The year was percolating along, adjusting to increasing concern about the housing market, when the sub-prime mortgage-lending mess broke. Although slight at first, concern within the housing market grew as time revealed a deeper problem. Housing markets became more pessimistic; by the end of the year, the quiet strength of the general economy was being called into question, too. How quickly the mood shifted.
Equipment managers in every vocation surveyed by Construction Equipment for this year's Annual Report & Forecast reflected the economic slowdown in their responses to our questionnaire on business conditions and fleet management. With continued uncertainty in the housing markets, managers' outlooks for 2008 are perhaps a bit more conservative than they might have been. Nonetheless, overall construction spending should grow this year and fuel a solid year for most vocations operating construction equipment.
Welcome to Construction Equipment/Case Construction Equipment's 2008 Annual Report & Forecast. Construction Equipment has reported on the state of the economy and the industry with these annual reports for 25 years.
As in previous years, we lead off this exclusive and in-depth report with an overview of the country's economic status by Reed Business Information's construction economist, Jim Haughey. He also updates the prospects for the various construction markets that affect construction-equipment users.
Following Haughey's analysis, we report on the largest exclusive survey in the industry of equipment owners and managers, as well as those companies that supply construction equipment: the distributors and rental dealers.
We are pleased, once again, to partner with the industry associations serving those suppliers. The American Rental Association and the Associated Equipment Distributors provided access to their members, who were surveyed for this report. We are grateful for the assistance from both of these fine organizations.
We mailed the questionnaires in September 2007. About 10,000 were mailed, and we garnered a net response rate of 22 percent.
This special report contains the results from these surveys. Construction Equipment is pleased to publish it as a service to the industry. To those whose participation made the 2008 Annual Report & Forecast a success, we thank you.
We also thank Case Construction Equipment, sponsor of the Annual Report & Forecast for the fifth consecutive year. Case is a full-line manufacturer of earthmoving equipment, and its support of this project has allowed us to publish substantial amounts of data and analysis for your use.