On the Level: Top Management
AWCI Safety Directors Committee Completes Its First Safety Peer Review
On Sept. 16, 2019, seven safety professionals from across the nation and within the wall and ceiling industry—and also who are members of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry’s Safety Directors Com
Bad Timing for Immigration Reform
Stan Marek takes the call while driving in Houston. It’s sunny and 78 this Tuesday in October. The cheery CEO of Marek Construction Companies loves to chat about immigration reform and has figured it all out.
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 23
Three Life Altering Phone Calls …
I will finish this portion of my writings in the here and now and on this very page, and I will leave you with something special to think about.
I spent the next
Life Online in 2069
What’s in store for our digital lives in 50 years? A world far different from today, say soothsayers surveyed recently by Pew Research Center.
While our industry focuses on solid objects—structures ma
OSHA Enforcement and Compliance Increases in 2019
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 final statistics show a significant increase in the number of inspections and a record amount of compliance
13 Changes to the Commercial Construction Bid Process That Should Happen Today
Last year I retired from the construction industry after 43-year-long journey that began in building materials, transitioned to residential construction, and then culminated with a quarter century as a commerc
Construction Employment Increases in 252 out of 358 Metro Areas from August 2018 to August 2019
Construction employment grew in 252 out of 358 metro areas between August 2018 and August 2019, declined in 60 and was unchanged in 46, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released on Oct. 2
Construction Input Prices Slide in September
Construction input prices fell 0.6 percent in September and are down 1.7 percent year-over-year, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Pr
Construction Spending Inches Higher in August but Declines Year-to-Date
Construction spending edged up 0.1 percent in August from July but declined from year-ago levels, with divergent trends in residential and nonresidential categories, according to an analysis on Oct. 1 by the A
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 22
Let me be as clear as new glass, polished to a sparkle. Rob turned out to be an incredible friend. We were extremely close by his untimely and unfortunate demise. At his request, I wrote and delivered his eulo
Dodge Momentum Index Posts Gain in September
The Dodge Momentum Index moved 4.1 percent higher in September to 143.6 (2000=100) from the revised August reading of 137.9. The momentum index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the fi
Masters of Job Sequencing
Waiting your turn will cost you money. Not so much in the grocery line, but on a construction job site holdups can turn profits into losses at a moment’s notice. And delays are sure to follow bad workflow sequenc
Nonresidential Construction Employment Rises in September
The construction industry added 7,000 net new jobs in September, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released Oct. 4 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year
Reinvent Your Firm
For four decades, professor David Ulrich of the University of Michigan and associated researchers have been trying to understand how organizations reinvent themselves. Ulrich and his team study how firms respo
Strengthening Contractor and Owner Relationships Drives Greater Success in Multi-Site Construction Programs
A new study from Dodge Data & Analytics, conducted in partnership with Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, explores critical success factors for multi-site projects, from the perspectives of both owners and contractor
What’s the Right Role for the Business Owner?
As construction companies grow from $1 million to $5 million to $25 million to $50 million or higher in annual sales, the owner’s or president’s role grows right along with the increasing number of employees,
Are You Making the Single Worst Brand-Building Mistake a Company Can Make?
In late 2008, Seattle’s adored Washington Mutual Bank (known locally and affectionately as WaMu) failed and was subsumed in a shotgun wedding with Chase Bank. Seattleites were reeling in the early days of the
Construction Contractors Lose Confidence in June
U.S. construction industry leaders are somewhat less confident about near-term prospects for nonresidential construction but remain reasonably upbeat, according to the June 2019 Construction Confidence Index r
Q: What are the current trends construction and demolition waste?
A: Depending on where a project is located, governing regulations construction and demolition waste may have little to major impact on the
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 21
I’m going to wrap this series up by year end 2019, and those of you who have a continuing interest will be provided a venue through which you can gain access to the remainder of these writings. There is plenty
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 21
I’m going to wrap this series up by year end 2019, and those of you who have a continuing interest will be provided a venue through which you can gain access to the remainder of these writings. There is plenty
Dodge Data & Analytics Appoints New Chief Economist
Dodge Data & Analytics announces the appointments of Richard Branch as chief economist and Kim Kennedy as the director of forecasting. Branch succeeds Robert Murray, Dodge’s longstanding chief economist and vi
Dodge Momentum Index Moves Lower in August
The Dodge Momentum Index dropped 1.3 percent from July to August to 137.8 (2000=100) from the revised August reading of 139.6. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the
EIFS Hero Project Awards: Call for Entries
EIMA announced the call for entries for the 2019 EIFS Hero Awards on Aug. 15.
Do you think you have an award-winning project? If so, here’s your chance to showcase it and tell the story of why EIFS is
Hilti North America Announces Personnel Changes
Avi Kahn, region head and chief executive officer of Hilti North America, has been promoted to the Hilti Group Executive Board effective Jan. 1, 2020.
Over his 15-year career, Kahn has held various ro
Is Your Firm Resilient?
You can read lots of articles in the media right now about the possibility of a recession. Worrywarts key in on headlines and cry wolf: An unending trade war with China? Uh-oh! Recession. A pull-back in job op
Plan Backlog Carefully
As we enter the final quarter of 2019, I ask myself where the time has gone. Several past presidents have told me that the presidential year goes by in the blink of an eye, and I am going to have to agree with
Prefabrication: Has the Future Arrived?
Prefabrication: The practice of making and assembling various components of a building’s structure in a factory or other manufacturing site, and then transporting complete assemblies or sub-assemblies to the c
Tom Dorsey to Lead Grabber Southeast Regional Sales Division
Grabber Construction Products announces Tom Dorsey has accepted the position of Southeast regional sales manager. Having experience with building products from flooring to acoustical ceilings, Dorsey brings va
Two National Gypsum Plants Achieve Safety Milestones
National Gypsum Company announces that two of its plants have earned the Lloyd H. Yeager Award, a safety honor given by the Gypsum Association to its member companies that achieve 1 million hours worked by ass
Book: “The Game of Sales”
Buck Buchanan, veteran of the EIFS and construction products industry, has written his second book.
“The Game of Sales” delves deeply into the business-to-business environment of sales reps and sales man
Construction Contractors Remain Confident as Summer Begins
U.S. construction industry leaders remained upbeat regarding nonresidential construction’s near-term prospects in May 2019, according to the Construction Confidence Index released July 18 by Associated Builder
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 20
“A house, not made with hands” 2 Corinthians 5:1 – Part 2
The house turned out be an incredible first home. It was beautiful and even to this very day it would be a fine place to live. Bear in mind, we ha
Dodge Momentum Index Descends in July
The Dodge Momentum Index retreated 4.6 percent in July to 138.9 (2000=100), down from the revised June reading of 145.6. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first
Economic Outlook: Expansion Continues, but Vulnerabilities Pile Up
More than 10 years after the end of the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. economy is again making history by continuing its longest-ever expansion. Nevertheless, emerging weakne
Get a Coach
The 2019 FMI Coaching Study from management consulting firm FMI confirms that executive coaching is highly effective and sought after by many progressive leaders.
While some might see coaching as reme
June Construction Starts Climb 9 Percent
New construction starts in June advanced 9 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $832.7 billion, according to their latest research. The increase followed the 10 percent gain
June Construction Unemployment Rates Down in 40 States Year Over Year
In June, estimated not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 40 states and increased in 10 on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Stati
How do you choose and establish a relationship with the supplier who will stack the success-odds in your favor?
One can safely say that this is a relationship where experience speaks louder than just abou
Nonresidential Construction Employment Roughly Flat in July
The construction industry added 4,000 net new jobs in July, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released Aug. 2 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year basi
Shedding Light on EIFS
As you read this column, we have already chosen our new Executive Vice President & CEO. Of the six candidates, all were vetted by an experienced association executive recruiter—a new experience for me in my co
Tool to Avoid Distracted Driving
NexTraq, a Michelin® Group company, is launching the NexTraq® MobileBlock in partnership with SafeDrivePod®, a solution that ensures drivers’ smartphone and tablet screens are locked during driving. This new t
Construction Contractors Confidence Remains Elevated in April
Despite ongoing concerns about skilled worker shortages and volatile materials prices, construction executives remain bullish about the prospects for the nonresidential construction sector, according to Associ
Construction Input Prices Plummet in June
Construction input prices decreased 1.3 percent on both a monthly and yearly basis in June, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index
Construction Job Growth Steady in June
The construction industry added 21,000 net new jobs in June, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released July 5 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year bas
Construction Jobs Increase by 21,000 in June and 224,000 During the Past Year
Construction employment increased by 21,000 jobs in June and by 224,000, or 3.2 percent, over the past 12 months, while the number of unemployed jobseekers with construction experience fell, according to an an
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 19
“A house, not made with hands” 2 Corinthians 5:1
There are things in life that happen and turn out to be unforgettably memorable. This is one such episode. To tell it and tell it well, demonstrating the f
New Home Sales Decline in May
Sales of newly built, single-family homes fell 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 626,000 units in May, according to data released June 25 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developme
Seeing Projects as Products
A new report from McKinsey & Company says that modular construction (or prefabrication) can deliver projects 50 percent faster, has the potential to cut costs by 20 percent, and will change the business models
The Recession Wiped Out Only the Amateurs
Tim Titsworth likes to build relationships with architects. On most jobs, the president of Concord Drywall, Inc. in California, sets up a walk-through that he calls “an architect’s observation.”
Traits of a Winner
I am excited to provide you with a monthly update. As I start my term as the AWCI president, the association is in the interview process for a new CEO/executive director. These interviews take
Aerial Work Platforms
Q: Can you provide some information concerning the new ANSI Standard on aerial work platforms?
A: This new standard, ANSI A92, is the first major change in the standards that covers aerial work platforms
New research in marketing says that if you want to sell a new product—say, an intriguing new flavor of ice cream—you can get more customers to try it by displaying the product stacked in the store in front of
Consulting Sucks (Sometimes)
The gig economy is roaring right along, and that means consulting work is more popular than it’s ever been. And the truth is there are many great benefits to becoming a consultant. In fact, you may even be thi
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 18
My Day in Court, 1979
There are so many stories that occurred during this period that I need to tell. I had several court dates. I want to tell you about one particular court appearance that trumps all th
Meet Nancy Brinkerhoff, AWCI’s First Female President
Pictured: Nancy Brinkerhoff with members of AWCI’s chapter in Northern California, the Wall And Ceiling Alliance
“Being the first woman president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industr
The Architect: Friend or Foe?
We know that, although not always seeing eye-to-eye, our relationship with the architect is a symbiotic one: A clear case of “can’t live with them, can’t live without them,” and at times, architects and contra
U.S. Department of Labor Kicks Off Safe + Sound Week on August 12
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will join businesses and organizations nationwide to recognize the importance and successes of workplace safety and health programs
AWCI's 2019 Pinnacle Award Winner: Timothy J. Wies
Timothy Wies, president of T.J. Wies Contracting, Inc. in Lake St. Louis, Mo., was recognized for his unselfish commitment to his company, community and the wall and ceiling industry when he was presented with
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 17
1978–1988. It takes a long time to climb a mountain, but only a nanosecond to fall from the top.
I had finally settled into Alta, running work and going through a lot of back and forth as we (the othe
Robotic Manufacturing Is Coming
Every day across the globe, about 200,000 people leave rural areas and move into cities, says World Economic Forum.
To support this growing urban population, Autodesk says contractors worldwide have t
The Safety Culture: Making or Breaking It
We know that in a company where safety is a given, the employees will feel both cared for and appreciated—and they will likely spread the word, too, making their friends easier to recruit.
We also kno
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 16
The Long and Winding Road, 1978 to 1988. I had made mistakes. Plenty of them. I was about to reap what I had sown. No one could’ve known what would lie in the path ahead. It had to be lived out. Experienced. T
FMI Releases 2019 M&A Trends for Engineering and Construction
FMI Corporation’s “2019 M&A Trends for Engineering and Construction” report provides an overview of key trends driving merger and acquisition activity in today’s North American engineering and construction mar
How to Attract and Keep Skilled Workers
As you know, the industry is experiencing a severe shortage of skilled construction labor.
And, as many of you have already observed from time to time, it’s a broad cultural change toward an emphasis
Small Business Owners: Stop Overpaying on Taxes!
If you’re a small business owner, you know: The quest for revenue is never-ending. That means, besides chasing new customers, you’re also scouring your expenses to see where you might make cuts. What does Eric
The Truth about Architectural Bid Packages
Construction estimating is a great career (OK, being Meagan Markle is better), but I’d be lacking if I didn’t confess a complaint or two. No, it’s not the relentless, unforgiving deadlines, nor the paralyzing
Where Are the Exoskeletons?
In February, Morrison Utility Services in the United Kingdom began piloting a health and safety program that supplies exoskeletons to its contract workers.
“The benefits of this wearable technology,”
Are You a Self-Determined Manager?
The best managers intentionally create an environment where employees thrive and great work gets done. To become what David Deacon calls “self-determined,” you must make a choice every day and never, ever let
No longer a plaything of gadget-lovers, drones are making serious inroads with wall and ceiling contractors, enabling those businesses to save significant dollars on surveying, creating 3D renderings of jobs o
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 15
As my fellow worker kept driving, winding his way down the two lane mountain road, in the San Diego foothills, it was evident by the gleam in his eyes that he had insight I didn’t possess.
He knew the
Dodge Momentum Index Falters in February
The Dodge Momentum Index lost 4.4 percent in February, falling to 146.9 (2000=100) from the revised January reading of 153.6. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the f
Jobs Decline in Construction Sector for the First Time in More Than Two Years
According to an analysis by the Associated Builders and Contractors of data released March 8 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry lost 31,000 net new jobs in February. Overall, non
Lower Interest Rates Stabilize Builder Confidence
Buoyed by falling mortgage rates, builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes rose two points to 58 in January on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market I
The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry’s annual convention at the end of April in Maryland will be the 25th AWCI convention I have attended. In that time, many traditions and events have stayed the s
Wells Fargo Survey: Construction Industry Reports Strong Optimism for Eighth Straight Year
For the eighth consecutive year, construction industry executives say they feel optimistic about the year ahead for their business sector, according to the 43rd Wells Fargo Construction Industry Forecast relea
What on Earth?
On Feb. 25, 2019, TheGuardian.com posted the article, “Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth.” The report was part of “Guardian concrete week,” a news bundle “[celebrating] the aesthetic and social
As life cycles on, another generation has arrived on the scene: Generation Z.
Gen Z’s oldest members are now 22. And they’re bold, entrepreneurial and technologically well equipped. Soon they’ll be on
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 14
Many times while I was in the process of losing everything, I told myself, “If I lose everything, I’ll just rebuild it. I did it the first time, I’ll just do it again.” I had no idea how wrong I was and how lo
Doing Submittals Right
Before retiring last year, I spent the previous quarter century as a senior estimator/project manager for a mid-size commercial general contractor in the Midwest. It was fast-paced, rewarding work, and one of
FMI Releases 2019 FMI Overview
FMI Corporation has released its “2019 FMI Overview,” featuring FMI’s latest forecast, the 2019 U.S. and Canada Construction Outlook. The publication offers comprehensive construction forecasts for a broad ran
How to Be a Disruptor
Would you like to be good at sniffing out opportunities and carving out niches before others? Then be a market disruptor.
“Established companies have to start thinking like disruptors,” says Paul Earl
Technology to the Rescue?
Construction technology continues to advance and almost daily offers contractors new tools to meet both long-term growth and efficiency goals—as artificial intelligence analytics, drone hardware-software combi
U.S. Department of Labor Releases Overtime Update Proposal
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would make more than a million more American workers eligible for overtime.
Under currently enforced law, employees with a salar
ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator Sinks Below Record Highs in Q3 2018
Associated Builders and Contractors reports that its Construction Backlog Indicator contracted to 9.04 months during the third quarter of 2018, down 8.4 percent from the second quarter and 4.3 percent lower th
AWCI EVP/CEO Etkin Announces Retirement
Steven A. Etkin has announced that he will retire at the end of this year. Etkin has been executive vice president and CEO of the Association and the Foundation of the Wall and Ceiling Industry since 1995, and
Builder Confidence Drops Four Points Amid Concerns Over Housing Affordability
Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell four points to 56 in December on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index as concerns over housing af
Construction Employment Rises from November 2017 to November 2018 in 42 States and D.C.
Forty-two states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between November 2017 and November 2018, while 23 states added construction jobs between October and November, according to an analysis by
Construction Input Prices Continue to Fall in December
Construction input prices declined 1.7 percent in December on a month-over-month basis yet are 3.5 percent higher than the same time last year, according to a new Associated Builders and Contractors analysis o
Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 13
Beginning again, way back when….
The door opened with some skepticism, disbelief and wonder on both sides. As for my wife, she no doubt wondered who might be knocking at 4 a.m. Me, on the outside looking
Dodge Momentum Index Moves Lower in December
The Dodge Momentum Index fell 4.9 percent in December to 151.9 (2000=100) from the revised November reading of 159.7. The momentum index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or
Listen to the Music
Don’t you feel it growin’ day by day
People gettin’ ready for the news
Some are happy
Some are sad
But gonna let the music play
— The Doobie Brothers
No doubt about it. Playing music at w
Seventy-Nine Percent of Construction Firms Plan to Expand Headcount in 2019
Seventy-nine percent of construction firms plan to expand their payrolls in 2019 but an almost equal percentage are worried about their ability to locate and hire qualified workers, according to survey results
Single-Family Starts Drop in November as Builders Face Affordability Concerns
Rising housing affordability issues continue to hinder single-family production even as total housing starts increased in November.
According to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing
SWOT Away the Blues
As we go into the first months of 2019, I wonder how everyone is doing when it comes to setting goals and expectations for the new year. One key tool that has been instrumental for us at Baker Triangle is our
The Economy: Steady as She Goes?
Both Dodge Data and Analytics and Associated Builders and Contractors report great October 2018 figures for construction starts and unemployment, although ABC does point out that material prices continue to ri
A Look Back, and What Lies Ahead
I hope everyone had joyous and safe holidays and is ready to start the New Year. As we begin, I have been reflecting on 2018 and thinking about what 2019 has in store for our industry. From conversations with
Auction Donations for 2019 Now Being Accepted
The Foundation of the Wall and Ceiling Industry needs your help with donations of items that can be included in its silent auction on April 25, 2019, during AWCI Celebration Night at AWCI’s Convention. This is
Customer Loyalty Guaranteed?
A while back, I was sitting in on a late Monday morning meeting with my boss and a client (let’s call him “Bob”) with whom we’d completed a building project some years prior. Bob was upset. A fierce storm had
Handing Over the Reins
Many of you have spent a significant part of your lives planning, creating, nursing, growing, consoling, celebrating, aggravating over (kept up at night by), directing and managing this rambunctious baby known
The High-Tech/High-Trust Balance
Technology does a lot but it can’t do everything. Sometimes we forget that. We can get so dependent on email and social media that we lose sight of what people really need from us—especially in business. Yes,
U.S. Department of Labor Proposes to Revise Beryllium Standard for General Industry
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Dec. 10, 2018, issued a proposed rule to revise the beryllium standard for general industry. The proposed changes are designed to
Zero Recordables in 2019
How would you like to achieve the grand total of zero workplace injury and illness cases in 2018?
That’s a challenging goal to reach. Do you think you can do it?
Some in large companies might