Name a $2 billion building that stands 68 floors high, is made of the finest structural concrete money can buy, and remains vacant along the Las Vegas Strip.

City Center has had its share of problems, from scrapping dozens of floors off one of the towers to labor strikes, but City Center is not the answer. Wynn? No, but they did just pour in more than a $100 million to upgrade rooms that are only five years old.

The answer is Fontainebleau. Construction is 70% complete, but due to financial complications many of the assets associated with the hotel have been sold off and further construction has ceased.

In January 2009, CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION profiled the hotel and the concrete-related aspects of the project, which included caissons, a mat slab, columns, core walls, and flat-plate floors. The mat slab alone is 10 to 22 feet thick and reinforced with #18 rebar, while placement was 8000 cubic yards of 8000 psi concrete. The contractor averaged a five-day cycle for each 60,000-square-foot floor, and work proceeded concurrently two floors at a time to keep up with the project schedule. Floor placements were divided into 20,000 square foot areas, taking three days to complete each deck level. Finally, because of the hot weather in Las Vegas, workers started placing concrete for floors at 1 a.m., and by 10 a.m., a second crew started placing concrete for vertical members. Concrete work for the hotel topped out in November 2008.

Fortunately for the concrete contractors, they were able to complete their work and receive payment. Unfortunately, this type of privately funded mega-project—the type of project that kept many contractors in the black—has gone by the wayside.

These days, the construction landscape has changed dramatically. You are doing work, and you are getting paid, but the revenue is just enough to scrape by. As your revenue and profits have dropped to levels comparable to 5 to 10 years ago, you've been forced to make some difficult decisions through attrition.

In this month's issue, the article “What's Next?” features a detailed discussion among general and concrete contractors.

Are they all working on mega-projects such as the Fontainebleau? Of course, not. Do they worry about getting paid? Of course, they do. The number of bids submitted by contractors has gone up, however, they are getting less work than they did previously. Low bid prices dominate the landscape as backlogs have disappeared.

Yet contractors are confident their business will survive, and they expect to be around 5 to 10 years from now. Why? One reason involves the relationships they've established with customers, which helped them secure some of their current—and hopefully future—business. Diversifying their business also allowed contractors to adjust on the fly to accommodate the current industry trends. There are a bevy of other variables that can attribute to the success of your contracting business, which you can find the in this article on page 22.

One thing is for certain—no contractor wants to leave their business for dead in the blazing Las Vegas sun.