Day 2: Quality drives business, optimism for 2010

As the second day of UCT 2010 progressed, the mood brightened from wary to relaxed.

The show floor opened at 10 a.m. on Day 2, and despite beautiful Tampa weather there was a steady flow of attendees until the end of the session. The crowd did not often reach the concentration of the opening rush Tuesday, with slow periods especially during the lunch hour, but for some the match to attendees’ needs made quantity irrelevant. Troy Stokes of Akkerman noted the “quality audience” and abundance of potential clients, while Dave Holcomb at TT Technologies was seeing existing clients as well as new leads. Several exhibitors mentioned early in the morning that they had already made their trip worthwhile with either new business or leads. Michael Ock of ICS Blount, makers of the Power Grit utility saw chain, said this morning the conference was “as good as we could have imagined—our customer base was perfectly targeted.”

Many attendees had positive predictions for their business in 2010. Akkerman’s new power reaming head for their guided boring machine line is fresh from a successful pilot tube microtunneling project in Baton Rouge, LA, according to Troy Stokes, who gave a presentation on the project for UCT’s education sessions. The Baton Rouge Sewer Overflow program is estimated to total $1.2 billion over the next five years’ worth of work, many of it as yet unbid. Akkerman is also enjoying continuing work upgrading infrastructure in Mexico and elsewhere internationally.

Reline America expects a pickup in business within three or four months, with weather improving in the north and contractors and the economy emerging from the recession. The company has plans for a 125,000-foot lining project in Delaware starting soon and a fiberglass-reinforced UV liner in the final stages of testing—both expected to factor largely in a better 2010.

Shawn Lowman of Vacuworx noticed “larger ripples of activity” beginning toward the end of 2009 and picking up further in 2010. The company’s new mini vacuum lifter, an improved 360-degree swivel version affordable for small contractors, debuted at UCT 2009 and has now become a 2:1 unit sales leader over the large lifters aimed at serious pipeline work. For the future, Lowman says “I think concrete will be a big word for us in 2010.”

Root control firm Vaporooter’s TJ Suiter was party to the Rehab Zone this year, where demonstrations drew big crowds. The company is “growing by leaps and bounds—we’re certainly getting our market share.”

Insituform is conservatively moving forward on the “right” projects for its new InsituMain technology, but InsituMain is even so expected to draw in $15 million in revenue in the eastern U.S. region this year. The February issue of Popular Science showcased the method in its feature on rebuilding America (page 41, or Lay New Pipes Without Digging Trenches).

The exhibit hall opens at 9 a.m. tomorrow for three final hours of handshakes and high hopes. 2010, here we come.

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