Another holiday season has just ended, and I have formed a few observations as we head into another part of the year: trade show season.

I specifically recall a weekend in the middle of December when I started and finished my Christmas shopping. I have my own holiday tradition—I do all of my shopping in one day. I arrive at the mall at 9 a.m., go down my list, and I don't get home until every name and gift is crossed off. Some years I'm lucky enough to complete my task by noon and I get home in time to eat lunch. Other years it is more of a struggle and I don't finish until 8 or 9 at night. Still, it all gets done in one day.

This year, I could have done better and I could have done worse. All of my shopping took about five hours. Five painful hours of walking and doing more walking, and driving and doing more driving. What surprised me was how large the crowds were, how long the lines snaked around the stores, and how many packages shoppers were carrying. During this long Saturday, the scene was quite excruciating. But now that it is over and I look back, I'm quite pleased.

Coupled with news reports that retailers seem to have enjoyed a strong season, my own anecdotal experience leaves me with positive thoughts as 2011 begins. People seemed pretty upbeat as the year ended. I'm hopeful this will turn into more buying of clothes, electronics, home appliances, and of course, homes themselves. Home buying, coupled with job creation, are keys to the nation increasing its gross domestic product. This will lead to a stronger economy, which will create the need for new construction.

World of Concrete

I'm upbeat as we head to Las Vegas for World of Concrete. For a tough economy and a construction industry looking for some momentum, it's impressive that tens of thousands of concrete contractors and producers will attend this year. Everyone goes for different reasons: to attend an educational seminar or association event, or to see the exhibitors' new and innovative products. The best place for producers to do this is at the Producer Center in the North Hall. Hundreds of exhibitors have products and new technologies targeted for you.

I also urge you to attend the editorial events that have been developed with you in mind. These include the John Deere Operator Challenge, Pervious Live, Hoover Dam Bypass Tour, and luncheons especially for volumetric concrete producers, women in the concrete construction industry, and those who want to learn more about sustainable concrete construction. Finally, one of the most entertaining and important events is the annual Concrete Industry Management auction, which benefits all five CIM programs across the nation. Last year's auction raised $386,000.

Check out our World of Concrete Preview: It's Showtime! for more details. See you there.