Surviving the "R" Word

You hear it on TV and the radio. You read it in newspapers and magazine articles. People talk about it over coffee at the gas station every morning. You replay that dreaded word in your head every time you need to purchase household items or equipment and products for your business. And what impact might a recession ? if we're in one or if we slide into one ? have on the concrete industry?

Concrete is a well diversified industry, with many contractors running businesses that stretch across residential, commercial and public markets. Many of the services concrete contractors offer can be applied to new construction, repair and improving existing concrete. Contractors I've talked to have also found success in the green building market and with unique decorative applications for residential and commercial customers.

I'm not saying the concrete industry is recession proof, but many Concrete Contractor readers have smart business plans that allow them to weather economic fluctuations. They also might take proactive measures to give themselves a cushion in times of economic uncertainty. One of the first things a contractor will look to do is reduce spending. He might evaluate office supply needs, enact gas-saving speed limits on his truck fleet or make an extra effort to ensure workers are staying productive on the jobsite. A contractor might even be tempted to keep an older piece of equipment running a little longer than normal, but this isn't necessarily a cost-saving measure that will pay off in the long run.

Studies show crews are often more productive and more efficient when they are working with recent technologies and newer equipment that doesn't break down. And recession or not, now is a great time to look into buying new equipment or replacing older models ? interests rates are relatively low and the current economic stimulus package (the same package that gave tax payers a little extra cash this spring) offers tax incentives for business owners buying equipment in 2008. (For more on this, see "Incentives to Spend" in April/May 2008 Concrete Contractor.)

This issue of Concrete Contractor is our annual Product Showcase. In it you'll find the latest and greatest concrete equipment and products available on the market. Keep it around all year as a resource when looking for new products and equipment. And remember that surviving a recession doesn't mean cutting corners to keep business afloat, but continuing to offer stellar service in order to allow your reputation to survive unscathed.