The times are tough for everyone in the industry, and yes, even for Walls & Ceilings magazine. Like the rest of you, we have made some cuts and sharpened our pencils. Everyone is nervous today about the economy and we all know someone who has lost a job, home or needs desperately to find work. Your competitors are in the same boat and this could be the time we all will look back at as the “survival of the fittest” transition.
The W&C staff meets weekly on various issues and reviews what topics should be covered. The magazine is fully aware of the tough times our contractors, dealers and manufacturers are currently facing that will likely continue into the first part of 2010. What are we doing about it? We review the topics that could help you in these extraordinarily tough times; what information you need to know to survive.
With such tight margins today, considering a single mistake on a project or failing to pre-plan and protect could be a catastrophic or fatal error. This is why a mistake that previously could be absorbed in good times could break you today. To add to the problems, owners are trying to slow the flow of money paid out to subcontractors and one proven method is to pick apart the workmanship and keep the “punchlist” alive. I experienced it first hand as a contractor and saw it over and over as the technical representative for an association bureau-the slower the economy, the busier I got with building owner complaints over very minor imperfections that were perfectly fine when times are good.
I cannot stress how important knowledge is today and how this knowledge may mean your survival during these times. Even something seemingly so innocuous as an article on a new product, material or system, you need to know about it. Why? Because your customers are reading about it. If you do not know anything about it, it will likely reflect poorly on you. It will be apparent that you are not familiar with the newest information, good or bad, and will have to spend at least ten times more effort to defend your position than the time it would have taken to read the article.
On the other hand, if you know the basics of the new item, have a well thought out opinion on that product or system, your argument, pro or con, will be much better received.
Being an ex-wall and ceiling contractor who suffered through the late ’70s, I look back and know I should have focused on being a little more ahead of the curve. I strongly recommend you read and read like you never have before. One thing you learn, just one, could save you thousands of dollars and ultimately be what saves your company.
While some manufacturers are pulling in their horns and trying to ride out this recession, some are introducing labor saving machines, products and materials. Will they all be a benefit to your firm? Maybe yes, maybe no, but that is a decision for you, the experienced contractor to determine. Our job is to bring them to you so you can be on the cutting edge.
Keep good job site records better than before. Record what was said on site and what was agreed to. Perform in-house quality control inspections and documenting procedures that were followed. Photographic records could really save you if any litigation comes up. Make sure you are complying with the project specifications and any alterations are pre-approved. What you got away with before will likely kill you in this recession.
Deep recessions can bring drastic changes. I remember working out in the field in the late 1970s and we would have never believed that the union vs. non union shops would have such drastic reversals but they did. Is it is possible this deep recession could have reverse dramatic changes? Some craft unions are recognizing the extraordinary times and forgoing agreed upon wage increases to remain as competitive as possible. Who knows what this recession will bring to the construction future? What ever it is, W&C will cover it for you. You have our promise.
While I think we at W&C do a good job covering topics that are important to you, if there’s any subject you’d like us to write about, I’d love to hear your ideas. Our contact information is on page 8. I’d like to remind you that I am happy to answer any code-specific questions for the column Cracking the Code. W&C