Getting me into a good mood in early February - when I typically write this column - isn’t easy, I’ve discovered. Blame the weather.

This year, Michigan’s never-ending winter seems to dump another 4 inches of snow on my driveway every few days. That would be OK if the mounds of snow I have already shoveled in recent weeks had melted at all.

But a few days in Las Vegas attending the 2011 AHR Expo buoyed my spirits, even if the southern Nevada weather was chillier than normal and my luck at the blackjack tables was so-so.

To my eyes and according to a lot of the attendees I saw and spoke with, the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 show was a great success. I haven’t seen the final numbers - although they should be in our soon-to-be-published post-show article - but I suspect they will be very healthy.

The expo’s central hall aisles were so packed during the show’s opening morning I had trouble navigating some of them. Everybody I spoke to, from exhibitors to attendees, was pleased - and it’s been a few years since I could say that. Sales were occurring on the show floor. Several of the sheet metal machinery companies Snips visited with had sold all or almost all of the equipment they had brought with them and were taking orders for more.

It’s probably too soon to say the tough times are over for the sheet metal industry, but you couldn’t help feeling that there was definitely some pent-up demand from contractors for new equipment after spending three days in Las Vegas.

Another exciting thing about this year’s expo, at least for Snips, was that we were shooting video interviews on the show floor. Exhibitors were certainly excited to talk about their new products and we were happy to be offering a new way to bring the show to our readers - and viewers. Look for the videos

If you are a follower of Snips on Twitter ( you may have noticed that we were one of many publications and people sending updates from the show. There were a lot of exciting things happening and we wanted to bring it to our readers as soon as possible.

We gained a lot of new followers during the show. If you are one of them, thanks.

Letters - Ban cell use while driving

What do I think? (“Easy answers are illusive for distracted-driving problem,” January Editor’s Page). Well, besides having been a service technician using two-way radios long before cell phones were created, I was a ham radio operator, yacking on a radio while driving.

I can attest that some drivers can handle it and some can’t. But like liquor, some can handle it and some can’t - so we error on the side of caution and create laws. Is conducting business so important that the car can’t be safely stopped and the phone work then tended to?

Oh, I forgot to say that my daughter-in-law and two granddaughters were killed by a distracted driver. Google “Jennifer Bukosky.” My granddaughters were Courtney and Sophia.

So yes, ban cell phone use while driving and may it not be your family that is destroyed by someone more concerned with business than safety.

Steve Bukosky

Service adviser

Gustave A. Larson Co.

West Allis, Wis.