Business, Labor and Warranties at Issue

Mike Taylor / July 2016

Here it is July already, and I’ve taken a new seat as president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry. I must compliment AWCI Immediate Past President John Hinson for the hard work he did at the helm over the past year. His are big shoes to fill.
    
There is plenty for me to talk about over the coming year, and my plan is to get out to as many AWCI chapters as possible and meet as many members across the country as I can. We can learn from each other by sharing information about how we do business, bumps along the road and ways and means of smoothing them out.
    
In my region of work—primarily the Nashville area—business is good. The economy is buoyant and the area’s diversified economy bodes well for continued strength. Still, the wall and ceiling business, like other fields in construction, has problems, and one of the big ones is that those upstream in the construction food chain continue to expect contractors to build more for less money.  Bad habits from the Great Recession remain and continue to plague the industry. The problem starts at the top of the chain: project owners who employ strategies to curb costs that somewhere down the line have to be made up for.
    
Are you feeling the pinch? I get it, but that doesn’t mean we should cut corners, although I fear quality workmanship has become one of the victims in the race to the bottom. Schedule has become the only or, at least, the primary concern of too many contractors, and it is simply too easy to point the finger of blame for why this is. Pride of workmanship shouldn’t take a back seat, however.
    
Another issue I might raise from time to time in this column is labor shortages. Are you turning away work because you don’t have an ample supply of skilled labor? I’m sure you are not alone. Don’t blame colleges and training institutes, though. I think they are doing a good job. The problem is, quite simply, that most young Americans see a career in the trades as, at best, a backup plan. That has to change.
    
There are other issues I want to share with you over the year, in person and in this column. Product warranties, for example. How sound are they? Will your supplier/manufacturer stand behind them? Do we have true single-source warranties for EIFS and stucco products? The answer lies in how often the warranties are being enforced and by whom.
    
I have more questions than answers, but I hope we can start to arrive at solutions together as an industry.

In addition to being 2016–2017 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Taylor is executive vice president of Liddle Bros. Contractors, Inc. in Nashville, Tenn.