Pride and Pressure: Construction is About the Work, Not the Reward

New ForConstructionPros.com Editor-in-Chief Wayne Grayson reflects on the inspiring resolve of the construction industry over the last decade and lays out how it has shaped this site's core editorial values.

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The last 10 years have been one of the most turbulent periods in the construction industry’s history.

If we rewind to 2011, the industry—like the rest of the country—was in the throes of the Great Recession. The phones had stopped ringing. The bidding opportunities had dried up. And of course, the checks had stopped coming.

Despite their best efforts, a lot of contractors—a lot of folks with roots running deep through this industry—were forced out of business. Others made the call themselves, liquidating their fleets and moving on to something else. Something less unpredictable.

Still others devised escape routes. They fought, they diversified and some survived.

And just as things were starting to look up, as both the housing and commercial markets had not only stabilized but were starting to accelerate, the coronavirus upended life as we knew it. Again.

And again this industry fought. You masked up, socially distanced, devised new cloud-based office infrastructures, and fought through the stilted, awkward environment of estimation and bid discussions over Zoom. You got back to work.

By the third quarter of 2020, you had put the worst of it behind you. Your backlogs were high, but the work was there, pulled back from the edge of that familiar abyss.

The people that make up this industry are no strangers to staring death in the face. After years spent scrapping back from the deadly mistakes made by those on Wall Street, nothing—deadly virus or otherwise—was going to reverse the fortunes of those strong enough to make it through the hell that came in the wake of 2008.

I frame this last 10 years specifically, because that’s how long I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of the construction industry. That’s how long I’ve had a front row seat to the grit and good people that choose to work these jobs. What I’ve learned in this decade of my life—thanks to many conversations with many of you—is that nothing in this industry happens by accident.

Your success in this field depends on three things: your word, your determination and your toughness. It hinges on the question: “Do you want the work more than the reward?”

For some businesses, it’s mental toughness that ends up being the differentiator. When things fall apart and you are left to bear the burden, can you hold the center? For other businesses the difference can be physical or emotional toughness. Work in the dirt is not easy on the body or the mind. When loss enters the equation—be it that of a child, a loved one, a coworker—how do you keep the operation going? How do you keep going?

I’m not pulling these hypotheticals out of thin air. I’ve seen them happen. There are names and stories behind those question marks. They are anecdotal, yes, but also essential in the making of success stories in this line of work.

And if the volatile economy and required core values weren’t difficult enough circumstances, contractors are navigating their businesses through a world clearly in the midst of technological and industrial revolution.

Social media has not only amplified our conversations, it has expanded the potential reach of every human being, their worldview and what they have to offer the world. But as it has greatly bolstered opportunity and connection, so too has it divided us, and nowhere more clearly than in our politics.

Our politicians have argued, amended, extended, and extended again for years. Meanwhile our roads, bridges, airports and the rest of our national infrastructure has crumbled into disrepair. The recent bipartisan infrastructure bill and its clearing the Senate offer a glimmer of hope, but the future holds no guarantees.

Beyond the policy worries of funding, regulation, and the maze of local and state bureaucracies, contractors also face the questions of a labor shortage that has worsened ever since the Great Recession; concerns over the Right to Repair as the heavy equipment they depend on continues to become more and more complex thanks to Tier 4 emissions requirements, telematics, electrification and a creep towards autonomy.

And those are questions you might have if you can actually find a machine to buy right now. Thanks to factory stoppages in the face of last year’s pandemic and, more recently, chip and semiconductor shortages, trucks and construction equipment customers alike are facing lead times as high as 12 months. As a result, the prices of used equipment—which many contractors rely on exclusively in the make-up of their fleets—and trucks are rising.

Mind you, I don’t bring these challenges up to paint a gloomy picture of the industry. Instead, they represent the singular quality of the individuals who not only have been figuring it out these last 10-15 years and have stayed in business, but those who are driving the industry forward to become safer, more efficient and more productive than ever. All of the above challenges play a part in what is a bright future.

The point of all of this is to say, here at ForConstructionPros.com, we are following this story and all of its many parts closely; the challenges, the trends, the shortages, the people—all of it. Every day we are working to make this site, its social media channels and newsletters a place for answers to the construction industry’s biggest questions.

To that end we have built an incredible staff that is as expansive as it is experienced. Each of the editors and contributors writing for this site have specific knowledge and insight into every facet of construction. Whether you’re in concrete work, asphalt, road building, dirt work, or even rental house ownership, we’ve got an editor focused on your priorities.

I’m the newest addition to this incredible team and rather than talk about myself, I’m excited to talk about this industry and how we’re investing into it and our coverage. We have big plans for new podcasts, video series, newsletters, and expanded equipment, truck and trade show coverage in the near future—all aimed at helping you succeed in the construction business.

So, if you’re not already a regular visitor to the site, we’d ask that you join us for the ride ahead. Follow us on your favorite social platform (LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) take a look at our wide selection of newsletters, and bookmark our page.

We don’t ask these things lightly. Maybe no other industry exemplifies the old saying “time is money” better than construction. We know your time is valuable and that’s why we put the work into making sure all of our content is worth that time.

The team behind ForConstructionPros.com doesn’t just cover the construction industry. We’re proud to take part in it and we’re passionate about our coverage. We also love hearing from you and hearing what you’re up to. I’m always excited to connect with new people in the industry, so if you’ve got a tip for a story, or just want to say hi, you can find me on Twitter @waynegrayson, or shoot me an email at [email protected].

See you in the field,

Wayne Grayson
Editor-in-Chief
ForConstructionPros.com


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