Industry BeatCED Magazine, October 2010
Article Date: 10-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
President Obama Unveils Plans for Infrastructure Investment
Legitimate shift or election posturing? AED analyzes the details.
It seems that the message of AED, AEM and others may have finally gotten through. At a Labor Day rally in Milwaukee, President Obama announced an aggressive new initiative to increase infrastructure investment to help turn the U.S. economy around. The White House has finally connected jobs, long-term economic growth, and infrastructure investment.
The plan is welcome news for heavy equipment dealers but it remains to be seen whether the new initiatives mark a real shift in White House focus or last-minute election year posturing.
What the Infrastructure Plan Includes
The plan includes a combination of front-loaded surface transportation spending of $50 billion and longer-term infrastructure investment that aims to “help jump-start additional job creation, while also laying the foundation for future growth.” After almost a year of inaction, the White House is now urging Congress to “complete a long-term reauthorization that expands and reforms our infrastructure investments and returns the transportation trust fund to solvency.”
Some significant policy changes are proposed as part of the initiative, including the establishment of an Infrastructure Bank to “leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs.”
The president wants high-speed rail “on an equal footing” vis-à-vis other surface transportation programs to “ensure a sustained and effective commitment to a national high speed rail system over the next generation.”
The administration is advocating streamlining, modernizing, and prioritizing surface transportation investment by consolidating more than 100 different programs and focusing on using performance measurement and competitive pressures to drive investment.
The president would like to expand investments in areas like safety, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, and livability – helping to build communities where people have choices about how to travel, including options that reduce oil consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and expand access to job opportunities and housing that’s affordable.
AED’s Take on the Plan
Assuming it’s paired with action on a long-term investment plan, another $50 billion infusion could make a big difference to equipment dealers, especially as stimulus project money runs out. Also, creating more transparency and efficiency may help restore public confidence and make the public more willing to support user fee increases. And streamlining the distribution of money could help get projects underway more quickly. However, the plan is not without some shortcomings.
First, the administration has not suggested any new sustainable revenue streams. This will inevitably lead to more uncertainty down the line. Deficit financing in the immediate term makes sense, but ultimately we can’t borrow our way to better roads.
Second, increased investment in “livability” is political shorthand for transit and pedestrian-programs that channel highway money away from highways. We also need to be mindful that rural economic development, personal and freight mobility and national security depend on roads that go through sparsely populated areas.
Third, basing investment on performance sounds good, but does that mean we won’t be building roads in rural areas just because they’ll have fewer users?
Finally, we’re disappointed that water infrastructure isn’t part of the package. Recent House votes demonstrate there is strong, bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill for increased water investment.
The Big Challenge
Getting any legislation through Congress before the end of the year will be a challenge. Time is limited. Congress is scheduled to adjourn in late September and although they will likely return briefly after the elections, lame duck sessions rarely accomplish much.
Then there’s the question of votes. Republicans have no incentive to cooperate with the White House or Democratic leadership. And despite general support for infrastructure in the Democratic caucus, there may be many members of the majority party who are reluctant to vote for anything that will add to the deficit or raise taxes on certain industries and individuals.
Stay tuned, as there will be more to come on this issue.
Cat & Mike Rowe Look to Start a Conversation with Customers
With the star and creator of “Dirty Jobs” as their partner, Caterpillar is looking to start a conversation with customers, dealers, and really, everyone.
Caterpillar has taken its first big step into social media, teaming up with Mike Rowe, the star and creator of the popular show “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel.
According to Sarah McDonnell, who is spearheading the project for Caterpillar, the idea for the partnership came from dealers, who thought Rowe would connect well with their customers.
Rowe recently talked with trade press editors about what connects people to the show and how his work with Cat supports his efforts with mikeroweWORKS.com, a website celebrating skilled labor and hard work. The site calls attention to the growing skills gap in the trades while providing a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to investigate a career in those vocations.
“We don’t celebrate these types of jobs the way we used to,” said Rowe. “We don’t look to electricians and carpenters with anything close to the same level or relevance and respect that we used to.”
Rowe believes that in our quest to give our kids a better life, we focused on college education at the expense of skilled labor. “If you look at ‘Shovel ready jobs’ and ‘alternative educational opportunities’ it sounds like a vocational consolation prize,” said Rowe. The end-result of all of this is that we will soon be facing a severe shortage of skilled labor, he says. More than a third of skilled labor is over age 50, and if we don’t change the tide, there will be significant ramifications.
In his work with Cat, Rowe will be spending time with Caterpillar customers and dealers to get a real world perspective on their jobs and how the two partner to be successful. These encounters will be featured on cat.com and at Cat dealerships across the country. The idea is to demonstrate the solutions that Cat dealers provide their customers throughout the lifecycle of their equipment, highlighting their parts and service support.
“I see Cat equipment and the hard working people operating it around the world, building and creating infrastructure,” said Rowe. “I’m excited to go beyond the machine and talk with the people who are actually making it happen.”
The first segments for the site were filmed at Cashman Equipment in Nevada and are now online at cat.com. Visitors to the site enter their zip code and the site is branded with the local dealer logo. The site features blogs, maintenance tips, and discussion groups on a variety of topics.
However, unlike the company’s traditional promotions, this effort is one that is largely unscripted.
“This is so different from what we have ever done,” said McConnell. “We are trying to start a conversation with our customers. We will be looking for feedback from customers and dealers that will guide us through the rest of the year and into next year. I don’t want to define it, because I don’t know what is out there yet, and I don’t think any of us do.”
OSHA Publishes Crane Safety Rule
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published a new crane and derrick safety rule in the Federal Register. The regulation addresses OSHA-identified hazards related to cranes and derricks on construction worksites, including the four main causes of worker death and injury: electrocution, being crushed by parts of the equipment, being struck by the equipment/load, and falls.
The rule mandates pre-erection inspection requirements for tower crane parts; use of synthetic slings in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions during assembly/disassembly work; assessment of ground conditions; qualification and certification of crane operators; and procedures for working in the vicinity of power lines. The new regulations take effect in November, but certain provisions have delayed effective dates ranging from one to four years. For more information visit osha.gov.
Thompson Pump Emergency Response Team Fights Gulf Oil Spill
Within a few days of the incident on the Deepwater Horizon, Thompson Pump Company mobilized their Emergency Response Team (ERT) to provide pumping equipment, supplies, manpower and expertise to areas devastated by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The company is slated to have as many as 100 pumps, along with hoses and specialized skimming devices, to facilitate oil containment, recovery and transfer. Thompson’s ERT is currently skimming in both deep and shallow waters throughout the Gulf as well as in rivers and streams and in the bayous and marshes in order to help minimize the devastation. Thompson Pump branch locations in Hammond, La., Jackson, Miss., Pass Christian, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., and Panama City, Fla. are all directly involved with this project.
In the News
The Caterpillar C9.3 ACERT engine received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Tier 4 emissions certification and European Union (EU) emissions type approval. The C9.3 ACERT is the first Caterpillar nonroad engine to receive emissions certification in the 130-560 kW power category.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Construction Fleet Inventory Guide can help fleet owners build an accurate inventory of construction equipment and vehicles. A fleet inventory is an essential component for many clean diesel grant applications. The guide contains photos and specific directions for how to locate vehicle and engine information such as make, model, model year, horsepower and more. A PDF of the guide is available at http://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/documents/420b10025.pdf.
On Aug. 26, 2010, in a unanimous 32-0 vote, the California State Senate adopted SB 1402, a bill that will begin to make the CaliforniaAir Resources Board’s (CARB) enforcement program transparent, consistent and fair. The new rules will require CARB to provide a clear explanation of how penalties are assessed on a per-unit basis; develop a written, consistent penalty policy that ensures the largest penalties are imposed on serious violations that adversely impact air quality; and report those penalties to the Legislature annually.
A new program from Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) guarantees buyers the fuel efficiency advantages of its large wheel loaders. The Fuel Efficiency Guarantee program is offered on Volvo large wheel loaders through Dec. 31, 2010. Volvo CE will evaluate the fuel efficiency and share the difference in fuel cost with the equipment owner if the machine does not meet the individual model’s rated fuel efficiency levels. If monitoring determines that machines are under-performing in field use, Volvo and its dealer network will provide assistance to review specific end-user applications /operations.
Yukon Equipment, Inc. is now part of the Calista Corporation family. Yukon Equipment is the oldest Alaskan-owned heavy equipment dealer in the state. Calista Corporation is the second largest of the 13 regional corporations established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971.
Top Lift Enterprises Inc. recently broke ground on a 16,000 square foot head office facility in Stoney Creek, Ontario, featuring four service bays with overhead cranes for handling heavy equipment components. Top Lift was established more than 20 years ago with a focus on servicing intermodal container handling equipment.
Rocky Mountain Dealerships Inc. has purchased Gateway Farm Equipment Ltd., a Case IH agriculture dealership in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Gateway will operate as a branch location of Hi-Way Service Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Rocky Mountain.
Volvo Construction Equipment North America has sold the rights to manufacture and sell service and replacement parts for all models of the Clark-Michigan product line to MinnPar, LLC, a subsidiary of PartsZone, LLC. In March of 2010, MinnPar also acquired the SuperPac compaction line from Volvo.
Flint Equipment Company, headquartered in Albany, Ga., is now the Atlas Copco Construction Equipment(ACCE) distributor for the state of Georgia. Flint Equipment will represent the full ACCE line including portable air compressors, portable generators, hydraulic attachments and handheld tools.
Wood’s CRW Corp. now distributes the full line of Terex compact construction equipment to customers in central New York, as well as Terex compact track loaders in Vermont and Northeastern New York counties.
RDO has appointed Steve Martin to store manager of the Hawley, Minn., store. Carl Niblett, has been promoted to store manager in Flagstaff, Ariz.
McClung Logan Equipment Company, Inc., the Volvo Construction Equipment dealer headquartered in Baltimore, Md., has acquired certain assets from the Volvo Construction Equipment & Services Elkridge, Md. location. As a result of the transaction, McClung Logan has added Volvo compaction and milling products to its existing portfolio.
Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Inc., has named Peter Gregory, senior vice president, national accounts manger. He will help meet the equipment finance needs of large infrastructure contractors nationwide.
Doosan Portable Power has named Diesel Machinery Inc. of Sioux Falls, S.D., an authorized dealer of its complete portfolio of portable and light construction equipment.
Mi-JackCanada will represent Sennebogen in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The core of Mi-Jack Canada’s business is the company’s own gantry cranes and intermodal equipment. Mi-Jack is looking to provide the Sennebogen material handling machines to barge facilities that support the continuing growth of the oil developments at Fort McMurray in northeast Alberta, as well as to the scrap handling, recycling, logging and forestry markets.
Sennebogen LLC recently celebrated its 10th anniversary along with the grand opening of its new 54,000-square-foot parts and training facility.
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