While it is not routine for me to use this space to tell you about other editorial features in the magazine, I just cannot contain my enthusiasm over our annual State of the Industry Report. The process of preparing this report began months ago and involved many folks, not only from the Roofing Contractorstaff, but a number of other roofing industry professionals. The team at BNP Market Research conducted and tabulated the survey of roofing contractors that formed the basis of the report, which you will find on page 72 of this issue.
Roofing contractors are, by their nature, optimistic entrepreneurs. If not, they would not be in this business. But it was very encouraging to see that roofing contractors largely believe that the business in 2012 will improve, at least as far as sales go. The recession that has officially been over for nearly three years is being followed by such a long and slow recovery that finding optimism has been tough. Guess I just love good news, even if it is in the form of an opinion. And a majority of the roofing contractors we surveyed anticipate a year-over-year increase in sales in 2012.
The survey was not all sweetness and light. Roofing contractors are expecting a good number of challenges in the coming year. There are recurring issues such as attracting work and lowball pricing. This year, however, there is more than the average amount of concern among contractors about government regulations. Indeed, we should all be concerned.
Not only are we dealing with enhanced workplace safety rules — we seem to be dealing with enhanced enforcement of those rules. Many roofing contractors feel they are being targeted by the federal government and are moving forward with caution. I am no fan of government regulation, but hope that industry interests and government’s desire to change things will come together this year to bring about rules that make sense for workers and consumers alike.
One challenge that you may call optimistic or pessimistic, depending on your own take, is qualified labor. Over the course of the recession and slow recovery we have not been hearing a lot of noise about labor. The idea of immigration reform, which everyone seems to agree we need while not agreeing how to accomplish it, is still on the horizon. With an election on the way I do not believe it will happen anytime soon.
When the work starts coming back in at a good pace, labor may quickly move to topic “A.” If the most optimistic forecasts come true, competing for work and pricing may fall back on your to-do list in favor of finding the troops you need to get work done. It is my fondest desire that many of you roofing contractors will be challenged this way in 2012.
Chris King has done a remarkable job delivering a concise report on where we find ourselves in the roofing industry at the leading edge of 2012. I highly recommend you read the report to find out why I am so excited.