Pavement equipment visionary Harold Neal dies at 63

I found out a few days ago that Harold Neal, president of Neal Manufacturing Co., died at the too-early age of 63. It took me a few days to write about it as Harold and I go back to 1990 when I started in this industry -- and he wouldn't take my calls. Harold was a tough guy, a tough competitor (you can ask those he competed with), with a little of a prove-yourself-to-me attitude. But after meeting him a few times, talking with him at NPE and particularly at the first NPE West show in Long Beach, CA, in 1991, I must have shown him something because that spring I was able to reach him on the phone -- and he gave me his direct line. Ever since then he spent a good deal of time teaching me about this business, from the technical differences between gear pumps and his piston pump to how a contractor should run a sealcoating business. He was one of those who helped me make my way in this industry, and I won't soon forget it. But that's what he did for me. What he did for the industry was even more important, starting with equipment developments aimed at making sealcoating operations more efficient and more profitable, which helped businesses grow and expand. He also was known to offer credit to start-up contractors who really couldn't justify the loan, but many of those folks are still in business and have Harold to thank for getting them started. He also laid the groundwork for what is today National Pavement Expo. Neal Manufacturing used to host "customer appreciation" events in Atlanta that offered sessions on various pavement maintenance topics and and exhibit floor full of Neal equipment. Many, many contractors left those events with a new piece of equipment on order, and that recognition by Bob Woltering lead to the first NPE in Nashville...which lead to where we are today. There are many people out there who contributed early on to the development of the pavement maintenance industry, and there are many who contribute to the industry's progress today; Harold Neal was one of the first, one of the most influential, and one who won't be forgotten.