Summit Reliance Group was founded three years ago to pursue new markets for its construction system — steel-reinforced, concrete-ribbed construction panels poured into molds right at the building site, so structures get built for less time and money than traditional construction.
CEO Steven Maimon said the company's concrete panel technology, called StructCrete, has been used on projects in California and Colorado — and it's perfect for rapidly developing countries such as India, where wood for construction is scarce and there is a strong need for rapid, low-cost construction of commercial buildings, schools and housing.
But if he had his wish, Maimon said his next stop would be the Shore.
Maimon said StructCrete would be perfect to rebuild homes, commercial buildings and boardwalks. Stanley North III, the company's general counsel, said the StructCrete panels could also be used as the structural "stilts" to raise homes in the wake of Sandy to avoid future flooding.
Maimon said he is frustrated he has been unable to get officials to explore StructCrete as a solution at the Shore.
"We would like to see New Jersey be the center for disaster reconstruction using our technology," he said.
One issue is an aesthetic resistance to concrete, even though StructCrete panels are invisible, just as two-by-fours and plywood in a stick-built house can't be seen once the building is finished. "People want stick-built, or they go for stick-built with a brick veneer," he said.
North said StructCrete could be used to rebuild the boardwalks, "but this is a sea change" for many communities, he said. "We could build a better boardwalk, with a 100-year life, but people are used to wood."
The company said StructCrete is a sustainable technology that uses half the concrete of conventional concrete panels, and can employ lower-skilled labor to cast the panels at the construction site, instead of loading trucks with factory-made panels and hauling them hundreds of miles.
While its Shore ambitions are on hold, Summit is talking with developers in South Africa, Russia, Brazil and Colombia.
In the developing world, "we offer them something they don't have," Maimon said. "We can save a lot of money, and if you can build a lot of buildings concurrently and very fast for these countries, it is a solution they don't have any other way."