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Value of AWCI through Pandemic

Hello, fellow AWCI members. I hope everyone is having a great summer. After last year, many of us will not take for granted the opportunity to get out, travel, see family, host parties and be with others. My family is certainly taking advantage of our new found freedoms and making the most of this season.


Lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to burden us all. Finding adequate labor can be a real challenge in several parts of the country. Many of our construction project sites are struggling to strike a balance between being cautious and safe related to masking. Owners and developers are deciding whether to even proceed with projects that are struggling to meet budget or schedule constraints.


One of the most significant challenges in today’s market is supply chain management. First, all of us have had to navigate the rising cost of materials. As the weeks have gone on, however, we find ourselves not only trying to manage the costs of these products but also the lead times and whether we can even supply specified materials as required.


These challenges put stress on the entire supply chain. Manufacturers are working hard to find raw goods. Distributors are often caught in the middle, managing relationships and expectations from both sides. Finally, contractors are working hard just to keep projects moving forward and satisfying the end users.


Hmmm, as I am thinking, I am reminded of one central location where manufacturers, distributors and contractors meet to discuss relevant topics—the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry. In my experience in recent weeks, I have leaned heavily on contacts I have made within AWCI to understand these issues. I firmly believe that communication will be the tool that drives success at this critical time. Those who communicate with the clients properly and professionally will be rewarded in the end.


That does not mean there is no bad news to convey. It just means that honesty and respect, built on a relationship forged through AWCI, has value in these challenging times. (Your next opportunity to build your network is Oct. 17–20 during AWCI’s Convention & INTEX Expo in New Orleans. Go to for more information and to register.)


After all the trials, it is easy to forget the path we have forged through this pandemic. We get caught up in the “here and now” and lose perspective on what we have accomplished as an industry.


I am proud that construction was deemed essential, and we were responsible in our actions, allowing many to continue to work. We need to salute all of those people who have powered through and emerged stronger in the end. We are not finished, but I have great faith that our industry will persevere, learn from today’s challenges and meet the future demands in full stride.

Shawn Burnum is the 2021–2022 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry and vice president of operations at Performance Contracting, Inc. in Lenexa, Kan.

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