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Commentary: March-April 2011

Are Good Times Coming?


April 20, 2011
By Bill Tice


Topics

If the turnout in March for two major events in the aggregates,
roadbuilding and construction businesses is any indication of what
direction the economy is heading, we may be in for some long awaited
good times.

If the turnout in March for two major events in the aggregates, roadbuilding and construction businesses is any indication of what direction the economy is heading, we may be in for some long awaited good times.

In late March at ConExpo in Las Vegas, attendees came in droves – almost 120,000 to be precise. That’s the population of a small city. Held every three years, this show brings together the entire construction industry and is a showcase for anything and everything that is new to the market. This year, the attendees came to kick the tires on new equipment, check out new technology, network, and yes, buy. That’s right, according to the Milwaukee, Wis.-based Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), there was “an unexpected readiness of these customers to buy.” That was good news for manufacturers of everything from dump trucks to crushers and surveying equipment to safety gear.

In total, over 2,400 exhibitors were on hand to peddle their wares and they came big, filling a dozen massive exhibition halls and outdoor lots and consuming a total of 2.34 million net square ft. of exhibit space. In fact, ConExpo was so big, we have split our coverage up over two issues. You will find Part 1 starting on page 12 of this issue. Look for Part 2 in our May/June issue.

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It wasn’t just Americans who turned up for the five-day event in Las Vegas. One quarter of the attendees were from the other 150 countries represented at the show, including Canada. In total, about 13,000, or 11%, of the attendees were from the Great White North and, like our international counterparts, we Canadians in attendance were optimistic about the future.

That same sentiment was felt in Toronto in early March when over 11,000 attendees ascended on four halls of that city’s International Centre for Canada’s National Heavy Equipment Show (NHES). According to show management, it was a sellout in terms of floor space as more than 250 companies vied for the attention, and the dollars of attendees. The show was, of course, on  a much smaller scale than ConExpo, but the mood was similar. Attendees walked around, climbed on, closely examined, and sat in the operator’s seats of everything from small excavators to huge roadbuilding and aggregates gear.

It’s great to see the interest and the optimism these two shows generated. They may not be a scientific barometer of where the aggregates, roadbuilding and construction industries are at, but they certainly send a clear signal to equipment manufacturers and buyers that things may be on the upswing. With what our industries have gone through over the past few years, that can only be good news.


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