Much to Learn from Unprecedented Times

Nancy Brinkerhoff / June 2020

As I write this last message of my year as AWCI president we are well into our shelter-in-place orders across the nation. These are difficult times and scary moments for many of us.
    
As an industry we are starting to make changes in the way construction projects are scheduled and how we handle health and safety measures on our job sites aimed at protecting our workforce from COVID-19.
    
All projects my company is working on have taken the governor of California’s orders very seriously. We are grateful to have projects starting up again, but it’s been a mad dash to implement safety measures and ensure our workforce is trained to handle potential problematic situations. New safety regulations have triggered all of us to revise our safety plans to specifically adhere to COVID-19 safety standards.
    
Since this pandemic was unexpected for the most part, it has put many companies in unprecedented positions. Many are struggling to survive and others are making the tough decisions to shut their doors. The federal government has put forward the PPP loan program, and many construction companies have utilized this to keep their doors open and their employees on the payroll.
    
The AWCI board of directors recently met virtually where we shared our experiences from different states and talked about the outlook for the construction industry. It was a very interesting conversation, covering particularly hard-hit states such as New York and California, and states where the impact of coronavirus on the construction industry is much less severe.
    
The need for PPE is in all states, but for many it has become difficult to obtain. Some workers choose not to work for a various reasons, which adds a wrinkle to the tough restart of construction projects. No matter what the situation, we all have one thing in common, and that is the concern for our workforce—both their health and financial well-being.
    
We all want to get back to normal working conditions, but what that will be in the future remains to be seen. It has been an eventful year for me in my term as president and for all of you. I think much can be learned as we move ahead.
    
Stay safe and well.

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.