The sun shone down on The Precast Show 2023 – both literally and figuratively – as record-setting crowds enjoyed three days in Columbus, Ohio.
A 70-degree afternoon welcomed the Grand Opening on Thursday, Feb. 23, with nearly 5,300 registered attendees taking to the 120,000-square-foot show floor filled with 378 exhibiting companies.
Attendees visited booths to see the latest technology and build relationships with vendors who help fuel the precast concrete industry. Large machinery stood alongside cornhole tournaments, T-shirt screening, a hands-on display of virtual reality crane operations and other novel ideas that drew long lines, helped attract people into displays and captured attention.
Here is a rundown of some of the key moments and events:
Keynote Luncheon Kicks Everything Off
More than 600 people gathered for the Keynote Luncheon on Thursday, Feb. 23, to celebrate association members and kick off The Precast Show 2023.
A record-number 63 men and women received their gold hard hats and graduation certificates as they became Master Precasters. The signature National Precast Concrete Association educational program includes two years of study covering precast basics, safety, production, technical, quality control and leadership.
The event also included celebrations of the Leadership NPCA graduates, plant certification anniversaries, Safety Awards and Best Practices Awards as well as a keynote address by economist Andrew Busch.
Honoring Joan Blecha and Ted Coons
As part of the Keynote Luncheon, NPCA Chair of the Board Joel Sheets presided over a special presentation, bestowing Lifetime NPCA Memberships to Joan Blecha and Ted Coons.
These leaders were recognized for a half-century of service each within the industry. They are mentors and role models to generations of precasters, hundreds of whom were in the room, setting the bar high for others to look to as professionals and as people.
Blecha served as Chair of the Board, becoming the first woman to hold that position. As Chair, she led the modernization of NPCA’s plant certification process, among her many other noteworthy accomplishments.
Coons has served on numerous NPCA committees, guides the Yoakum Award
Committee and helped build the NPCA Education program among his many noteworthy accomplishments.
Both also are Robert E. Yoakum Award winners.
More than 600 people boarded buses Thursday morning for a short ride to E.C. Babbert facilities in Lancaster and Canal Winchester, Ohio, to enjoy The Precast Show Plant Tours.
With breakfast starting at 4:30 a.m. and the first bus pulling out an hour later, the record-setting, sold-out tours were packed with enthusiastic riders looking to learn how Babbert creates and supplies vital infrastructure throughout central Ohio.
Precast industry experts led two days of education classes, drawing 1,130 men and women to the classroom for discussions on concrete production and repair, leadership and management, marketing and sales, quality control and more.
More than 200 individuals also took steps toward becoming certified as a Master Precaster by completing one of the three Production and Quality School courses offered in Columbus.
The Precast Show once again gave away $10,000 in prizes to randomly selected attendees, including a grand prize of $5,000 on the Show’s final day.
Once a name was called, winners had 10 minutes to locate the prize cart and claim their reward, which ranged from a Yeti cooler to a 36-bottle wide fridge to a $5,000 gift card grand prize that was taken home by Bertin Diaz Escalante of Encore Precast in Dayton, Ohio.
Foundation Student Competition
Cal State-Chico repeated as champion of the NPCA Foundation Student Competition, delivering its winning presentation at The Precast Show. New Jersey Institute of Technology and McNeese State also presented as finalists.
Chico earned $7,000 in prize money, divided between participating students and the school’s Concrete Industry Management program.
The NPCA Foundation/PCI Foundation Silent Auction raised more than $131,000 thanks to hundreds of donors and bidders throughout the month.
Big ticket items included four Green Bay Packers tickets and a tailgate party; a hunting trip for two at Webb Farm; vacation getaways to Great America West and California wine country; and dozens of discounts for equipment and items provided by Precast Show exhibitors.
A Saturday night celebration at Lower.com Field, home of MLS franchise Columbus Crew, capped The Precast Show with a celebration of friends, fun and festivities.
Visitors were greeted by Crew Cat, the Columbus mascot, who posed for photos and played with fans of all ages. A full-sized soccer goal was available to test kicking skills, and the Crew locker room was available for tours.
Entertained by a local band, NPCA members danced and celebrated another fantastic week together at The Precast Show.
The Precast Show is hosted by the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) alongside participating associations the Precast/Prestressed Institute (PCI) and the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute/National Concrete Masonry Association (ICPI-NCMA). Learn more about The Precast Show at the event website: ThePrecastShow.org.