Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Economic Downturn: How Much Longer?

It’s no secret that the aftermath of the Recession continues to take a toll on the construction industry. Last week, as I listened to more struggling economic news, I must admit that I thought to myself, “How much longer?”

I have seen several of my competitors – companies I have bid against for the past 30 years – go out of business. It’s been difficult to watch.

Lucky for me, we have people around here who pick each other up. A day or so after my low point, our CFO told me he thinks things are gradually getting better. Here are a few thoughts for an improved outlook:

Think like a golfer. To me, the downturn might be like a golf handicap: you work hard, a few changes start to occur and then one day things are better.

Don’t trust the status quo. They say that housing always leads us into a recession and always leads us out, but it has become obvious that will not happen this time. There’s no need to wait around for things to happen as they have in the past. Be innovative. Be the catalyst for change.

Play up what works. In times like these, I feel it is important to focus more on the bottom line than on the revenue. Instead of taking an elaborate project outside your normal realm, concentrate on projects that you do best. This will enable you to offer value to customers in terms of quality service and quick delivery.

Like most companies, we have taken a financial hit recently, but we’ve still turned a profit every year. We’ve done it by working smart and staying within what we do best, commercial building construction. By focusing on your strengths, you CAN overcome the weakness of the current economy.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.