Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Old Technology Takes on New Hues with New England Construction Booming, Life-Sized Toys Put a Gleam in Big Kids' Eyes, Too

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Old Technology Takes on New Hues with New England Construction Booming, Life-Sized Toys Put a Gleam in Big Kids' Eyes, Too

Article excerpt

IT'S a great place for guys with big shoulders and pickup trucks - or for parents and children who love Tonka trucks.

As it opened its doors during a coast-hugging January snowstorm, the Massachusetts Construction Expo had a certain sunniness, even beyond the grins of five-year-olds allowed to climb into the cabs of front-end loaders with giant tires and scoops, and back hoes that look like half a yellow steel preying mantis. Attitudes here reflect the optimism of people whose industry is again catching an economic wave.

"Business is good," says Paul Casey, vice-president of the Casey and Dupuis Equipment Corporation of Watertown, Mass., standing in front of a giant, British-built JCB back hoe. "We probably deserve it after the last few years, and the contractors deserve it, too - the ones who survived."

John Kurmaskie, whose Key Productions Company of Hartford, Conn., stages this event, says the "MassCon" expo disappeared for a couple of years after starting up in the mid-1980s. The recession of the late '80s and early '90s did it in, along with a lack of construction activity. Now the Boston area is a "hot spot for construction," he says, and the expo is starting to draw the kind of participation it saw in its earlier years. Similar shows are being held in many parts of the country, Mr. Kurmaskie says, in anticipation of the spring construction season.

Heavy equipment dominates the vast, one-story expanse at the Bayside Expo Center. It's not exactly cutting-edge technology. The industry's most popular items, the oddly graceful long-armed excavators, have dominated construction sites for some 30 years since they eclipsed old-fashioned track-loaders that plunged into the earth with a string of buckets.

But it's possible to put eye-catching new twists on an old standby. The booth of the C.N. Wood Company of Burlington, Mass., is a magnet with its lavender-and-pink Komatsu excavator.

A special paint job just for the show? No, says C.N. Wood's Allen Austin, it's just a Japanese product aimed at the European market - where design elements like pastel paint and a rounded, sliding door for the operator might turn a sale, even if the price is well over $100,000. …

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