Off-highway equipment manufacturing supported about 1.3 million jobs and contributed more than $159 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the U.S. in 2016, according to a report from IHS Markit prepared for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). Presented in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the ConExpo-Con/Agg trade show, the report highlights the importance of an industry that members say is due for a rebound.

IHS estimates that off-highway equipment manufacturing was involved in $412.2 billion in U.S. sales activity in 2016. Report authors note, “This occurred through approximately $266.5 billion in direct industry sales activity, such as the sale of equipment like skid steers and combines, which generated additional economic activity as dollars flowed through the equipment manufacturing supply chain.”

Jobs supported by off-highway equipment and ancillary products represent nearly 1% of the total employment base in the U.S. When added with those supported in the industry supply chain, the number makes up 7% of U.S. manufacturing employment. Of the 424,000 U.S. employees directly involved with firms engaged in the production of off-highway equipment, IHS found 163,000 were tied to the construction equipment industry, 114,000 jobs were tied to the agricultural equipment industry, and 148,000 jobs were tied to the mining equipment industry. Sales activity in off-road equipment makes up 5.1% of total manufacturing output in the U.S.

“This report helps to put into context the many great contributions of our industry,” says AEM President Dennis Slater. “Our industry is a core part of America’s manufacturing economy, and we are eager to continue to grow, and, hopefully with a significant investment in our infrastructure, help put millions of Americans to work.”

Much of the optimism for the near future comes from promises by President Donald Trump to increase infrastructure spending, a development that would lead to sales of construction equipment.

AEM Chairmain Michael Haberman, president of Gradall Industries Inc. in New Philadelphia, Ohio, says the industry wants to grow, so manufacturers are urging “President Trump and Congress to follow through on their campaign promises and pass a major infrastructure bill. This report makes clear a major infrastructure package would be a significant benefit to the equipment manufacturing industry and thus the whole economy of the United States.”

He also advocated for “common sense” reforms to tax and regulatory burdens to allow manufacturers to stay in the U.S. and become more competitive worldwide. AEM is working on the state and federal level to lobby to make it easier to export equipment worldwide as well policies that help the agriculture industry, which will benefit equipment sales in that sector.

“We are excited that the Trump Administration has already taken steps to encourage energy exploration, and will hopefully help make oil, gas, and mineral exploration more profitable [for all businesses] so the equipment industry can also thrive,” Haberman says.

In addition to the excitement surrounding changes in Washington, show organizers say the strong crowd numbers and anecdotal responses from visitors demonstrate the industry is due for an uptick.

Rich Goldsbury, 2017 ConExpo-Con/Agg chairman and CEO and president Doosan Bobcat North America & Oceania, says, “This has been one of the best editions of ConExpo-Con/Agg ever. Exhibitors are writing sales at an incredible pace, and attendees clearly came to Las Vegas to buy.”

Dave Foster, vice president for marketing and corporate communications at Volvo Commercial Equipment North America says the show attendees “are not tire-kickers. These are people who are willing to buy multiple machines for work they have now and anticipated growth based on a renewed confidence in the market.”

Haberman estimates that approximately 73% of the equipment manufacturing industry was represented at the show.

The technological change revolutionizing these industries was pervasive across the shows’ record 2.8 million ft2 of exhibits, featuring more than 2,800 exhibitors. One highlight – the world’s first 3D-printed excavator.

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

www.aem.org

ConExpo-Con/Agg

www.conexpoconagg.com

Doosan Bobcat North America

www.bobcat.com

Gradall Industries Inc.

www.gradallindustries.com

IHS Markit

www.ihsmarkit.com

Volvo Construction Equipment North America

www.volvoce.com

About the author: Kristin Smith is the editor ofConstruction & Demolition Recycling, a publication owned by Today’s Motor Vehicles publisher GIE Media. She can be reached at ksmith@gie.net or 216.393.0278.