Optimism in the Air

Ed Sellers / February 2018

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, it should be good year—unless we have “that job,” the one we wish we didn’t have.
    
It’s usually at this time of year that we are energized to meet plan expectations. The challenge is being able to consistently hold the line on execution expectations. Do companies have accountability downstream to ensure we do what we say we do?
    
A big challenge is having appropriate staffing to provide the customer service that we committed to when we received the contract. Hiring is at a premium, finding staff through headhunters and recruiters is expensive and as we look to hire, others look to steal our people.
    
In 2018 we will all feel the pressures of a growing economy. For some of us it has been a reality for more than a year. With more markets increasing in construction it will leave fewer places to move the available talent pool. Apprenticeship training is increasing to offset the older work forces. Gender diversity is increasingly noticeable, both on site and in the office. For many of us it has been very successful. Hiring from urban areas with higher unemployment has also enhanced our crews. Working with trade schools and local universities cannot keep up with demand.
    
Isn’t it great that we have these problems? Remember when downsizing was required to survive lean times? My advice to contractors this year is to look at all your options—work your plan. Take the work you are profitable at—there seems to be more work out there, and you should hit your goals. Hire the best and train them to fit your plans and your company culture.
    
And, of course, use the tools provided by AWCI to help meet your expectations for great management training.

In addition to being 2017–2018 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Sellers is president of OCP Contractors, which has offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, Ohio.

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