Reshaping the Construction Industry

Earlier this month, I visited Lone Star College North Harris (LSC-North Harris) and spoke with Michael Burns, Dean of Career and Applied Technology Division, and Brian Sanders, Director of Applied Technology about the Construction and Skilled Trades Technology Center which is currently being constructed on that campus.

Michael Burns told me that he is the Dean of Construction overseeing Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology, HVAC, Welding Technology, Inspection, Electrical Technology, Architectural Design, Mechanical Design, and Pipefitting.  He has worked for Lone Star College for nearly seven years.   Read more » about Lone Star College Administrators Talk About Skilled Craft Training Expansion [VIDEO]

One of the many things we strive to do for you at Construction Citizen is keep up with current trends in the industry. Admittedly, my friend Jim Kollaer does a better job of it than I do - whether it’s twisted towers, the role of drones in construction, or 3D printing. You can see all of Jim’s articles here.

One of the particularly interesting trends emerging now is the fact that wood – yes, wood – is making more appearances as the material used for the skeletons of tall buildings in the United States and elsewhere.

Smithsonian.com just published an article about a building in Minnesota called T3 that, when completed, will be the tallest wooden structure in the US. As the publication put it, the irony of its cutting edge nature is “that its cutting-edge nature rests on an old-school material: wood.”    Read more » about Wood: Skyscraper Material of the Future?

Professors try their best to convince their architectural students that they “rule the world and the jobsite.” Many of them grow to believe that myth and some of them live that way. Few are well-versed on jobsite safety. Even if they are among the few who receive training, occasionally the most safety-conscious architect makes a simple mistake and pays for it with his or her life.

According to reports, Bruno Travalja, architect and owner of Crowne Architectural Systems in New Jersey, was doing an inspection and some last minute measurements on the 42nd floor of a mid-rise tower in New York City when he fell to his death in a tragic accident.    Read more » about Safety Applies to Everyone on the Jobsite, Even the Architects

As the debate about illegal immigration rages at the national level thanks to the vitriolic rhetoric of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, it's high time for all of us to take a look at how the broken system is negatively affecting people right here in our own community.

My entire career has been spent in construction, so I've been perfectly positioned to see how this mess has evolved over the past few decades. Rather than rehash arguments I've made previously - arguments I will continue to make in the future - I'd like to share with you the story of a young woman whose experience is all too common here in Southeast Texas.    Read more » about What Immigration Reality Looks Like for Workers

Fewer states show job gains; AIA survey suggests worker shortages may be the reason

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.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment rose in 36 states from August 2015 to August 2016, declined in 13 states and the District of Columbia, and was unchanged in Nebraska, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Tuesday showed. The number of states with increases was the smallest since April 2013, which may indicate either a slowing in construction activity or contractors having greater difficulty in finding acceptable workers. The highest percentage gains again occurred in Iowa (19%, 14,400 jobs) and Hawaii (12%, 4,300), followed by Colorado (11%, 16,800) and Idaho (9.2%, 3,500). Iowa and Massachusetts set new records. The top four states in number of jobs added were again California (29,300 jobs, 4.0%), Florida (22,000, 5.1%), Colorado and Iowa. Kansas lost the highest percentage and number of construction jobs (-7.7%, -4,700), followed in percentage decline by Montana (-7.2%, -1,900), North Dakota (-6.5%, -2,200) and Wyoming (-5.7%, -1,300). Alabama lost the second-largest number of construction jobs (-3,500, -4.3%), followed by North Dakota, Montana and Kentucky (-1,900, -2.5%). From July to August, seasonally adjusted construction employment increased in 24 states, shrank in 25 states and D.C., and was unchanged in Montana.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 20-23, 2016

The 2016 ABC National Craft Championships (NCC) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was a two-day competition last March between over 200 craft profession trainees and students.  This is the third in a series of posts featuring excerpts from conversations I had with some of the industry leaders I met at the event.  While the competitors were participating in the hands-on portion of the challenge, I talked with a VP from the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation, a Project Manager for one of the craft competitions at the NCC, the Chair of ABC Illinois, and the ABC Vice President of EH&S and Workforce Development.

Patrick Etheredge, Vice President of Adult Training and Workforce Development for the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF) was a general contractor before coming to work for MCEF in 2015.  I asked what sort of opportunities competing in the NCC competition could bring to the future craft professionals.   Read more » about Snapshots of 2016 NCC: More Narratives from the Event [VIDEO]

The following article originally appeared in the September newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

Recently, I was in a conversation about golf with Joe Mathis, leader of The Mathis Group – highly respected project managers and owners’ representatives. He said that he played golf with a group of people who were “reverent to the game.” What a meaningful phrase to anyone who wants to honor the historical essence of golf as a gentlemen’s game.

It made me think about our commercial construction industry, and specifically our craft workers, which historically are the essence of our companies, in an industry that blends extraordinary building competency with the ability to manage people, projects and risks. These reflections, which considered the rapid growth in the use of technology, the almost universal practice of multiple-tier subcontracting, and the expanding value of prefabrication, surfaced the question: are we still reverent to the crafts?   Read more » about Reverent to the Crafts

PPI for new buildings moderate; hiring plans diverge; income properties remain healthy

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.

Signs of a slowdown in construction activity are accumulating but not conclusive. Construction spending and employment have been flat or generally decreasing since March, but remain above year-ago levels. Producer price indexes (PPIs) for new building construction are rising more slowly than in the past several years, suggesting reduced pricing power by contractors. Contractors' hiring plans for next quarter vary by region from "a slight decline" to "moderately stronger."    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 12-19, 2016

Brendan Bechtel, new Chief Executive of Bechtel, one of the largest global construction companies in the world, recently made a speech to the Construction Industry Institute conference in National Harbor, Maryland in which he said, “Our house is on fire.” This was according to an editorial in Engineering News Record.  Bechtel continued, “If we don’t address (the various problems), we may cease to exist as an industry…”

Sounds dire to me, how about you? What he was talking about was the current state of megaprojects (budgets of US $1billion and above) and the claims that “98% of all of those projects experience cost overruns or delays..the average cost increase is 80% and the average schedule slippage is 20 months.”    Read more » about Construction Industry House on Fire

ABC Greater Houston Celebrates Safety Award Winners during Membership Breakfast

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Greater Houston honored a record of 79 member companies for receiving the Safety Training and Evaluation Process (STEP) Award.

“I believe ABC members are an exceptional group. Their commitment to providing excellent service is only enhanced by their commitment to a safe working environment,” Russell Hamley, President of ABC Greater Houston Chapter, said.

Established in 1989 by the ABC National Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) Committee, the Safety Training and Evaluation Process (STEP) program was developed and written by contractors, for contractors.

Awards are based on data submitted via STEP applications, essay questions and video interviews with company Presidents/CEOs/Principals about their corporate safety culture.   Read more » about ABC Greater Houston – Setting the Industry Standard

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