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Optimism on the Rise

It is my honor and privilege to be the next president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry. As I start my term, I am filled with a renewed sense of optimism. Optimism as our economy starts to recover and the business climate improves; optimism about our ability to persevere as an industry; and optimism about our future leaders. The last one is the one that inspires me the most.

I recently attended my daughter’s high school graduation and, after spending a few days with her and her peers, I’ve come to realize just how bright the future is for our country. Being around this young group of men and women is uplifting, energizing and inspiring. Their enthusiasm and energy level is contagious. It’s an exciting time for them as they leave high school and embark on the next chapter of their lives, whether it is college, military service or entering the workforce. However, I’m relatively certain none of them are thinking about a career in the wall and ceiling industry.

Many people in our industry worry about the shortage of skilled estimators, project managers and tradespeople. Those may be real fears, but I can assure there is no shortage of talented and skilled young people. It is our job as industry leaders to engage this young group of eager and energetic men and women and challenge them to develop into the future leaders of industry.

The youth of today get a bad rap for their extensive use of the Internet and social media, and I’ve been critical of their widespread use and how much time and energy are expended in their use. But the fact remains that if this technology existed when my generation was that age, we would be doing the exact same thing.

The construction industry is notoriously slow to react to and embrace change. I myself have given up hope that I’ll ever be proficient in BIM, I doubt I’ll be Tweeting daily updates, and when my friends need to get in touch with me, they don’t do it through Facebook. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the importance and power of these tools. So along with renewed enthusiasm and optimism, I also feel a responsibility to create an environment where the next generation of leaders can excel and prosper.

It would be short-sighted of us to look at this future group of leaders and think they are not going to bring technology and innovation to our businesses. We are going to need to embrace technology and innovation in order to attract them.

Many of you who are reading this already know what a wonderful industry this is. The challenges are great, the rewards are many, and the satisfaction of seeing a project successfully completed is what attracted us in the first place. It is time for us to share that message.

In addition to being 2014–2015 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Casabona is president of Sloan & Company, Inc. in West Caldwell, N.J.

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