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Stay the Course

After my first month as your AWCI president, one thing has become quite apparent to me: Most of the contractors in our industry are hurting. Whether they are small contractors or large national contractors, startups or companies with decades of experience, they are all struggling.

Many projects are bid below labor and material costs. Winning bids offer little or no profit. Company owners and managers are faced with some of the most difficult personnel decisions of their careers, such as laying off employees who have been solid performers. Most of us have already trimmed the fat from our operations while some have gone further, cutting through the muscle and now must cut into bone. What’s an owner to do?

As I write this on Monday night, Aug. 1, the United States seems to have averted what has been publicized as the impending meltdown of the world economy if a budget agreement regarding the debt ceiling and spending cuts was not signed. Thus, I am reminded of two phrases: First, the nautical metaphor popularized by Ronald Reagan and then lampooned on “Saturday Night Live”—Stay the Course; secondly, an old proverb meaning all material conditions, both positive and negative, are merely temporary—”This Too Shall Pass.”

We contractors need to Stay the Course and make sound business decisions that will sustain our companies through these difficult times. We must reassure ourselves that This Too Shall Pass. The economy will change and grow, and more construction services will be required. Those of us who have made good decisions, invested in education and kept current in the industry will once again reap the benefits. And that brings to mind some other famous quotes: Patience is a virtue, and good things come to those who wait.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at the AWCI Industry Executives’ Conference & Committee Meetings in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

In addition to being the 2011–2012 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Wies is president of T.J. Wies Contracting, Inc. in Lake St. Louis, Mo.

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