Are Things Getting Better?

Laura M. Porinchak / August 2018

When we were coming up with story ideas for 2018, we thought it would be a good idea to look at economic and business conditions in various regions of the United States and Canada. I was especially looking forward to hearing a lot of good news. And that’s how this series started. The first article focused on the North, where except for a labor shortage, business is good. We went to the South next, and while business in the North is better, the South isn’t too far behind.
    
This month we went east, and the news isn’t getting better. The contractors we interviewed for this month’s article, which starts on page 38, are acknowledging that Trump Administration’s tough trade moves against China and other steel exporters have caused material prices to rise. Backlogs in the East also appear to be a bit thinner than they are in the North and South. And more proof that the lack of manpower is a nationwide problem is given by contractors in the East.
    
But it’s not all bad news. In the East, prefabrication is providing some balance between the good and the bad news. Contractors are branching out into other areas that will keep them in business for years to come, and prefab may be leading the way because of the labor-savings it offers.
    
What is your company doing today that you didn’t do five or 10 years ago? Have you increased your scope? Is the labor shortage affecting your future plans? If so, how have your plans changed? Fill me in by emailing me: porinchak@awci.org.
    
We will visit with contractors in the western United States in our October issue, and in November we will go north of the border to Canada. I am hoping these two regions reverse what seems to be a downward trend as we get deeper into 2018.
    
As long as we’re looking down, let’s talk about the story that begins on page 30. This one asks AWCI member contractors what they have done to prepare for a disaster, and they provide some sage advice. Whether it’s an act of nature (hurricanes) or man-made (wildfires, terrorist attacks), anyone with a business, employees and customers needs to have a plan that works for everyone involved. Read this article to see if you are missing anything.
    
Finally, this is our annual Buyers’ Guide issue with a focus on AWCI member manufacturers. Much of this information is on AWCI’s website, but when you’re out in the field and can’t get a good Internet connection, have this magazine handy. You will probably use it throughout the year. The guide begins on page 44.
    
Enjoy!