Article tools: Share:

TILT-UP TODAY 30th Anniversary

Español | Translation Sponsored by TCA

This year marks three decades of Tilt-Up Today being at the forefront of construction journalism. Cheers to 30 years of influencing design, construction, and industry culture! To celebrate the milestone anniversary, we’ve assembled a smattering of highlights from three decades of print, offering a time capsule and a reminder of just how long—and how short—30 years really is.

We recently interviewed former TCA leaders and staff to share perspectives on their roles, and to provide our readers a behind-the-scenes look at Tilt-Up Today’s start, decades of growth, and the fun caught during 30 years of publishing. Enjoy! 

“What do you think about a newsletter?” asked J. Edward “Ed” Sauter, former Executive Director to the 1992 TCA’s Board of Directors. With astounding support, and amid a flurry of quick promotion and great expectations, the first TCA Newsletter was published. When asked what he felt was the most arduous task in those early years, Ed recalls, “Physically laying out the articles and having a photographer take images of each page to send to print. The budgets were difficult to stabilize due to income, but we had the audience.”

TCA’s recently retired Office Manager Janette Barr reminisced, “The magazines ranged from four to eight pages and 250 copies of each issue were distributed quarterly. Each magazine had to be folded, tabbed, and addressed with a label to be mailed out. It was a lot of work!” By comparison, Tilt-Up Today is now circulated each quarter to over 10,000 readers. 

The TCA Newsletter, now called Tilt-Up Today, quickly grew to be a vital industry voice and became a valuable marketing tool for TCA members. The internal process has been a ride. “In the beginning, business cards were gathered from World of Concrete [when] advertisements [were] sold. Each card had advertisement details written on the back and all the artwork was submitted by mail. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that insertion orders were created, and advertisements were fulfilled via a fax machine,” said Janette. Today’s TCA staff is very grateful for technological advancements. 

Who wrote the articles? In the 1990s, most were written by former Executive Director Ed Sauter. “Articles were usually project based and or highlighted new techniques,” said Ed. In 2001, James “Jim” Baty joined the TCA staff and, with his vast industry knowledge and passion for tilt-up, became a strong and compelling author for Tilt-Up Today. When Jim was asked about his favorite part of curating content he replied, “Organizing the awards issues are the most gratifying. The images, content, and recognition belong to our members. Publishing their award-winning work is most rewarding.” In 2004, the TCA Newsletter was officially renamed Tilt-Up Today. Letters from TCA presidents also began being published that year with the first submission by former President Clay Fischer of Woodland Tilt-Up. Clay’s article about promotion and education is still relevant today; his article well illustrates the passion that is continually demonstrated in TCA leadership. Today, articles are authored by top industry professionals. It remains a core value of our staff to ensure that the content published always merits your attention.

Digging into the archives, we found a treasure trove regarding what are considered some of today’s most essential TCA resources. For instance, the October 1993 edition of the newsletter carried the article “Action Expected on Prototype Tilt-Up Specification at Next Board Meeting.”

All members of TCA were sent a prototype specification for tilt-up construction earlier this summer for comments, corrections, and additions. Many worthwhile and inciteful comments were received and were forwarded to the specifications committee headed by Hugh Brooks. 

The specification is based on the CSI three-part format and is the most comprehensive guide on tilt-up specifications presented to date. 

The intent of the standard specification is to provide architects, engineers, contractors, and specifiers a consistent framework so that owners and contractors alike will know what to expect when tilt-up construction is specified.

A few years down the road, the December 1997 edition of the newsletter offered a piece titled “Certification Proceeds” where Sauter updated the industry on TCA’s progress of establishing a certification program within the American Concrete Institute.

The tilt-up certification committee is now official. ACI Committee C650 – Tilt-Up Constructor Certification, was formally named and approved at the recent ACI convention held in Atlanta. The name was kept as broad as possible to reflect the intent of the committee that the program could be expanded to individuals other than field supervisors in the future. 

Committee C650 now has seventeen members. Engineers, contractors, and suppliers from all geographic areas of the U.S. and Canada are represented on the committee. Don Musser, former director of TCA, and Sam Hodges, a retired contractor, were pulled from retirement to speed the development of the program. 

The primary task facing the committee is the development of a question pool which will form the basis of the written tests. The questions must be carefully worded and written to test the candidate’s knowledge of the subjects fairly and honestly. A typical test would include 50 questions of varying degrees of difficulty from a total pool of 300. The questions would vary from test to test.

These were the beginnings of the imprint TCA made on the industry as it began to expand rapidly into the diverse industry that Tilt-Up Today now represents.

The very first issue as Tilt-Up Today (published in the winter of 2004) began to shape the evidence of the industry’s evolution.  In addition to Fischer’s inaugural letter, Sauter documented the remarkable expansion of the tilt-up industry and also stated his appreciation, as an architect, for the vast growth in programs and aesthetics.

Tilt-Up Construction has made tremendous strides in the past 15 years.  The volume of tilt-up walls constructed has grown from under 100 million to over a billion square feet of wall each year.  The area of buildings enclosed annually is estimated to be over 650 million square feet and the number of buildings constructed is in excess of 10,000.

The biggest change, however, is in the type of building constructed with tilt-up and the appearances of those buildings.  In many parts of the country tilt-up is used for everything from office and retail centers to churches, schools, and prisons.  Tilt-up is still the construction method of choice in the distribution center market, but as its acceptance and the designer’s awareness of the potential tilt-up increases, it will become a significant contender in nearly all building types.

The spring 2009 issue was adorned with a cover expressing the leadership tilt-up can and should provide for a budding new term and focused on “green,” or sustainable, construction.  An article titled “Going Green? Think Tilt-Up” was paired with letters from former President Jim MacKinnon of Saunders Construction (“Are You Green?”) and a piece from Sauter called “What’s All the Fuss? Tilt-Up has Always Been Green!”

The past few years have proven that the green and sustainable design and construction movement is here to stay. Not only have owners shown increasing interest in reducing life-cycle costs of their facilities, but design and construction professionals have also improved green building practices to make it more cost-effective and efficient. Savvy owners and design professionals are continually evaluating which construction method would help them accomplish their green goals for a project. Site cast, tilt-up construction is rising to the top as one of the optimal construction methods for meeting these initiatives.

It was fun hearing the shared experiences while preparing this article and we wanted to share these unpublished moments with our readers. We heard during interviews about Janette, in the early years, picking up magazine prints from a shoeless man, and how Ed and Jim were kicked off jobsites while admiring the views of tilt-up projects. “We carried business cards; sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t,” Ed stated with a chuckle. It’s interesting how none of these facts made it to print before now. 

Thank you for your dedication to Tilt-Up Today!  We’re excited to embark on our next 30 years with a renewed passion for industry news, while continuing to serve our original purpose and by staying at the forefront of construction culture for the benefit of our industry. 


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.