On the Level: Top Management
Business in the East: Things Could Be Better
Tight margins, rising material prices, fierce competition and an aging workforce are reasons contractors on the East Coast lose sleep. But for many, 2018 has an upside: It is busy or trending that way through thi
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 8
Mayan Seaside, Belize, July 2, 2018. Looking back, and considering what management has come to mean, if I were asked to define it in one sentence, I would define it as such: “Figure out what will go wrong unless
U.S. Department of Labor Kicks Off Safe + Sound Week on August 13
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration encourages Americans to commit to workplace safety and health by participating in Safe + Sound Week, Aug. 13-19, 2018.
When Disaster Strikes
All told, 2017 saw what seems like a never-ending string of natural disasters.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Nate and Maria caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Ea
AWCI's New President Has Issues
After 40 years in the wall and ceiling industry, Jerry Smith might attest to having seen it all. But he won’t. He is not a “been there, done that” kind of guy.
If anything, he is excited (and honored) to b
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 7
Poway, California, 1978
Now the sign has always read
You’d be a fool to go ahead
But you know you’ve always gone
The day has always brought the dawn
Sunny skies have slipped away
The moon’s still followin
Get More Work with Open-Book Accounting
Apparently, we contractors are crooks. Not you and I, of course—we’re golden, but the rest of us are downright nefarious. Don’t believe me? Just flip through the wealth “informational” cable channels and scroll d
Productivity: Doing More with Less
Industrywide, we face a labor shortage.
While not a long-term solution, you can at least partially make up for not enough hands on deck by making each hand more efficient and productive, and so patch the s
Screening for High Performers
The shortage of skilled labor and seasoned construction managers is great. “Seventy percent of construction firms report they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions,” noted a report last summer by
Q: What can you tell me about wall prioritization?
A: The term is typically used in regard to fire-resistive walls and buildings that fall under the International Building Codes. The inten
A Worthwhile Journey
It has been an honor to have served as president of our association. On the first of July I move to the position of past president and our new president, Jerry Smith, will provide his leadership to our associatio
ABC: Contractors Remain Upbeat
Commercial and industrial construction contractors entered 2018 with abundant confidence regarding sales and staffing levels for the next six months, according to the latest Construction Confidence Index released
Builder Confidence Slips One Point, Remains in Solid Territory
Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes edged down one point to a level of 69 in April on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index but remains on fir
Candidate Recycling Programs:
Would you ever consider sharing talented but mismatched job candidates with the competition? Business consultant Scott Wintrip explains how launching a candidate “recycling” program will expand your talent pool a
Construction Costs Surge in April as New Tariffs and Other Trade Measures Lead to Significant Increases in Material Prices
The cost of goods used in construction jumped in April at the fastest year-over-year rate since 2011, with ongoing increases for a range of building materials, including many that are subject to proposed tariffs
Construction Employers Add 17,000 Jobs in April; Hourly Earnings Rise as Firms Compete for Tight Pool of Labor
Construction employment increased by 17,000 jobs in April and by 257,000 jobs over the past year while firms boosted pay to help recruit new workers, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associa
Contractors in the South Talk Business
From Texas to Florida, contractors in the southern United States are preparing for a busy year ahead. And while margins are trending up in some regions, in others contractors look to new ways to improve efficienc
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 6
One Summer Night – Capitola Pier, 1972. The full moon poured through what appeared to be a white hole in the starry night sky. A silhouette of two figures, my wife and I, stood leaning on the rail. Peering eyes f
Jobsite Safety: 21 Ways to Reduce Your Reportables
In April and May, AWCI’s Construction Dimensions reached out to some of the industry’s most successful safety directors to learn how they put together their programs and maintain strong safety cultures. Lo and be
March Construction Starts Advance 11 Percent
New construction starts in March increased 11 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $785.2 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The substantial gain followed modest decl
Millennials 10 Years Later
Ten years ago this month, I profiled millennials for AWCI’s Construction Dimensions in a column titled “InSync with the Millennial Generation.” I wrote that millennials are hard-working and thoughtful—“possibly t
Construction Employers Add 228,000 Jobs over the Year Despite Dip in March
Construction employment increased by 228,000 jobs over the past year despite a weather-related dip last month, and the industry’s unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent, the lowest yet for March, according to an a
Contractors in the North Talk Business
It is busy and it is going to stay that way for many contractors in northern states throughout 2018. Here’s a look at how several AWCI member contractors—from Ohio to North Dakota—are faring now, the challenges t
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 5
Union Apprenticeship, 1970–1974. Let me tell you a few more tales of woe from my past as an apprentice. I leave you these bits and pieces of history in order to document them and share some life lessons from my p
You can’t operate on a whim in business. Good strategy is essential, especially your digital marketing strategy. When was the last time you updated your website, published an e-newsletter or shared a company vide
Scheduling: Art or Science?
While some say that project scheduling isn’t brain surgery, others say that brain surgery, by comparison, is but a leisurely stroll through a park.
Most agree, though, that when it comes to scheduling and
Builder Confidence Remains on Solid Footing in March
Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes edged down one point to a level of 70 in March from a downwardly revised February reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fa
Construction Employers Add 61,000 Jobs in February and 254,000 over the Year
Construction employment increased by 61,000 jobs in February to the highest level since June 2008 as rising pay rates enabled the industry to attract more workers, according to an analysis of new government data
Construction Employment Rises in 35 States and D.C. from January 2017 to January 2018
Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between January 2017 and January 2018, while 32 states and D.C. added construction jobs between December and January, according to an anal
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 4
The Apprentice? 1970–1974: I was just a kid. Barely 18. I didn’t have much, if any, discipline. As I’ve already admitted, a high school dropout. I didn’t do things the way they should be done, generally speaking.
Future Leaders: Where Will They Come From?
Over the last several years, many of AWCI’s member contractors have voiced the concern that they see no clear candidate to hand the reins when the day comes to retire. Also, they wish there were more young aspira
I hope you have a copy of AWCI’s 100-year commemorative book, “Celebrating 100 Years of Industry Growth with the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.” If you do, here are a few questions you can use alon
U.S. Department of Labor Fixes Error Dating to 2016
Following a review of the requirements put in place in 2016 regarding the “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” regulation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administr
Wells Fargo Survey: Construction Industry Optimism Highest in 20 Years
Construction industry executives are more optimistic about nonresidential construction activity than they have been since the 21st century, according to a nationwide survey of industry contractors and equipment d
Builder Confidence Stays at Strong Level in February
Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes remained unchanged at a healthy 72 level in February on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 3
Preface to Union Apprenticeship, 1970–1974: Last month I promised you an earful on this topic. That is my deliverable. Easy enough. I have a mouthful of things to say. Consequently, I hope to leave you with a hea
Q: Can you help me understand how building code–mandated sustainability requirements are affecting construction demolition and waste?
A: Two existing building codes are having a significant impact on how const
January Construction Starts Slip 2 Percent
The value of new construction starts in January receded 2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $725.9 billion, easing slightly after December’s 13 percent hike, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The
Time to Celebrate 100 Years
It’s that time again, time for AWCI’s Convention & INTEX Expo, March 24–28, in Florida. This convention is really special because it is the association’s 100th anniversary—a time to celebrate all of the associati
United We Stand
AWCI formed on March 11, 1918, at the Hamilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Twenty-six men, AWCI’s founding fathers, took a photo together. One of them was Oscar A. Reum of Chicago, the association’s first president
AWCI Elective Education Seminars Will Be Held in Florida at AWCI’s Convention
AWCI is offering three seminars (Exterior Envelope—, Gypsum— and Stucco— Doing It Right ®) on the last day of AWCI’s Convention & INTEX Expo in Florida.
The early bird registration fee for each seminar is $315
AWCI Offers Members Assistance with OSHA’s Respirable Silica Rule
AWCI’s website now offers members a downloadable Word file of “AWCI’s Guideline Template for Respirable Crystalline Silica Control.” The purpose of the plan template is to minimize employee exposure to hazardous
Court of Appeals Upholds OSHA Silica Rule
In a wide-ranging decision issued Dec. 22, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decisively rejected the arguments made by the American Subcontractors Association and the Constructi
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 2
Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks as we now know it, is no stranger to hardship. At 7 years old his father broke his ankle at work. In his words, they lived on the “other side of the tracks.” His father wa
Emerging Practice of Prevention through Design and Technology Advances Poised to Help Improve Construction Safety
A new study from Dodge Data & Analytics reveals the engagement with and impact of two critical trends for improving construction safety—technologies used on job sites, and the practice of Prevention through Desig
Estimating: Past, Present, Future
As long as there have been buildings, there have been estimators, even if, initially, the craft consisted only of figuring how many trees to cut for logs or how many stones to gather. It is, in other words, a tim
In AWCI’s 100 years, history is chock full of some amazing inventors. This month I’d like to share my favorite inventor stories with you.
How did I pick my favorites? I’m a storyteller, so I like a good st
Optimism in the Air
The new year is starting quickly. Many contractors have their strategic plans in place for work in progress and sales goals set for 2018. There is optimism in most markets. If we can achieve the margins we want,
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 1
Here we go again. Another adventure. Together we will explore the otherwise uncharted. We are about to embark upon a venture into the unknown and unexplored. You and I are going to consider the back and forth of
How Fares Your Wallet?
In presenting his 2018 construction outlook at the Dodge Outlook Executive Conference held in November, Dodge Chief Economist Robert Murray said U.S. construction starts are expected to climb by 3 percent to $765
Listen to Your Elders
Fifty years ago, two trade associations served the majority of North America’s wall and ceiling contractors. The international association of the Wall & Ceiling Industry championed lath and plaster construction.