Northeast Chapter

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January 2024

By Reta Smith posted Jan 18, 2024 12:50 PM



Northeast Chapter Board Member Spotlight

Mark Lavallee is the chapter’s newest board member now serving as the Massachusetts State Representative.

Mark graduated from the University of Maine in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. Following college, Mark pursued his career working for a small civil engineering firm, Goldsmith, Prest & Ringwall, Inc. in Ayer, Massachusetts. He worked for this firm for six years and found his passion for all things civil engineering. Mark designed subdivisions (utility layout, stormwater management, septic/sewer systems, lot layout, erosion controls, etc.), pulled permits for Planning Boards and Zoning Boards, and did a lot of wetland permitting and designs. Following his time at GPR, Mark joined the Ferguson Geo and Stormwater team where he is able to utilize his engineering background and knowledge to show, explain, and present multiple products and solutions to industry professionals. This includes stormwater management, erosion control, pre-treatment, base stabilization, and more. Along with informing engineers, contractors, and municipalities about geosynthetic solutions, Mark also spends a good amount of his time onsite with contractors. He oversees all stormwater management system installs, slope stabilization installs, and any other product installations that contractors and engineers utilize.

Key takeaways from years of installation oversight :
-Incorrect product installation severely reduces the effectiveness, life span, operation and intended maintenance of the solution
-On-site assistance improves the contractor’s ability, reduces unanswered questions and provides all parties with assurance of proper installation methods
-Protection during the construction phase using good erosion control measures is critical.

Mark lives in Dunstable, Massachusetts. In July 2023 Mark welcomed his second son into the world, making it a family of four, his wife Allie, and his two sons Lucas and Leo. Mark is passionate for action sports, recreational sports, and all things outdoors. He enjoys fishing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking, it just depends on the season in New England! Mark is now raising his family encouraging and showing his children his passion for the outdoors. Lucas, his oldest son (age 2) seems to have the same drive as when the sun rises, he is ready to get outside (does not like snow at the moment)! 

Whether it is beaches, lakes, rivers, mountains, wetlands, or forests, Mark has the passion to preserve and protect our natural resources so that in the future, everyone has the same opportunities to enjoy nature as he did and still does to this day! 


Red Sea Situation – Transportation Impacts to Business
A view from Susan Paisley, CT State Representative

The Houthi rebels attacking container ships at the Red Sea:
This has created a volatile situation for importers, such as RL Pritchard & Co Inc. For the erosion control industry, we import Jute netting to make erosion control blankets, as well as Soil Saver Jute mats. For those who are not familiar with these products, a picture of Soil Saver is shown to the left. These mats are used on slopes to hold the soil in place while grass seeds are established.

Before the pandemic, shipping costs for a 40ft dry cargo container may have been around $3,000 from India or Bangladesh to the USA, depending on USA destination. During the pandemic, we saw prices rise to nearly $15,000.

For 2023 we saw price drops in ocean transport each month. The end of 2023 saw shipping prices dropping lower than before the pandemic, down to $2,000. January 1, 2024, our shipping costs saw a $500 increase. Last week shipping costs increased $1,500 per 40ft container. Today, they abruptly increased an additional $3,000. So, now we are back over $7,000.

Folks needing supplies tended to be cautious in over-ordering after the pandemic, so they missed the low shipping costs of 2023 and are now back to overpriced transport. This creates a glut of folks trying to get goods shipped from overseas quickly, before the next price increase.

The price quotes that USA businesses gave to their customers are no longer realistic. The delivery times are delayed because the container ships are avoiding the area of conflict.

In effect, the Houthi rebels are causing American companies to pay huge extra shipping expenses.