Challenging year ahead
The industry faces a number of challenges for 2017. It doesn’t help that the economy and housing construction are largely flat. And the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president with his America-first policy doesn’t bode well for creating jobs in this country – and job growth was largely non-existent in 2016.
There are new carbon taxes and cap and trade programs – the federal government expects all provinces to have such programs in place by 2018 – that will raise the cost of virtually everything with questionable benefit.
The industry itself faces continuing challenges with energy efficiency regulations that often set unrealistic targets and seem to be in a constant state of change, dramatically increasing the cost and in some cases hampering reliability and longevity of products.
And then there are continuing problems like an aging workforce. And it’s not just workers; look around any room of company owners and one will see a lot of grey hair and few younger people taking over existing companies or starting their own.
Prompt payment continues to be a challenge in new construction with just about every level of government paying lip service but doing little to actually put regulations in place to ensure contractors get paid in a timely manner.
But this industry always survives through thick and thin. It’s an essential service and, for me, it’s a very different industry from most because it’s full of people who actually build stuff and are engaged in what they do.
The coming year probably won’t be particularly easy and the industry won’t likely be as busy as it could be, but a long cold winter in much of the country hopefully followed by a hot summer should provide a boost. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now and many of us are worried, but things sometimes turn out better than expected. Let’s hope that’s the case in 2017.