Friday, July 31, 2015

Executive Director Message July 2015

As I look back over the course of the last year and forward to what lies ahead for the asphalt pavement industry in terms of trends, a particular quote by Gary Hamel, a world-class leader in business management and strategy, comes to mind.  He said, “A noble purpose inspires sacrifice, stimulates innovation and encourages perseverance.”  Wise words indeed for just about any of us to live by, but words that take on particular significance for the Utah Asphalt Pavement Association (UAPA) as we have carefully and thoroughly examined our purpose “to unify the voice of the asphalt industry to promote the quality and use of asphalt pavements in Utah.”

With that purpose solidly in place, here are just a few things we are doing to stimulate innovation in asphalt paving.  The use of warm mix asphalt technologies continues to be a growing and important trend in Utah.  In fact, Utah leads the much of the nation in terms of the use of warm mix asphalt with measured benefits including, reduced emissions, reduced energy use, increased windows for paving seasons, enhanced workability of the mix, and an increased ability to travel longer distances before placing the mix.  All great things!  We also continue to partner with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to provide quality asphalt by making small, but nonetheless important, tweaks to build more durable mixes without sacrificing stability. Together with UDOT we are actively examining the importance of oil content, air voids, joint compaction, smoothness, reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) management practices, and the role of various other performance specifications.  Stone Matrix Asphalt (SMA) continues to be an important, growing, and well-performing mix for UDOT, so we are actively partnering on how to make that specification even better.

As always, the Utah Chapter of the American Public Works Association (Utah APWA) remains an important partner of industry here in Utah.  Similar to UDOT, we continue to work with the Utah APWA to improve specifications, raise basic standards, and educate owners on how to specify and verify the best mixes for their needs.  No small tasks for any one of us!  That’s why together we must persevere.

How to best to that, to persevere, is a question I have long-thought about over the course of my three years as the Executive Director of UAPA.  With a clear purpose in place, and plenty evidence of stimulated innovation moving forward, I believe the best way to persevere in our efforts is through education.  Therefore, UAPA remains heavily focused on our Lunch and Learn program, the Utah Asphalt Conference (UAC), and new and promising educational seminars including the Southern Utah Asphalt Seminar (SUAS), and the soon-to-be-launched Eastern Utah Asphalt Seminar (EUAS).  With special direction given by UAPA’s board of directors, our Lunch and Learn program is now run in ten out of the twelve months of the year.  Last year, the UAC had over 750 people in attendance over the course of two days full of twenty-eight breakout educations sessions.  And we successfully launched the SUAS with over 120 people in attendance for a full day’s worth of education geared specifically to our friends in southern Utah.  This year we plan to do the same for all of partners in eastern Utah through the creation of the EUAS sometime in the near future. 

For me, the most important trend in the asphalt pavement industry in Utah is growth in education.  A particular emphasis of UAPA, but one that is vital for anyone wanting to innovate, sacrifice, and persevere in this industry.  With an emphasis and growth in this one particular area, I am confident that the quality and use of asphalt pavements in Utah will naturally follow.  A noble purpose indeed, and one that I am proud to see the unified voice of our industry continue to pursue.