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What Will 2019 Bring?

The coming year may prove topsy turvy

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In our annual State of the Industry, we asked eight experts to weigh in on their particular areas of expertise.

  • Alex Carrick, chief economist at Cincinnati-based ConstructConnect addresses the economic future of the industry.
  • Jason F. McLennan, CEO, McLennan Design, Bainbridge Island, Wash., and founder of the Living Building Challenge, talks about the future of the sustainability movement.
  • Alan Scott, FAIA, senior associate at WSP, Portland, Ore., looks into the trends around the health and wellness movement, and the impact of resilience on the building industry.
  • Metal Roofing Alliance’s executive director Renee Ramey speaks to the increased acceptance of metal roofing among homeowners and how acceptance is also being driven by severe weather events.
  • Representing the Iron Workers District Council of St. Louis is its president, David Beard. He digs into one of the thorniest issues surrounding the metal construction industry—the shortage of skilled labor.
  • The Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association president Keith Wentworth follows suit and identifies ways the industry needs to attract young workers.
  • Tony Bouquot reports the manufacturer members of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association, of which he is general manager, are generally optimistic going into 2019, and takes a look at the upcoming issues around codes and standards.
  • The Metal Construction Association is represented by executive director Karl Hielscher, who rounds up the industry overview by touching base on the labor shortage, fire-related codes and standards, and offers an optimistic future.

(To read the article, go here.)

We think these insights are valuable and hope that you take time to dig into their views, and find in them ways that you can improve your business for 2019. For myself, there are a couple of big takeaways that jumped out.

The first is that the construction market seems to continue to hum along and if it continues on till 2021, we will have a nice stretch of growth. That said, there are, as we know, slow pockets. The retail segment is growing quieter as online purchases increase. For the same reason, the warehouse segment is growing. For metal building contractors and manufacturers, that’s both good news and bad news.

I was especially taken by McLennan’s vision of the year ahead. “Our goal in 2019 is ambitious but quite simple: to reinvent our movement, thinking through new ways of communicating unifying values and benefits that are of vital importance to all demographics and political persuasions.”

That is ambitious, but, if you look at the world around us—at the influence of new technologies, new economic schemes, entrenched political partisanship and other issues—the need to reinvent not just a movement but a whole industry is imperative.

In spite of the rosy picture of future growth, these are difficult times because we all sense the change around us, and worry about how we can be in the flow of that change while not getting crushed by it. Is there any business owner anywhere in any industry who isn’t evaluating at the most basic level the way he or she does business? If there is, that owner and his or her employees are likely to become obsolete in the future as change roars through.

That’s why articles such as the State of the Industry are so important. You have to dig into them to find any little gem that can help you manage the change that is hitting you from all sides.