Tight credit, a glut of inventory and a sluggish economy overshadowed the early hours of this year’s World of Concrete show in Las Vegas, which opened on Feb. 2. Although official registration numbers were not available at press time, attendance throughout the week was expected to drop slightly from last year’s roughly 65,000 attendees. Exhibitors noticeably trimmed down their booth space yet were in aggressive selling form, hopeful they would post small revenue gains this year. Showgoers said they expected federal stimulus, leftover from 2009’s package, to prop up public works during the second half of 2010 but felt the industry won’t feel a turnaround for two more years. “Come back in 2012,” said Ed Sullivan, chief economist of the Skokie, Ill.-based Portland Cement Association. Internationally, manufacturers and suppliers placed strong emphasis on Latin America—particularly Brazil, which is boosting infrastructure spending as it ramps up to host soccer’s World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. “Our equipment is typically used for those big projects,” said Michael Wasserfuhr, vice president and CFO of Sturtevant, Wis.-based pump-maker Putzmeister America Inc., who added that in North America, contractors have been cannibalizing their fleets to save on parts and new machinery. “They look like Frankensteins,” he said.

Economy Is a Cloud Over Las Vegas Event
Photo: Tudoe Van Hampton / ENR