Since the year 2000, post the Y2K threat and well into President George W. Bush’s presidency, this magazine’s editor has been affiliated with the publication. And from this time, there have been several notable changes in the wall and ceiling industry. This is only a fraction of time compared to how the industry—not to mention the world—has changed since 1938.

In 2000, the industry was fully realizing the benefits of new drywall innovations. Paper-faced cornerbead was heavily promoted to great success, flexible bead for arched entry ways found its niche and sheathing manufacturers were extending their lines. All joint compound manufacturers were in the process of developing lighter material and dust-free alternatives.

During this same time period, the EIFS industry was repositioning itself as the cladding alternative to brick and other building facades. EIMA, the trade association whose members include most EIFS suppliers, funded third-party tests through Oakridge Laboratories and refocused its message not only to the wall and ceiling industry but to architects and the building community in general. We’re happy to report that today, EIFS and EIMA’s hard toil has seemed to pay off with the government’s mandates on the ICC-ES energy codes. The call for continuous insulation makes EIFS the obvious choice due to its energy efficient characteristics (among other things).

The early 2000s was on the brink also of the green building explosion. The USGBC was not even a decade old and by 2002 the first ever Greenbuild Expo was held in Austin, Texas. Other interesting movements began to surface with more recognition to ICFs and SIPs, as well as the proto-hippie building practices of earthship construction and geodesic homes.

Hand and power tool manufacturers also beefed up R&D efforts to provide not only more durable tools through the introduction of lithium ion batteries, but lighter products and better ergonomic designs.

Then the building community as a whole came into the Big Boom: a robust economy all around America and then the world. Tower and crawler cranes seemed to be everywhere and that meant work was coming around fast. Although bids will be bids, there seemed to be plenty of work for all, and labor—at that time—had a surplus of qualified (if not wholly documented) workers.

We all know what happened following this: the market declined at the end of 2008 and well into 2009. Subcontractors were forced to downsize, think smarter and contemplate whether pursuing a bid was the right choice. Suppliers and manufacturers also got a slap in the face as production and service cycles had to be reconfigured. These were quite the dismal times.

So where do we stand today? There are improvements. At this year’s INTEX Expo in San Antonio, as well as word from members of the SCWCPA and FWCCA, subcontractors are securing more work and annual profit margins have increased. Right now, residential is healthier than new commercial work but that should improve as well over the next couple of years. With healthcare costs rising and the labor shortage both strong industry concerns, we haven’t reached the land of milk and honey yet.

As the technology age is ever evolving, news and trade publications, such as Wall & Ceilings, have faster streams of information sharing on a daily basis.

It is the magazine’s endeavor that long after all reading this article have left the industry, a few generations down the line will be revisiting our current time of the early 21st century. 

1938 Plastering Industries launches serving the Northwest and Western regions of the United States. The magazine initially is launched to inform and serve the plastering and lathing tradesmen.
Federal minimum wage is introduced. Under the new Fair Labor Standards Act, minimum wage is 25 cents an hour.
1939 As Hitler’s dictatorship grows and Germany becomes more aggressive with bombings and pillage, the U.S. joins the affront against the Nazis and World War II goes full throttle.
1942 The Cocoanut Grove Nightclub fire in Boston kills 492 people, causing safety standards and building codes to be updated across the country. According to the official report from the Boston Fire Department, the origin of the fire is still unknown.
1944 Ball point pens, as credited to the mind of Laszlo Biro, go on sale for the first time. They become the leading writing instrument in the world.
1947 The Taft Hartley Act is enacted and places certain restrictions on labor unions.
1950 Doctors do the first successful organ transplant at Little Company of Mary Hospital, in Evergreen Park, Ill.
1955 By 1955, an estimated 50 percent of new homes were built using gypsum wallboard; the other 50 percent built with gypsum lath and plaster. Type X gypsum panels are accepted by code officials as generic standard fire resistive panels and the industry is changed forever.
1957 Laika (translation “barker”) becomes the first animal launched into orbit by the Soviets.
1960 On the night of September 26, families gathered around their televisions to watch the young Sen. John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon for the first ever televised presidential debate. Arguably, in the end, Kennedy triumphed due to appearances, creating a new platform for the battle to the White House.
1961 The Berlin Wall is constructed as a division between West and East Berlin. Some view Checkpoint Charlie as access and symbolically the divisive entry to the West (capitalism) and East (communism). Although Reagan implored Gorbachev to “tear down that wall,” it wasn’t until George W. Bush’s presidency in 1989 that saw its demise.
1963 Martin Luther King Jr. marches in Washington D.C., and delivers his iconic “I Have a Dream”speech.
1964 Gypsum cavity shaftwalls are introduced to the market and allow designers greater flexibility in designing high rise structures and reach new heights. Also around this time, the first operating piston plaster pump is invented and production never looks back.
1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin board Apollo 11 and became a part of the first manned mission to land on the moon.
Also in 1969, EIFS was introduced to the United States by Frank Morcelli. He called it Dryvit.
1970 Maya Angelou wrote her first book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Angelou went on to become a world-renowned writer, with more than 30 bestselling titles.
Trim-Tex launches its rigid vinyl into the drywall market by Joseph Koenig Sr. with its J Bead.
1971 IBM commercially introduced the floppy disk. The original disk was bare but dirt seemed to cause an issue, so they enclosed it in a plastic envelope lined with fabric.
1972 Five men are found at Watergate Hotel tampering with the Democratic offices in Washington, D.C. President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the scandal, as a result of the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s investigative reporting, eventually results in Tricky Dick’s resignation in August 1974.
1973 Weep screed for stucco is first introduced into the building code.
1974 The magazine’s founder Charles “Chuck” Clay passes and the business defaults to his widow Margaret Clay. Bob and Ruth Welch then purchase Walls & Ceilings.
1977 Elvis Presley dies in Memphis as a result of various ailments, all of which seem aggravated by the King’s drug abuse.
Also in 1977, originally called Powerwall, one-coat stucco was invented by Bill Nicols.
1981 Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman justice to sit on the Supreme Court, as a result of a nomination by President Ronald Reagan.
1985 The legendary Titanic, which sunk in 1912 after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean, is found by an American-Franco expedition.
1990 The world’s most known advocate against apartheid Nelson Mandela is freed since his imprisonment in 1962.
1993 The 33-person crew of the Gold Bond Conveyor was lost off the coast of Nova Scotia. The ship carried 27,000 tons of gypsum ore bound for Tampa, Fla.
1995 The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City is bombed on April 19.
Also in 2001, W&C publishes its feature “Walls & Remembrance” regarding the memorial of those killed in the attack.
1999 Building up to the new millennium, Y2K panic escalates, with the world fearing that the digital notation of dates in computers will reset everything.
2001 September 11 (aka 9/11) was a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the al Qaeda upon the United States.
2003 The international building code requires 2-inch perimeter wall moldings on lay in tile ceilings for all seismic areas.
2006 On August 24, the International Astronomical Union passed two resolutions that revoked Pluto’s planetary status. Prior to this, the field of astronomy had never clearly defined what is and is not a planet.
2008 Destined for the vaults, VCRs are permanently replaced by DVDs, which are superior with better sight and sound, and overall quality.
2010 Following the Gulf’s aftermath of Katrina, it seems the Gulf states’ bad luck continues as the BP oil spill begins in the spring and takes months to rectify.
2011 United States intelligence, in a 10-year pursuit, finally flesh out and assassinate Osama bin Laden as a result of his role in 9/11.
2013 Walls & Ceilings magazine celebrates its 75th anniversary.