Reshaping the Construction Industry

Hi there. The Chamberlin Man here.

Man alive! During those last few weeks of late spring to early summer, the rain had really been coming down. Widespread flooding had been headline news. Plus, many homes and businesses experienced water infiltration from the top down.

Fact of the matter is the incidence of roof failure rises with the rain gauge, too. And a roof failure can be devastating to interior finishes and costly to repair. Not to mention the potential cost of replacing inventory or belongings lost to a wet mess.

It’s bad news!  So allow me to share a silver lining.  While you certainly can’t control how much rain falls from the sky, there are measures within your control to help prevent roof leaks and failures.   Read more » about When It Rains, It Pours

In the construction industry, productivity and profit are always doing a dance. They are always partners no matter whether your firm is a global giant or a local sub. Whether productivity and profit perform well enough to make it onto the professional stage or just at the local club depends on both productivity and profit doing a well-choreographed performance. If the productivity on the jobsite is good, then your profit is likely better. If your work crews are not performing and productive, then your profits are likely not performing well either.

McKinsey & Company recently did a study authored by members of their team titled “Beating the low-productivity trap: How to transform construction operations” that focuses on 30 major UK infrastructure engineering and construction firms over the decade from 2005-2015 to measure their growth and to determine whether they either performed or underperformed in their markets.

Even though this study was about infrastructure engineering and construction firms centered in the UK, the points made and the tips offered can apply to every company doing the productivity-profit dance, no matter what your size, should “read and heed.”   Read more » about The Productivity and Profit Dance

Waldo – you know, that character wearing the red-and-white-striped shirt in the children’s picture books by Martin Handford for whom children in 28 different countries have searched since the mid-1980s – showed up this spring at a construction site across from a children’s hospital in South Bend, Indiana.

Jason Haney, a foreman working for general contractor J.J. White on the Memorial Children’s Hospital expansion project, got the idea after a snowman built by some of the construction crew during off-time generated a great deal of enthusiasm from children who were patients in the wing of the hospital facing the jobsite.  Haney, a bit of an artist himself it appears, projected a sketch of the Waldo figure onto plywood in order to trace and cut out an eight-foot version of the character.  Haney’s 17-year-old daughter, a former patient at a children’s hospital after having a stroke at age 3, helped complete the figure with paint.

Waldo began to appear within view of the existing hospital at various locations on the construction site.  The game then seemed to take on a life of its own.   Read more » about Construction Foreman Invites Hospitalized Children to Play “Where’s Waldo?”

The City of Philadelphia is taking a hard line on wage theft with some stiff penalties for employers caught stiffing their workers. It is such a tough law that some have criticized it as “draconian.” But others have applauded the city’s aggressive stance.

Any week that wages are found to be unpaid is a separate violation by an employer under this strict ordinance, which also says businesses will be hit with penalties of up to $2,300 for each violation if there is not a “good faith contest of the wages owed exists.”

That means employers could be subject to multiple $2,300 fines for a single employee’s complaint for unpaid wages if the complaint spans multiple weeks.    Read more » about Philadelphia Comes Down Hard on Wage Theft

June construction jobs grow year-over-year in 39 states; starts are mixed, Dodge says

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 39 states from June 2015 to June 2016 and declined in 11 states and the District of Columbia, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today showed. The highest percentage gains again occurred in Hawaii (16%, 5,500 jobs), Iowa (16%, 12,200), Oklahoma (8.9%, 6,900), Arizona (8.7%, 11,000) and Nevada (8.7%, 6,000). Iowa and Oklahoma set new records. California again added the most jobs (32,300 jobs, 4.5%), followed by Florida (25,500, 5.9%), Colorado (13,200, 8.9%), Washington (12,500, 8.9%), Iowa and Georgia (12,200, 7.3%). North Dakota again lost the highest percentage and number of construction jobs (-12%, -4,300), followed in percentage lost by Wyoming (-6.6%, -1,500), Maine (-6.5%, -1,700), and Kansas (-6.1%, -3,700), and followed in number of jobs lost by Kansas and Alabama (-2,100, -2.6%). From May to June, seasonally adjusted construction employment increased in 23 states and D.C., shrank in 25 states, and was unchanged in Illinois and Vermont.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: July 15-22, 2016

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

We often use the positive statement when referring to a person we admire “he/she has good character,” meaning they consistently act with integrity and high ethical standards.  It has been my observation, over 32 privileged years of working with contractors, most people, especially those attracted to the construction industry, strive to build a reputation for having good character, and to do business only with others that have the same.

However, I think the question can be legitimately raised, whether having “good character” is something we still value in political leaders, especially in candidates for the highest office in the land.  Predicated on the two presumptive nominees for the parties, it appears we may be relaxing the character standard substantially.   Read more » about Character Still Counts in the Construction Industry

The following article was originally published in the Houston Chronicle:

Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council recently passed an ordinance encouraging apartment developers applying for tax incentives to provide workers with livable wages, offer affordable or workforce housing assistance, offer paid internships to low-income students, jobs to ex-cons re-entering the workforce and to create middle-skill jobs that don't require a college degree.

City leaders should be congratulated for taking a measured approach to encouraging new development while creating additional career opportunities in the skilled trades. But there is much more work to do if this story will become a true victory for the city of Houston, developers and individuals who work tirelessly building our community. For a number of complex reasons, the craft workforce in the commercial construction industry is unsustainable and inefficient. More craft workers are leaving the industry than joining it. Baby boomers are retiring and the industry is not attracting candidates quickly enough to replace them.    Read more » about The Construction Industry Needs a Culture Change: Stop the 'Race to the Bottom'

The Construction Citizen team is interested to see what long-term effect the recent vote by the Brits to leave the European Union will have on the building industry in the U.K. So far, there is no doubt things will be worse at least in the short term.

Via Bloomberg News:

Building output fell 2.1 percent in May, almost double the decline forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed Friday. There were falls in almost every category of work, with private housing down the most in more than a year.   Read more » about Construction Prospects in the U.K. Look Worse After Brexit Vote

Hi there. The Chamberlin Man here.

A project doesn’t have to be large in scale to present challenges that require attention to detail, expertise and teamwork.  In fact, May’s Chamberlin News covers a project that didn’t cover a particularly large amount of square footage but still required the team at Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing to employ all its assets.

The details made all the difference at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where Chamberlin installed waterproofing to a split slab condition at the hospital entrance, leaving the area watertight and the medical equipment protected in the basement below.  The project took just two weeks thanks to a little overtime and an effective phasing solution initiated by Chamberlin.   Read more » about Waterproofing Details Can Make All The Difference

PPIs for building inputs rise in May but fall for year; industry employment stalls in June

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 in June, not seasonally adjusted, increased 0.7% from May but only 0.3% year-over-year (y/y) from June 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. AGC posted tables and an explanation 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, increased 0.1% for the month and 2.0% y/y. The PPI for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of five categories of buildings—also rose 2.0% y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: July 8-14, 2016

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