By Brian Hall

It seems as if our industry is different than most. The winter months, it seems, is the most popular time to invest in machinery, attachments and accessories. Typically, (whatever that is these days) the first quarter is chock full of local and national trade shows, dealer open houses and local meetings. In fact, you may even be reading this issue at one of the many equipment auctions happening nationwide. 2021, however has put the brakes on a lot of these events, or at least changed the way we attend, thus changing the way we make purchasing decisions. This doesn’t mean we should get lazy about the decisions we make in the slow season. In fact, it really means the opposite. Being diligent in our research is more important now than ever.

It’s been so easy in the past to travel to a central destination to meet with the manufacturers, dealers and associations to make sure we are armed with the best information for the upcoming season. One stop-shopping, if you will. Now, it seems we are left to our own devices. So what is the informed consumer to do? Let’s discuss a few ideas.

Personalized Trade Shows.
All the fun of the paving show without the cross country travel! Most of the equipment dealers are stocked up with the latest equipment and are ready to show it off. Now is the time to get with the dealer to set up a time to do walk-arounds on all the latest equipment as well as the new features and benefits of the equipment you already know. As manufacturers, we are working very close to the dealers during the winter months to keep them informed of new innovations and doing on-site training when appropriate. The dealerships are always anxious to have you visit their facility and let them show you what they can do to make sure your equipment stays on the job and not in the shop.

Winter Time Is Demo Time.
Not only do the dealers have the bright and shiny new machines, they have a demo fleet to show off. While much of the country is shut down for a few months, this is a great time to see what the different manufacturers can do. Demo a paver and run sand if you can’t get hot mix. Take the grader out to your shop and see what it can do. Demo a broom and train the new guy on the ins and outs. For those of us who are lucky enough to be still laying asphalt, this is the best time of year to be trying out the latest and greatest. Even if you aren’t ready to pull the trigger on a new machine today, you’ll be miles ahead when you are.

An Ounce Of Prevention.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Rode hard and put up wet”? Hopefully that doesn’t describe your asphalt equipment, but sometimes its reality. During the slower times, this is the time to be re-evaluating the state of your machines. We’ve talked about this many times, but the truth is, this is the best money saving business decision. By inspecting wear items on your machine now, you can sleep better knowing that you aren’t snapping conveyor chains or having hydraulic issues with 5 or 6 trucks in front of you. Go into the season full speed with new augers, screed wear plates and fresh lube and hydraulic oil and you’ll be miles ahead of any worries.

Invest in your team.
Every contractor I talk to says their biggest challenge is hiring and keeping good employees. Winter time is the best time to keep these guys and girls on their toes. Internal training can certainly go a long way because if every employee knows their place in the company, it gives them a sense of ownership. Cross training your best workers is a great way to prepare for the future. When you can depend on your employees to expand their knowledge, the excuse “It’s not my job” goes out the window. Even though the trade shows aren’t open for in-person attendance, the training sessions are all on as planned. Get the team together for a round-table training. They’ll appreciate your investment.

We are in unprecedented times. Gone are the days where a one size fits all approach works, at every level of the business chain. I challenge all of you to define today what your story of 2021 will include. More of the same or will your decisions produce the results you desire? Remember, you are in control, but you are not alone.

Brian Hall, is a LeeBoy Territory Manager. He can be reached via email at