I generally choose to leave predictions of the future to “psychics” and tarot card readers. They rely on special powers of divination, and I give them credit for trying. After all, it’s a daunting task to predict the future of anything these days. So how can we foresee what’s next for an entire industry? We all know forecasts can be as uncertain as your local weather––instead of a clear and sunny day, you may be surprised with a torrential downpour. Predicting the future of any industry is at best a “guesstimate” of what is yet to come. So, you might ask, what should we expect?

Editor-at-large Joe Salimando explores the figures and comments on various construction conferences to paint a picture of an expected boom in his Construction Forecast 2004 feature on page 24. The future for construction looks promising. According to his findings, this year will experience small growth and act as the prelude to a boom in 2005. Nonresidential construction is expected to increase due to a strengthening economic recovery, while residential may see a slight downshift.

In this month’s issue, we are proud to present the 25 NECA Showstopper winners of 2003 (page 44). The Showstopper award is unique as it is judged by a select panel of independent professionals and selection criteria is based on how effectively the product can save time and money, grow in profitability and provide ease of use or installation. The winners were picked at the NECA Show in Orlando in October 2003.

In addition to the features, Electrical Contractor introduces two new columns with this issue. Lewis Tagliaferre, contributing editor for energy services, will cover the ongoing trends in utility technology and business opportunities arising from deregulation in a new Line Work column (page 142). The Alternative Power column (page 106) will explore the application technologies of alternative power sources for commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.

Last but not least, I would like to wish you and your family a good fortune for the coming year. It should be a good one. EC

STANIMIRA Z. STEFANOVA, Editor