May 12, 2020
I’ve been trying to steer clear of a lot of virus related material, but unfortunately this week I have a bunch. Hopefully, next post I can get back to more topics that can allow you to think on something else!
I sat in on the ConstructConnect webinar this week that was an update to bring folks up to speed on the current construction forecast landscape. As you could imagine, it was pretty rough but as always I found a positive or two. Starting though on the bad side; the revised AIA consensus forecast has us now down 11 percent for the year on nonresidential and 14 percent down on commercial. The areas that are struggling are what you would expect; retail, hotels, and office buildings. All will surely go through some re-imagining―see more on my thoughts on the future below. Areas of hope are also somewhat obvious―health care, education and public safety. The long-range nonresidential forecast is being predicted to not get back to 2019 levels until 2024. (I wanted to throw up when I saw that.)
Now the “positive news,” because I have to try and be hopeful, right? There’s evidence of a moderate uptick in new projects hitting the streets. That goes in hand with what we were seeing with the new project inquiries on the ABI.
Obviously, everything is very fluid right now and things can and do change but this report surely was ugly. Also, this is really uncharted stuff, so there’s no playbook for this analysis. It could be right or could be wrong; we don’t have any historical base to work from. There’s another big webinar coming up on the 26th, so we’ll take that one in and report back then.
Bottom line? We all have to keep being strategic, diverse―design and code changes will help glass―and active in fighting and marketing for our businesses and world.
- One of the questions I get asked the most is how I see how things are progressing at the architect level. Personally I am hearing a mixed bag; smaller firms struggling, but bigger ones really rolling still. But, like everything right now, things are changing constantly. This article gives a deeper dive into what’s going on at that level and worth continuing to follow.
- A lot of articles this past week on what the office of the “future” will look like, and I still am holding strong that glass will be playing a major role. The underlying theme in all of the pieces I read was that people need to have separation but don’t want to be “boxed” in. There it is again―we all know that glass can allow that more open feeling, but still offer the protection the stakeholders right now desire. Pre-pandemic growth on the interior was a point I was very confident about, and now as we continue down this path I feel even stronger. Especially seeing how glass partitions are popping up everywhere retail wise, just a matter of time before that office push comes together.
- Not that we don’t have enough to think about right now, but then there’s this. What happens to the availability of the public bathroom in our new normal? Those of us who are on the road a lot had a routine and knew where to stop, etc. Another thing that changes.
- Last this week―once again I am using this space to remember someone who passed and this one is someone who hit very close to home. Bobby Silverstein passed away last weekend, and I have spent the entire week trying to come up with words to do Bobby’s life proper justice. I don’t think I can give him the honoring he deserves but I am going to try. Bobby was a winner and a fighter. He took massive chances including starting Arch Aluminum during a brutal economy when he could’ve just taken the easy path and stayed where he was. But, like everything he did, Bobby made the decisions to move forward and never look back. He stressed service above all and created a foundation and business model that most of the industry now utilizes.
Before I started working for Bobby and his family, I was told Bobby could relate to anyone. This was very true; he had that nature about him that allowed it. Writing this made me think about the story of when Bobby was in Las Vegas, and he ended up in a conversation, a very friendly one, with Snoop Dog, the big time rap superstar. They got along well; the older Jewish glass man and the young hip hop icon. And that was par for the course for Bobby―he could relate. It was those traits that had his employee base always ready to run through a wall for him too. When it came to me, Bobby knew how to tweak me and keep me on my toes and was an incredible supporter of mine from day one, even though he really did not like marketing…
Back in the early 2000’s, the company honored Bobby at a sales meeting. A video was created showing his life and accomplishments in pictures and set to music. The song was “My Way” and it was absolutely perfect. Bobby always did it his way and did it right. He was way ahead of his time on so many levels and I am thankful I got to work for him and learn some things along the way. My sincerest condolences to Bobby’s family and friends. This is an incredible loss of a great man, father, grandfather, and leader. He will be dearly missed.