With a 15 percent increase in the number of booths over the 2012 expo and a 20 percent increase in attendance since the Great Recession began, AWCI’s Convention & INTEX Expo, held March 18–22, 2013, in San Antonio, was deemed a success. Overall, AWCI member contractors expressed an optimism that hasn’t been seen in a long time about the rest of 2013 and the years yet to come. They are ready to buy, ready to hire and ready to work.
A quick look at the highlights of the regional reports presented by each member of the AWCI board of directors shows the optimism levels aren’t the same throughout North America, but expectations are high:
• Keith Costanzo reported that the Southern California market has picked up a bit, and Nancy Brinkerhoff reported that Northern California is improving as well. Costanzo pointed out that while there is no shortage of projects to bid, there is a shortage of profitable projects. Brinkerhoff is bracing for labor shortages.
• Mike Goodnight said Hawaii is seeing high-rise activity.
• In New York, Brian Gordon reported that bidding has ramped up now that schools and healthcare are active, and the office interior market is coming back. There is also work at airports.
• Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts are ongoing, said Bob Partyka, but rebuilding has been slowed by FEMA, insurance and new building code changes. Partyka noted New Jersey’s high unemployment rate of 9.5 percent but said there are lots of opportunities in his state—and lots of bidders.
• Geoff Furtaw said the unemployment rate in Philadelphia is at 10.6 percent. Bidding is steady but margins have not improved in his region.
• Southeast Michigan is now more active, said George Stripp, but prices are depressed. Qualified workers have left the trades, so a worker shortage is expected.
• Joe Keipp said new permits had fallen in Missouri’s residential market, but they are now trending upward. Commercial is lagging behind residential, but two large outlet malls have started.
• Dan Daley reported that Toronto had seven great years of building, and things continue to look good. Target is presenting construction opportunities with its plan to open 150 stores in Canada, and the Pan American Games in 2015 will provide three to four more good years of work for the Canadian construction industry.
• Ed Charles reported that the market is turning in Oregon. Public and private jobs are up for bid, and contractors are optimistic for the first time in about four years.
• Dick Mettler said Seattle’s market is looking better. 2012 saw an increase in hours over 2011, but it was still low.
• Mike Taylor from Tennessee said economies are stable and improving, margins are getting better, and architects are hiring. The unemployment rate is around 7 percent, and there are labor concerns.
• Herman Guevara reported that tower cranes are appearing in Miami and there are labor shortages, but Northern Florida is still a tough market.
• Chip McAlpin said Central Mississippi is looking good, and New Orleans is looking better. Residential is good, and negotiated work is starting to come back, but church construction is the hot ticket in the southeast region.
• Chris Murphy reported that the military has some work on hold in Northeast Florida, but hospitals, schools and infrastructure are better than they were.
• For AWCI’s Southwest Conference, Michael Vickery reported that the Texas market is strong and upbeat, but there is pressure for labor, especially in Houston.
• Travis Vap said commercial is up in Denver while the Mountain region is still flat but showing signs of activity.
In addition to the winners of AWCI’s annual awards (see next article in this newsletter), AWCI’s leadership gave special recognition at the Awards Brunch to some long-time members and industry friends.
First was Don Smith, AWCI’s technical director for the last nine years. AWCI Executive Vice President/CEO Steve Etkin presented Smith with a plaque to acknowledge his retirement.
Also retiring this year is Ed Charles, chapter executive of AWCI’s Northwest Chapter. In the industry since 1973, Charles went from craftsman to contractor to chapter exec. Etkin noted, “Ed, you have a great spirit and wonderful sense of humor and will be sorely missed.”
Finally, Joe Feldner of McNulty Brothers in Chicago (one of AWCI’s 18 founding companies in 1918) was recognized with a plaque for being one of the most active and supportive members in AWCI’s history. Feldner’s career with AWCI includes winning the Pinnacle Award (1983), hosting the awards brunch and serving on many AWCI committees including the board of directors of both AWCI and the Foundation of the Wall and Ceiling Industry. Although he recently retired from contracting, Feldner continues his work with his regional association and with the Foundation.
New Mobile App
The convention/expo mobile app that was employed for the first time this year was also a hit with attendees. Nearly one-third of attendees used the app at some point during the week, with the convention agenda being the most-viewed section of the app. Drew Pearson, the keynote speaker at the general session, was the speaker most viewed, and the event with the most page views was AWCI’s Celebration Night Dinner and Foundation Silent Auction, which featured a fiesta theme.
Thanks to Our Sponsors
AWCI thanks these fine companies, which sponsored various events during AWCI’s Convention:
ClarkDietrich Building Systems
On Center Software
Dryvit Systems, Inc.
Thanks also go out to the generous companies that provided sponsorship for the Intex Expo:
Aegis Metal Framing
ClarkDietrich Building Systems
Halstead Ceilings and Walls
L.D. Peters & Sons
Plastic Components, Inc.
PrimeSource Building Products, Inc.
Southeastern Stud & Components, Inc.