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Flying High

I just flew in from the ConExpo-Con/Agg show in Las Vegas, and boy are my arms tired. Okay, the “arms tired” part isn’t completely true. To be honest, every part of my body is tired!

Every three years we have the opportunity to gather the U.S. construction industry, not to mention the international construction community, together in one North American location to view the latest technology, take advantage of educational opportunities, and network in a variety of ways. The 2011 version of the show did not disappoint on any level.

According to show officials, ConExpo-Con/Agg 2011 and IFPE 2011 attracted nearly 120,000 registered attendees, who stomped around 2 million sq. ft. of exhibit space to visit the more than 2,400 exhibitors.

International attendance was up in 2011, accounting for a record 24 percent of the total. ConExpo-Con/Agg showed that it truly is the industry’s gathering place by also featuring more than 860 co-located events, educational programs and pre-planned meetings.

Manufacturers used the event for numerous product introductions, perhaps none garnering more attention than Caterpillar’s introduction of its first vocational truck. To be sold and serviced by North American Cat dealers, the CT660 will be offered in a variety of configurations to serve the aggregates, construction, ready mix and waste industries, among others.

Probably the single biggest positive that came out of the show was a positive mood. I spent countless hours on the show floor speaking with manufacturers, sales reps, distributors, aggregates producers and industry consultants, and each and every person was optimistic about the near-future prospects for the U.S. construction market. That’s a huge development given that the past few years have seen market activity fall to historic lows, and construction unemployment still holding at historic highs.

It was good to see U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at the show, and it was encouraging to hear his assessment that a new highway transportation bill would be pushed through Congress before the August recess. That may be optimistic, but this process is not going to happen by itself. Unless we have the administration and its officials pushing it, it will not happen at all.

Rock Products will feature ongoing coverage of the ConExpo-Con/Agg show in upcoming issues, including news, product information and other developments emerging as a result of show activity.

Mark S. Kuhar, editor
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Member: Construction Writers Association