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What the Recent Index Means

Last week I had comments on the record-breaking drop in the Architectural Billings Index and afterward I was asked about what that all really means. I wanted to take a minute here to break it down.

The ABI is far from a guaranteed indicator of business, but it is also one of the only things we have that can be tracked, so we have always rolled with it. For the most part, it’s in the ballpark with its accuracy. How the ABI affects our industry is when the work actually hits us―which can be nine to 12 or more months past when it’s in the billings index.

So, the awful drop? We would “feel” that towards the end of this year and into early 2021. This jives with the feeling we have out there of a burst of business/backlog for us, and then a drop. The ABI is predicting our drop. Obviously, a heavier backlog and also scheduling and logistics gymnastics could cover up or minimize that drop but the longer this issue goes on, the bigger chance we get touched by it. And again, the fact that there are any new project inquiries during the greatest crux of this crisis is something to look positively at. Next release is May 20 and we’ll see what that brings…


  • If the ABI continues to scuffle, and we expect it will, the angle of strategy and diversification take much bigger roles. If you are not looking hard at what you can do to be ahead of the game right now, you are missing out.
  • The one thing that is happening right now is there is a lot of content being offered. As folks got settled in the “work from home” stage, more and more webinars and podcasts popped up. Many more opportunities to learn. Which now has that area saturated. The key now is determining which pieces are legitimate learning opportunities versus promo play. It is a tough one for all involved. Companies need to be promoting and we all should be trying to learn but threading that needle with regards to time and quality has come in to play.
  • Great work released this week from the NGA Forming Committee and its Building Compliance FAQ’s.  Well done document with excellent and important detail. Kudos to all of the volunteers on that committee who got it done. Great stuff!
  • Book alert for you: “Unraveling the Mystery of M&A Integration and Divestiture Success,” by Al Ansari. I had the honor of working with Al in a past life, and he’s a brilliant guy. Had no idea he had a book in him! Anyway, this one is big especially given the amount of M&A that may come down the line thanks to adventures we are living in now. So if you are interested in a great dive in to the world of acquisitions and so on, go ahead and buy this book. 
  • Got this one from the always-interesting tweet stream of Thomas Lee. It’s how fast glass can break, and it’s a wild, well-done video. Viewed over 12 million times!
  • Last this week… I am actually on the road. Because of some adventures that needed taken care of in South Carolina for my daughter, we had to fly out on Friday and start a journey during this really wild time. 

    My thoughts; first, the airports were stunningly quiet and it had that feel of when you would arrive at 1 a.m. after a lot of delays and no one was around, except this was prime morning flying time and the airports were ghost towns. In Detroit, there’s normally three full security lines and one only for TSA. Now there is only one open line for all, and one officer checking ID’s, one per minute. That was to keep distancing. With only 20 people in line it still took 20-plus minutes.

    Inside the airport, I’d say 50/50 on mask usage. I know this week more airlines are demanding it, and I found it fascinating how many folks were not wearing one. On Delta, the loading of plane now goes from back to front, and that includes the medallion flyers, so if you are Diamond etc., you are waiting until the end to load. One the plane itself, no middle seats are booked along with random rows. The plane was spotless. It seriously looked and smelled brand new. When you walked on the flight attendants’ hand you a bag with water and a snack. There was a small hand sanitizer in there too. The flight was uneventful; the flight attendants were active in making sure they were grabbing any of your garbage and you were not putting it into the seat back cover. 

In South Carolina, I joked that the pandemic is not really here; it has been completely opposite of Michigan. Maybe it’s the weather, or the southern attitude but I can feel a difference by a lot. In any case, it’s going to be an interesting road ahead travel wise as we hopefully move towards normalcy. The business travel adventures will surely be a lot different than we all have been used to!

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Max Perilstein

Max Perilstein

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. Contact him at