Construction contractors and equipment distributors and rental companies are optimistic that local non-residential construction activity will improve in 2014, according to a recent survey by Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, a subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Co. As part of its 2014 Construction Industry Forecast, Wells Fargo’s construction Optimism Quotient – the survey’s primary benchmark for measuring contractor and equipment distributor sentiment – is at 124, a historic high and up 18 points from 106 in 2013.

The survey reached an all-time low of 42 in 2009.

“The strong sense of optimism about construction activity is a natural contributor to the upwards trend in construction equipment acquisition and rental we expect to see in 2014,” said John Crum, senior vice president and national sales manager of the construction group at Wells Fargo Equipment Finance. “In fact, unit counts of light and heavy construction equipment sold in the U.S. correspond quite well with the curve of the Optimism Quotient over the last 10 years.”

The survey includes responses from 522 construction industry executives from across the United States.

Nearly 80 percent of surveyed contractors said they rented equipment in 2013, and 91.2 percent said they intend to rent in 2014. Distributors and equipment rental companies almost universally responded that they will maintain or grow their rental fleets. When asked to cite their reasons for renting, 72.8 percent of contractors said, “lack of consistent work,” while 67.4 percent said “need for project-specific equipment,” and 52.5 percent said “overall equipment costs.”

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