Business Roundup: Construction jobs reach 10-year high; Cat closing attachment plant; off-highway equipment GDP impact; FPT/Liebherr engine deal; dealers should add rent-to-rent

Construction sees largest monthly jobs increase in nearly a decade; home starts up 3%

The U.S. construction industry added 58,000 jobs in February, according to preliminary data from the Labor Department. Monthly jobs figures can change as the department revises past estimates month to month, but if February’s figure holds, it would be the second-largest monthly construction jobs gain of the last 10 years.

The largest increase of the last decade belongs to March 2007 when the industry added 80,000 jobs before shedding nearly five times that amount over the following 12 months.

A total of 6.881 million Americans are currently employed by the industry, an increase of 3.2 percent over the February 2016 total.

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Caterpillar to close attachment manufacturing facility in Iowa

A facility in Elkader, Iowa, is the latest Caterpillar plant to see an announced closing date as the company continues its cost reduction efforts.

According to a report from KCRG TV, the Elkader facility manufactures excavator buckets, wheel loader buckets and dozing blades. The move will cut 75 jobs, the station reports, and Caterpillar says it will be moving manufacturing of these attachments to its Wamego, Kansas, facility.

The station reports that the company had doubled the size of employees at the Elkader plant in 2015 from 40 to 80 workers.

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AEM: Off-highway equipment industry contributed $159 billion+ to GDP in 2016

With ConExpo’s sunny skies and sunny moods as a backdrop, show producer Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) issued research findings stating the equipment manufacturing industry (construction, agriculture and mining) contributed more than $159 billion to the GDP of the United States in 2016.

Produced by research firm IHS Markit, “The Market Size and Economic Contributions of the Off-Highway Equipment Industry” report said equipment manufacturers in 2016 supported more than 1.3 million jobs in the United States through direct, indirect and induced employment effects. And these are good paying jobs, with an average income of $78,000, 58 percent above the national average.

In addition, the industry supported more than $416 billion in sales activity, and generated more than $25 billion in local state and federal tax revenue in 2016.

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FPT Industrial to supply Liebherr with N45 HI-eSCR engine

FPT Industrial, a powertrain manufacturer owned by CNH Industrial, has struck a long-term deal to supply Liebherr with a four-cylinder, Tier 4 Final engine.

FPT says it will supply Machines Bulle SA, Liebherr’s Switzerzland-based engine, injection system and hydraulics manufacturing business, with a new version of the NEF series N45 engine.

This new version of the N45 was developed specifically for Liebherr and is equipped with a High Efficiency Selective Catalytic Reduction system (HI-eSCR), FPT says. The engine reduces emissions of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) by more than 95 percent with no need for exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) or a diesel particulate filter (DPF).

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With shift in contractor demand, rent-to-rent should be part of every equipment dealer’s mix

In the early 2000s, an Associated Equipment Dealers (AED) meeting featured a contractor panel where the moderator delved into the then relatively-new, much-discussed topic of rentals. When one of the contractors on the panel declared, “I don’t rent,” my jaw dropped at the response by some dealers in the audience: they clapped.

Another AED meeting, another decade (almost two), and the tune has definitely changed. In January, I sat in a jam-packed educational session presented by Larry Kaye, a consultant for Script International who has a long and varied career in the rental industry. His presentation: “The Future of Distribution: Rent-to-rent is required.”

Distribution is no longer a straight shot from manufacturer to dealer to contractor. All of that is changing today, Kaye says, with internet sales, global competition and changing customer demands.

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