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Keith Clarke and Aaron Ayoso were debating the merits of polymer-enhanced concrete repair alternatives (too expensive, Ayoso ruled). The three of us were leaving a seminar at World of Concrete, a trade show held every January in Las Vegas by the same company that publishes the magazine you're reading right now. More than 90,000 people—some from departments like yours—spread out over several miles of exhibit area to bone up on the latest products and processes and test their hand-eye coordination on equipment ranging from skid-steer loaders to ready-mix trucks.

As maintenance crew members of Provo City, Utah's street department, Clarke and Ayoso were at World of Concrete to check out repair technology. At night they were checking out the non-stop, over-the-top, full-throttle monument to human ingenuity and indulgence that is Las Vegas.

Like Provo City, you probably contract out structural concrete work, but are constantly building or repairing sidewalks, parking lots, catch basins, culverts, Jersey barriers, cisterns, drains, retaining walls, you name it. That's the beauty of concrete: its versatility.

Public works managers are just as versatile. They have to be. You go into work every day with a plan in mind, but you never know where the ball on the roulette wheel of infrastructure will land. You can't gamble with the public trust or public money, but you can bet your paycheck you'll be asked to wear a number of hats on any given day.

That's why the theme of this issue is versatility. The managers featured in our cover story used to be public employees; now they do the same job—providing top-notch infrastructure support—but have adapted to operating in a for-profit environment.

Equipment must be versatile to justify its presence in your fleet. Mix and match the dump bodies, service bodies, and tools featured on pages 41–46 and you're sure to land a combination that serves your department's unique needs. (If you're a fleet manager whose budget allows for just one trade show this year, make it the National Truck Equipment Association's Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, March 7–9.)

And what public fleet is complete without a backhoe loader? If you're looking to update or replace yours, turn to page 52.

Concrete is everywhere, but most people never give it a second thought. Just as most people don't think about you until something goes wrong. But just think what our world would be like without the basic building block of concrete. And what our communities would be like without you.

P.S. If you'd like to attend World of Concrete next year (Jan. 22–25, 2008, Las Vegas), e-mail me at sjohnston@hanleywood.com. I'll treat you to lunch and a walk through the world's largest exhibition for concrete.

Stephanie Johnston
Editor in Chief