Heading into Year-End with 2020 Vision
As seen in Metal Construction News November Issue by Art Hance, MBCEA President...
At this time last year, pundits waxed on with metaphors about 2020 vision and 2020 hindsight in articles about the upcoming new decade. The American economy was hot, business was good. We were entering a new decade with eyes wide open with excitement. Then came February … and March … and suddenly everything changed.
As you read this article we may or may not have a new president or we may still be counting votes. Our world is very different today than it was last November. Hundreds of thousands are dead; millions are sick or recovering from a deadly virus. The West Coast is on fire, the Gulf Coast under water. Many businesses are shuttered or operating at less than capacity. Unemployment is at an all-time high. But the news is not all bad.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic, health and social devastation, it has also created an unprecedented opportunity: to run the world’s biggest-ever workplace experiment. With no advance notice, businesses and offices had to re-invent themselves. Conventional ways of thinking and working were challenged. New ways of working were developed. Give yourself a big round of applause because you did it! Our offices and shops may look a little different, but we are just as effective, if not more so.
We all have learned a few new skills in 2020, which is never a bad thing. We learned the importance of washing our hands. We are all now quite adept at video conferencing and virtual training. With fewer face-to-face meetings and more remote conferencing, productivity has gone up or at least each day suddenly has an extra hour or two. Some offices are accomplishing the same amount of output with fewer payroll hours. Others report greater job satisfaction due to flexible work hours.
The Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA) converted its national conference to a series of virtual meetings. We were able to provide all of our high-quality content for free. Members reported a high degree of satisfaction with being able to access important training and vital topics on their personal devices, in their spare time. Note: The content is all still available in the members-only area of the website.
Our signature quality initiative, Accreditation for Metal Building Assemblers (AC478) was revamped in late-2019 and is experiencing a resurgence in popularity in 2020. More and more project owners are expecting accreditation. MBCEA members have free access to consultative support to prepare for this important mark of quality. Accreditation will not only set your business apart and provide a competitive edge, the discipline required will improve your bottom line and operational effectiveness.
Similarly, apprenticeship applications are soaring. Bolstered by new state requirements requiring registered apprenticeship programs for companies seeking public work as well as tax incentives and training grants, many view formal training as a solution to the labor shortage.
Speaking of the labor shortage, MBCEA and the Metal Building Institute (MBI), along with Dick Bus, president, ATAS International Inc., Allentown, Pa., reached out this summer to a dozen or so agencies and associations broadly involved in construction and manufacturing. We had one simple question: since we are all struggling to attract new workers to our industry would you be interested in working together? The answer was a resounding yes. It is still in the early days but we are hopeful that our individual workforce development efforts will be that much more powerful and amplified as we work together. Stay tuned for more on this exciting initiative.
Our September e-newsletter asked readers “Is your business up or down in 2020?” Sixtyseven percent said their business was up. This was not a surprise to this writer. In the early days of the pandemic, we worried about jobs and projects being shut down, but for the most part work continued. Some states deemed our work essential. Others allowed work to continue with additional safety measures. Anecdotally, there certainly does seem to be plenty of work for the men and women who install and assemble metal buildings. MBCEA members report project commitments that will take them well into 2021.
As we look to the future with our 2020 vision, we know that:
The companies that do the best have a plan and have a laser focus on where they are going and how they are going to get there. They are always thinking one step ahead on how to conserve cash, maximize productivity and minimize overheads. And they have a strong network, such as MBCEA.
2021 … bring it on! I am not worried. I have a plan. I have my friends and colleagues in the MBCEA. I am doing the work that I love, in an industry I enjoy. From where I sit, the glass is definitely half full!