As the editor of a trade magazine, I spend a lot of time reading and talking about business. I regularly read consumer business publications like Inc., Fast Company and Entrepreneur. My email inbox is full of e-newsletters related to business management. And more and more I’m listening to radio shows and podcasts centered on the topic. Additionally, I’m on the phone with several contractors a week talking about their concrete businesses — how the market is treating them and how they run their companies.
A few themes arise from these information sources — the importance of effective marketing, quality employees, and remaining educated and informed about your industry. But the one message that comes through the loudest and clearest is the importance of a diversified business. Diversification is the key to weathering economic fluctuations, expansion and staying current in your market.
This shouldn’t be news to you — diversification is a theme that runs throughout this magazine. If there is one thing I know about the 29,000 Concrete Contractor subscribers (beyond the fact that they love concrete), it’s that many of them already run well-diversified companies. A good portion of our readers are involved in both traditional and decorative concrete work, and many of the concrete business owners I talk to consider themselves “full-service concrete contractors,” meaning they are set up to place any concrete work a GC or owner might want. Additionally, they might offer excavation, repair or a number of other support services.
So why am I writing about this if you already know it? I want to remind you to stay fresh. Never stop looking for ways to diversify your company. Every year, manufacturers introduce new products that can help you grab more dollars off a jobsite. I think this issue’s cover story, “The Equipment Edge,” page 22, demonstrates the importance of staying on top of industry trends and thinking about expanding your business. Duke Long, president of Interstate Sawing Company, already had a well-diversified concrete cutting business when he added confined space demolition to his lineup of services. But continuing to push himself, his workers and his business resulted in a stronger company with a longer list of clients and jobs.
As construction activity winds down for the year, I challenge you to make a New Year’s resolution to look at new business opportunities. Can your workers gain a new skill and can you put it to use in 2013? I look forward to hearing your success stories in the coming year.