As the homebuilding industry continues to plod through this necessary correction, the number of “experts” and their thoughtful antidotes to overcome the pallid economy seemingly outpace the number of monthly housing starts. Yet, amidst this deluge of directives, a simple yet salient business practice garners scant exhortations. Until now, that is.
While I’m reluctant to label myself an “expert,” my 15 years of laboring for and assisting with our family owned drywall business during both boom and bust periods affords me insight to competently join the growing menagerie of mouthpieces in offering advice to fellow contractors.
Simply, stop degrading the value of a needed trade (drywall) by winning work with likely money losing bids. This pricing destruction performed by cash flow-hungry hooligans who pillage prices for market share, undoubtedly and irreparably harm the industry and reputable businesses. Consider that wages are now at levels last seen 15 to 20 years ago; talk about deflation. And like many things, the descent of wages is faster and more sustained than any eventual recovery.
Even after being offered assurances by a job site superintendant, which boldly asserted his homebuilding boss wouldn’t hesitate to raise wages for subcontractors once normal building conditions resumed, I’m dubious about any upcoming efforts to reverse these wage cuts.
While I understand the economic dynamic present in this period of historic tumult, my disdain for cutthroat pricing and cascading compensation for a difficult and demanding occupation is matched only by my dismay for those who consistently haggle and devalue their trade for little more than a convenience store wage.
And after all our years in the walls and ceilings industry, our family-owned drywall company is “expert” enough to refuse entry into this ever-escalating “limbo” price contest; undoubtedly the winners will be left sprawled out on the unforgiving floor.