First Word: Hats off

Many of you have a common answer when asked why you chose construction as your career path. You knew early in life what you wanted to do and set out to accomplish it – becoming entrepreneurs in your late teens or early twenties, or going to work for a construction firm to gain valuable experience. You share an energy and enthusiasm for your profession, a commitment to doing every job right and, above all, a penchant for hard work. Such dedication deserves recognition, and that’s why our Contractor of the Year award, as the first and only national award of its kind, is so important.

This issue is the first of 12 that will feature our 2008 Contractor of the Year class, which consists of 11 finalists and one winner. You can read about our 2008 Contractor of the Year, Bracken Paving of Kingsport, Tennessee, on page 28. Choosing finalists among the many worthy applicants was a tough task for our editors, who evaluated entries based on growth, endorsements from customers and vendors and contributions to the construction industry and their communities.

Alan and Amanda Bracken’s company grew from one crew and $2 million in annual sales to three crews and more than $10 million in sales during the past six years. And they did it by tackling the labor shortage, one of the biggest obstacles the construction industry faces. As Alan discovered, even hard work and talent can’t overcome this problem, and contractors who don’t solve it are limited by how much work they can personally oversee. Bracken Paving’s solution was to embrace a leadership philosophy that holds valuing people as one of its primary company missions.

Congratulations to our entire 2008 Contractor of the Year class. We’re honored to be able to recognize your many efforts and achievements. We also appreciate Caterpillar’s dedicated sponsorship of the Contractor of the Year program by supporting the work done in our great industry.

Hats off as well to our Equipment World editorial team! Their “Fueling the Future” articles (August-October 2007) recently won a Robert Boger Award from the Construction Writers Association. Our editors spent a year conducting research and interviews to bring you up to date on how the industry is working to resolve the energy crisis and how you can benefit. In addition, BtoB magazine in March named Equipment World among the top 100 trade publications, something less than 5 percent of trade magazines in the nation achieve.

We’ll build on this success next year with our ninth Contractor of the Year class, for which we’re currently accepting applications. If you’d like to be our 2009 Contractor of the Year or know someone worthy of the award, please take a minute to fill in the nomination form on page 49 or on our website at We look forward to hearing your story!