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Philly Expo Serves Up Full Plate of Iron

Mon March 22, 2004 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The word, “Sold,” emblazoned across a placard placed on a piece of equipment in one of more than 100 exhibit booths really says it all.

It’s why exhibitors and iron shoppers flock to the Philadelphia Construction Expo — dealers know that they’ll get one-on-one contact with thousands of potential customers and contractors and township, county and borough highway department officials know that they’ll find whatever make and model of equipment they’re looking for.

Philadelphia Construction Expo V, held at the Fort Washington Expo Center on March 9 and 10, was a good indicator that, although the economy is recovering more slowly than everybody would like, there’s still a lot construction work to be done and contractors will always need to upgrade their fleets or purchase or rent a particular piece of equipment for a specific job. And based on early reports from many of the exhibitors at the show, sales and leads were in abundance.

Bill Douglas, president of Kenco Corporation, Ligonier, PA, said, “The show went real well for us. We got to meet a lot of existing customers and establish a lot of new customers. We expect the show to more than pay for itself — and that’s how I judge a show. We got a lot of leads and took a few orders for our hydraulic couplers, excavator thumbs. And our pipe lifter and barrier lifter were popular.”

Philly Expo V was John Morton’s first show and he looks forward to more. He’s the eastern regional manager of Broce Manufacturing, Norman, OK, makers of the Broce RJ 350 self-propelled mid-mount sweeper. “It went real well … It was a real good show for us because we got a lot of good contacts. This was our first time at the show and we’d like to be back next year. We really enjoyed meeting the people that we saw there.”

Bensalem, PA’s Asphalt Care Equipment Inc. reported tremendous success with its outdoor exhibit. “Our outside booth response was phenomenal,” said Marlene Fackler, marketing manager. “People just kept coming in and telling how great our exhibit was.”

Fackler also had high praise for the folks who put on the show. “The people that work there for CEG [Construction Equipment Guide] are very, very nice people and extremely helpful.”

David Fackler, president of Asphalt Care Equipment, was elated at how well his company did at the Expo. “We got a ton of leads and we sold quite a few pavers. We took deposits for a PF840 Blaw-Knox asphalt paver and ESSP 550 Blaw-Knox asphalt sprayer; sold a lot of miscellaneous compaction equipment, such as jumping jacks, small roller, hand tools, specialty equipment to paving maintenance contractors. We have probably five solid leads from the show that will be converted to sales within the next 30 days.”

Dean Leonetti, sales manager, Eagle Power & Equipment, Montgomeryville, PA, said Philly Expo V was the best one of all the shows he’s been to. “What also made this show great,” Leonetti said, “was that we had something new to show off — the Case 580 Super M+ , featuring the backhoe pilot controls. The Liebherr LR632B crawler loader line, which we just took on the week of the show drew considerable interest as well as the Takeuchi TL140 crawler loader. Overall we did extremely well.”

“The show was invaluable and successful for us in a couple of ways,” said Bob Duke, of Earthborne Inc., Warrington, PA. “The show drew a lot of local contractors and this was a great chance for us to show that we’re now a full-service JCB dealer. The one-arm set up of the 1110T track skid steer and the 212S sideshift utility backhoe loader went really well for us,” Duke said. Earthborne took on the JCB line this past October, but, according to Duke, went “full bore” with the line in the past month.

The Expo wasn’t always about heavy equipment and attachments. From time to time, attendees and exhibitors could take a break with the special guests of the show. Several Philadelphia Eagle Cheerleaders were on hand throughout the two-day Expo to sign calendars, pose for pictures and conversation. (Despite repeated attempts by CEG reporters to find out whether the Eagles would continue to rely on Todd Pinkston and James Thrash at the wide receiver position, or sign some talent there, the cheerleaders refused to comment. Although at press time the news was that the team would be getting Terrell Owens after all.)

The backhoe rodeo, held on both days of the show, drew close to 100 participants and the competition was fierce. On day one, Mark Olson, owner and operator of M.P. Olson Excavation, in Suffern, NY, took first place honors, while Trent Bonanni, of JT Excavating, in Souderton, PA, won first place on the second day. The two then squared off in a championship competition in which Olson came out the winner — 158 seconds to Bonanni’s 286 seconds.

The four backhoes used in the competition were a Cat 430D used on the sand trap event, provided by Giles & Ransome, Bensalem, PA; a JCB 214 used in the softball event, provided by JCB; a John Deere 310SG used for the basketball event, provided by Plasterer Equipment, Lebanon, PA; and a Case 580 Super M used on the pipe drop event, provided by Eagle Power and Equipment, Montgomeryville, PA.

The third time was the charm for Mark Olson. A participant of all three previous Philcon backhoe rodeos, Olson simply attributed his victory to “not thinking too much about the competition.”

“Last year I placed third and I practiced for it, I even set up my own events,” began Olson. “But this year I went blind. Oh yeah, I was still nervous, but I didn’t dwell so much on the competition this time.”

Olson also gave credit to the technological advances of backhoes for his victory.

“They’re all great machines, but I’m used to a Case and when you hop on other machines, it can get difficult because you’re not used to them. But the machines are getting to where anybody can run them because of the joystick controls — they’re easier to operate. Before the competitions were tougher because you had to quickly familiarize yourself with the machines’ controls. Now the Cat, John Deere and the JCB … they all have the pilot actuated joysticks with switchable controls,” Olson said.

Although this was Olson’s first victory at a Philcon backhoe rodeo, he has some victories at other competitions under his belt. He said that he has won two rodeos at Pine Bush Equipment in New York.

But Olson humbly summed up his big win at Philcon. “It’s either your day or it’s not, and this was just my day,” he said.

Olson’s company, which has been in business for 17 years, performs excavation, grading and waterline and sewer line work for municipalities and private firms. He has attended every Philadelphia Construction Expo and plans to attend next year, too. “It’s just a great show. You get to see a lot new products. I even found out about some bucket teeth after speaking with Brian Donahue with Olympic Supply.”

Trent Bonanni, president, JT Excavating, Souderton, PA, came in first on the second day of competition but fell short in the championship round. His company, however, did very well overall. Three of the 10 winners — from first to fifth place — were members of JT Excavating. Bonanni attributed his company’s success (and skill with a backhoe) to setting high standards in the people who he hires.

“It’s just about working hard. We maintain a high work ethic and we try to hire good people who expect a lot out of themselves,” he said.

Bonanni was far from disappointed with his second place finished in the championship. “I was just having a good time, but I choked in one event — the basketball event. We enjoyed the afternoon at the show and we saw some attachments that caught our eye … something we hadn’t seen before.”

Bonanni founded JT Excavating two and half years ago with his foreman, John Capizzi, who finished fourth in the second day of competition. The Souderton, PA, company mostly does houseline excavation and some site work.

Now that another successful show is in the books, CEG Production is already looking ahead to next year’s show. We hope to see you all again next year for Philadelphia Construction Expo VI.

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