By: Brian Sullivan
January 28, 2021
As our Leadership team met in December and established our 1-Year Plan, 3-Year Picture, and revisiting the Target 2030 that we established at the end of 2020; it became clear that so much outside noise could make that appear to be an incredibly difficult challenge. Trying to predict what will happen, especially now is not an easy task for the expert analysts that do it day in and day out, so all we can do is look at the data and insight they provide, as well as our internal data and insight and set plans in place for multiple scenarios, then execute based on what unfolds in front of us. So for its worth, we wanted to share with you what we are anticipating and planning for in 2021.
The Construction Industry
As per the AGC, to no surprise, construction employment was down overall in 2020 nationally, as well as locally in the NY and Boston metro areas. However, some markets like Phoenix, AZ had increased construction employment. As for 2021, as per some of the experts , as well as many fellow CEOs that I’ve spoken to recently, 2021 will be a strong year for construction primarily depending on the specific sector. The term “pent-up demand” has been brought up over and over again. Many projects that had been planned, funded, and are necessary; but could not logistically happen in 2020 will be performed in 2021 as well as those planned all along to begin in 2021, which appears consistent with the December surge in the Dodge Momentum Index. The larger concern in construction appears to be for the work that would occur in 2022 and 2023.
The Architecture/Engineering Industry
The theme that seems to be running through many discussions, recent publications, and webinars is very well summarized in the Construction Industry Roundtable Sentiment Index Report as “cautious optimism”. Depending on the sector, many A/E firm leaders are looking at a solid 2021; however, changes to how we conduct our business are likely to continue to rapidly accelerate. As stated in Morrissey Goodale’s latest Word on the Street, we have to “Innovate or Lose”
The biggest concern many have is still focused on finding the right, qualified people. The impact of the 2008 recession appears to have created a shortage of talent in the construction and A/E industry for this professionals that would now have 15+/- years of experience; which is a large recruitment issue for so many, that we at Sullivan are not immune to.
Building Envelope Restoration
The Building Envelope Restoration niche in New York City appears to be poised for a solid year in 2021, depending on the market sector. The current 9th cycle of FISP certainly creates a relatively steady stream of work in our continually aging building inventory, required to attempt to keep the public safe.
On that note, aging buildings require maintenance to address leaks as well as prevent unsafe conditions and structural failure, etc; which are certainly not exclusive to NYC. We have seen a rise in discussions with clients and potential clients that had projects they wanted to perform in 2020, but for various reasons could not during the pandemic, and they do not want to postpone the projects any longer.
As mentioned above, we recently held our company-wide annual planning retreat virtually where we identified our theme for 2021 as “Let’s Roll” to maintain the momentum & appreciation from 2020, while working towards our ambitious growth plans through 2021 and beyond. Our confidence and desire to accomplish the goals is further enhanced by our Purpose of Empowering Others to Improve their Quality of Life.
We have already added two new team members; Jill Beckerle and Qusai Smirat are both great people, who will undoubtedly have tremendous impacts on our team. In addition to these two superstars; we will be looking to add Structural Engineers, Senior Project Managers, Associate Project Managers, Project Managers and a Director of Business Development.
We will continue to provide external webinars to help provide value as we all navigate through the prolonged work from home environment. Likewise, we will continue to enhance our technical knowledge base by complimenting our internal Sullivan University courses with courses by external industry experts. In that vein, I have spent several hours each day this week virtually in Sydney, Australia at a conference for A/E firm CEO’s run by Morrissey Goodale. The people attending, the open discussions and the information shared have been incredibly valuable and the great focus from being together virtually has been fantastic. VR is here and I can certainly see many practical applications for use in our daily work lives, especially in this remote environment that we are in today.
Our open communication with our team will continue, as we prepare to be back to the office on a more full-time basis and establish our new norms; but most importantly, we will continue to be flexible and adapt as needed to stay safe, while being productive.
Last, but definitely not least, we will continue to look for ways to assist our clients, contractors, and industry friends as well as those that are struggling financially and need our help now more than ever.
We wish you all tremendous success, prosperity, and of course good health in 2021.
If you have any feedback on how we can continue to improve, please share it with us. We would love to hear your thoughts. I hope we all have a great 2020!