February 19, 2013

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CONSTRUCTION

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CONSTRUCTION

February 19, 2013

GOLDING: The transportation bill that just passed was good for 18 months, and that clock started back in June. So it will be up in a year. And we’re trying to base decisions on whether to buy or rent or lease equipment on where that funding is coming from.

Yes, there are formulas in the transportation bill, and that funding should be split appropriately among the states according to those formulas. But at the same time, if there’s any special funding that comes out, such as ARRA or TIGER funds, Rob is probably right. We’re not going to be No. 1 on the list for that funding.

We get our biggest bang for our buck in local lobbying on the Hill, because that is where the majority of our transportation funding has come from recently.

What are your feelings on the lien statutes? Are they fair or are we, as an industry, put in a tough position? How can they be fixed?

GOLDING: At Geneva Rock Products, it affects us on the supply side. Maybe not nearly as much on the general contractor side, but half of our business at Geneva Rock is supply. At Clyde Companies, half their business is from the supply end when it comes to lumber, ready mix, and sand and gravel—and it has proved onerous.

Not at Beehive so much, but at our four other companies we’ve had to hire four or five people at each company to keep all our state registry records up to date and make sure we’re in a position to lien if we’re not paid for the product we send out the door. There should be some changes made.

JOHNSON: As a subcontractor in the situation, we struggle with the registry reporting time on project completion and when our liens go into effect, if we have to lien. So when they get partial completions or parts of a big project broken up, and they release one portion, it’s not necessarily reported properly—or the way we can find it on the registries—and it puts us in a bind.

We’ve missed a couple because of it, and we really spend our time on that kind of issue to not lose those rights.

P. CAMPBELL: The process is more onerous for us. We have to have more people involved in it. It seems there are certain groups that have gotten priority, and they’ve influenced the way the rules have been written. And it’s more difficult, much more difficult.

Even though Utah’s unemployment rate is about 5.2 percent, construction unemployment is still higher than that. Are we starting to see any issues with regards to manpower? 

BLANCK: We’ve got a good supply of manpower right now. The worry is how to keep them busy so that when we do see it tick up, we’re not reorganizing our company—we keep that talent in-house so that when the market does recover, we’re ready to go and we’re not retraining people and losing them to our competition.   

WIXOM: Coming off City Creek, we saw quite a shrinkage in terms of our labor, but it’s coming back, and now we’re back within 100 percent of our high. And we’re still hiring.

We’ve lost some of the best people, who have left the industry and gone into oil and gas. But there are good people available, and we are hiring right now. 

SNOW: He’s hiring from us. If you look at the dynamics over the last three or four years, many of us had some fairly large projects, and many of our craft workers—the concrete guys or carpenters and laborers—moved around as City Creek ramped up and down, as the Utah data center ramps up and down. There are some nice projects going on right now that require some labor.

Almost all our people are shifting from job to job. And it hasn’t had a huge impact on the unemployment rate. Our industry, according to Ken Simonson, our great AGC economist, peaked at about 100,000 workers in Utah, and now we’re down to 66,000 workers.

The fear that we have is keeping our folks busy so they don’t leave. The other fear is what’s happening to our aging workers? We’re seeing for the first time in many, many years craft folks saying, “This is my last job. This is my last project.” They’re ready to move on and do other things.      

Our market is one of the highest-paid market segments in the nation, and still we’re losing folks to other opportunities. We compete with some fairly large projects. We have 2,100 workers on the Utah data center. Where are they going to go when we’re done? Because we don’t have absorption here now.

That’s what we’re concerned with—how do we keep the guys we have busy, and how do we raise the game, and how do we take them along with us in the future.

BEECHER: If you look at our professional side, a lot of our guys travel a lot more than they did in the past. We’re looking at more regional and national projects—we’re asking our people to travel. We’re asking them to do more than they’ve done in the past.

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