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Commentary: September-October 2011

It’s All in the Timing


October 17, 2011
By Bill Tice


Topics

As I sip my morning cup of coffee (well actually, my third cup of
coffee) on a late September day and ponder topics for this column, I
pick up the daily newspaper (yes, I still read a print edition on
occasion instead of getting all of my news electronically) hoping for
some inspiration.

As I sip my morning cup of coffee (well actually, my third cup of coffee) on a late September day and ponder topics for this column, I pick up the daily newspaper (yes, I still read a print edition on occasion instead of getting all of my news electronically) hoping for some inspiration. “MARKETS ON SHAKY GROUND” is the all-caps headline that spans the entire width of the front page. Underneath are some awesome graphics showing red arrows pointing south and illustrating negative trends in oil, the S&P/TSX, the Canadian dollar and the Dow Jones.

Awesome graphics aside, it isn’t exactly the inspiration I am looking for, and my first thought is, “here we go again,” as I return my focus to my strong west coast java. But reading about this latest meltdown does get me thinking about a new program I heard about just a week earlier, and how in business, timing is everything.

The program is the brainchild of executives at U.S.-based KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens, and their plan is to “spearhead” a national campaign to spotlight the need for infrastructure funding and generate a legislative call-to-action in the United States.

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Introduced at the company’s annual National Dealer Conference in New Orleans in mid-September with full fanfare, the campaign, which is called “The Road Connection,” is aimed at increasing pressure on the U.S. federal government to fund road construction. Not that the U.S. government isn’t already putting infrastructure money into roads – it is. But according to the industry experts brought in for the campaign launch, only a small percentage of infrastructure dollars actually ends up in the hands of the nation’s roadbuilders. These industry experts, along with the executives at KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens, would, of course, like to see more funds heading in that direction.

What’s different about this campaign is the team approach the company has taken. The experts it is working with are leaders from the country’s top industry associations and, in addition to working with these industry leaders, the company is inviting other companies and organizations within the industry to be partners, and to “speak as one voice.”

It’s not going to be an easy campaign and they have a long road ahead of them as they navigate the latest economic minefield. However, we have to give kudos to the people behind “The Road Connection” campaign, as they have taken the bull by the horns and are charting their own course. They understand that investing in roads will put people back to work, which will ultimately create a demand for more equipment, more raw materials, and, of course, more jobs. They also say, “better roads and better bridges will mean better business, not just for our industry, but for every industry.”

As for timing, it probably couldn’t be better, as U.S. politicians and lawmakers scramble to deal with this latest round of financial turmoil. The politicians are looking for ways to get the country working again and to stimulate the economy, and this program is falling into their laps. The key for the proponents of “The Road Connection” campaign is going to be getting their message in front of the right people in Washington. If they can do that, they just might make an impact, and a difference. Let’s hope they succeed. It is certainly not going to solve all of our financial woes, but it is a step in the right direction.


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