Disasters and Construction

Chip McAlpin / November 2020

This year we have experienced everything from drastic wildfires out West to a record tropical storm season impacting the Southern and Eastern coasts of the United States. As I write this month’s message, the Gulf Coast is preparing for yet another hurricane. It is the fourth hurricane and seventh-named storm to impact the southern coast this year, and for those of us who live in these regions, the effect on businesses and lives is plain to see. The lingering effects on our industry are plain to see as well.
    
Among the challenges that I have faced are project shutdowns and increased labor and material demands. When plants shut, we experience not only increases in material prices but even shortages in some cases.
    
We have also seen a labor migration to affected areas, drawn by high pay and more hours because of increased demand. These problems not only affect those of us who reside near the damaged areas but also those in all corners of the country.
    
While there are certainly many tragedies that come from these and other disasters, we also see a positive side. We see how resilient we are as an industry—and a country. After 9/11, we rebuilt. After Hurricane Katrina, we rebuilt. After floods, earthquakes and tornados, we always rebuild. And both during and after COVID-19, we continue to build. Many of us are rebuilding in different ways as building designs, both new and existing, are altered to accommodate new social distancing measures. We are also working harder than ever to keep our employees safe from everything, from falls to the flu.
    
No matter what comes our way, we put on our hard hats and keep on building. Fighting inefficiencies is also an ongoing battle, but we as an industry are always looking for better and faster ways of being more productive and delivering on time and on budget. The first feature article in this magazine examines many ways to becoming more efficient, and I hope you learn something from it. The AWCI members featured in the article know what they are talking about.

In addition to being 2020–2021 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Chip McAlpin is division president of the Jackson, Miss., and Louisiana offices of F.L. Crane & Sons.