Soon, the votes will be tallied and Americans will be discussing the new president's policies and plans. Many contractors are doing in the same in an effort to figure how the new president will relieve us from the financial crisis that has trickled down to affect their business.
Some pundits will say that we had it coming--we built too many homes too quickly, and financing came too easily. Sure, that compounded the problem. But one could deconstruct the financial crisis gripping the globe and come up with dozens of reasons why we're in this situation.
What is more critical is the solution, and ensuring that our economy as well as the construction industry gets back on track and starts building again.
I'm not going to tell you that one presidential candidate may be better than the other, or that one's agenda may benefit the construction industry more than the other's. Based on discussions I've had with readers over the past few months, votes are split almost down the middle; neither candidate stands out as offering a better future for builders who specialize in concrete.
That tells me that contractors must continue to be proactive when it comes to growing their business.
Diversification is a must. Specializing in one or two niches may have proved profitable in the past, but why pigeonhole yourself when you can broaden your portfolio? And when limiting your options will make you less able to respond to changing marketplace demand?
The nation's growing support for sustainable construction is opening up opportunities in both the public and private sectors that savvy marketers are laying the groundwork for now.
The residential market is not expected to rebound until 2010, but it will, and it will be strong. Once the housing surplus is eaten up, demand for the energy-efficiency of concrete homes, schools, and hospitals will grow.
So will the demand for both traditional and sustainable infrastructure. During their campaigns, both presidential candidates ensured us that funds would be designated toward our pathetic infrastructure. Roads, bridges, water and wastewater plants, energy plants all are in dire need of repair and in some cases, new construction.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, $1.6 trillion dollars is needed annually to just maintain our infrastructure.
The federal highway program -- the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) included provisions and earmarks totaling $286.4 billion to improve and maintain U.S. surface infrastructure. It's scheduled for reauthorization in 2010 and, in the meantime, don't let talk about the Highway Trust Fund going broke dissuade you. Congress has always found money to continue funding road-improvement projects -- especially if they provide "sustainable" solutions such as pervious pavement for roads and parking lots.
Expect the discussion surrounding SAFETEA-LU to heat up the next few months, and infrastructure-related projects to increase in 2009.
Look at the failure of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis and at the congestion on the roads today. There is certainly demand for improved infrastructure, even if the construction is a road to nowhere.