By Quinn Dawson
Apple grossed over $28 billion in quarterly profits for 2011. There are 424 billionaires in the United States, and in 2012 Americans spent a record 170 million on Halloween. So if a red fruit is your logo, you have a silver spoon or you are a distributor of Halloween costumes, you are most likely doing extremely well. But for the majority of us, our industries have had to overcome some financial setbacks in recent years. Many of our companies have been painfully stretched at best, and broken at worst.
The commercial construction industry and general contractors felt much of the brunt of the recession, many struggling to survive. Right after the housing market and the car industry sunk, there was the construction industry treading water right beside them; all of us in this industry were wondering when the tide would turn. The night is always the darkest before the dawn and 2007-2011 was pitch black, but relief and light did indeed break over the horizon in 2012.
When asked about the newest trends in the commercial construction industry in 2012, using the knowledge available to us as general contractors in Arizona and our experience with commercial construction in the greater Phoenix area, our answer is a little unorthodox but true.
It isn’t solar or green material. Construction hasn’t really changed all that much. The newest and most powerful trend, we are happy to say, is that there are more construction projects in the market place. Not only in Arizona but nationwide; especially when compared to the last 5 years.
Of all the “problems” to have, we will take this one. But it has brought its own array of challenges to overcome. This 0 to 60 acceleration has put the most stress on the subcontractor segment of the industry. In the past, in order to have capital to pay their workers and finish the jobs, subcontractors could take out a loan, or a home equity line of credit. Both of these types of loans, because of the economy, are either unavailable or tough to get.
The commercial construction companies that are the most proficient at managing their working capital are the companies that are going to be the most successful in today’s construction climate. Often, general contractors must function as a bank and float their subcontractors in order to finish the jobs on time.
Construction companies would love to have the chance to watch the sun rise over our industry again, but honestly we haven’t the time. As the work increases, so do the stress levels and the needed hours. Steve Jobs said, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” The construction industry definitely got hit hard in the past half decade. But we didn’t lose faith; this new challenge of too much work will be met and overcome just as we overcame the lack of work. Smart construction companies will simply do what we have always done – react, adapt and position ourselves to jump on the rising curve as our industry recovers and gets back on top.
Quinn Dawson is a professional blogger for C3 Construction, a leading general contractor company based in Arizona that claims to deliver valuable services with uncompromising leadership and character.