Reshaping the Construction Industry

Software Advice, a Gartner company, recently released the results of a study they conducted on the Impact of Job Roles on Construction Software Purchasing Decisions.  Software Advice surveyed over 800 owners, project managers and IT professionals about their software buying habits in the face of pressure from the construction market to get it done “faster, cheaper, and with fewer change orders and do-overs.”

The annual survey concludes that your reason for buying software depends on your position in the firm, especially in small and mid-sized construction firms.

According to the results of the survey, 36% of those owners were buying new software to increase accuracy in the systems that they deploy.   Read more » about Why Contractors Buy New Software

PPI falls in November as diesel price plunges; mixed moves foreseen for materials costs

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.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand decreased 0.4%, not seasonally adjusted (-0.2%, seasonally adjusted), in November and increased 1.4% over 12 months, BLS reported Friday. 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. There are no indexes yet for other building types, or for residential or nonbuilding construction. The PPI for final demand construction, not seasonally adjusted, rose 0.1% in November and 2.2% over 12 months. The overall PPI for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of five categories of buildings—also climbed 0.1% for the month and 2.2% since November 2013.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: December 9-12, 2014

At this year’s annual fall conference hosted by Kiley Advisors, two strategic questions were explored, presented by two distinguished guest speakers.  The question “How long can this robust market last, and why?” was tackled by Adam W. Perdue, PhD in his presentation titled Is the Boom a Bubble?  Following that presentation and discussion, Brent Smith, PhD tackled the question “How can we do a better job of attracting, retaining, and developing talent as we compete with the expanding and better-paying energy and industrial companies?” in his presentation titled Managing Talent: Myths and Realities.   Read more » about Economist Explains Why Houston’s Boom is Not a Bubble

There’s almost nothing partisan or ideological about trying to stop companies from cheating taxpayers and their workers, which is exactly what happens when some firms misclassify their employees. As our readers know, worker misclassification happens when a company pretends its employees are subcontractors with the intent of avoiding payroll taxes and benefits like health insurance. Unions call it “payroll fraud.” Many of us just call it cheating, plain and simple.

The fact that this is a bipartisan issue became extra clear this past week following our report on new efforts in the Texas Legislature to try to rein in the practice, which has rightly been called “a scourge” and “a cancer” in the construction industry. It happens in other industries as well but it is especially rampant in construction.

Previous legislative attempts to deal with this in Texas have had mixed success. Now, a new bill has been filed in the Texas House.    Read more » about Conservatives and Liberals Alike Embrace Efforts to Crack Down on Worker Misclassification in Texas

Leadership Forum: “Not only did it help me professionally, but it helps me do better in life.”

Editor’s note: The Leadership Forum will be conducted January 8, 2015 – May 29, 2015 at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston, 3910 Kirby Dr., Ste. 131, Houston, TX 77098

ABC’s Leadership Forum consists of 10 sessions over the span of 10 weeks. Attendees learn about team building, communication, negotiation and much more. Ray Beaudet, operations and senior project manager with Griesenbeck Architectural Products, Inc., was first to admit he thought himself to be a pro at these skills. And with a booming Houston market, he struggled to even think of separating from his desk. So when Beaudet’s boss signed him up for ABC’s Leadership Forum, he wasn’t exactly thrilled.    Read more » about ABC Leadership Forum Teaches Professional and Life Lessons

The reason contractors in the Houston area need comprehensive immigration reform immediately is straightforward: to have legal access to immigrant workers so that they can help build all the projects that are planned or are already under construction in this market, which is coming on like gangbusters.  The market is projected to keep booming for at least the next three to five years.

There is no doubt in my mind that the greater Houston area is in the midst of an unprecedented building boom.  In my 31 years of closely monitoring this construction marketplace, I have never seen the conditions that exist now.  And it’s projected to continue going forward.  All major market sectors – residential, heavy industrial, highway and civil, and commercial – are on fire and so is every segment within those sectors.

In residential, both single-family and multi-family units are being built at record levels.  In heavy industrial, it is both power and chemical plants – driven by natural gas as both a power and feedstock source – that are being built here in Texas and next door in Louisiana.  In highway and civil construction, the Texas Department of Transportation as well as cities and counties all have projects underway, and more projects are on the drawing board.  And in commercial, it is the medical segment, the K-12 school segment, the colleges and universities segment, the warehouse segment, and general purpose office space segments that continue to all see building at near record levels.   Read more » about The Texas Construction Industry Needs Comprehensive Immigration Reform

I had the pleasure of shooting the breeze with Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing President and CEO, John Kafka the other day.  As he recalled days gone by, he shared with me what he thinks has been a powerful caveat for the collective success of the company – a refusal to give up.  Even in the most difficult times, he shared, he never wondered IF Chamberlin would succeed, though he perhaps wondered HOW at some particularly low points over the past 36 years.

Since “success is not a destination but a journey,” we at Chamberlin continually strive as an organization and as individuals to grow.  We keep in motion, always taking the next step forward as challenges confront us.  Throwing our hands up in the air and giving up is never even a consideration.

To that end, I am proud to announce that a handful of key Chamberlin folks have recently taken the next step in their professional journey, having been promoted to Vice President.   Read more » about The Secret of Success

Construction employment hits 5½ year high in November; spending climbs in October

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.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 321,000 in December, seasonally adjusted, and by 2,734,000 (2.0%) over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Friday. Construction employment rose by 20,000 for the month and 213,000 (3.6%) over the year to 6,109,000, the highest total since April 2009. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) climbed by 16,700 for the month and 122,800 (5.6%) for the year. Nonresidential employment (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) increased by 3,600 in November and 90,100 (2.4%) year-over-year. Average hourly earnings for all employees in construction rose 2.7% from November 2013 to November 2014, the largest year-over-year increase since September 2009 and double the 1.3% increase recorded a year earlier. The number of jobseekers who last worked in construction hit an eight-year low of 629,000 and their unemployment rate fell to the lowest November level in seven years:   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: November 25 - December 8, 2014

Far too often, construction companies cheat taxpayers and their workers by pretending their employees are independent subcontractors when, by law, they should be paid as employees. It’s a practice known as worker misclassification. Some ethical contractors have called it a “cancer that is eating at the heart of our industry.”

If a person is paid as a subcontractor, that individual is on the hook for payroll taxes and benefits like health insurance. When they’re injured, uninsured workers are often dropped off at county hospitals and the rest of us end up paying more in health costs and local property taxes.

In Construction Citizen’s Special Report, “Thrown Away People,” our team outlined many of the problems presented to society by the degradation of the employer – employee relationship. The McClatchy Newspaper chain this year followed up with a powerful series called “Contract to Cheat,” which took another in-depth look at the problem.    Read more » about Bill Filed to Crack Down on Worker Misclassification in Texas Construction Industry

ImmigrationWorks USA held a national conference call to discuss President Obama's announcement of an executive action that will grant work permits to up to 4 million unauthorized immigrants – primarily parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents – who will now be allowed to remain in the U.S. legally.

Joining the call were members of the IW legal advisory team to discuss the policy and what it means for you.   Read more » about What Employers Need to Know about Obama's Executive Action

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