Construction Industry Explores Options at Home

construction industry suppliers

Don’t feel guilty if you did it or supported it. Outsourcing to China seemed like a good idea for about 5 minutes. The issues started small then began to loom ever larger for the construction industry and especially our suppliers.

Now, most of our suppliers are reconsidering outsourcing to China. Some are doing something about it.

Construction Industry Needs To Diversify Sourcing

For so long, “Made in Taiwan” was an industry joke. It represented cookie-cutter solutions or less-than-quality materials. It never caused us concern about Taiwan taking over our country or our culture. But China is different.

The pandemic of 2020 was our wake-up call. Manufacturing stopped in China. Sourcing Industry Group’s CEO Dawn Tiura says it best: “We’ve put too much power in a single country.”

Like it or not, our marriage to China has done a lot of good. We can’t divorce China; perhaps we shouldn’t. But we need to explore other sourcing options.

Current risks of China-only sourcing include:

  • COVID-19 – China is working hard to end risks of pandemics. “One worker can test positive and it can shut a supply chain down for two weeks,” said Tiura.
  • Environmental pollution – China uses manufacturing processes that are banned in many countries, including the U.S. This means construction industry outsourcing to China results in 25%-50% greater environmental impact.
  • Forced labor – We cannot ignore the suspected human rights violations in China that may include forced labor.
  • Increasing costs – Now, wages in China are higher than Mexico. Good for Chinese workers; expensive for many U.S. businesses.
  • IP theft – U.S. manufacturers are discovering their intellectual property has been reverse-engineered or stolen.
  • Tariffs – Import tariffs as high as 25% have led to trade wars and supply shortages.
  • Transportation issues – See: Freight shipping/cargo backlog in California.
  • Turnaround time – Shipping from China takes longer than from North or Latin America.

The construction industry needs to find supply chain solutions from multiple sources. Our dependence on single-sourcing from one country limits us – or shuts us down – during crises.

Construction Monitor is your single source for U.S. building permit information. Our deliverables change every week, but our delivery never stops.

Like a lot of things, what you do with what we do for you makes the difference. If you’d like to know how we customize information and how you can put it to work (now, not later), click the “click to chat” button at the bottom-right of our Contact Construction Monitor page.

Do You Have a Construction Data Strategy?

construction data

Data: Project-related measurements, observations, or statistics, including building information modeling (BIM) inputs, material quantities, safety incidents, request for information (RFI)…schedules, assigned staff, and cost…-Autodesk.com

Construction managers and contractors rely on construction data to make bids, estimate costs, and provide timelines. But if you do it without a formal strategy, you’re putting yourself and your company at risk.

When Good Construction Data Goes Bad

Quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality. There’s so much data available to us it’s become a challenge to know which information is actionable. Where to find the “good” data is another challenge; managing it seems like a full-time job.

One of the benefits of a formal data strategy is minimizing the time spent sorting and analyzing data. When it’s good data, you can spend more time using it.

In one survey, 30% of contractors said more than half the data they used for a project was bad. One-third of the survey respondents said the bad project data led to “poor decisions” more than 50% of the time.

Here are signs you may have bad data:

  • Data is exactly what is represented (For example, dates should be dates, not text.)
  • Each column has a one heading/meaning
  • No “grand totals,” no subtotals
  • No duplicate headings
  • No empty rows/columns
  • No formulas in headings
  • No merged cells
  • Same data type in a column (Blank cells where data is not available are ok.)

Accurate Field Decision-Making Critical

When you need project information, you need it now, especially onsite. Developing a formal data strategy can put information a few clicks away.

The steps to developing a formal data strategy include:

  1. Single point of focus – Start by identifying where your need is greatest.
  2. Get company-wide buy-in to the process.
  3. Standardize data capture for all projects.
  4. Keep updated project data in a common, accessible environment so immediate communication and collaboration is possible.

You have to spend money to make money. That’s why your software partnerships are critical to your company.

The only software partnership we endorse for you is ours: Construction Monitor analytics. We don’t sell software. We use our software to customize building permit information for you. You could DIY (do-it-yourself).

Do you have time? We make time for you every week.

Call 800.925.6085 (International/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor for good data.

How’s Your Construction Safety Culture?

construction safety

The pandemic changed the playing field for everyone. It definitely changed the safety culture for construction industry worksites. We were considered “essential workers,” but jobsites and office closures did substantial damage.

Back at work, we had to develop a new way of working; a more proactive safety culture. Did our industry do it? Did your company do it?

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) decided a safety culture should include a human health approach. You may size up workers’ fitness for a job by observing their physical strength; making sure they have the right protective gear and equipment. ABC’s Greg Sizemore says, “You need to look at the heart and mind in addition to the physical.”

Construction Safety Policies

It appears construction companies with a robust safety culture also have several commonalities. They often have:

  • A substance abuse policy that is emphasized and backed by drug/alcohol testing when possible
  • Intense safety focus that includes emotional health as well as physical
  • Leadership and management that visibly follow construction safety protocols and programs
  • New-hire training and onboarding that focuses special attention to policies and expectations
  • Regularly scheduled toolbox talks that include reminders of or focus on construction safety

What You Can Do: Get Back to the Basics

If your safety culture is off-course and you want to get it back on track for 2022, Environmental, Health, and Safety Advisor editor Jay Kumar says you can start by getting back to the basics. Begin by reviewing OSHA’s Construction Safety & Injury Prevention workbook. Several steps are key to fostering change in your company’s safety culture:

  1. Define the need for change
  2. Commit to a construction safety culture
  3. Assess current safety program(s)
  4. Strategically plan
  5. Focus on incident control – your goal is 0% incidents
  6. Communicate the change and implement the goals 
  7. Measure and analyze the results

Sometimes, getting back to the basics strengthens moving forward. It’s a solid strategy that works.

If your marketing strategy is stale, maybe it’s time to start at the beginning. Building permit analytics is the beginning of a marketing strategy that leads to winning bids and forming profitable alliances. Contact Construction Monitor to learn how.

Women in Construction Still the Largest Minority

Women in Construction

Being a member of any members-only organization used to be a mark of professional and social success. Fraternal organizations and non-academic sororities thrived in every community. Being a part of anything exclusive meant you were…special.

“Special” usually means possessing a unique quality and/or deserving of better-than-average treatment. Like minorities.

Women make up only about 10% of construction industry workers, even though they are 47% of the overall U.S. workforce.
ConstructionExec.com

Construction Dive says it best: Construction’s diversity numbers are awful. The construction industry is an embarrassing third from the bottom of the racial minority-hires chart.

Women are the largest construction industry minority*. Another interesting fact: Women in construction are, as a group, older than men.

Inclusion has become something to be proud of. The first Construction Inclusion Week was October 18-22, 2021. The group of contractors that created Time for a Change (with a goal of identifying ways to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in construction) developed Construction Inclusion Week. If you missed it, there’s still time to commit to hiring women in construction.

Show-Me State Contractor Shows How Women in Construction Improve Company Growth…And Profits

Burns & McDonnell is a Kansas City, MO employee-owned, full-service construction and engineering firm. Since 1898, the company has been a flagship for exceptional customer care and construction planning, designing, and project management. Today, one-third of their construction new hires are women.

Manager Leon Harden says you can see more contract wins, enhanced productivity and profits when you initiate diversity initiatives. Here’s how:

  • Be transparent about hiring. Create a consistent recruitment process that is fair for all applicants.
  • Contractors should define what diversity and inclusion mean for their firms. Implement programs to increase education, eliminate intolerance, and heighten appreciation for cultural diversity.
  • Encourage employees to tell their stories. It is powerful and builds empathy for minority and diverse co-workers.
  • Offer employees reciprocal mentorship opportunities and encourage advocacy for each other.
  • Think outside the box when recruiting. Ask employees to tap their networks for potential talent.

Change can be uncomfortable. But it’s often necessary to attract and retain the workforce of the future, says Harden,

Construction Monitor can change the way you do business by providing analytics that gives your more. More knowledge. More control. More leads. Contact Construction Monitor to learn more.

* With the exception of Asians, Native Alaskans, and Native American Indians

Construction Safety Violations’ Largest Fines 3Q 2021

Construction Safety Violations

Every month should be Construction Safety Month for your organization. In October 2021, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) released its big losers in 3Q OSHA fines for safety violations.

One injury; one loss of life is too many. There’s never been a price tag on construction safety violations. But there are ethical and financial penalties:

  • $1,256,092 – Atlantic Coast Utilities/Laurence Moloney after 12 “serious, seven willful,” and 1 repeat” safety violations. Two workers were killed.
  • $253,556 – Grand Valley Carpentry/Neal J. Weaver “endangering himself and one of his employees by failing to have adequate fall protection.”
  • $168,039 – America 1st Roofing “seven safety violations including 3 willful violations for workers not using fall protection, not wearing eye protection while using a nail gun, and for not having fall protection for the specific worksite.” One employee was hospitalized from a fall in 2021.
  • $151,746 – CG Plumbing & Underground Utilities “five violations, 4 serious and one willful” for failure to have protective equipment, lack of excavation safety and equipment.
  • $136,453 – JMH Roofing/Jonas Hershberger “two serious, 2 repeat and 2 willful violations” for workers operating 24´ off the ground without using safety equipment.
  • $132,740 – A&E Carpentry “four serious, 1 willful, one repeat, and 2 ‘other’ violations” for failure to provide fall protection.

Make Construction Safety Everyone’s Business

A homeless girl was wandering a local neighborhood, obviously on drugs and lost. No one reported it. Instead, they locked their doors. She was hit by a car and killed hours later. Police said she had been a victim of trafficking and escaped.

No one reported it.

If you don’t already, begin promoting proactive construction safety. We have a hard time with “ratting-out” a co-worker. But if that co-worker’s emotional or physical detriments result in your best friend’s death, was ignoring it worth it?

If you see something that may be dangerous, say something to a manager or team lead. It’s worth it.

Do more for construction safety in your organization. And if we’re “preaching to the choir” because you have an effective construction safety program within your business, share your strategy with others. (Email or contact Construction Monitor to share construction safety tips.)

Should Construction Industry Unvaccinated Workers Pay More for Insurance?

unvaccinated workers

It’s another incentive plan for construction industry unvaccinated workers.

What didn’t work:

  • Free transportation
  • Gift cards
  • Onsite educational sessions
  • Onsite vaccination clinics
  • Paid sick leave day-after vaccination
  • Paid time off for vaccination

Construction industry companies are now considering health plan surcharges for unvaccinated workers. Maybe this one will work.

Construction Industry Unvaccinated Are Workplace Safety Risks

The idea is, if allowed to smoke onsite, the health of other workers would be jeopardized. That would increase employers’ health plan expenses. Unvaccinated employees can unknowingly expose co-workers to COVID-19 or the delta variant with the same results; more illness and higher health plan costs.

The surcharges plan faces a lot of unanswered questions:

  • Employers cannot ethically offer an incentive that could be considered coercion. Is the surcharge a coercive incentive?
  • How long do you give workers to get vaccinated before initiating the surcharge?
  • If it is classified as a “health-contingent wellness program,” the plan would be “legal.” Otherwise, does this plan violate the HIPAA or Affordable Care Act rules for premiums consistency?
    • If the surcharge program is a health-contingent wellness program, do employers need to offer a “reasonable alternative standard?”
      • Reasonable alternatives could be video or seminar on the dangers of remaining unvaccinated.
    • Will the surcharge plan be considered an “activity-only” or “outcome-based” wellness program?
  • Will some employers charge $25 per-paycheck while others charge $50?
  • Will the surcharge deadlines coincide with open enrollment?

Some believe the surcharge will fail to incentivize construction industry workers. The number of construction workers that don’t participate in health plans would be unaffected, so… They could remain unvaccinated if they choose.

Another argument is the surcharges would prejudicially favor management and higher-income workers because research shows vaccination rates are higher among educated and higher-income personnel. The rates would be disproportionately high for lower-wage workers.

Mandates appear to be the best option for a lot of construction industry projects. This poses its own set of questions:

  • If employers discover a “fake” vaccination card, are they legally bound to report the criminal activity to the FBI?
  • Is onsite testing a better option or a bigger headache?
  • Is requesting proof of vaccination a violation of confidential medical records?
  • What constitutes verification of vaccination?

And now…

  • What about booster shots?
  • What else can you do?

You can continue to research informative online newsletters (including Construction Monitor) and other construction industry organizations’ press releases; Associated General Contractors news, etc. You may want to assign a team responsible for vaccination information and other wellness updates.

Meanwhile, we hope your marketing team utilizes our building permit data for lead development. Contact Construction Monitor for ideas.

Construction Industry Supply Chain Challenges Continue

Content and Public Relations Manager Andy Holtmann says, “Like the labor challenge, rising material costs and supply chain issues have had a crippling effect on the construction industry. Hopefully, governmental measures will help, though ultimately, many of these cost and supply issues are tied to the pandemic itself…”

“Look, part of what is happening isn’t just the supply side, it’s the demand side,” said Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “Demand is off the charts.”

“It’s the only thing contractors talk about anymore,” says IndustryDive.com.

“It” is the current construction industry challenge to carry on better-business-than-usual with less than ever. We’re facing unforeseen materials shortages and the materials themselves are very slow in arriving.

Construction Industry Supply, Demand, Costs Likely To Continue in 2022

What’s in those cargo ships at-anchor off the West Coast? Christmas decorations and industrial supplies. Office furniture and equipment. Air filters, filtration and ventilation systems. And much, much more.

Despite the Biden Administration’s efforts to unclog shipping backlogs and ease supply chain issues, Buttigieg says the construction industry’s problems today probably won’t see resolution anytime soon. He says passing the controversial $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill would help.

What’s hard-to-get and breaking our budgets? Steel mill products have risen 123% in costs. Lumber prices began lowering and then rocketed up again in October 2021. “Here we go again,” said Fortune magazine’s Lance Lambert.

Cost increases include:

  • Brass, copper 43.3%
  • Lumber 40%
  • Plastics 29%

Shortages and delivery delays include:

  • Adhesives
  • Drywall
  • Electrical equipment/components
  • PVC pipes
  • Steel

And while input costs to construction rose 28% from April 2020 to August 2021, bid prices only rose 5% over the same period. Construction industry contractors are absorbing the costs.

In July 2021, we shared ways to better manage materials tracking. Now more than ever, construction industry information resources are critical to your business. Construction Monitor wants to be one of those resources because increasing your business is our business.

Request a free weekly edition of our business permit analytics. And if you have questions about using our data to build business, contact a Construction Monitor marketing professional.