Construction spike lifts heavy truck sales off floor

Volvo Dump Truck

During the recession it didn't take much to increase heavy truck sales by 100 percent. There were years when just one dump truck sale would have done the trick.

"There is an old saying that it's hard to fall out of bed when you are already sleeping on the floor," quipped Wade Bosarge, regional manager for Rush Enterprises' three dealerships in Orlando as well as its dealerships in Jacksonville, Haines City, Tampa and Mobile, Ala.  Rush sells Peterbilt and heavy truck brands.


But things have been improving since about 2012 for sellers of dump trucks, cement mixers, and roll-off trucks, which transport dumpsters and such, said Bosarge.

In March, 36,450 heavy trucks were sold in the United States, according to The Bureau of Economic Analysis. That compares to 17,400 in May of 2010.

"It's not gone back up nearly as fast as it got whacked," Bosarge said. "The faucet just shut off in 2008."

There is hope that the six years of I-4 Ultimate work will translate into even more sales, though that isn't expected to become significant until some bids on the project are let.

In the meantime, there is plenty of other new development going on that will need big trucks to happen.

"There are construction projects and housing development going on all over the place," said Bosarge. "It looks like it did prior to 2008."

For Nextran Corp. heavy truck sales were in the tank from 2007 until about 2013, said Charlie Brown, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Nextran in Orlando. The dealership sells Mack and Volvo heavy trucks.

"In 2014 we saw 117 percent increase in truck sales in those markets," said Brown. "So far in 2015 we are tracking to increase the 2014 sales by 80 percent. Buyers include municipalities, ready-mix concrete companies, dump truck operators and excavating companies, he said.

"Home construction has picked up, commercial construction is up, and road and bridge work too, but nothing tied to the I-4 project yet," he said. "And there's been a lot of construction in the theme parks."

He's waiting for a sales spike after the I-4 bid winners are announced. "But they aren't hauling dirt yet," Brown said.

tburney@growthspotter.com or 407-420 6261