Mayra Rodriguez lives hundreds of miles from where President Trump wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico.
But she’s ready to offer a discount to the government to get it built — if it’s made of concrete.
Rodriguez was among the 60,000 people attending the first day of the World of Concrete trade show Tuesday.
“We’ll give them (the federal government) a good quote,” said Rodriguez, of Walla Walla, Washington-based Accurate Concrete. “Trump, we’ll do a 10 percent discount! Call us! The nation needs a discount. We’re tired of being held hostage,” she said in reference to the government shutdown stalemate. “Let us go so we can go build it!”
But most of the people asked at the three-day trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center didn’t want to touch the border wall issue with a 10-foot pole.
Most just laughed when asked whether they preferred seeing a concrete or a steel wall, the two substances of choice mentioned by the president when discussing his solution to protecting the nation’s southern border. But others, like Tim Manherz, senior vice president of TAS Commercial Concrete of Houston, favored the substance that is the subject of 745,000 square feet — nearly 13 football fields worth — of indoor and outdoor concrete-related exhibits.
“It’s more durable,” Manherz said. “It’s going to be there for a long time. Steel and stuff, you can cut and change and alter the finished product. Concrete’s going to be a much more durable, harder piece and more stable for years to come.”
Manherz said most of his industry colleagues aren’t dwelling over the politics surrounding the border-wall debate, but they are paying attention if it comes down to lobbying for the substance used to build it.
“We’re always paying attention,” he said. “I’m not going to get into a political debate right here, but if it’s concrete, we want to be a part of it so we’re all paying attention to it. There have been a lot of our members involved for more than a year and a half,” he said.
Tom Baggett of Forta Concrete Fiber, Grove City, Pennsylvania, said the versatility of concrete should make it the substance of choice for a border wall.
“Concrete can be made to look like earth tones and rock finishes to blend in with the structure and still be there to look like a natural finish where you might not even be able to conceive of the structure that’s in place,” he said. “It’s a great product to use and a good choice for any type of structure.”
But not everybody is convinced that concrete is the way to go, even while attending a concrete show.
“With concrete, a hammer and a chisel … they’re going to make a hole,” said Lyndsey Finn of Greenup, Illinois-based K&A Lewis Construction.
“I really don’t care what it looks like,” she said.