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Producers, suppliers adapting on the fly successfully

By |  December 21, 2020
Vinnie Rocco

Rocco

The aggregate industry received some much-needed good news in the fall when Congress passed the continuing resolution for the FAST Act, appropriating an additional $13.6 billion to the Highway Trust Fund.

This was a great accomplishment for America’s infrastructure, but only a temporary fix.

On the plus side, the extension means we’ll keep more Americans working as states can roll out their 2021 infrastructure plans with confidence. But working to find the long-term solution will be an uphill battle, as we may be dealing with COVID-related legislative delays well into 2021.

We’re feeling positive, though, and we have seen a somewhat surprising 6 percent uptick in wear parts revenue compared to the same three-quarter period of 2019. Judging by numbers alone, we can say with confidence that producers are still crushing rock and turning out product.

Interest from the market on the capital equipment side has been a bit shy, understandably, as most companies were holding onto capital – especially at the early stages of the pandemic. This has since eased a bit, and we’re resuming conversations with producers about our specialized crushing equipment.

It’s been an interesting year with much uncertainty, but the FAST Act extension and additional funding is certainly a much-needed step in the right direction.

The road to ‘normal’

It’s certainly going to be a long road until things return to normal in our personal and professional lives, but we’ll fight through it as we always do.

We’ll have to take things one day at time, especially as we head into the winter months. We unfortunately expect to see an increase in personal and business-related bankruptcies and foreclosures.

If we remember back to 2008 with the housing bubble, our country was sent into an economic tailspin that took years to recover from. It was about a four-year recovery as things began to stabilize in 2012.

We have to hope we are not headed down the same path nine years later, as COVID continues to rear its ugly head. Many experts, in fact, say the 2020 recession is most likely already over, but there is always some uncertainty.

Can we weather more state-wide shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders heading into 2021?
Hopefully we won’t find ourselves in a position to have to answer that question.

Things have changed – permanently

When the world was flipped on its head in 2020, we all learned new ways of doing things.

From juggling parenting with career duties to remodeling our business platforms to virtual settings, we’ve adapted. Many of us in the mining and aggregate sectors were deemed essential in the early stages of COVID, and many since returned to work.

Still, it’s not the same. The technology we once struggled with in March and April is what we’ve come to depend on as part of our everyday business. Our company leaned heavily on Microsoft Teams when we were all working from home. Luckily, we used Teams before the pandemic, but we learned to leverage it once we were in the thick of it.

We now continue companywide meetings every Friday, with all of our divisions across the country. The tech helps to close the communication gap that may have otherwise existed.

The same goes for our customers and vendors. It’s no longer foreign language when you invite a customer to meet you via Zoom, Teams or Google – or when you’re approached by a new or existing vendor to partake in the same.

There is absolutely no substitute for a handshake (or fist bump) or getting your boots dirty in the same mud as your customers. But virtual meeting platforms are now in our arsenals.

During the summer, in some parts of the country more than others, the industry could almost feel normal again as we were invited back for in-person meetings with current customers and even technical field visits with new prospects. But that was short-lived.

Here we are again heading into the cold months, cases are spiking and we are all left wondering: Where’s my laptop charger, and when are the lockdowns coming?


Vinnie Rocco is executive vice president at AMCAST.

Featured photo: P&Q Staff


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