Longtime ACIA engineer receives Chairman’s Award

Johnny Canfield, longtime employee of the Alabama Concrete Association, received the Chairman’s Award for his outstanding career and leadership in the concrete industry. The award is given each year at the Annual Business Meeting which was held in Birmingham on January 18th.

Johnny was born in 1940 in Memphis, TN, and was one of four children. In 1956, his family left Tennessee and settled in Jasper, AL, where he attended West End High School in Jasper and took an interest in pursuing a career in engineering.

Following graduation, Johnny began his studies at Jefferson State Community College and then transferred to UAB where he received a Bachelor of Science- Engineering degree. Wanting to learn more about concrete and design, he also took courses at the University of Missouri in foundation design.

While pursuing his degree, Johnny began a career at Alabama Power and was thrown into some of the largest concrete construction projects in the state. This included time building Smith Dam, Neely Henry Dam, Weiss Lake Dam and Logan Martin Dam. Over the course of six years with the company, Johnny gained real world expertise in mix design and concrete placement that served as the basis for his future engineering career.

In 1965, Johnny was approached by Law Engineering to join the company and serve as their senior materials consultant. In this roll, Johnny began interacting with the concrete industry in the state by developing mix designs for the companies. While most people today put up their own mixings at their company lab, in the 1960s, Johnny was designing as many mixes as any engineer in the state.

Based on his interaction with the industry, many of the ready mix companies asked him to help grow the recently created ACIA. Johnny graciously agreed, and served on the board during its early years.

In 1980, Johnny felt it was time for greater challenges and decided to form with several partners, Ground Engineering. Johnny served in multiple capacities with the firm, ultimately serving as the Chairman of the Board. Under Johnny’s leadership, the firm grew to three Alabama offices, one Florida office, one Tennessee office, and one Kentucky office. At its peak, Ground employed more than 300 people and was one of the leading testing firms in the southeast. At Ground, Johnny continued to be known as an expert in mix designs and was assisting with mix designs around the world. Many people in this room worked with Johnny during this time including Tim Kirshner of Bama Concrete and Dave Mandel with Sequatchie Concrete.

In 1985, Johnny felt he needed to give back to future engineers and decided to start teaching a soil mechanics class at UAB. While Johnny anticipated he would help for a few years, in 2016 he finally told Dr. Fouad Fouad he believed 30 years of service was enough to give back.

In 1998 QORE Property Sciences purchased Ground Engineering. Johnny continued on for 6 years with the company before retiring. However, instead playing golf everyday, Johnny took on the role of technical director for our association. Forty years removed from the group he helped get going in the late 60s. In this role, he taught hundreds of concrete classes and continued to field questions from architects and engineers on concrete problems. Johnny also assisted members in a role of an independent voice on diagnosing the root cause of concrete problems. Johnny served in this role until October of 2017.

He says he is most proud of being able to help ACIA members out of litigation when the concrete was wrongly being called ‘bad concrete.’ How many times was he on the losing side? Just one.

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