Design and Construction Industry Outlook - Optimism Abounds

Two recent surveys indicate widespread optimism about the economy and our industry.

First, a McKinsey & Company survey of global executives points to a great amount of optimism. In this survey, when asked about current North American economic conditions compared with six months ago, 59% said they were either ‘substantially better’ or ‘moderately better’, while 30% reported they were about the same. When asked what they expect conditions to be in six months, 51% said they will be ‘substantially better’ or ‘moderately better’, and 39% said they would be the same. In short, only about 10% of North American executives surveyed said they thought conditions were declining.

Second, Engineering News Record’s Construction Industry Confidence Index for the first quarter of 2014 was at an all-time high since its inception in 2011. The index is currently at 72 compared to a low of 37 in 3Q2011. Like the McKinsey survey, the ENR respondents also see the market continuing to grow and improve six months out.

This is certainly good news. It reflects a level of activity in prospects we have not seen in many years. So, what do we do about it?

Market share is a fleeting thing. If you do not build it while there is excess market volume, you will not have the baseline of relationships to carry you through when times get leaner. But building market share is not that easy. It still requires selling to new prospects that have legacy relationships, or working to grow your legacy relationships into greater volume through added capabilities and more strategic positioning. It requires an investment in people, sales, marketing and technology.

It also requires change, which I’ve written about a lot lately.

Most importantly, while the market place is hot, one cannot be stagnant. If you are not focused on growing in a growing economy, then by default, you are downsizing. It is easier to position yourself for growth when there is widespread optimism about where the economy is trending. And, the return on those investments is likely to be much higher.

At the same time, finding the talent you need to move forward is more difficult as people are busy and less likely to be looking to move. So our strategy is to be as present and aggressive in our outreach and marketing as we can, while we enhance our team with some of the best resources in our industry. The time to get it going is now!

Yet, through it all, we adhere to our Values, our Vision and our Mission, for those are the cornerstones that are the foundation for a bigger and better company.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

Brutus in Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare

“You're not here to survive, you're here to thrive, prosper, flourish and grow. You're here to make a difference, add value and make our world a better place. Be all you can be, give all you can and have an awesome time doing it!!!!”

Ricardo Housham