt-Up”) and the Tilt-Up Association. Dave Kelly: technology, engineering and product innovator. Held multiple patents for products unique to Tilt-Up. Murry Parker: introduced Tilt-Up in Canada (east of British Columbia) and demonstrated to the industry that Tilt-Up could compete in the northern climates. Roger Meyer:  in the early 1990’s introduced Tilt-Up in the Kansas City market in an overwhelming and hostile “metal building” market (home of Butler Pre-Engineered Buildings). His success demonstrated to other contractors throughout the country that Tilt-Up could compete profitably with metal buildings. Further, when local contractors imitated his success and Tilt-Up began to be commoditized, he continued to raise the bar with sophisticated architectural innovations and expansion into new markets (office and retail) that kept his company ahead of the competition and served as an example for other contractors nation wide.

Larry: I have met and been associated with many people in the concrete industry.  A few people that stand out are Don Musser, Robert Foley, Peter Courtois, Murray Parker and Ed Sauter.  However, regarding Tilt-Up, Robert Foley has had the greatest impact on our company.  Prior to meeting Bob, I had an interest in introducing Tilt-Up to the Lansing, Michigan area market.  At that time, I was unsure of how to approach it.  Bob Foley’s knowledge and organization gave me the confidence to forge ahead with Tilt-Up.  Don Musser was the first Executive Director and Ed Sauter being the second and current Executive Director of TCA has provided strong leadership and countless hours which have resulted in a highly regarded organization.

TCA:  What would you offer to someone from a company just now beginning to explore the TCA based on your 25 years of experience?

Bob: To get as involved as possible by way of participating in seminars along with sub-committee membership.

Hugh: Join TCA and get involved in committees and attend seminars.  Those, and the very valuable Tilt-Up Today will keep you up-to-date on the industry and pay off for your business.

Mike: If your company desires to enter the Tilt-Up arena, I think it is a great choice as I see it growing over the coming years.  The TCA provides all the knowledge and means to learn, train and grow with Tilt-Up.

Joe: Get involved and be an active participant in the TCA.  There is much to learn about the business of Tilt-Up from the other members if you ask and participate.

Shannon: The availability of getting advice, answers and solutions from other contractors, suppliers, architects, engineers, etc. in the industry.

Robert: Join TCA, attend conferences and get involved.

TCA:  In 25 years of TCA membership and therefore observing the breadth of the Tilt-Up industry worldwide for that same time period, what building or project stands out the most to you?  Why?

Thane: For me, there is a project I have never seen but was built in British Columbia likely 5 to 10 years ago now and received a lot of coverage for its innovation and energy reduction endeavors.  What really stood out to me was the introduction of radiant floor-type hot water heating piping in the wall panels.  It struck home to me that Tilt-Up has come a long way.

Bob: I thought the casino in South Africa was magnificent.  If someone saw this project and was not convinced they could adapt their favorite creation to Tilt-Up they are not convincible.

Hugh: I’ll leave that answer to those more current.  But the achievements seen in Tilt-Up Today are truly awesome!

Mike: That is a tough question.  The TCA, thru its Awards has enlightened me on projects that I did not even know about that were fantastic in many phases of Tilt-Up.  I find it hard to single out any one project because the growth has become so widespread and type of structures so broad that it would not do justice to select one.  I must admit that building a floating Dam in Pittsburg out of Tilt-Up panels and moving it 20 miles down the Ohio River was pretty neat!  Funny thing is that you can’t see it now…it’s under water!

Joe: I don’t think any one building or project stands out since there are many outstanding Tilt-Up buildings built each year.  I would have to say what stands out the most is the transition from plain one story Tilt-Up warehouses of the past to the multi-story, highly fenestrated office buildings being built today as well as the many different types of structures, such as parking garages and air traffic control towers, being constructed with Tilt-Up today.

Shannon: There is so many, it’s hard to pick just one. But what they are doing down south, especially in Florida, Texas and even South Africa, are much more architecturally interesting than the warehouse box of Tilt-Up’s past.

Robert: A) South African Casino: the scale and complexity of the panels and relative inexperience of the contractor have always impressed me with courage and resourcefulness of the contractor. B) US Marine Corps HQ, New Orleans; Woodward Construction and Sunshine Structures: 400,000 sq ft, four story office building is not only massive in its scale ( I believe it is the largest Tilt-Up office to date),  the panels are designed as load bearing while meeting the new Federal requirements of progressive collapse. It is architecturally attractive, worthy of the US Marines and a building one would say, “I can’t believe that’s Tilt-Up”. C) Kansas City Korean War Memorial, Summit Concrete: Creates a new category for the Tilt-Up industry…sculpture. This structure incorporates so many state-of-the-art concrete finish technologies that it is truly a work of art. It will inspire the industry to new levels of architectural sophistication for many years to come.

Leave A Comment

Get Connected

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Connect with us on LinkedIn
Subscribe to us on YouTube


About us

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.