In the three working days following Boxing Day, I noticed more construction than in previous years. I wondered if it was simply that three days in a row presented a window of opportunity to complete segments of work, or if it was a sign of renewed ambition in an industry that was formerly content to shut down during this holiday time.
Either way, I was reminded that even with a pause, construction never stops. Neither does the work of industry to refresh, innovate and react to changes in the world around us.
December’s Construction Business magazine highlighted some of those changes that continue to impact our industry. In short these are:
- A highly trained, available, mobile workforce;
- A need to embrace and invest in the right technologies, including pre-fabrication and other construction-integrated manufacturing; and
- Preparation to be more agile and to accommodate transitioning from a market dominated by locally based contractors to one of customized, large-scale components and elements, many being sourced globally.
There is much to look forward to in the coming 12 months. Many contractors have reported that their order books are filled into the near future. This is good for employment and profits for many months to come.
The need for agility
While contracting site work seems much the same day-to-day, innovation and globalization are changing how the business of contracting is being done now and, no doubt, increasingly in the future. Projects are getting bigger. The client may be from farther afield and they may have different expectations and requirements.
I’ve recently read that 98% of all Canadian businesses have 100 or fewer employees, and I would guess that proportion of small businesses holds true in the construction industry. While smaller contracting companies with good practices have lots of work to sustain them at present, they should be aware of shifting business models and changing markets, and be open to innovation and new, global methods.
Prompt Payment campaign is coming
While some things about contracting are changing, others are not. For more than a decade, trade contractors across Canada have been lamenting the lateness of their clients’ payments. This is a can that has been kicked around various quarters and government jurisdictions until it’s been kicked to the curb here in BC. Until recently, the issue of prompt payment has been ‘traumatized by fatigue’.
No More. We are once again prompting Prompt Payment legislation. Expect over the early months of 2018 to hear about things we need from you, the contractor: to complete a survey, send letters to your elected officials, and contribute money to an all-out campaign to make Prompt Payment legislation real in BC.
Three things are required of contractors to persuade the provincial government to make this law:
1) Data – what is your current experience in getting paid?
2) Your commitment, both personally and financially, to get this on the government order paper by fall of 2018.
3) Persistence in directing your associations and industry leaders to collaborate with the entire construction industry to make this legislation happen.
Industry may well be ready to accept the things we cannot control, but surely the legislative direction of our government to protect contractors’ interests is one thing we can influence. Be ready to act.