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Protect Yourself

A lot has changed in the recent past. The pandemic, wars are political upheaval around the globe are just a few of the factors that have had major effects on the construction industry in the United States. We covered this topic in our March 2021 issue, but we are examining it again in our first feature article (page 24), which focuses how on the markets have been influenced in various regions, along with the challenges that contractors face—some new, some ever-present for many years.

AWCI member contractors were interviewed, and they tell us the good, the bad and the ugly of today’s market. Thanks to the way operations in our work life changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the office market is all but dead, but construction for healthcare, technology and stadiums are just some of the examples contractors provide regarding the good. Labor shortages and costs, material price increases and project delays are among the bad and the ugly in almost all regions.

But opportunities are out there, so how are contractors making the most of them? I have also heard that some commercial contractors are dipping their toes in the residential market. (Why not?) Commercial properties that are no longer in use are being redeveloped for other purposes. Read the article for more information.

The article that starts on page 34 addresses the labor market, particularly how to protect your company when an employee leaves for greener pastures. Whether it is an estimator, supervisor or laborer, they know your business. When they leave, they are taking your business with them. Will they divulge trade secrets to their new employer, possibly your competitor? You simply don’t know. What if the employee who leaves goes after your clients? Federal laws don’t help you; it’s all up to your state. And you don’t want to end up in court. So how do you protect your valuable information?

On the other hand, hiring a new employee from a competitor can bring its own trouble. If your new employee has signed an agreement with his old company, you need to know about it. Again, you don’t want lawyers and court cases to add an unexpected element. Protect your business and yourself by reading this article.

Finally, more protection for your business is offered in the article on page 30. This one talks about various insurance policies and legal aids that can help. We all know about general liability insurance, workers’ comp, auto and builder’s insurance, but does your GL policy cover you for advertising injury? Does your errors and omissions insurance policy protect your business against design mistakes or bad plans?

This article digs deeper into each type of insurance plans, also with the hope of keeping you out of the courtroom.

While these articles don’t provide official legal advice, they should give you something to think about. The feature articles in this issue are another reminder to me that you, our contractor readers, are risk-takers in a business full of potential pitfalls, difficulties and sleepless nights. You have my utmost respect and gratitude.

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