Trade show features exhibits from walks, rides of life

June 12, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

SHARPSBURG - More than 700 patrons walked around 100-plus exhibits Saturday at the Cumberland Valley Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors' annual trade show at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

They saw things such as A.C.& T. Co. Inc.'s giant, shiny, super vacuum truck that sucks up heavy sludge from places such as farms, carwashes, grease traps, well-drilling operations and sewer plants, and hauls it away.

The truck is cleaned out after every use, A.C.& T. spokesman Andrew West said.

Interested visitors also could try out a Segway, the strange-looking scooterlike people mover with its wheels side by side rather than in tandem, a recent invention that is supposed to replace legs as a way for people get around.


"Most people won't walk more than 1,500 feet before they look for a ride," said Steve Colby, owner of the new Segway of Hagerstown outlet. "That's about five city blocks."

Segways sell for between $4,500 and $5,500. Riders stand on a wheeled platform not much bigger than a pair of a large man's feet and roll away.

"It's legal on city sidewalks," Colby said. "It's fun, smart transportation."

Possible users are city police departments, mail carriers, warehouse and airport workers, and security guards when they make their rounds, Colby said.

"The biggest challenge to first-time riders is to trust that the machine will keep its and your balance," he said.

Trade show patrons also could bid on dozens of donated items Saturday at an auction on the grounds.

"It's a fun day for families," said Joan L. Warner, president and executive director of the local ABC chapter.

"This in an annual fundraiser for us," Warner said. The event, held every year since 1965, brings in between $20,000 and $24,000.

Proceeds go to the chapter's apprentice training program. In it, men and women learn a construction trade, from carpentry to electrician to plumbing, among others.

Construction company employers often pay the $1,100 annual tuition to send employees through the three- to four-year training program. Walk-ins also are enrolled.

Chapter member Jim Rock, owner of GRC General Construction in Zullinger, Pa., said he has sent seven of his 45 employees through the program.

"It's a win for them and the company," he said.

The school, which is certified, currently has about 170 students enrolled, Warner said. The chapter bought and is renovating the old Broadway school as its new training facility, she said.

Associated Builders and Contractors is a national organization with more than 23,000 contractors in 79 chapters, according to its Web site.

About 200 Tri-State area contractors belong to the Cumberland Valley Chapter, Warner said.

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