First Word: What’s working

The beginning of a new year typically causes many rational people to fantasize about what should be going on in their lives. We resolve to change our habits, and do something that is either impossible to begin with, or is forgotten after the first couple of weeks into the new year.

What is it about replacing the calendar that creates this fixation with changing everything we don’t like about ourselves? Short of gastric bypass surgery, an extreme makeover or winning the lottery, we can either accept those things we absolutely cannot change or doom ourselves to another year of complete frustration. With that in mind, my resolution for 2006 is to pay more attention to the positive things going on and less to the negative. That simple philosophy empowers us to get better at the things for which we have an aptitude.

In 2005, Equipment World was a part of many positive things that will have an impact on our industry. One of those events was the second annual Construction Symposium, sponsored by Chevron Global Lubricants. More than 50 contractors from across the country were invited to Tucson, Arizona, in November to take part in a three-day educational forum. Marilyn Rawlings, a nationally known fleet manager, presented information on how to hire and retain technicians and operators. Bill Springer, vice president of Caterpillar, spoke about equipment life-cycle management. Bob Joyce from Bridgestone/Firestone told us about the proper care and maintenance of tires, critical in today’s market with its dramatic shortage of heavy equipment tires.

Chevron is making continuing education available to contractors at a time when adherence to “best practices” just might make the difference in how quickly a firm grows during these rapidly changing times. While others talk of giving something back to the industry, the folks at Chevron are doing something about it. The Construction Symposium is one of the events that make us feel great about the future of construction.

The Contractor of the Year program, now starting its seventh year, is another object of pride for those of us involved. To be able to recognize the brightest and most successful in construction every year at a gala banquet in Las Vegas is something we all look forward to each new year. Caterpillar and Wacker sponsor that program.

In December’s issue, we congratulated the recent winner of the Contractor’s Dream Package sweepstakes, Philip Childers from Smackover, Arkansas. Childers added a considerable amount of equipment to his fleet simply by dropping a registration card into a box at our booth during ConExpo-Con/Agg this past March. By the luck of the draw, he received a package worth almost $100,000 – any contractor’s dream!

While it sometimes seems like we’re doing an exercise of two steps forward, one step back, the momentum is going in the right direction. And true to my New Year’s resolution, in the coming year we are going to focus on what’s working.