4 Surprising Facts about Cement

Maurice Bouri has been in the cement business all his life. As the son of Seament founder Alexander Bouri, he learned about cement at a young age—since then, he has remained in the family business and only increased his knowledge and experience. This affordable, adaptable building material still fascinates him today, and he wishes to share his learning on the subject.

Here are four of Maurice Bouri’s favorite facts about cement, which you probably never knew:

1.  Cement and concrete are not the same things – Most people speak of cement and concrete as if they’re the same things, but they’re not. In fact, cement is an ingredient in concrete, and both substances are used for specific applications. Cement is what is known as a binder, a substance that holds other materials together—not unlike glue. That should give you a clear picture of exactly what cement is used for: you could glue two blocks together to make a wall, but you wouldn’t want to build a whole wall out of just glue. Concrete, on the other hand, also includes “aggregate” material that gives the mixture more strength when it dries and hardens. Originally, simple materials like chopped straw were added to cement to make concrete, but today there are a wide variety of additives. This is what allows entire buildings and bridges to be made safely out of concrete.

2.  Concrete is the world’s most necessary building material – Globally, we use more cement-based concrete in a year than any other construction material. It outclasses all other substances, and we use twice as much concrete per year than we use steel, wood, and other construction materials put together. This speaks to the remarkable versatility of concrete, which can be poured into virtually any shape and is used in paving and infrastructure, as well as buildings.

3.  The first cement was used in ancient Rome – Cement is nothing new. Both the word and the idea date back to (at least) ancient Rome. Roman cement was made using lye from ashes. Crushed stone, crushed brick and volcanic ash were also added to help give the substance the right consistency and binding characteristics. The recipe has changed over the past 3,000 years, but the idea is the same.

4.  Cement is still an evolving field – Today, Portland cement is the type of cement most widely used worldwide. However, innovation continues. Variations of concrete have been developed that are resistant to chemicals or even conductive to electricity. And “energetically modified cement” uses a mineral treatment process to make a substitute for Portland cement at a much lower cost.

What parts of your home are made with cement?

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The Legacy of Maurice Bouri

Imagine a world without cement. You might think that such a world would not be very different from our own, with other materials like wood and steel replacing cement in our cityscapes. But you might be surprised at just what would disappear: without cement, the steel frames of tall buildings would lack an affordable and load-bearing construction material, and skyscrapers would be almost nonexistent. Pavement would be expensive and become a luxury. Energy-efficient buildings would be rare, and industrial facilities would be incredibly expensive to construct, making for faltering technological development the world over. While such a world seems hard to imagine, that was the reality in many developing nations—until Maurice Bouri and his family came along.

As countries in Africa and Asia moved toward industrialization in the mid to late 20th century, rapid construction and new infrastructure was a must. However, many developing countries did not have the local resources to produce the cement needed for construction on this scale. In particular, creating new industrial facilities and the infrastructure to handle industry was difficult, if not impossible.

The logical solution was to import the cement they needed, which (for many countries) could only be done on a small scale. Cement is normally transported in giant container ships that require large docking facilities, but ports in underdeveloped nations lacked the space and infrastructure to handle the vessels. Of course, renovating the ports would have solved the problem—but this itself would have been a massive, cement-heavy project that could take many years to complete, even if funding was available.

That’s where Maurice Bouri and his family came in. Maurice Bouri is the manager of Seament, a company founded by his father Alex Bouri. The Bouris looked at the cement crisis and thought of a solution. While everyone else was asking how to expand the ports, the Bouri’s asked whether the ports really needed to be expanded at all.

Instead, they reasoned, why not unload the cement offshore and bring it into port on smaller vessels? Unloading facilities would still be necessary, but if they could be placed offshore the large ships would not need to enter small, shallow ports. They designed a floating docking facility on a simple barge that could unload the container ships and transfer the cargo to other vessels. This was the origin of Seament.

While their innovations in the cement shipping field may be unsung, they had large reverberations. Ports in at least nine developing nations were revolutionized by Seament’s design, and progress steamed forward.

5 Things You Need to Run a Successful Family Business

Seament is a company that did not form and see success overnight. It took founder Alexander F. Bouri many years to gain an education, build an understanding of the industry, plan, and create his business. He also did not do it alone. While he may have been the one responsible for founding it, he also had a lot of help from his family. His sons Charles and Maurice Bouri have both had a hand in the success of Seament. They have gained valuable experience from their father and had the opportunity to offer their own opinions and insights as they served various managerial roles for Seament. The Bouri family can teach us a lot about running a successful family business, including these five things you must have if you wish to see your business prosper.

1.  Knowledge of industry. You can’t create a business in an industry you know nothing about and expect to gain overnight success. Before launching your business, make sure you learn as much as possible about the industry. For instance, all of the Bouri family members studied different aspects of commerce in college, including business, finance, and marketing. They also stayed informed on the latest news regarding the cement industry. This allowed them to set their business apart from others and use their experience and knowledge to create unique solutions for over 60 countries who were suffering from cement shortages.

2.  Patience. You must, must, must be patient when running a family business. First and foremost, you need to be patient with your family, who will also serve as your co-workers. Family members and co-workers can have disputes and disagreements, and may make mistakes from time to time. Try to solve your problems and work out solutions rather than losing your cool. Remember, while they may be your co-workers, they are also your own flesh and blood. While you can get away from your co-workers, your family will always be your family.

3.  Experience. The more you work, the more you’ll learn. What is one thing the most successful leaders or business people all have in common? Years of experience. It is rare for a brand new business owner to become an overnight success. They need more experience in the industry and will often have to watch their business suffer through pitfalls before slowly gaining momentum and success. Through this process, they learn more about what works and what doesn’t, and why. The longer you work in a particular industry, the more likely you will be to understand it and its trends so that you can adapt that knowledge to your own business needs.

4.  Willingness to learn. Everyone’s heard the famous saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Why can’t you? Because an old dog will probably be unwilling to learn new tricks. Don’t be the old dog of your business – be willing to learn new skills! No matter what industry you choose to open a business in, you’ll find that it’s always changing, which means that you will need to adapt. Keep an open mind and always be willing to give any new idea a chance. You don’t have to like or support it, but you should at least consider giving it a try.

5.  Listening skills. If you want your business to be a success, then you and your family members will have to learn to really listen to one another. Don’t let one person run the entire show. While Alexander F. Bouri was the founder of Seament, he didn’t exclude his other family members from his business, always included his sons Charles and Maurice Bouri, and demonstrated strong listening skills.

Running a family-owned business can be very challenging – especially since there’s a fair chance you will not only be working with your co-workers, but living with them as well. While this can, at times, become very stressful, you will find that when you really listen to one another, it will be a very rewarding and successful form of work.