July is a notable month for a variety of reasons. Of course, there is Independence Day, and by now the Chicago Cubs have been eliminated from post-season playoff contention. Here at CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION, the month of July is synonymous with the release of our annual CC100 list of the top contractors in the industry.
Since we began monitoring the financial health of the concrete industry in 2001, concrete-related revenue for the top 100 companies had decreased only once. That was in 2002, where a drop of 1.5% was recorded. Despite the 2002 revenue drop, the following year was positive, and echoed by larger jumps in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Unfortunately, the 2009 construction season was notable due to significant revenue declines. For both general contractors and concrete subcontractors, total revenue for the CC100 companies was -18% in 2009, in comparison to total revenue reported in 2008. As if that isn't shocking enough, concrete-related revenue for the CC100 was -26% in 2009 compared to 2008.
These figures resulted in a total of only 11 companies noting significant growth in revenue from 2008 to 2009, and a total of eight companies remaining flat (±5%). Meanwhile, an astounding 81 companies reported revenue declines.
Even after triple-checking the figures, I had a hard time believing my calculations.
The construction industry, and concrete construction in particular, continue to suffer more than most other business categories. Companies still in business have reduced expenses, and are more competitive when securing available work. Public funded projects, repair work, decorative concrete, and commercial/industrial are the most active categories. Large contractors are focusing on public and commercial/industrial work, especially infrastructure and energy projects.
One example is Baker Concrete Construction, which returns to the No. 1 position on the CC100 list after ceding the top spot to CECO last year. What is Baker's formula for success? Approximately 45% of its business is in the industrial sector, followed by commercial cast-in-place (25%); slabs and foundations (10%); heavy and highway (5%); sitework (5%); specialty (5%); and tilt-up (5%).
Another way companies are maintaining or increasing revenue is diversification. For example, companies that do residential foundation work may now be including decorative concrete in their portfolios. The share of decorative work reported by the CC100 increased to 3% of the total concrete revenue, approximately $200 million up from the previous year total of $123 million.
To no one's surprise, 2009 was a challenging year. However, much like the credo Cubs' fans have been following for the past century: There is always next year.
Editor in Chief