January 2010: For The Record


For The Record

One goal I constantly strive toward is maintaining a positive attitude regarding the economy and the construction industry, in general, during this nasty recession. Spouting doom and gloom while sitting around the office or walking the floors of a trade show is unproductive. It’s not easy, however, when people are taking huge pay cuts, if they’re even able to keep their jobs at all. I have to admit, I feel a little beat up by 2009. The reality of the situation is not only brutal to endure as a business owner or an employee, it is just plain scary.

According to a Third Quarter 2009 Outlook Report generated by FMI Corp. (, which compiles reports on a wide variety of construction-related topics, improvement for the construction industry is slow at best:

“The outlook for the general economy is improving, but that doesn’t mean good news for construction, yet. Total construction in 2009 and 2010 will be down 14 percent and 5 percent, respectively…Nonresidential construction will decline 13 percent [in 2009], with an even further decline of 16 percent in 2010…While there are some positive signs for the general economy, the construction industry should prepare for a two-year downturn in nonresidential construction. Construction lost 65,000 more jobs in August [2009]. It was the 25th consecutive month of significant job losses, bringing the construction unemployment rate to 16.5 percent. That means there are 1.5 million construction workers out of work, and that 1.4 million construction jobs have been lost since the start of the recession…Nonresidential construction typically lags the general economy by about 18 months. Intense competition that has been bringing down prices has been reported. This is good for owners, but not so good for contractors…Commercial construction relies heavily on consumer spending and new housing construction. Consumer spending will not return to high levels until the employment situation improves. Commercial construction will follow a turnaround in the housing market by 12 to 18 months, and it is not expected to pick up until 2012.”

Buckle up, folks, because we are in for a rough ride in 2010. We must continue to support each other and remain active in the Mason Contractor’s Association of America to see this through. When we come out on the other side of this – and we will – things surely will look different. Mason contractors who survive this recession are to be commended and considered lucky. Working smartly and creatively will pull you through.

As many of you understand, a down economy is not the time to hide or pull back. I hope to see you during World of Concrete/World of Masonry 2010 in Las Vegas next month. Please contact me if you will be attending, and you’d like to meet to talk shop. I would love to hear about the steps you and your company are taking to survive the storm. Feel free to email me at

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