Reshaping the Construction Industry

On April 9, Stan Marek, CEO of Marek, was inducted into Texas A&M University’s Constructor Hall of Fame. I had the honor of introducing him with this tribute:

My name is Pat Kiley, and I want to thank Joe Horlen and Mike Holland for the very high honor of presenting this award tonight because this year’s recipient epitomizes the very best of what it means to be a builder, a leader, an Aggie, and a humanitarian. He is a man with clear priorities: family and faith; his company and his people; his Industry and this Institution; his community and his Country, and those less fortunate.

He heard and embraced the scriptural passages, “To whom much is given, much is expected” and “You cannot hide your talent under a bushel.” He runs his life with a sense of duty; duty not as heavy burden, but duty as sacred honor.   Read more » about Stan Marek Inducted into Texas A&M University's Constructor Hall of Fame

Construction employment dips in March but wages move up; reports vary on cost trends

Editor’s note: Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Click here to register for a free 4/30 webcast "Will Construction Pick Up the Pace or the Pieces?" presented by AGC/AIA/CMD.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand increased 0.4%, not seasonally adjusted (0.2%, seasonally adjusted), in March but dropped 0.8% over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Tuesday. AGC posted an explanation and tables focusing on construction prices and costs. Final demand includes goods, services and five types of nonresidential buildings that BLS says make up 34% of total construction. The PPI for final demand construction, not seasonally adjusted, was flat in March and rose 1.9% over 12 months.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: April 10-16, 2015

I have written recently on the steelworkers strike at several oil and chemical refineries around the country and the fact that the owner’s representatives and the USW national had reached a national agreement. I noted last week that even though a national agreement had been reached, the strike action was not over until the locals had finally negotiated their agreements on the issues at the local plants.

Workers at the Tesoro plants have agreed, but in the Houston area, the long tail is still at play. L.M. Sixel, business writer for the Houston Chronicle wrote this week that five plants are still on strike and that one might be close to a vote.    Read more » about The Longer Tail on the Steelworkers Strike

I recently visited Pasadena ISD’s Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School (CTHS) on a day when a group of high school juniors were receiving hands-on training in drywall installation by professionals from Marek Houston.  I was invited by Saied Alavi, Director of Operations at Marek, to watch as Marek volunteers Terry Holcombe, Buddy Britt, Aurelio Flores, and Rodrick Horn walked the students through each step of installing drywall to several framed “rooms” which had been previously constructed by students in the large workshop for the Construction Technologies program at the school.  I watched students measure the framing, cut the drywall to the required spaces including cutouts for windows and electrical sockets, align the cut drywall, and nail the pieces in place.  Walls and ceilings took shape before our eyes.   Read more » about Drywall Clinic at Technical High School Promotes Careers in Construction: Part 2 [VIDEO]

Creating ongoing solutions for workforce challenges in construction will be an uphill battle, but luckily some of the best minds in the industry have now begun working on it in earnest in the Houston area.

The ABC Board of Directors has instructed its Industrial Committee to figure out, with specificity, what needs to be done to create a sustainable workforce going forward. Last week, the committee continued its work focusing on improving construction’s image and recruiting – not just listing problems, but more importantly, coming up with concrete proposals for the full ABC board to discuss and take action on.    Read more » about ABC Houston Industrial Committee Begins Crafting Recommendations for Workforce Solutions

On April 8th, Construction Citizen had the privilege to attend Texas Construction Career Initiative (TCCI) and Build Your Future’s (BYF) 2015 High School Construction Career Day at the Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall in San Antonio, Texas. Over 1,100 students and chaperones from the San Antonio area and West Texas had the chance to meet with over 50 exhibitors and construction professionals. Exhibitors included craft companies specializing in plumbing, heavy equipment, glass, drywall, and roofing; institutes offering programs in construction such as Texas A&M, Texas State Technical College, and Construction Careers Academy; power tool producers DeWalt and Hilti; and non-profit construction associations such as Hispanic Contractors Association, National Association of Women in Construction, and Air Conditioning Contractors of America San Antonio.    Read more » about TCCI and BYF Host 3rd Annual Construction Career Day

The following article originally appeared in the April newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC for the purpose of providing the latest leading indicators and industry issues to those clients.  Reprinted with permission.

Stronger signals of the slowdown in Houston are increasingly prevalent.  As the oil price bounces around the $50 mark, the effect of the lower cash flow in the oil and gas companies is rippling through the city.

The Architecture Billings Index, a national leading indicator for construction, is flat – which is indicative of the mentality of the market today.  Pause.  Wait and See.  Everyone knows the tidal-wave impact of the oil and gas prices is coming, but no one can tell how damaging it will truly be.  And while 2015 still looks to be a relatively strong year, 2016 has much less optimism.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: April 2015

When I was younger, I saw an older man sort of just standing there. Staring. Not at me. Not seemingly at anything. But he looked as if he was very deep in thought. Curious, I asked him what he was thinking about. His answer was very simple and straightforward and has stuck with me forever. Five words, and it applies to literally everything. “What I'm about to do.” I would credit him for the quote, but I don't know this guy. I didn't know him then, and I was a preteen kid. My parents were there, I wasn't afraid to talk to him, but I also didn't want to bother him. So that was our whole conversation. I just said, “Well, okay,” and left him alone. I don't know what it was he was about to do. For all I know, he could have robbed the store as soon as we left. I don't know. That answer though, that answer stayed.    Read more » about Guide to Working Safely in Dangerous Environments

Construction employment dips in March but wages move up; reports vary on cost trends

Editor’s note: Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Click here to register for a free 4/30 webcast "Will Construction Pick Up the Pace or the Pieces?" presented by AGC/AIA/CMD.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 126,000 in March, seasonally adjusted, and by 3,128,000 (2.3%) over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Friday. Construction employment dipped by 1,000 for the month but increased by 282,000 (4.7%) over the year to 6,344,000. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) dropped by 2,800 for the month but rose 136,300 (6.0%) over 12 months. Nonresidential employment (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) increased by 1,100 in March and 145,000 (3.8%) year-over-year.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: April 3-9, 2015

With the skills gap widening and projecting to increase, Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) will open up a new doorway for veterans to enter a career in construction, providing training for free.

CMEF will be offering a free jumpstart training course for veterans at Camp Hope in the beginning of summer 2015.  This course will provide a Heavy Equipment Operators (HEO) certification.  Director of Education Glen O’Mary said the demand for an equipment operator will make the certification more valuable, making it easier for veterans to begin their career in the construction industry.  O’Mary, a veteran himself, said training in the military is very similar for training on the jobsite.  There are parallels, he described, in the continuation of education and training, safety, procedures, hours and overall work.   Read more » about CMEF to Offer Free Training Course to Veterans at Camp Hope

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