Cement shortage creates problems

Tony Parra: PNT staff writer

A lack of cement has affected Clovis and Portales construction companies trying to keep pace with the building boom in eastern New Mexico.

New Mexico is feeling the effects of a growing construction industry in China, the rebuilding southeast Asia after the tsunami disaster, and rebuilding in Florida after hurricanes, according to industry officials.

It comes at a time when there are many construction projects going on around Portales and Clovis. Rudy Garcia, owner of R.G. Lath and Plaster Inc., said his company couldn’t be busier.

Garcia said he has 15 employees which primarily work on stucco plaster projects in the area. According to Garcia, he receives a truck load, approximately 500 pounds, once every two to three months from Triangle Ace Hardware in Clovis.

“I usually get it within four or five days, but the last time I got a truck load, it took two to three weeks,” Garcia said. “I usually get it from Albuquerque through Ace, but they were unable to do that this time and gave it to me from their Clovis warehouse.”

Winston Griego of Nick Griego and Sons Construction Inc. said the shortage hit the company Monday when his supply was cut by 80 percent.

He said the company was receiving 15 to 20 semi-truck loads of cement, but the supply was trimmed to four semi-truck loads per week. Each semi-truck carries between 25 to 27 tons of cement.

“We’re having to look elsewhere for cement,” Griego said. “We’re checking on companies in Colorado and Texas.”

Griego said one of the major concrete pavement projects is the work being done to Southwest Cheese Plant. Griego said fortunately they are nearing completion of the concrete pavement work and the shortage shouldn’t affect the project.

Griego said the company lays approximately 20,000 yards of concrete each month but that number would have to be cut down to 4,000 yards.

“It’s definitely going to affect us,” said Joel Flores of Colorado River Concrete in Clovis. “We were wanting to finish one project in eight to nine months, but because of the cement shortage, it’s going to take us three years.”
Flores said Colorado River Concrete was receiving 12 semi-loads a week, but that was cut down to four semi-loads per week.

Griego and Flores purchase cement from the Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua Rio Grande Inc. plant in Tijeras Canyon. According to an Albuquerque Journal article, it is the only cement plant in New Mexico and has been making 500,000 tons per year for the last 10 years.

GCC Rio Grande Inc. told its customers last week the company would begin rationing the supply of cement because outside suppliers GCC Rio Grande Inc. depended on are strained by growing needs by states such as Texas, Arizona and Florida, according to the article.

Griego and Flores said GCC Rio Grande Inc. representatives told them the effect would last to at least the end of 2005. Still the dependency by construction companies on cement requires company officials to make adjustments.

“The whole United States is going through it (cement shortage),” Tommy Heflin of Portales Concrete Inc. said. “You can’t pour concrete if you don’t got it.”