Reshaping the Construction Industry

During a nationally televised report on Fox News Channel, a prominent Texas construction executive said President-elect Donald Trump has a chance to be both tough and smart on border security and immigration.

Stan Marek, President and CEO of the Marek Family of Companies, said the President-elect needs to enact immigration reform that identifies and taxes those who are illegally in the country. But that does not meant Trump would be somehow softening his position on border security, Marek said.

Instead, Marek insists that the best border security happens at the job site.

That increased security would be accomplished by issuing tamper-proof ID’s only to workers who are authorized to be in the United States.   Read more » about Texas Construction CEO on Fox News Channel: Trump Can be Both Smart and Tough on Immigration

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

I lost another hero. Dr. Denton Cooley died on November 18th 2016; he was 96. He was an incredible human being in addition to being a brilliant heart surgeon. I worked for him for 10 years, writing news releases and an occasional speech. He has the same qualities that great contractors do: a great respect for superior craft skill and the ability to analyze and take risks – in his case to save lives.

He was a superb technical surgeon, gifted with incredible speed, a true Master Craftsman. Recognized heart surgeons from around the world would “scrub in” to watch him. Dr. Christian Barnard, another high-profile heart pioneer, called Cooley’s surgery “the most beautiful he had ever seen.” Cooley and his team have done the most open heart surgeries in the world.

He was the “Captain of the Ship” in the OR; he was totally responsible for the patient, the highest authority, and he would take calculated risks to save patients, many times moving the medical frontier forward.   Read more » about Denton Arthur Cooley, MD: A Master Craftsman and Builder

The Obama Administration’s controversial new overtime rule is on hold as a court battle plays out and President-elect Donald J. Trump has so far been unclear about exactly where he stands on the policy that would make roughly 4 million additional workers eligible for overtime pay. While some believe Trump will scrap the rule, his comments have been a bit ambiguous.

Under the Labor Department’s proposed rule, which has been blocked by a federal judge in East Texas, employers would be required to pay time-and-a-half to employees who work more than 40 hours each week and earn less than about $47,000 per year. The new threshold is roughly twice what the government currently allows for workers to be exempt from overtime.   Read more » about New Overtime Rule on Hold as Court Battle Plays Out and Trump Administration Looms

A ceremony held at the recently completed C3 project for the Greater Houston Partnership in Partnership Tower has the potential to impact the construction workforce in the Houston region for decades to come.

The ceremony honored the inaugural class of 17 graduates of Generation Houston, a collaboration of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Upskill Houston, United Way, and Generation, a 501(c)(3) social initiative sponsored by McKinsey & Company and other major sponsors.

The four week, fast track program was aimed at individuals who express an interest in the construction industry as a career and offers them training in life, safety, social and career skills. The United Way Thrive program provides the candidates and the screening of the individuals who are eligible for the training. McKinsey’s Generation provides the instruction.   Read more » about Generation Houston Inaugural Graduation

A 98-page report produced by Stockton University’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy last June presents a detailed look into the “underground construction industry” in New Jersey.  Titled The Underground Construction Economy in New Jersey, the report lists specific ways that “off-the-books labor,” also called worker misclassification, damages the construction industry, cheats the misclassified workers, and costs the state government and ultimately local taxpayers millions of dollars each year.  Best practices for dealing with the illegal practice are identified in the report, and the report concludes with 15 policy recommendations for the State.  From page 12 of the report:

“Based on the review of best practices in other states, we outline 15 policy recommendations for the State of New Jersey (page 90). Recommendations #1 through #4 are related to the structure and functions of state government entities that have duties related to employee misclassification.   Read more » about Research Report: The Underground Construction Economy in New Jersey

The following article originally appeared in the December 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.

On November 10th, in front of thousands of attendees, Dr. Bill Gilmer, Director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston, laid out his forecast for Houston in 2017. After recognizing the bumpy and considerably steep decline in the energy sector, Dr. Gilmer remained optimistic about Houston’s economy overall, feeling that the worst is likely in the rear view mirror and that Houston will begin to recover in 2017.

Dr. Gilmer outlined a series of scenarios, largely dependent on when the energy sector will rebound, with the weighted average being a loss of approximately 22,000 job growth in 2016, 4,500 jobs added in 2017 and then ramping up to 74,800 jobs in 2018 and 85,100 in 2019.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: December 2016

Fewer metros add construction jobs in October; Dodge, Beige Book report mixed starts

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.

Help AGC generate a comprehensive construction business outlook for 2017 by taking their 2017 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook survey.

Construction employment, not seasonally adjusted, increased from October 2015 to October 2016 in 223 (62%) of the 358 metro areas (including divisions of larger metros) for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides construction employment data, decreased in 73 (20%) and was stagnant in 62, according to an AGC release and map on Tuesday.(BLS combines mining and logging with construction in most metros.) Two metro areas tied for the most jobs added (10,800 combined jobs): Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (an 11% increase) and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (17%); they were followed by Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale (9,900 construction jobs, 10%), the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. division (9,000 construction jobs, 10%) and Las-Vegas-Henderson-Paradise (8,500 construction jobs, 16%).   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: November 22-30, 2016

Excitement filled the air on a cool, crisp, picture perfect day when 322 students with 38 teacher/administrator chaperones from Houston-Metropolitan Area high school campuses attended the 2016 Construction Careers Exposition on Thursday, October 27, at the Pasadena Municipal Fairgrounds.  These select students represented Aldine, Alvin, Barbers Hill, Channelview, Deer Park, Galena Park, Goose Creek Consolidated, Humble, Pasadena, Pearland, and Sheldon Independent School Districts.  185 volunteers representing 33 contractors, colleges, and suppliers joined with the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston/Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) to sponsor and facilitate the Exposition – including the donation of resources, services, and time – to make this event happen.   Read more » about Area High School Students Experience Hands-On Activities at the 2016 Construction Careers Expo

The “private sector solution” to workforce challenges in the Houston area is growing by leaps and bounds, but there is an incredible amount of work yet to do. The Construction Career Collaborative, or C3, continues to pick up steam and more industry leaders are being asked to join what has been described as “a movement.”

During a breakfast hosted this month by the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston, C3 Executive Director Chuck Gremillion told executives the best way to create an industry that’s attractive to young American workers is through better craft training, safety training, and a focus on the financial security, health and well-being of craft workers.

“We’re really a pretty simple organization,” Gremillion said. “We want to attract young people to a career.”

While the vast majority of construction companies understand the need for safety training, which is a great thing, Gremillion said it is regrettable there aren’t more firms with a focus on craft training.   Read more » about More Construction Leaders Are Needed to “Walk the Talk” on Workforce Solutions

On September 25, 2016, Arnold Palmer died at age 87. Golf lost an outstanding champion; America a truly great citizen. He was called “the King”, not only for his 62 wins, including 7 majors, but also what he did for the game, for thousands of ordinary people, and for the community and the country. His life provides a leadership blueprint for all.

He remained, despite all his success, an absolutely authentic person. He was a blue-collar everyman, the son of a golf course superintendent and golf pro, who gave him bedrock values of respect for others and the importance of hard work – values he embraced and honored his entire life (Arnold’s dad also gave him a great grip, the most critical fundamental to the golf swing.) It is interesting that these traits and values are the hallmark of most successful contractors as well. They are humble, real, hardworking, and appreciative.

Palmer had an amazing connection with his fans. They formed Arnie’s Army, and thronged around him at tournaments. They relished his consistent hard-charging style where he would take risks his competitors would not. Risk taking resonates with contractors too; it is the heart of the business. After his playing days ended, he and pal, Joe Gibbs, started the Golf Channel, now part of NBC. His lawyers and advisors told him this deal was too risky, to which he snapped back, “If I hadn’t tried to hit it over some trees or across some ponds on several occasions, we wouldn’t be here talking.” Sound familiar?   Read more » about Lessons from the Life of the King: Arnold Palmer

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