Plan Backlog Carefully

Nancy Brinkerhoff / October 2019

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 them.
As most of you know, Michael Stark has been chosen to succeed Steve Etkin as AWCI’s executive vice president and CEO. Mike is from the Associated General Contractors of America and is well qualified to lead and guide our association. We all look forward to working with Mike and hearing his new, innovative ideas for the association. Meanwhile, the association is very grateful for the 24 years Steve Etkin guided the ship. We wish him well next year as he contemplates retirement.
The final quarter of 2019 finds most contractors assessing backlog for 2020 and reviewing revenue numbers thus far in 2019. When we project backlog and workforce along with budget, what comes to mind most nowadays is the lack of a skilled workforce nationwide. It is a subject that does not have a single-defined solution—at least in the immediate future based on current demands. While it could be tempting to address the problem by actively enticing workers to change companies, such a practice does not solve the problem and instead could lead to various unintended consequences for all stakeholders.
What our industry is focused on is promoting construction and proper training of our workforce. This is promising, and there are many forces at work helping to make this happen. It is encouraging that we have several good organizations that are members of AWCI and that are focused on these endeavors. A national voice is imperative to getting the message out that construction is a viable, rewarding career option for both men and women. I reiterate that construction classes need to be brought back into the schools at the high school level. This is a career path that many would relish.
The holidays will be on us in no time, and it does not appear that our industry will be seeing a slowdown in most parts of the country. With that being said, plan your backlog accordingly because although forces are at work to help the workforce issue, there may be no immediate relief.

In addition to being 2019–2020 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Nancy Brinkerhoff is CEO and president of Ironwood Commercial Builders in Northern California.