Business Management in 2009

With what is likely to be a tough year ahead for all businesses, this might be the perfect time to focus on management issues within your company. If 2009 is anything like 2008 there's no question work will be available; and if an infrastructure package is passed quickly there might be work aplenty for contractors of all sizes and services.

But whether there is work or not, tough times call for sound management. When the economy is good and work and profits are just rolling in, operations can get a little loose and fat, so perhaps 2009 is a year to look within your organization and see what improvements you can make there. It's the companies that are sound, the businesses that are solid on the inside, that will be best able to withstand a business environment where competition is tougher, margins are tighter, material costs are higher, and managing equipment is more complex. This issue of Pavement touches on management because now is the time of the year contractors have a little more time to focus on their internal operations; when you're in the heat of the battle you don't have the time to re-evaluate how you go about your business.

And in addition to touching on some management issues to get you thinking about your operation - from technology to growth to an unusual look at your organizational chart - the articles in this issue offer a taste of what you can learn management-wise at National Pavement Expo (NPE), Feb. 18-21 in Charlotte, NC. This year NPE offers 28 management-related sessions among its 52 educational programs, and that emphasis on management is no accident.

So where can you make an impact on your operation? How can you move forward in a year that could easily be as difficult as the one just finished? We think the answer is to look within, and there are a variety of ways to do that. From adding or improving your use of management technologies, to improving your marketing, training your crew (whether they be laborers or supervisors), getting a better handle on your job costs and other numbers, improving your sales efforts, tracking your productivity - these and more are ways that can help you not only survive in 2009 but situate your company to be in an even stronger position for 2010.