Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

What’s Beyond the Horizon?

In the U.S. today, right now, we have more of everything than we need. More housing, more GLA of every type of space, more service providers, more developers and more building contractors.

In order to survive this cycle, we’ve remained nimble, watched expenses and never forgotten what brought us to the party. Our goal is to not lose sight of the future. As Wayne Gretzky said, “I skate where the puck is gonna be, not where it has been.”

To me, being successful long-term will come from helping others achieve success. This means practicing what you do best and at the same time thinking ahead.

These are the best of times and the worst times for all of us. The best of us will be able to look over the horizon. I’ve been trying to anticipate what we will need more of in the next 5 or 10 years. Here are a few things we’re thinking about:

  • Housing for senior living. This is for the 60 and 70-year-old age group, which is the new 40. What will it take to be cool and reach folks who haven’t retired yet?
  • Urban Infill. Is the trend toward repurposing land within a built-up area a fad or a permanent path?
  • Medical sector. Can we put medical where the people are–in neighborhoods–taking advantage of existing GLA?
  • Office Buildings. How can we use the square footage of a space more efficiently?
  • Product distribution. How can we do this more efficiently? We’re looking for lower cost, less carbon and more seamless delivery.

Of course, these are some tricky challenges. But think about the folks who developed the coffee chain with the hard-to-pronounce drink names. Or the person and company who developed that device for us to listen to music downloaded from the Internet. As Steve Jobs once told BusinessWeek, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

To me, it is important not to forget what brought you to the party, and at the same time not miss the opportunity for what’s on the horizon.

Better yet, what’s over the horizon?…

Merrill Stewart Jr.

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