Mike Anderson’s American Iron

Mike Untitled 1Walking out on a springboard

By Mike Anderson

If the past few months are any indication, we’re all going to be busier in 2011.

I know, I know. Some of you have undoubtedly already said, “Well, it couldn’t get any slower.” In some jurisdictions, no doubt.

Regardless, as keep-hanging-on-’til-things-get-better 2010 trips toward the finish line, an admittedly unscientific, completely anecdotal report by, umm, yours truly says more construction equipment both will be put to market and, of greater import, will be put to work next year.

Why? Unlike much of the past two years or more, folks who make and sell machinery have been asking for our collective audience a lot lately. The dozen editors of the magazines and digital properties that comprise Randall-Reilly’s Construction Division, including Better Roads, have been indeed running the roads, or rather the airport concourses. Labor Day was barely put to rest, and on came the steady stream of invitations to come see the newest this and the shhh-don’t-say-anything-quite-yet that.

A cautious view, perhaps even a pessimistic one, would chalk up all of our frequent flyer miles to the looming CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011, more specifically that equipment makers are simply stoking barely breathing fires to try to make any sort of splash at the Vegas trade show that comes around every three years (and, man, does March 2008 seem like a lifetime ago or what?). Absolutely, this upcoming March’s show is a target for construction product designers, developers and marketers who, when things went south not long after the last CONEXPO-CON/AGG, were forced to abruptly pull in an oar or two, evaluate where they were going, adjust accordingly and, quite slowly and perhaps even more quietly, start to plow ahead for 2011. With their big show now in sight, they’re anxious, excited, a little more proud and, for some for the first time in a while, demanding a spotlight. Good. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011 is not simply a temporary reprieve. It is the springboard for the next era of equipment that will continue to develop this country, this continent and much of this world. The machinery unveiled and displayed will be the cleanest, most efficient, most profit-friendly you’ve ever worked . . . and, we fully trust, when you get back home from Vegas, the need for that gear will grow, not vanish as what happened to some of you last time. It’ll take time, and the long road will be traveled in small steps, and that road won’t exactly find its way to a mountain top as in previous go-rounds, but it’ll roll out in front of you nonetheless.

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In the meantime, please keep telling anyone and everyone you can about the need for proper funding of infrastructure, including but not exclusively highways and bridges. The hangover of a mid-term election is not a time to let up, not a time to “let them settle in” first. In fact, it’s probably the best time to remind your representatives why you’ve just elected them.

It’s all about the future. And we’re betting we’ll see y’all there . . . at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011 and beyond.v