We can usually tell by the calls and e-mails we get around this time of year what kind of year it’s likely to be for contractors; Not so this year. That’s because what we hear from contractors (and to some extent from manufacturers and material producers) is all over the board.
- A southwestern contractor says it’s been so slow he’s struggling to get his crews five days of work a week. He is bidding a lot of jobs but losing them to “contractors” (note the quote marks) who are doing the job for cost. “When I drive by those finished jobs they look terrible,” he says. “Cracksealant is pulling up, sealcoating is uneven – they just look awful.” But, at least in that market, the property managers don’t seem to care.
- A western contractor did a lot of bidding in spring but few came through. Poor weather contributed to a slow season and now he is behind and trying to play catch up – but at least the jobs are picking up.
- In the Mid-Atlantic region a contractor is not only two months ahead of 2010 as far as sales/work completed but the company also added a second storage tank for a higher-quality sealer. Most sales are going to the higher quality, more expensive product.
- A Florida sealcoating contractor is having a gang-buster year, working steadily and probably will break its own record of annual sales.
- A southeastern a contractor who was six weeks out last year is this year scheduling jobs as they come in. Weather has been an issue so the company has taken to having “prep” days when rain threatens, doing cracksealing and repairs so the pavement is ready to sealcoat as soon as it dries.
- A northeastern contractor is losing paving bids to contractors whose total bid is equal to the what it would cost this contractor just to buy the mix.
So as 2011 approaches the contractors’ break-even point – typically it’s been around Labor Day – how your year looks probably depends largely on your market. This is what a handful of contractors have told us is happening in their market. If you want to weigh in visit “A Market Snapshot” in the Roundabout blog at www.pavementonline.com or just make a posting on our Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/PavementMagazine.