New Jersey-Based Sambe Construction Co. in June launched Diggerland USA in West Berlin, N.J., 30 miles east of Philadelphia. It allows kids and the adults they bring along to operate construction equipment and ride on machines revamped into amusement park-style rides (see related story, p. 17). The 14-acre attraction has a 50-piece equipment fleet and is modeled after a successful enterprise in England with four operating parks. Diggerland USA includes Spin Dizzy, an excavator that provides a 360° rotating ride, Backhoe Adventure and daily stunt shows by a veteran equipment operator.
Movers and Shakers
Peter J. Blake, who transformed Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers into a global player with 44 operations in 25 countries and $3.8 billion in sales in 2013, exits this month after a decade as CEO. Named to replace him is Ravi Saligram, former president and CEO of OfficeMax. Blake becomes CEO of WesternOne Inc., a Vancouver, B.C., construction investment company with $116.6 million in revenue last year.
Fluor Corp. named Carol Johnson CEO of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC, a company-led consortium that oversees management and operation of the U.S. Energy Dept.'s Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C. She was president of Washington Closure Hanford LLC, a consortium of Bechtel, URS and CH2M Hill that manages nuclear cleanup work at DOE's Hanford site.
Suntec Concrete Inc., a Phoenix concrete construction firm, has elevated Derek Wright to president. A 24-year veteran of the 700-employee contractor, he started as a carpenter. Wright succeeds Suntec founder Jerry Barnier.
Christopher S. Miller will join Granite Construction, Watsonville, Calif., as chief operating officer on Aug. 4. He was managing director of global operations at CH2M Hill. Jacqueline Hinman, that firm's CEO, was named July 21 to the additional role of chairman, effective Sept. 18. She succeeds Lee McIntire, a former Bechtel executive, who will retire from CH2M Hill.
Accounting Changes: Fuzzy Math?
A new revenue recognition standard may soon create accounting murkiness for contractors and engineers. The International Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting Standards Board have approved a uniform revenue recognition method that consolidates and simplifies more than 200 items into a single approach. While it does not begin to take effect until late 2016 for the U.S. and early 2017 internationally, the new standard boosts required disclosure information and could intensify financial and bonding scrutiny. Experts say the new converged standard could create more subjectivity inn when and how much revenue should be recorded for such items as change orders, claims and incentives.
Equipment Outlook: Rental Trends Up
Equipment rental revenue saw a rebound in the second quarter, according to the latest quarterly survey of rental-firm executives in North America released on July 1 by Baird Equity Research and Rental Equipment Register, a sector publication. Following a weather-related first-quarter slowdown, rental revenue increased 10.6% year over year in the second quarter, and rental growth rates rose 4.4% YOY on new equipment out on lease, a record for the survey begun in 2011. "Broadly, business confidence has improved," the survey says. On July 17, United Rentals announced its second-quarter results, exceeding estimates for revenue and earnings by 2.9% and 3.6%, respectively, tied to stronger demand for rental at better margins, said Credit Suisse. United noted improvements in commercial, office and energy sectors.