When things get tough, people are much more hesitant to spend money. That's no secret. But the recession of the past two years has shown this in spades. Consider the following:

  • Automakers' U.S. sales topped 17 million units a year in the middle of the last decade. That slowed to an annualized pace of 9.9 million in May 2009, forcing General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy and prompting to federal government to bail out two-thirds of the Big Three.
  • Private housing starts in April 2005 were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 2,038,000. In April 2010, they were 672,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Restaurant sales fell 2.9% in 2009 and 1.2% in 2008, says the National Restaurant Association.
  • Recreation has taken a hit, too. Through the fi rst two months of this season, 3.1% fewer peopleattended Major League Baseball games, compared to 2009.
  • It's all a part of what some are calling "the new normal." Even people who can afford new items for their homes, recreation, and vacations are choosing not to buy.

    Businesses are no different when difficult times strike. As a concrete producer, I am sure you have put off buying new equipment while trying to make the current versions last. Then as business picks up and more orders come your way, you will buy that new scale, pan mixer, or ready-mix truck.

    I'm feeling more confident that we are nearing that turning point. April construction spending rose 2.7% from the previous month, which may be "reason to hope that the worst may be behind," said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight.

    When it comes time to order new equipment, you have the perfect tool in your hand: the 2010 Industry Sourcebook. There is no better resource for the most complete, up-to-date information onsuppliers of equipment, materials, and technology available.

    This year, we have added at the beginning of each section, information on specific new products which we published the previous year. It's a reminder that manufacturers were not resting on their laurels while the recession raged. They continued to innovate and develop equipment and tools.

    Keep this issue so it's handy when it's time to replace that machine or part for your plant.

    Where's Rick?
    You may have wondered where Rick Yelton has gone. Well, he's right where he's always been but witha new job: Commercial Editorial Program & Events Manager. While no longer an Editor in Chief, Rick has an expanded role that includes other Hanley Wood magazines, trade events such as World of Concrete, and training opportunities such as Hanley Wood University. Rick will maintain his industry involvement through associations, conferences, and other editorial activities. And he will have time to focus on several key features each year. You can still contact him and read what's on his mind through his online blog. And he will continue to give you his thoughts and opinions in our What's New column.

    Tom Bagsarian
    Editor