Fuel Efficiency is at Top of Northwest Customers’ MindsAugust 2007
Article Date: 08-01-2007
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Business is up about 20 percent over last year at Clyde West in Portland, Ore., says Patrick McDonnell, company president. The Volvo dealer credits the reputation of its machinery for fuel efficiency and the busy construction market for
the upturn in sales.
"There are a lot of things contractors can't control, but they can control the amount of fuel they use," said McDonnell. "Some loaders use 10 to 12 gallons of fuel per hour and ours use three to four gallons less than that. It adds up to a huge savings."
According to McDonnell, the dealership's top sellers are excavators and wheel loaders.
The city of Portland recently passed legislation that requires retail gas users to supplement their blends with 10 percent biofuel, but as of yet, it doesn't apply to off-road construction vehicles.
"It would be great news for us, because biofuels are even more expensive than diesel, and people would have an even greater incentive to buy our products," says McDonnell said.
Kristine Gittins, president of Triad Machinery in Portland says, "Our business has doubled since 2003, but our economist predicts 2008 and 2009 will see a drop of 8 to 12 percent. After that we'll climb again."
The company rents and sells equipment, but reports fewer people are using rent-to-purchase options these days, preferring to buy the equipment outright while interest rates are low, says Gittins.
Cranes are the dealership's biggest sellers right now, with all inventory sold through the first quarter of 2008.
"We have a lot of bridge work, which is increasing demand," said Gittins.
Fuel efficiency, she says, is one of their customers' top priorities these days, ranking behind price, but above customer support.
PACO sells and rents heavy equipment: crawler cranes to 230 tons, drill rigs and pile drivers.
"Business is down a little bit from last year," said Theodore Obertmeit, company president. "But we expect that to break loose pretty quick."
New projects in Bellevue and Seattle, Wash., are expected to start soon, which will require drill rigs for foundation work.
Obertmeit says the company's 12 cranes are all rented.
"And that's a pretty good indication of how busy contractors are now," he says.
-Lucy Bodilly is editor of Northwest Construction magazine.
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