Winding Road

Editor's Notebook

Over the last week the Wall Street Journal has been stacking up on my desk while I was out of the office. Though already far behind in my reading and with issues coming in daily, I can't put them in the recycling bin without quickly glancing through the pages. The headlines are bleak, employing words such as crash, gloom, slump, fall, crisis and turmoil in nearly every section of the paper. It's not the best way to start a day, unless stressing out during breakfast can be somehow energizing — or at least considered multitasking.

Although some mobile equipment industry sectors covered by OEM Off-Highway readers and advertisers have been doing well — especially compared to what has been happening in the housing and automobile industries — there's a sharp bend in the road ahead, and it's difficult to predict what we'll see once we're beyond the curve. It's likely there's going to be a few more left and right turns, especially as more consumers and businesses decide (or are forced) to take it easy in the hopes of getting through it in one piece. The road could be rather curvy for the next several months, maybe a year.

A presidential election is looming. Petroleum prices are still reeking havoc. The economy is in tough shape. And that "recession" word keeps getting used. It is a crazy time to be putting together a "State of the Industry" issue.

What you're holding now (or reading on-line at is our annual look at what's going on in the off-highway industry. For this issue we've asked OEMs, associations and component suppliers to weigh in on a few questions that look at the past, present and future of their specific company, or the industry in general. The answers are as varied as mobile off-highway equipment.

There are challenges ahead, but it's not all doom and gloom, and there's is a way through it. Gems Sensors & Controls' Andrew Brzoska, off-highway vehicle market manager says: "To maintain a healthy pace in the off-highway market Gems focuses on a handful of segments: mining, agricultural, construction and material handling. This allows us to remain in touch with the specific needs of our customers while maintaining some level of diversification within a niche market."