Industry News

Steel Pricing a major concern says AEM survey

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has conducted a survey which quantifies the significant negative impact of increased steel prices upon the business operations of construction and agricultural equipment manufacturers.

The off-road equipment manufacturing industry is a major steel consumer, and every manufacturer repsonding to the AEM survey reported paying higher steel prices in 2004 compared to the previous year. Manufacturers also continued to experience reduced steel availability and longer delivery times. As a result, many survey respondents have delayed hiring new wokrers, scaled back business expansion plans and shifted some production to non-U.S. sources. Half of the AEM survey respondents said they depend on domestic steel sources; the remainder obtain steel from a combination of domestic and overseas sources.

"Our survey underscores the adverse impact of steel pricing on our members," says AEM President Dennis Slater. "We're very concerned about the potential dampening effect this situation will have on the continued economic recovery of the off-road equipment manufacturing industry."

The median steel price increase reported in the AEM survey was 60 percent, with many reporting increases of 100 percent or more. Some 45 percent anticipated that steel prices would continue to rise through the first quarter of 2005, while five percent expected price drops.

About 85 percent of survey repsondents have absorbed some or all of steel price increases instead of passing them along to machinery buyers. As manufacturers have diverted resources to pay for increased raw material costs, 32 percent reported moving production capacity offshore or outsourcing; 23 percent have postponed hiring plans; 28 percent have put off planned investments; and 15 percent have reduced work hours or shut down some or all of their operations.

In early 2005, AEM, along with the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA), will follow up with a more extensive survey and analysis of the issue. For more information, contact Nick Yaksich at (202) 898-9065 or nyaksich@aem.org or visit www.aem.org.

New executive director for FP2

Gerald L. "Gerry" Eller, P.E., has been appointed executive director of the Foundation for Pavement Preservation (FP2), according to Pavement Preservation Today.

Eller, who served in various positions with the Federal Highway Administration for 34 years, culminating as director, Office of Engineering, is president of GLE Technical Services Inc., where he provides consulting services to various clients.

"The mission of FP2 is to promote pavement preservation by increasing knowledge and understanding effective programs and technologies through public/private partnerships," Eller says. "The foundation has the best means to bring government agencies, academia and industry together as an independent voice for pavement preservation."

Burke names new management team

Burke Heating Systems has formed a new management team. Starting in January, Burke Heating systems will be run by a group of experts in asphalt engineering, service and manufacturing headed by Charlie Grote, a 40-year veteran of the asphalt industry. Joe Dager will remain as part of the key management of this team.

Industry vets honored as Top Professionals

Philip E. Rollhaus, Jr., founder of Quixote Corp., who passed away in 2001, is among the "Top 100 Private Sector Transportation Design & Construction Professionals of the 20th Century" designated and recognized by the American Road & Transportation Builder's (ARTBA) Transportation Development Foundation.

Rollhaus is honored in the Safety Pioneers category for his early work in energy absorbing crash cushions that were placed in front of roadside hazards.

J. Don Brock, chief executive officer of Astec Industries Inc., was also honored for his social, economic and mobility contributions. Brock has played an integral role in the road construction industry for the numerous innovative equipment developments he helped design to improve the productivity of hot mix asphalt production. Under Brock's leadership, Astec has become a market leader in almost every segment of the roadbuilding industry.

APAC is largest federal highway contractor in 2003

APAC Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, takes top honors as the nation's largest federal highway contractor, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association's (ARTBA) ninth annual ranking of the "Top 300 Federal Highway Contractors." The company was awarded almost $510 million in federal highway work in 2003, the last year for which data are available.

The "Top 300" list is based on an ARTBA analysis of highway contract award data provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

The dollar total shown for each firm represents the sum of all federal highway contracts awarded for projects on the National Highway System (NHS) in 2003, including awards to subsidiaries, regional offices and a pro-rated share of joint ventures in which the firm participated. The NHS includes 47,000 miles of interstates and almost 115,000 miles of other major highways.

A complete list of the top 300 highway contractors nationally and a list of the top 25 companies by region are available online at the association's website at www.artba.org.

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