European Ready Mix Concrete Industry Giants Gathered at the 17th Congress in Istanbul

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The 17th Congress of the European Ready Mix Concrete Organization (ERMCO) took place at the Harbiye Military Museum in Istanbul. Representatives of important companies in the global and European ready mix concrete industry attended the congress, held every three years and hosted by Turkish Ready Mix Concrete Association (THBB) and ERMCO.

Sustainability of the concrete solutions, contribution of concrete to society, and marketing and management of concrete were discussed at the congress where the architectural use of concrete and concrete world wonders built until now were among the main titles of the sessions. Along with the congress was an exhibition where materials, products, and equipment for producing and testing concrete were displayed.

Yavuz Işık - President of Turkish
Ready Mix Concrete Association

Yavuz Işık, President of Turkish Ready Mix Concrete Association, and Stein Tosterud, President of ERMCO, gave the opening speeches. Then, Erdal Bahçıvan, Chairman of Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ICI), took the stand; he reminded that the 11th congress of the European Ready Mix Concrete Organization was also held in Istanbul in 1995 and said that hosting this congress in Istanbul 20 years later is very pleasant. Bahçıvan stated that the ready mix concrete industry is just as old as other industrial sectors for Europeans, but the popularization of using ready mix concrete in Turkey started after the second half of 1980s. Bahçıvan also underlined that although the Turkish economy has only a 30-35-year history with ready mix concrete, there is plenty of room for new adventures.

ICI Chairman Bahçıvan indicated that being among the top 20 economies of the world, the Turkish economy has a great potential. Bahçıvan also said that Turkey’s goal is to rise up to the top 10 economies of the world in the next 20 years and that in order to achieve this, there is a need for infrastructure investments, industrial moves, and the cement and ready mix concrete industry that can feed all of these.

Stein Tosterud
President of ERMCO

ICI Chairman Bahçıvan noted that although ready mix concrete production started in recent years in Turkey, there has been a rapid growth in capacity and production volumes. He said that in the beginning of 1990s, nearly 100 facilities in the industry could produce ready mix concrete; today, this number has grown over 1,000 providing employment to more than 30,000 people. Bahçıvan added that even if Turkey’s history with ready mix concrete is very recent, the knowledge accumulated and the production capacity enables Turkey to take its place among the prominent countries in Europe and around the world.

ICI Chairman Bahçıvan reminded that construction and construction materials have a significant place given the fact that Turkey is located on a seismic belt. He said, “Turkey has experienced tremendous pain from the fault lines we call a seismic belt. In the last century, our nation has experienced 56 earthquakes that have a severity of 6 or higher on a Richter scale. We lost approximately 82,000 citizens during these earthquakes. The biggest and closest two earthquakes, the Marmara earthquake and Van earthquake, are still fresh in our memories. These are the griefs that make our relationship with all aspects of construction, primarily cement, concrete, and construction materials, so special and sensitive for us. The fundamental factor of a structure is its reinforced concrete load bearing systems; in other words, the skeleton of the building that enables it to stand. Therefore, concrete is the most fundamental input of the construction industry. The earthquakes we have experienced in Turkey in the recent years and the inspections conducted on the collapsed buildings have revealed that, unfortunately, usage of non-standardized and low quality concrete and wrongful applications were significant factors in large-scale collapses and deaths.”

Nurettin Özdebir
President of Ankara
Chamber of Industry (ASO)

Nurettin Özdebir, President of Ankara Chamber of Industry (ASO) also attended the congress and gave a speech. Özdebir stated that Turkey is located in a seismic belt and thus, concrete and building integrity have vast importance. He reminded about the recent earthquakes in Turkey and said, “Unfortunately, we learned how important the quality and standard of concrete used in living quarters through experiencing serious sorrows.”

Özdebir continued, “Today, concrete is an industry that provides infrastructure to the economy. While growing so fast, Turkey will make maximum use of the sector’s strength. In addition to the grand projects that are ongoing in Turkey today, we expect a $50 billion building ecosystem to form in Turkey in the next 10 years. Especially the buildings torn down and rebuilt within the scope of urban transformation project will make up a significant amount of this ecosystem. Therefore, in order to protect the environment, demolished buildings must be restored for the sector. Turkey is growing rapidly, and for these reasons it needs this industry greatly.”