Free Money Costs A Fortune

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | April 2009 Vol. 64 No. 4

I sincerely hope the additional funding levels being discussed come to fruition (and it’s still not nearly enough money to solve the national infrastructure problems). But funds need to arrive with an understanding that city councils will raise their user fees when appropriate to allow their overworked and resource-deprived public works departments to remain current with real costs for maintaining systems. Both federal and local funding mechanisms are desperately needed to initiate a rebirth of our horribly neglected sewer, water and stormwater infrastructure.

Case study in forward thinking

While attending a John Deere Construction & Forestry media event recently in the Phoenix area, I was impressed by their forward thinking in the middle of an economic recession.

John Deere gets it. Now is not the time to panic and put your head in the sand. Now is the time to be cautious yet proactive, ready to take advantage of market opportunities.

Kevin Karlix, John Deere’s director of North American Marketing & Sales, stressed that Deere has been through the financial up and downs before. Because of living and learning from the past, John Deere’s management now has the company on sound financial footing and “we have a plan,” Karlix related.

Deere’s plan is to be proactive and take advantage of opportunities while much of their competition retreats. In 2009, John Deere will continue to release new products and enhance existing ones; they will maintain, rather than cut, their marketing to their most important business niches; they will continue with aggressive business development efforts. John Deere’s intent is to build market share during the recession and they are well-positioned to do so.

Many of Deere’s competitors have pulled back their business development and marketing programs to the point that their customers are wondering if those companies will survive. Most likely, they will. But the tarnished image of a struggling company falling behind the competition is not easy to overcome. When we ride out this latest recession and construction markets bounce back with a vengeance – which they will – Deere will have enhanced its market position substantially and be ready to ride at the crest of a new, lucrative economic wave.

It’s a business model that companies, both large and small, new construction or rehabilitation, open-cut or trenchless, could follow to success. John Deere’s approach is not unique, just business savvy and the actions of a true market leader.

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