After several tough years of recession, forecasts put the construction industry on a slow upswing. Projected increases in commercial work should infuse communities with development projects and create more construction jobs than in past years. Continue »
Typically, disruption in the workplace is counterintuitive to productivity. But in terms of creating innovative ways to manage people, processes and technology, the concept of “disruption” isn’t such a bad thing for the construction industry. Change is stirring whether contractors are ready for it or not, and firms that have adopted new ways of managing scheduling and workflows are seeing stellar results—earning the accolades of repeat projects for key clients, as well as happy project partners.
With the globalization of the construction industry, one area many companies can more effectively budget for is their import and export operations for materials and equipment. Companies can save millions of dollars by ensuring adherence to environmental regulations and taking advantage of fluctuating currency rates, which often are unpredictable and difficult to understand. The challenge is to stay up to date on these complex and dynamic issues. Continue »
In some ways, 2012 was a replay of 2011. The economy had significant momentum coming into the year due to surging financial markets and ambitious consumers. In fact, the U.S. economy expanded 4.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011. Continue »
Some bond producers report the outlook for the construction industry has improved slightly compared to a year ago, but most believe the tough economy has not passed. Continue »
The November 6 general election removed some of the political uncertainty with the convincing re-election of President Obama and immediately launched the country into the uncertainty of the “fiscal cliff”-hanger. But four years after the financial panic that produced the Great Recession, people just want a return to normal. Can the new politics in Washington deliver that? What can the construction industry expect from a renewed Obama administration and a slightly more Democratic Congress? Continue »
Unique regulations and safety considerations often pose special training challenges for construction employers. An online training program can be an ideal solution for contractors with large, geographically dispersed workforces and diverse training needs. Continue »
Successful companies strive to use every tool possible to ensure their projects are safe, on schedule and within budget. New methods are developed and piloted each year in an effort to improve project execution and satisfy customer expectations. However, all too often safety programs are not updated regularly, and safety performance can result from luck rather than reproducible results. Continue »
Audits are a fact of life for businesses. A financial statement audit required by a bank or bonding company is a lot of work for a contractor’s accounting department and comes with an unwelcome fee. Contractors that understand and prepare for the audit can significantly reduce their stress level and possibly even reduce the audit fee. Continue »
The nation’s slowly dropping unemployment rate may be a sign that the economy is on the road to recovery. But surety executives still expect the next year to be tough for the construction industry as the impact of the recession and depleted backlogs continue to take a toll on contractors’ balance sheets. Continue »
The construction industry tends to be dominated by privately held entities, so specific financial information such as leverage ratios or overhead often is not readily available. Although many contractors anecdotally understand other firms’ financial results, they lack the information structure to compare their results to similar operations. Smart contractors understand having a yardstick to measure their results can provide either affirmation of a well-executed business plan or guidance on a course correction. The trick is finding a source of reliable information. Continue »
A new trend is emerging across the U.S. workforce that reflects how the nation’s economy is evolving. It’s the concept of a “knowledge economy,” where people use their education, skills and unique set of experiences to add value to an organization’s customers. This trend mirrors the rise of the professional services market within the U.S. economy. In these industries, knowledge replaces manpower and labor as the most important asset an employee can provide.
In the knowledge economy, even among asset-intensive companies like manufacturing firms, people are more to an organization than just interchangeable, anonymous human capital that can be reallocated at will. Tangible assets such as equipment or technology remain important to a company’s success, but ultimately they are replaceable. The key differentiator for businesses today is the combination of knowledge, education and hands-on experience that employees can bring to the table. Continue »
As 2012 comes to a close, it is important for construction companies to step back and analyze where they stand, and determine where they need to be in the immediate future. Contractors must shift their focus from cutting costs and reducing overhead to strategically identifying and delivering value-added services for customers. They must look at their past successes, examine market and customer niches and identify what unique competencies they bring to owners and customers. Introspection is often easier than looking forward, but the latter is more important to implement a strategic market position and take advantage of the slowly improving economy. Continue »