Reshaping the Construction Industry

As we’ve been telling you on Construction Citizen, the ABC Houston Industrial Committee is hard at work figuring out the absolute best way forward for construction training. The committee has come up with recommendations for the full ABC Houston Board and we’d like to share some of them with you.

The committee agreed at a recent meeting that we’ll know success has been reached when we have a coordinated pathway for construction training and available projects can be completed locally within project goals on a sustained basis by identifying and partnering with existing resources.    Read more » about Setting a Successful Course for Training in the Skilled Trades

The president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, resigned today after being re-elected in the midst of an unprecedented scandal over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Scandal is not new to the global scene, nor is the seedy underbelly of the construction industry in the countries where major facilities are needed to host the games. In this case, there are five stadiums being built for Qatar 2022, but recently, amid the scandal, the underbelly of global construction has once again been exposed in an investigative report by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

In a recent article by ABC, the kafala system of forced labor, “kin to slave labor” even though the world’s richest per capita country, “is spending $260 billion building the stadiums, public transport systems, freeways, hotels and apartments to stage the tournament.”    Read more » about Scandal and Slum Conditions in Qatar for 2022 Games

The following article originally appeared in the June 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.

The Census Bureau recently announced Houston as one of the top ten population gainers in the US in 2014, alongside several other Texas cities.  Unfortunately, that distinction will likely not be repeated in 2015, as economists continue to lower their projections for our region.  Dr. Bill Gilmer, with the Institute for Regional Forecasting, recently released his revised forecast with two scenarios.  The first has oil prices recovering by the beginning of 2016, and puts Houston’s job growth at 13,000 jobs for 2015.  The second scenario has oil prices recovering in mid-2016, which puts Houston’s job growth at 13,000 jobs for 2015 and again for 2016.  After experiencing over 100,000 jobs added in 2014, Houston’s growth has certainly stalled.

Construction continues at a steady pace, but the drop off is coming.  The most recent City of Houston permits show a drop of more than 20% in new non-residential construction when compared to a year ago.  Renovation work continues to exceed 2014 levels, but the drop in new construction is a combination of unsustainable levels of construction in some markets in 2014 normalizing, along with the uncertainty surrounding the oil prices and its impact on Houston.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: June 2015

As Safety Professionals, we are dedicated to the protection of people, property and the environment.  Our success is often measured in the amount of human suffering we prevent as we chart OSHA rates for recordable injuries, lost work day cases or cases of restricted work activity.  We attempt to quantify our success as we compare past results against current performance.  If the needle trends downward, we pat ourselves on the back, notify management and tout the success of our safety efforts.  We become singular in focus as if the success or failure of our organization is predicated on this sole outcome.  This type of thinking causes us to be pigeon holed in our world, many times, outside of the heartbeat of the organization and its leadership.  We are brought into the Board room to report on a certain situation and promptly escorted out once our information and expertise is no longer needed.  It is a sad reality that this is how a large majority of safety professionals operate.  If this is how you operate, the question becomes, “why should I change and if I do, how do I change?”

To address the question of “why should I change,” I challenge you to view safety through a performance based looking glass.  As safety professionals, much of our time is spent on research of standards and creating policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable governmental standards.  This methodology breeds a compliance or prescriptive based approach that restricts our influence throughout an organization.   Read more » about Viewing Safety through a Performance Based Looking Glass: Part 1 of 2

House and Senate negotiators in Austin are now trying to hammer out a final deal on the financing of $3 billion worth of construction projects at colleges and universities all over Texas.

There is broad agreement that funding new classroom space is the right thing to do. On a vote of 26 to 5, the Texas Senate passed a bill authorizing the spending aimed at relieving overcrowded campuses. The Texas House also overwhelmingly passed the legislation. But, just as in past legislative sessions, the devil’s in the details when it comes to this issue.

As of right now, about $73 million separates the two plans. That’s why a conference committee has been appointed to craft a deal that will then be presented to both the House and Senate before it can be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.    Read more » about $3 Billion in College Construction is Approved by the Texas Senate

Construction jobs increase in 40 states in April; materials, labor costs dip, IHS finds

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 40 states and the District of Columbia from April 2014 to April 2015, declined in seven and remained level in Indiana, Oregon and Vermont, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Wednesday showed. California again added the most construction jobs (42,600 jobs, 6.4%), followed by Florida (32,200, 8.2%), Texas (25,300, 3.9%), Washington (18,700, 12.0%) and Michigan (14,800, 10.6%). Idaho again added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (12.4%, 4,400), followed by Washington and Michigan. The largest and steepest percentage losses again occurred in West Virginia (-4,400, -13.1%) and Mississippi (-3,200, -6.3%). U.S. construction employment rose 4.6% over the period, BLS reported on May 8. Despite the strong, widespread gains, only five states have topped pre-recession highs for construction employment:   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: May 26-29, 2015

The Broad Sustainable Buildings division of the BROAD Company, a Chinese building company, has just erected a 57-story skyscraper in Changsa called “Mini Sky City” in 19 days, according to the NY Daily News. “The impressive high-rise has 19 atriums, office space for 4,000 people and 800 apartments. It also claims to be earthquake-resistant.”

This building is but one in a series of taller and taller buildings that the company plans will ultimately include erecting a 202-story high rise multiuse residential tower named Sky City in 3-4 months, a schedule that amazes many and puzzles others.    Read more » about Chinese Building at Warp Speed [VIDEO]

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

Succession planning is a phrase that appears regularly in management literature and as a seminar topic.  It is also the hallmark of companies that want to become true organizations, with foundations solid and deep enough to sustain themselves for generations.  Succession involves many components.  Some are financial (sale of shares); several are legal (contracts, minutes new corporate resolutions), and other actions affect the governance structure (new board members).  These initial areas primarily affect top levels of succession.  But every level of succession planning involves the careful selection and preparation of the successor(s) so that the business and the culture can continue and thrive, and employees can remain comfortable and committed.

Many Houston companies are in the midst of this issue right now – most on an accelerated pace.   Read more » about Succession Planning: The Hallmark of True Organizations

Jessica Minh Anh will mark her 10th history-making production by transforming the award-winning solar power plant, Gemasolar in Seville, Spain, into the world’s most innovative catwalk on July 17, 2015.  The highly anticipated J Summer Fashion Show will set a new standard for modern fashion presentation by not only promoting the most exquisite designs from five continents, but also the best of advanced technology and environmental preservation.

Pushing the visual envelope, the model and entrepreneur will stage the unique catwalk right in the middle of the Gemasolar power plant, with the cinematic backdrop of the famous central tower and thousands of cutting-edge shining mirrors.  The 100-meter catwalk will be filmed from various angles, using the latest drone technology from above to highlight the sunlight’s effect on the stunning circle-shaped power plant.   Read more » about Jessica Minh Anh’s Next Fashion Show to be set in Innovative Gemasolar Solar Power Plant

Dodge, Census report rebound in April starts, but ABI slips; hotel outlook stays rosy

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 value of new construction starts increased 10% from March to April at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, Dodge Data & Analytics (formerly McGraw Hill Construction) reported on Thursday, based on data it collected. "The nonresidential building sector came in particularly strong [up 58% from March], lifted by the inclusion of two massive projects as April starts—an $8.1 billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana and a $1.2 billion office/retail high-rise in New York [City]. Meanwhile, residential building slipped [-3%] in April, and nonbuilding construction lost momentum [-17%] as the result of a pullback by public works.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: May 18-22, 2015

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