This year contractors were reminded – whether they realized it or not – of two important reasons to invest in new equipment: the increasing costs of materials and the scarcity of a qualified labor pool. New equipment involves new technology and other improvements over the piece of equipment you're replacing. Cost is not insignificant, but new equipment is more efficient and makes you more productive, so what it can save you over a season or more can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line. Consider a paver or sealcoating machine that's a few years past its prime. It still gets the job done, but perhaps it doesn't get it done as smoothly or efficiently as it once did. Add to that the increased maintenance costs of older equipment (fleet management specialist John Dolce told contractors at National Pavement Expo West that once repair and maintenance costs approach 30% of the current value of equipment it's time to consider replacement), and putting that older piece of equipment in the field can be costing you money. Combine that with the significant increases in hot mix asphalt prices and fuel prices (and the expected increased cost of coal tar sealer next year) and it's clear that any inefficiency in equipment operation is going to take a big bite out of your bottom line.
The other area contractors need to consider when buying equipment is the labor force. Contractors continually tell us their biggest concern is finding and keeping quality employees. So if filling out your crew with the skilled people you need is more than a challenge, consider improving the productivity of your existing crew by providing them with more and better equipment to get the job done. Quality equipment improves productivity, and new equipment requires less maintenance, meaning it's out there working for you more often and for longer periods of time.
This annual Product Showcase is more than a wish book for shiny contracting toys. It can be a key resource as you work to improve the efficiency of your operation, the productivity of your crews, and the strength of your bottom line.