Ahern's Las Vegas-based rental company, the largest independent rental operation in the U.S., has been mired in ">Chapter 11 bankruptcy since late 2011, and creditors have been threatening to take over the 60-year-old family business.

"We are not going to be harvested just because of a downturn," Ahern told ENR at the show, adding that the rental company posted its best year in 2012, though he declined to offer specific figures. Ahern said that he hoped to take the firm out of Chapter 11 by the end of the year.

Brands Merging

Global consolidation played a role in this year's show. China-based Sany, usually a large exhibitor of concrete pumps, was nowhere to be found. Instead, Germany-based Putzmeister, which Sany acquired last year, used its booth to show off a ">new line of rear-discharge concrete mixers. Executives added that Sany has adopted a laissez-faire management style and pulled the Sany brand out of international markets where it previously competed with Putzmeister.

"It's all Putzmeister product line here, so Sany stays in China, and Putzmeister is outside of China," explained Bill Dwyer, vice president of sales and marketing at Putzmeister America Inc. He added that his company closed "numerous deals" during the concrete show.

Others reported a favorable jobs outlook. Terex's roadbuilding unit showcased a refreshed line of front-discharge mixers, whose production restarted in Ft. Wayne, Ind., last fall after being mothballed for about half a year due to slow sales. The company hired back nearly 50 employees to run the plant.

Terex is still rationalizing its roadbuilding line. Days after the show, Terex announced that it had sold its line of asphalt pavers, reclaimer machines and material-transfer vehicles built in Oklahoma City to Bomag, a unit of France-based Fayat Group.

The move builds out Bomag's product line and "accelerates our footprint in emerging countries," said Jean-Claude Fayat, the parent firm's executive managing director, in a February 11 statement.

Services for Sale

Global emissions regulations have driven most of the new-product introductions in the last two years, so equipment vendors this year showcased more productivity services and financing deals. Case, for example, offered a 3% discount on units ordered within 30 days of the show, according to a J.P. Morgan analyst note.