The Labor Day just past is set aside to honor the men and women of the United States for all their hard work, but in many industries it serves another purpose. For many in the paving and pavement maintenance industry, for example, Labor Day is the unofficial break-even target date for their business each year. It functions similar to Tax Freedom Day, which changes every year (April 23 this year), indicating the point at which the nation as a whole has earned enough money to fund its annual taxes. And just as Tax Freedom Day changes based on a variety of economic issues, a contractor's break-even point also moves. Contractors who plan and budget in the offseason usually have a target break-even date for the year. If they hit their break-even point before Labor Day they know they're in the midst of a good year -- and the farther in front of Labor Day they hit that break-even, the better year they're having. The opposite is also true, and unfortunately this year, based on conversations with a number of people, many contractors are looking to break-even dates near the end of September -- or later. Contractors I've talked with point the finger not at the amount of work but at the tighter profit margins they are working under. I guess that's a good news/bad news situation but nobody wants to work harder for less money. But whenever you hit your break-even point, it represents at least one very good thing: Everything you earn from that point on is profit. So here's to a long and warm autumn, to break-even dates that are (or soon will be) in the rear view mirror, and to a profitable run up to National Pavement Expo West. If you want to share your break-even date, and let others know which way it's moved this year -- and why -- we'd sure like to hear about it.