'A Tale of Two Markets'

In August I attended the Summer Conference of the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA) and in September the Annual Conference for the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC). What I heard from attendees all over the country brought to mind the introductory lines of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

While the commercial market is strong and expanding, the residential market is lagging, and most contractors who focus on that market are scrambling for work. Contractors who attended the CFA and ASCC events this summer benefited from the collective thoughts of other contractors, exchanging ideas and success stories for how to survive in the current construction industry environment. I heard a lot about two popular business plans that were keeping contractors afloat in this residential downturn. The first is diversification.

Good contractors know that the construction market is fluid, and those who have built their businesses to adjust with the ups and downs are doing just fine. In these times of residential stress, those contractors are taking on more commercial and public building work.

Another group of contractors who are weathering the residential downturn is those contractors focusing their efforts on the green building market. Residential work might be down drastically across the country, but the homeowners who are building are looking for energy efficiency, durability and unique features in their homes. Concrete can provide it all.

We've all heard a lot about the growing popularity of "green" this and "green" that - green building, green travel, green music concert tours. To keep our readers informed about how this widespread green craze affects them and their businesses, the staff of Concrete Contractor compiled a collection of articles focusing on green building as it relates to concrete.

Check out the Green Building Special Report, which starts on page 30 of this issue. You'll learn about the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program, pervious concrete, how decorative concrete fits into the green building craze and a lot more.

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