NAPA Annual Meeting Sets Industry Course Forward
With a focus on driving performance in the asphalt industry, close to 900 industry leaders met in Marco Island, Fla., for NAPA’s 60th Annual Meeting. Attendees enjoyed general sessions, educational breakout sessions, and committee meetings all geared to drive performance for their company, customers and the driving public.
The meeting began with the passing of the gavel from outgoing 2014 Chairman William C. Ensor of Maryland Paving Inc. to 2015 NAPA Michael Cote of The Lane Construction Corp. Ensor reported on the many achievements accomplished on behalf of the asphalt pavement industry during his tenure. Cote spoke to challenges facing the asphalt industry: federal highway funding, alternative paving materials trying to erode market share, environmental regulations and their costs, the need to improve worker safety, and how reduced prices, and the supply and demand for oil-based energy could affect the asphalt industry.
A highlight of the meeting was keynote speaker and energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, who shared his insights into the geopolitical and economic catalysts that affect the supply and demand of oil and natural gas. Pickens emphasized that the U.S. has enough natural gas reserves to be energy independent for the next century. Talking numbers that matter to asphalt plant operators, Pickens explained that with the cost to drill natural gas continuing to drop, oil would have to hit $41/barrel before diesel would become the more affordable fuel. On the global front, Pickens drove home how energy independence for the U.S. would remove it from turmoil in the Middle East and similarly would make it unnecessary for European countries to depend on Russia for oil. The other keynote address came from Maj. Dan Rooney (ret.), F-16 fighter pilot, professional golfer, and founder of Folds of Honor, which raises scholarship funds to benefit the surviving family members of soldiers who lost their lives or were severely disabled in the service of our country. Rooney shared stories from his tours of duty in Iraq and how he came to found Folds of Honor.
“Demonstrating Asphalt’s Drivability Advantage: Real-World Examples” brought a panel of industry leaders sharing how their roadway and Pavement Economic Committee projects were every day examples of drivability and asphalt’s many benefits over other pavement materials. Panelists stressed how these real-world examples reinforce the value of drivability with road owners, agencies, and the driving public. In addition, PEC research efforts that support drivability were published in a booklet distributed at the session.
Other sessions and breakouts focused on highway funding advocacy from the users’ perspective; life-cycle assessment; creating a corporate culture to emphasize quality; highway funding at the state level; what an industry tour learned about high RAP practices in Japan; hiring and retention practices; and an Environment, Health & Safety regulatory update.
Networking events, including the Diamond Reception, the Awards Breakfast, and the NAPA Young Leaders’ sponsored final dinner event and annual golf tournament, enjoyed enthusiastic attendance.