Strong Economy Couples with Sizzling Intermountain Construction Market - 2007 Regional Outlook
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SECTION: 2007 Regional Outlook

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Strong Economy Couples with Sizzling Intermountain Construction Market

August 2007

Article Date: 08-01-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Dealers in this region agree that the equipment industry, for the most part, is about as hot as it's ever been, and all signs are pointing to continued good times over the next two or three years, if not longer.

"2006 was our best year ever, and we're expecting another strong year in 2007," says Jeff Scott, vice president of Scott Machinery in Salt Lake City. "All of the industries that we service are very busy, including heavy/highway, mining, site and excavating, and landscaping. Everything is booming."

Strong economic times in Utah and Idaho, coupled with a sizzling construction market, have led to record sales for many equipment dealers in the region.

"The market is obviously really good," said Mike Thurman, branch manager for CATE Equipment's Salt Lake City store. "2005 was our biggest year in rentals and sales, and in 2006, we topped that by 20 percent. It was a banner year."

Elsewhere in Salt Lake City the reports are just as good.

"2006 was a record year for us in new machine deliveries," says Bruce Jackson, sales manager of heavy construction for Wheeler Machinery in Salt Lake City.

And Mark Oviatt, president of Kimball Equipment of Salt Lake City, which sells and rents crushing and screening equipment, agrees.

"Sales in 2007 are slightly higher than last year," he said. "Most of our markets are as strong as last year."

Oviatt says manufacturers are doing a pretty good job of meeting demand and lead times are no longer a factor.

"With a few product lines, delivery is out three to four months," he says, "but most of it's within a reasonable timeframe of six to eight weeks."

Scott says long lead times and shortages are no longer the problem they were a couple of years ago as manufacturers have ramped up production of popular equipment, including compact equipment items like mini-excavators, skid-steer loaders and crawler loaders.

Equipment dealers region-wide are looking for skilled mechanics and welders.

"There is a definite shortage of people," says Jackson. "A good mechanic or good welder can write his own ticket. We're offering scholarships and tool allowances. They can work part-time for us, go to school part-time, and when they graduate they've got a guaranteed job."

-Brad Fullmer is editor of Intermountain Contractor magazine.

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