News & Updates

Sales Rise as Construction Companies Purchase More Equipment

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

More construction firms are purchasing and leasing equipment in 2014 than last year. Just in the U.S., contractors plan on purchasing more equipment in 2014. In fact, 73 percent of firms anticipate buying equipment and 86 percent plan to lease items, according to The Associated General Contractors of America's survey, "Optimism Returns: The 2014 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook." Additionally, 44 percent of companies say they will invest $250,000 or less and 53 percent plan to limit leasing purchases to $250,000.

In general, construction firms are more optimistic about equipment purchasing and leasing than last year. In 2013, only 64 percent of firms planned to buy items and 77 percent said they anticipated leasing new equipment.

Since construction firms are investing in new assets, sales are rising. Specialist consultant Off-Highway Research projects that sales of equipment in China, Europe, India, Japan and North America will jump 5 percent this year. In 2013, sales in these countries totaled 713,363 machines. This year, construction sales specialists expect to see 747,000 equipment items sold.

In North America, Off-High Research anticipates a 5.7 percent jump in sales in the market, which accounts for 162,660 machines sold in 2014, International Construction reported. The world's largest maker of construction equipment, Caterpillar Inc., is enjoying this positive trend. In the first quarter per shares, the company experienced a $1.44 increase from $1.31 in 2013. Caterpillar Inc. expects the sales of the construction industry to increase 10 percent from 2013. This is more than previous expectations of just 5 percent.

"We're lowering costs, improving cash flow and driving value for our customers through the continued deployment of our lean manufacturing initiatives," said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman. "We see the benefits of these actions in our first-quarter results and in improving market position for many of our products."

Despite these positive numbers, Caterpillar Inc. reported that the global economy remains fragile and one or two pitfalls could affect the international economic recovery.


Stay Compliant with OSHA to Avoid Penalties

on . Posted in Construction safety and enforcement (OSHA)

One of the most important aspects of construction management is ensuring that employees and contractors are safe while working on a project. When staff members are at high risk of experiencing an injury on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will often step in and issue a citation. Some problems come up more often than others, which is why OSHA has developed a list of the top 10 most frequent violations.

Recent research from the agency showed that the number of citations issued on its list increased 45 percent in 2013. Jay Bruscato, vice president of first aid and safety at specialized services provider Cintas, believes the spike in violations demonstrates that OSHA is not afraid to penalize companies that aren't exercising safe practices.

"To avoid these fines and protect employees, it's critical that businesses understand OSHA requirements and take the proper steps to recognize and fix potential hazards in the workplace," he said in a press release.

Provide a Safe Workplace for Construction Workers
Understanding the regulations set forth by OSHA is just the first step in staying compliant with the agency. Construction company managers must not only ensure their jobs sites are set up with OSHA in mind, but see that workers feel safe carrying out their daily roles. Below are two of the most common violations and some tips from Cintas on what construction firms can do to avoid being cited by OSHA:

1. Failing to Communicate the Potential Hazards Caused by Chemicals on Site
When working on certain projects, workers can come into contact with harmful substances and chemicals that are cause for several health concerns. OSHA urges construction firms to train employees on the dangers of these materials, as well as produce data sheets for staff members and label any containers that are storing the hazardous substance. 

Construction companies that may not have the resources in-house often hire a third-party safety company that can provide on-site consultation to the entire workforce and ensure that all workers are aware of the potential issues that can stem from contact with harmful chemicals.

2. Not Exercising Best Practices for Machine Guarding
Many projects require workers to operate large machines that can be the reason for several safety risks. To keep employees protected from potential risks, OSHA asks construction companies to use barrier guards, two-hand tripping technology or electronic safety devices to avoid issues caused by airborne debris and rotating parts.

Proper employee training and instituting the latest machine-guarding and lockout/tag-out standards will greatly increase worker safety on any project.


Construction Spending Increased Slightly in March

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

Economists forecasted a 0.7 percent increase in U.S. construction spending for March. However, it only climbed by 0.2 percent, according to The Associated Press. Driven by demands for single-family homes, factories, health care centers and office projects, construction spending increased 8.4 percent year-over-year at adjusted annual rate of $942.5 billion.

In March, the apartment construction industry saw a 4.3 percent jump. Additionally, residential construction spending is picking up. It has not reached such a strong pace since May 2008.

Market News reported that non-residential construction is most active in the energy and automotive industries. Construction spending is also going toward higher-education buildings. This includes student housing projects, which may reach $200 million. Additionally, construction spending for healthcare is booming, as medical centers are building new towers and parking garages.

"[The healthcare industry] is focused on reaching into communities with some new satellite outpatient facilities," said Matt Verst, director of cost planning and estimating for Cincinnati, Ohio-based Messer Construction.

The warehousing area is growing as well. Retailers are purchasing distributions centers and products pick-up locations. Construction spending is also increasing for hotel renovation, given a rise in leisure travel spending.


Better Training Needed in the Construction Industry

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

When workers are trying to build a construction resume, attending a vocational-technical education program often looks good. However, over the past several decades, those institutions have begun to disappear as more federal funding has been set aside to finance college-preparatory programs, according to a white paper released by the Associated General Contractors of America, titled "Preparing The New Generation Of Skilled Construction Workers."

"Construction worker shortages pose a threat not just to firms looking to recruit new talent," the report stated. "These shortages have the potential to undermine broader economic growth. As construction firms struggle to fill key positions, they will be forced to propose slower schedules for vital projects, tempering the pace of economic development."

While there are many different types of contractors and not all of their skill sets are going to be the same, some qualities are attractive to most construction employers. A customized construction resume that showcases a contractor's strengths can set them ahead of the pack. members have the option to do this quickly and easily with information pulled from their member profiles. 

A few attributes that every construction worker should possess include a strong understanding of geometry, the ability to effectively carry out a work plan, willingness to interact in a team and superior hand-eye coordination. One of the best ways to season these talents is to create training programs for professionals in the industry.

How Can Workers Get the Training they Need?
The skills shortage is a real issue in the industry and construction projects are suffering because of it. Despite the issues that are troubling construction workers, the AGC has come up with some ideas that federal, state and local officials should keep in mind to make it easier for construction firms of all kinds to train their employees. Below is a breakdown of some of the ACG's suggestions:

  • Build legislation to promote funding for craft training programs: Many construction companies don't have the capital to fund their own craft training initiatives. However, a slight tweak to current antitrust rulings could give open-shop contractors the ability to come across funding that would allow them to finance their own professional development programs, which would decrease the need for support from the public.
  • Create training initiatives for veterans: The transition from a job in the military to the construction industry is often a seamless one. While it may seem like a simple change, there are very few programs in place that provide veterans with the educational assistance they need to acquire the construction skills that will help them become valuable members of construction companies.
  • Forge partnerships with apprenticeship programs and community colleges: When prospective employees in the construction industry participate in registered apprenticeship programs, they often grow their skill sets enough to be desirable for employers. This it why it may be a good idea for apprenticeship programs and community colleges to join forces and give students an opportunity to receive an associate's degree for their efforts. These partnerships will incentivize more workers to take part in such initiatives.


Construction Projects Continue to Grow in New York City

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

The biggest city in the U.S. is seeing increased construction of residential, commercial and industrial projects across the five boroughs as the economy continues to recover from the Great Recession.

According to the Real Deal, a New York real estate news provider, both wages and overall employment in the construction industry rose in 2013, with hiring levels reaching a mark last set in 2009. Approximately 120,900 construction workers were employed in 2013, an increase of 4.2 percent - or 4,800 total jobs - from 2012. Average pay saw a respectable increase of 1.6 percent overall as well. Industry group the New York Building Congress predicts that overall construction employment in New York City will reach prerecession levels by 2015. For that to happen, the industry would need to create approximately 10,000 additional jobs during the next two years.

Construction in New York, one of the most developed cities of North America, is unique in some respects because a significant number of jobs require demolition before any actual construction occurs. The large number of existing structures and severely limited amount of undeveloped land also make building in the city very different from construction projects in other urban centers throughout the country. The modest but continued growth of the industry in New York is an encouraging sign for local construction firms and the market as a whole.