A lack of a long-term highway bill has been the biggest influencing factor of the highway-class paver market until recently. Contractors were hesitant to budget for major purchases knowing that the scope of the job can sometimes far exceed initial expectations. Purchases as large as a slip form concrete paver were no exception, as contractors have a difficult time gauging the workload for a particular piece.
“The market has been consistently inconsistent,” says VP of Sales & Marketing for Power Curbers and subsidiary Power Pavers, Stephen Bullock. “Contractors were interested but were hesitant to pull the trigger without a highway bill in place.”
Despite the market inconsistency, paver manufacturers are not sitting idly during uncertainty. With the FAST Act now a reality, contractor purse strings may indeed open wider.
Kevin Klein, VP of Engineering/Research & Development for GOMACO, cites versatility as a key market demand. “As it has been for many paving seasons now, versatility seems to be one of the best-selling features of our pavers.” he says.
For instance, airport paving, has been standing its ground, as projects are in progress at some of the country’s biggest airports. “The current market is flat to marginally up, if airport paving is included,” says Wirtgen America’s Tim Nash, director, Concrete Products.
Offering the most efficient technology under current conditions has allowed pavers to have success with their customer base. “Our new pavers are getting smarter for simplicity,” Klein explains. Contractors seeking the work want the state-of-the-art technology since they have to work smarter to turn a profit.
The absence of a long-term highway bill or confident customers didn’t kill R&D budgets. “The lack of a long-term highway bill created demand challenges, but we work on improving our machinery and adding to its productivity non-stop,” Bullock says.
Buyers are encouraged to keep it simple, especially those that are new to the market. Purchasing something easy to service and operator friendly will yield better results from customers. Often manufacturers create machines that are difficult to operate and overly complicated. Keeping costs low is a also big factor in profitability, so concrete paver manufacturers also advise the adherence to suggested maintenance schedules.