“When the day is over, you have built something of lasting value that is useful to society. You have made a positive change that can be seen and used.” That’s what Rod Sutton, the editorial director of Construction Equipment, sees as the most rewarding part of a career in construction. Read on to learn more about this successful business, what Mr. Sutton thinks of how the world of construction is changing, and more.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to where you currently are professionally with the Construction Equipment website?
Construction Equipment exists to provide managers of equipment fleets with information that enables them to improve their performance in acquiring and managing heavy equipment and trucks. The website complements the publication by providing additional content that aids in acquisition decision-making: machine specifications, supplier director, and digital content such as video.
Our “journey” as a website began in the 1990s with the strategy of being an online buyer’s resource. We chose not to create a portal; we chose not to settle for being simply an online version of the magazine. Rather, we built a site that incorporates credible equipment information produced by our experienced staff with two databases: specifications and supplier directory.
Who should be visiting the Construction Equipment website? What services do you offer there?
Equipment buyers and managers of equipment fleets. Our “services” are quality evaluations of various machine types, an organized structure categorizing content by equipment type, and a database of specifications that allows users to compare machines.
How is the world of construction changing?
At its core, construction hasn’t changed. This industry builds society; machines do much of that work. Building materials, labor and engineering are still the drivers.
What has changed is society’s view of those who do this work. Instead of being recognized as “builders,” many are considered simply as “workers.” The value of what manual labor – and those who operate and maintain equipment – can do has been diminished by those who believe college and “professions” are the only choices after high school. So we have a shortage of young people who excel in construction careers.
Of course, technology is also changing the construction world. From mobile communication to remote-controlled machines, from drones to GPS-generated site plans, the way we build is changing. But we are still building.
What advice would you have to current students in terms of what they should know about construction equipment?
Equipment operators make construction happen. Machines move the dirt that prepares a site for building. Machines move the materials that are used for building. Today’s machines are comfortable, less-complicated to operate, and safer than ever.
Equipment technicians keep machines going. Machines are wonderful in their mechanical attributes, but they need to be maintained. Technology is being incorporated into these machines that make them more productive and enable them to communicate with other machines. It needs to be maintained.
Equipment managers handle the assets of the construction organization, which can represent around 80 percent of an organization’s capital assets. The business of fleet management is growing in sophistication and requires people who understand finances.
Careers in construction equipment offer competitive compensation. If you have an interest or affinity for equipment, you can build a successful career. Construction is not going away, and neither are the machines used to build it.
Please share with us anything that you think has contributed to the success of Construction Equipment. What are some of the things that you have learned along the way?
CE has succeeded because of the dedication of its staff to the industry. Most of us have been in this business for many years. Some love the equipment, all love the people.
As for me, I treat my role as steward of a great publication. We do this together.
For more information on continuing education for architects and engineers, check out our courses.