I joined Makers in 1989 at the same time the Concrete Repair Association was formed. Its initial creation was to create a body that was representative of contractors and in a fledgling industry the need to organise and have a professional collective voice was paramount.
Over those 30 years the nature of the industry has changed and we have seen many of the original companies come and go who were at the forefront of the industry back in the day like Stonecare and George Edsa. Today the organisation and its make up is somewhat different, the increase in its size together with its outreach and influence has meant that over time manufacturers and distributors have become key member components to the organisation. Past Chairmen have come from all of these sectors, ensuring fair representation but as is the nature of construction and the specialist fields in which many of our fellow members operate, the demands of the CRA are constantly changing but still rely on that original intention of being primarily a contractor led organisation.
As a trainee Quantity Surveyor back in the day and fresh off using SMM7, there was a gaping hole in a whole area of our world that didn’t cover the work we did as specialists so one of the many documents I was grateful for was the CRA Method of Measurement. As a trainee Quantity Surveyor, I was informed that Alan Perry of Makers; now deceased, was instrumental in its original compilation, which has stood the test of time but has undergone a few re-writes with contributions from all members, but is still relevant today as when it was first introduced. The CRA now has its own website, and within that helps to promote the understanding, education and practical development of the “dark art” of concrete repair either through technological advancement or process development, and the numerous papers, case studies and CPD’s it undertakes.
To many consultants and general contractors, the concrete repair industry is seen as small, niche enterprize. Yes, it’s not new build but we look after that fabric of infrastructure so many others neglect and leave behind, and deal with the issues often created from poor new build practice back in the day. Yes, it is not always sexy but it’s necessary and vital and without the technologies and advancement made within the industry and without the CRA supported by the Structural Alliance, we would see many of our buildings just fall into decay and be lost forever.
Over 30 years we have seen re-alkalisation, de-salinization, the introduction of anodes, migratory inhibitors, margel and the compliance of EN1504, all needed to be understood, explained and promoted. Although this is a small sector of the industry it has continued to develop with members of the CPA (Corrosion Prevention Association) pushing technologies and processes further.
In those 30 years we have seen manufacturing names like Inertol and MBT being swallowed up by the bigger players who are highly successful in our industry such as the likes of; Sika, BASF and Fosroc and continue to advance the world of concrete repair and refurbishment, but for me, the reality of the CRA has been the ability of competitors to come together, and try and move our industry forward. I take comfort from seeing familiar faces in a construction industry where longevity is absent, and turnover great. We seem to have an inbuilt loyalty to our industry, our businesses and clients and have battled with the difficulties the construction industry has presented over the years.
I would like to offer my congratulations to all of those who work to promote the CRA, and Structural Alliance. There are many characters that have come and gone but also remain and whenever the CRA gets together it’s always good to catch up and discuss issues of the day, from training, compliance and membership to name a few.
I had hoped to see Tony Handsard of SBD Weber as I thought Tony epitomised the CRA for me and I hope he is still well enough to attend his all-important CRA Golf Day! Tony had a knack of choosing not only his team but the prize he expected to win!
The CRA has held it’s AGM Dinner at some fantastic venues including the Houses of Parliament and Altitude at Millbank Tower was no exception providing astonishing views of the London Skyline which created an amazing backdrop in which to enjoy and celebrate the 30th Anniversary dinner, which was proceeded by the River Boat Cruise down the Thames from Westminster Pier to Greenwich and back again witnessing the London landmarks transform during the hours of dusk.
The anniversary dinner allows Makers to extend an invitation to both Jim Maker ex-chairman of the CRA and Peter Cowlard; winner of the Kevin Coulman Award, to join in the celebrations since their retirement and meet up with old friends and colleagues.
“The CRA has always held a special significance for me personally and Makers. As a founder member, it was important that contractors had their own forum to discuss issues and I am delighted it goes from strength to strength.”
Although both gentlemen are retired the Concrete Repair Industry has been a big part of their lives and both recant stories of days past which would seem alien to those now coming into our industry. Whilst the world moves on ever quicker it’s always good to be able to look back and reflect on good memories.
“The people at the CRA have been very kind to me and being awarded the Kevin Coulman memorial shield was a very special moment… it’s sad that some of those people are no longer with us, but hope the next generation continue to grow with the CRA which will be influential to our industry.”
I would like to thank the CRA for continuing to provide this forum and opportunity that allows past colleagues, friends and acquaintances to get together and chew the cud. Whilst it still has important work to do going forward its past has become invaluable and I look forward to its development over the next 30 years. I would like to extend my personal congratulations to Keith Barrow who was awarded the Kevin Coulman Prize on the night for his services to the CRA.
Makers Managing Director