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Winter and Construction

There are two seasons in Chicago: winter and construction. This past winter has been especially difficult.

Between December and February, we hit these milestones:

  • 67.4 inches of snow were recorded. Third snowiest winter
  • Average temperature of 18.8 degrees. Third coldest winter.
  • Most days at or below zero. Ever.
  • A January day with a high of -15F.

The winter season is also hurting construction season. As we reported in the Market Report section of our April 2014 issue of Metal Construction News, for most of 2013, construction activity was on a strong pace for recovery. While still not anywhere near reaching trend lines from before the recovery, the activity had begun to make up ground. But when Chicago and much of the nation were hit by this nuclear winter, the increase in construction activity slowed.

Winter doesn't necessarily mean a shutdown in construction. For instance, many roofing companies offer discounts for roofing jobs during the winter. Now in April, with the 2014 winter (hopefully) abated and most of the snow melted, its aftermath has produced potholes and soon an increase in construction.

If you are in a warm-weather state this blog may be irrelevant. But if you live in a cold-weather state I can't imagine not having your construction business affected over the past three months. There are peaks and valleys in most businesses. Retail, tax services and post office/shipping are just some. In publishing, we weren't affected at all except having our office closed on one day and being offered the opportunity to leave the office early to work from home on two others. Our office parking lot had fewer parking spaces too. But besides that, it was business as usual.

I'm curious about how construction companies working in bad winters cope with the slowdown:

  • How has the winter weather affected your business and construction efforts?
  • Have you been able to use the downtime to further your professional skills through training or fine-tune your business in any way?
  • Did you learn any lessons from the past four months' construction slowdown?
  • Are you anxious to get back to work and how are you getting ready for it?
  • Are you thinking ahead to next winter and planning on doing anything a little different to prepare for it?

Comment down below or Email me at and I'll share your input in a future blog. In the meantime, think Spring.


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