Contractors were also ready to deal. "People are making decisions faster, and money is moving," said Dean Maw, who runs an ">85-year-old Case dealership in Ogden, Utah. Case has 20 new products out this year, but more are on the way as new diesel-emission regulations, such as U.S. final Tier-4 rules, hit in 2014.

"You're going to see another tidal wave of introductions at that time," said Rob Marringa, Case brand marketing manager.

Exhibitors highlighted timesaving devices that reduce man-hours in the field through improved productivity, thereby limiting owner costs and health insurance-related claim risks.

MAX USA, Mineola, N.Y., for example, showcased its RB397, 5.2-lb handheld rebar-tying gun powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. It can tie up to size #6 rebar with a squeeze of the trigger, dispensing 2,000 ties per charge.

The 14.4-volt RB397 is meant reduce carpal tunnel syndrome, while improving working worker efficiency with three wraps per tie. MAX USA also offers the RB517 capable of tying up to size #8 rebar. The show price for either model was $2,399, including a battery charger.

Quickrete emphasized fast-setting patch-repair products, with an eye toward unveiling a new polymer-enhanced mix later this fall for road and bridge decks. Lack of a long-term federal highway bill has company representatives optimistic that crash-strapped municipalities will take patch and preserve approach to roads rather than embark upon ambitious new capital projects, says Quickrete vice president of marketing Frank Owens.

"It will extend road life up to 10 or 15 years," Owens says. "It's being field tested now." The pre-blended overlay mix will be sold in 3,000-lb. bags.

Bosch and Chrysler's Ram division used the show to announce that they had formed a strategic partnership to integrate trucks and tools. "We are looking at increasing the productivity of our users, and we go to the same users," said Christian Heine, president of Bosch Power Tools North America. He noted that tradespeople are only productive for 30% of the work day, with the majority of their time frittered away moving about the jobsite searching for tools and sorting through supplies.

The same week, at the Chicago Auto Show, Ram introduced a new line of ProMaster contractor vans based on the Fiat Ducato, which has been produced in Europe for 30 years in some 4.5-million examples. The vehicle fills a gaping void in Chrysler's van offering left open since 2009, when it stopped selling the popular Mercedes Sprinter. Bosch representatives said they were working on innovations to integrate their tools and toolboxes into the new van.

New Tools, Tech