Impact of Economy on Construction

Chip McAlpin / January 2021

I believe that most of us in this organization have seen the benefits of a good economy over the last few years. As we all know, when other businesses and industries do well, we see the beneficial impacts in the construction industry. When other industries expand operations, we see the need for the construction of new buildings and infrastructure to move forward.
    
We can all easily see how this positively affects us as contractors. We have the opportunity to build these new projects and expand on our own operations. When times are good, it is easy to believe they will always be that way. But those of us who have been in this industry for an extended period know that is not the case.
    
I think it is of the utmost importance to plan for the times when the outlook might not be as bright. We need to set ourselves up for the long term while times are good, to ensure the continued success of our businesses. At F.L. Crane & Sons, a few of the lessons we learned from the last downturn guides us in the decisions made to prepare for the next one.
    
Among the topics of importance are specific opportunities and processes that we believe will help us to maintain success. Another is identifying our costs to best position us for projects we see as good opportunities.
    
As we have seen over the last nine months or so, there are many different events that can negatively impact our industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us all firsthand how quickly things can change. We went from what I saw as a pretty good period in our industry to partial shutdowns and a complete halt to work in some regions of the country. Hopefully, we take the lessons learned to help move forward, regardless of the next challenge.
    
AWCI members were given some insight into 2021 on Dec. 2 when AWCI hosted a members-only webinar, “The Economy Beyond 2020.” The speaker was Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, who highlighted some of the potential opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
    
It is difficult for us to know how the new federal administration will impact our industry.  Along with new people in Washington come new ideas and new economic policies. We are hopeful that these changes will bring positive results to our industry, but we still need to prepare for all possibilities.

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.