Lafarge Adds 500 Employees in Buying Columbus, Ga., Concrete Company

Lafarge Adds 500 Employees in Buying Columbus, Ga., Concrete CompanyA Paris-based building material supplier has dipped into its deep pockets to cement its presence in the Columbus market.Lafarge S.A. has completed its acquisition of The Concrete Co., a family owned operation founded in 1951 by Charlie Frank Williams. The Concrete Co. since has grown to 500 employees with operations across Georgia and Alabama and into Florida. It primarily sells ready-mix concrete, sand, gravel, corrugated metal pipe, concrete pipe and concrete-related building materials used in residential and commercial construction.Financial details of the purchase were not disclosed, but it includes a cement import terminal, two distribution terminals, and 46 ready-mix plants churning out 1.6 million cubic yards of concrete annually. That’s the equivalent of more than 2,000 acres of concrete one-foot thick, Lafarge said.”These assets . . . will allow us to serve a broader base of customers,” Bernard Kasriel, Lafarge chief executive officer, said in a statement. “This acquisition positions us well for future growth in the Georgia, Alabama and Gulf Coast markets.”Frank Foley, who served as president of The Concrete Co. prior to the buyout, was out of town and unavailable for comment Thursday, said an employee answering the phone at the firm’s main office on Schatulga Road. The company also has facilities on Brickyard Road in Phenix City, off U.S. Highway 280 in Salem, Ala., and on Vulcan Material Road in LaGrange, Ga.Lafarge S.A. deals in cement, roofing, gypsum, aggregates and concrete. Its subsidiary, Lafarge Building Materials Inc., actually made the purchase of the Columbus company. But its management will fall under the holding company Lafarge North America, which is based in Herndon, Va.”We will manage the operations and the assets of that acquisition for the Lafarge group,” said Lafarge North America spokeswoman Peggy Disney.Though customers shouldn’t notice a difference in service, Disney said, the company does plan an assessment of the Columbus operation to determine if more or fewer employees and facilities are needed.”Obviously, the announcement was just made,” she said. “But all the employees are on our payroll right now.”Lafarge already has a presence in Columbus, buying out rival Blue Circle in 2001. That company employs more than 100 locally, operating a rock quarry off Grey Rock Road. It also has sand and gravel pits in the surrounding area.By Tony Adams, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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