Open Eyes on the Road
Guest writer Andy Fanter takes us through the drive he made today in his blog post, “Open Eyes on the Road.” There are hopeful signs everywhere.
I want to tell you about the 100-mile drive on US HWY 56 I made today, Marion to Great Bend, went through McPherson population 14 000, and ending in Great Bend population 14.500. You may have heard of McPherson, home of McPherson College with largest endowment for a college at $1.5 billion. It is known for old car restoration. Great Bend, if you are a duck hunter or bird watcher, is famous for Cheyenne Bottoms and thirty miles south Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.
Here is the summary of construction that I saw today: new building McPherson College, new RV park, new pipeline at natural gas facility, finishing of a 30 acre pond, two major concrete parking lot projects, new Starbucks, new Wendy’s, miles of pavement work on 56, a new hospital, two building demolition jobs, a 5000 square foot slab waiting for a building. This is what I saw today in nowhere—not Wichita or KC or the Topeka-Lawrence-KC corridor.
I saw several trucks with a variety of machines in both directions. I saw more windmill parts heading to sites. I saw everything from a CAT scraper to a wheeled skid steer. I also saw six reasonably new RVs for sale in people’s yards—it looks like the toys from 2020 got expensive to keep, and people got too busy to use them. The weather up until now has been great for the outdoors in Kansas.
What does this mean to the dealer, the personnel, and the manufacturer—-everywhere is busy, nowhere included. You cannot forget your smaller, more rural accounts. I am seeing billions of dollars per week on the construction sites about big jobs in big places. My drive today confirmed the construction industry is busy, record high busy. It should continue with infrastructure dollars, CHIP plants, and EV plants. I saw smaller plants announced near the Ford Blue Facility near Memphis. Buying a home to be built or under construction is now easier than buying a house in the US. The builders are doing well, buying more land, land that will need machines now and through 2024 and beyond—only 2 to 4 million houses short in the US.
I doubt the major manufacturers can catch up during this cycle, but that is not an excuse to quit trying.