Working on a monthly publication has its challenges, not the least of which are the big windows of time in which we work. As this is being written, it is scarcely a week since this treacherous devil of a storm swept through the Gulf. The rescue missions are still under way, "dewatering" New Orleans is still a dream, and the talk centers on how all the bodies will be recovered. By the time this is being read, I am sure this will still be an "A" story, even for those of us lucky enough not to have suffered a direct hit.
The scope of this tragedy is immense, and I hope you have all figured out a way to contribute to the relief efforts. Not to take away from the loss of lives and property, but this event may have some very dramatic and long-lasting impacts on our industry.
The goal of this magazine is to help you succeed in your business. The goal of this column is to point out future opportunities and to offer an opinion on current events in the roofing industry. This event, this Hurricane Katrina, was unprecedented. The ripple effects are certainly not clear at this time, and they may include price increases for many basic commodities such as fuel and food, as well as even more price increases for asphalt and other roofing products. This is following the year from hell in terms of roofing price increases and materials availability.
When you combine the reduction of capacity in oil from the Gulf, even for a limited period of time, with the already nervous crude oil market, the lurking danger of inflation and other threats to economic growth are greatly increased. At the same time, we must begin planning the work of rebuilding the storm-damaged areas. The people who populated these areas will most likely return, but no matter where they go, they will need housing. So we could see increasing demand in some markets driving up the cost of roofing and other building products while competition for work in other areas increases (possibly driving down selling prices).
Great people and great industries like ours distinguish themselves in times of adversity. And we certainly do not lack for opportunities in this environment. The best advice is hard to come by when change takes control because the future is not so clear. The best advice I have to offer is pretty basic. "Keep your powder dry." "Be ready to make a new plan."
I know you will continue to support the victims of Katrina. Your services, like those delivered after the awful hurricane season of 2004, will be needed and valued by the folks whose lives Katrina has changed forever. In the meantime, keep close watch on your marketplace and your business controls. Change may be the only thing on which you will truly be able to depend in the near term.
P.S.-Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Roofing Contractor staff, editor Chris King. I look forward to working with Chris as he begins the important task of editing the leading trade periodical in the roofing industry. Check out the official announcement in our Industry News section on page 8. You can reach Chris at 248-244-6497 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also meet Chris at one of these upcoming roofing-industry events: the MRCA show (Oct. 5-7) or the Best of Success Conference (Nov. 9-10).