During ABMA's Annual Meetingin January, ABMA's economist told us the economic outlook through 2008 generally is positive, with perhaps slightly slower growth beginning in mid-2007, but growth nonetheless. Time is bearing him out. Almost every boiler segment that ABMA serves is busy and looking at positive inquiry levels for future business. It's all good.

Although the outlook for the next 18 months is pretty encouraging, ABMA's economist injected a note of dread as well, and because he's an authority with a singular reputation for forecasting accuracy, it's worth noting: Widespread recession will begin in 2009, and it may be the worst we have seen in 30 years. While that is a pretty scary prediction in any context, it still is only a prediction, and it should not stimulate the beginning of a self-fulfilling prophecy. What it should do is motivate everyone to continue taking full advantage of existing opportunities, but, at the same time, slow down, take note of their business surroundings, and be prepared, not paralyzed.

Business is coming our way because energy and environmental issues are churning unlike ever before, generating myriad questions, but little political consensus. Unlike in times past, customers seemingly are not waiting for consensus. They are responding to their own sense of timing and to drivers closer to home. An aging fleet of boilers— from Main Street to the electricity power plant—coupled with unpredictable and unrelentingly high energy costs, the suspected (and politically correct) need to address at least some climate-change-related issues, and a desire for less dependence on foreign sources of energy, are exigencies with which customers are struggling and for which this industry has many of the answers. Business is coming our way because the needs that have to be met and the problems that have to be solved are best met and solved—in a safe, clean, reliable, and environmentally sustainable manner—by today's boiler technologies.

Oliver Cromwell once exhorted his troops, as they prepared for battle, to "trust i n God, and keep your powder dry." Cromwell wasn't suggesting that God might bet ray or abandon the troops, only that if God had something different than the more perfect ending in mind, perhaps it was best to be ready for the worst. Regardless of your religious beliefs, Cromwell's prudence is apt today, as we happily and gratefully encounter and exploit the current surge of business. As we open ourselves to current opportunities, we must, as we have learned from the past, husband the fruits of those opportunities should the future hold, again, something different than the more perfect ending. Because by definition it is an association of experts—on technology and market conditions—and has aligned itself with outside experts, ABMA can help "keep your powder dry."