October’s Challenges

Mike Weber

October 2009

October is upon us. It is a beautiful time of year. The leaves are changing colors and the air is nice and crisp. The month represents the zenith of the year, the high point of the seasons, where the harvest of all the hard work of the spring is reaped. It is the month of the Libra, a word derived from Latin that means "balances” or "scales.”

But the construction industry is far from balanced this October. Like the unpredictable autumn weather, the construction industry is going through its own capricious period.

By this time, if you were fortunate enough to have business in the market of school building, and if you have survived the blow from the school bus that just ran you over on its way to the brand new or newly renovated school you’ve just completed, there is a sense of relief that you have finished the job before school is in session.

But, that warm and fuzzy feeling will very abruptly wear off.

As you get up and dust the tire marks off your back, beware of the retail train that is fueling up and headed your way for the holiday rush. As retailers fully stock their shelves with holiday inventory by the month of October, all construction must be completed by that time.

So, construction in October means two things: a sense of accomplishment with the completion of all school building, and a feeling of impending duress because all retail work must be finished in time for the holiday season.

If you have successfully navigated through these two chaotic sectors, it is now time to think about preparing your financial year-end numbers. That is, if your company’s fiscal year end is in alignment with the calendar’s year-end. It is important to be mindful of the grueling process of closing and finalizing projects (pending change orders, retainage reduction, as-built drawings and punch lists, for example) in order to attain your goal of receiving that final payment.

So, be prepared for October and all its challenges. Make sure your company is equipped to withstand the turmoil that is in store for this unstable month.

In addition to being the 2009–2010 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Weber is president of Island Acoustics LLC in Bohemia, N.Y.