When it comes to gauging what is happening in the aggregates market, there is no better source than you, the people working on the frontlines of the industry. That’s why we regularly ask you to share your thoughts and opinions – whether through our monthly Aggre- gates Industry Outlook, our annual Forecast Survey, or our Equipment Strategies Survey.
For example, here are some of the insights we gained from this year’s Equipment Strategies Survey:
- You are in a much better place this year. With changes in Washington, you are much more optimistic about the near-term future of your business, and you are willing to invest again. More than 30 percent of respondents plan to increase their capital expenditures for 2017.
- You want parts and service at your fingertips. These two issues are primary drivers for operators planning capital expenditures. Lack of access to parts for older machines is forcing some operators to opt for new iron. As for service, many lack the manpower and/or expertise to keep up with machine maintenance, particularly when it comes to the automation available on newer machines.
- You have a love/hate relationship with machine technology. Some of you love the equipment insights and production gains, but others see technology as increasing costs and causing personnel issues as some older equipment operators don’t care for the newer features.
- You care about financing. While big manufacturers have long had captive financing, we’ve seen additional manufacturer entries into this market. Why? Not all banks want to finance equipment purchases. Typically, bank financing is available when the market is strong, yet some operators continue to find traditional financing to be a hurdle to overcome with new equipment purchases. Manufacturers are increasingly offering options to aid that purchase.
- While many of you enjoy a strong market, some of you still struggle. Nearly one in five operators say they will spend less on equipment this year. Of those, half expect to decrease their budgets by more than 60 percent. It may be that they’ve recently made significant upgrades, but, coupled with reports from our monthly surveys, it is more likely an indication of difficult financial conditions in certain regions and markets.
Thanks to all of you who regularly take the time to share this feedback. It helps us not only produce articles such as the special report you’ll find on page 8; it also informs our writing throughout the year. Over the upcoming months, we’ll be touching base with operators and following up on the additional insights you’ve shared. Together, we can continue to produce content that addresses your information needs.