An Industry Snapshot

Dec. 6, 2022
The Roads and Bridges Contractors’ Choice Awards provide insight into where the industry is headed in the coming year.

By Jack Roberts

If you know anything at all about contractors, it’s that they’re opinionated. They like what they like. And they’re on firm ground as to what they don’t like. And they’re not shy about sharing their opinions in both cases. And that’s what makes Roads and Bridges annual Contractors’ Choice Awards so fascinating to dig into. Because on the surface, these results show what OEs contractors feel are building quality machines that best meet their demanding criteria for success on the jobsite. But, if you dig a little deeper, you can also see a fascinating makeup of two tough and demanding construction markets that require an astonishing array big, small and even downright massive machines and equipment that is required to get high-profile projects done safely and on time.

In looking at the winners, the first thing that strikes me is the extremely large sampling of equipment manufacturer’s winning accolades in this year’s survey. To be sure, when looking at equipment like articulated trucks, excavators, wheel loaders and dozers, Cat and Deere both made a strong showing. But the diversity of equipment and the (often) manufacturer-specific strengths they offer contractors are also represented by strong showings from Komatsu, Bobcat and Gradall.

And that equipment diversity trend only intensifies as the equipment becomes more specific to the needs of road- and bridge-building contractors. GOMACO, Wirtgen, Terex, Roadtec, Hamm and Bomag all take honors for various machines – reflecting the quality and highly specialized engineering that goes into their designs. These are manufacturers that specialize in highly specific market segments with their machines. And that dedication to perfecting machines that serve those specific applications so well is a testament to the often decades-long experience and applying real-world lessons learned to those designs.

The other take-away from the 2022 Contractors’ Choice Awards is the impressive diversity of machines Roads and Bridges readers depend upon to get their projects done. You’ve got work platforms and work zone lighting systems from Genie, JLG. There are machines from LeeBoy, with excavators using attachments from Atlas Copco. Asphalt batch plants from Astec and Gencor and crushing plants from Eagle Crusher being served by Kenworth and Mack trucks. All the way down to critical finishing machines like pavement removal and marking units from Stripe Hog, MRL and EZ Liner as well as crack and seal melters/applicators from Crafco and SealMaster.

Many of these OEs are household names even outside of the construction industry. Many more are well-known to contractors worldwide. And others are specialty machines designed specifically for road and bridge work. But regardless of the size of the machine or the OEM that manufacturers it, all of them show an unwavering commitment to quality, efficiency and durability that has been earned over many years working on tough jobsites all around the world. And the fact that they’ve earned a spot on the Roads and Bridges Contractors Choice Awards 2022 means that those machines and companies have earned a stamp of approval from some of the toughest, noncompromising contractors anywhere. 

Our readers took the time to tell us what they think about the equipment they rely upon. It’s an impressive list, brought to you by untold centuries of collective experience, trial and error and hard lessons learned. It’s also an incredibly valuable resource – one that is updated every year – that provides invaluable guidance to contractors who need to try a new machine, replace an old model, or find a better equipment solution for a problem that they’re having. Knowledge like the Contractors Choice Awards can’t be found just anywhere. And if you’re in the market for a new piece of equipment, it’s an excellent place to start the process of assessing and acquiring that machine. R&B

Jack Roberts covers the equipment side of our industry for Roads & Bridges.

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