Survey Says Contractors to Hire More than Fire in 2011; Contract Glaziers Remain Unsure
February 15, 2011

Some economic forecasters expect that this year commercial construction will likely start to pick up a bit and by 2012 the industry will be much better off. And according to the 2011 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and Navignant, this year, for the first time in years many firms say they are planning to add [more] new staff than layoff current employees. But still, there is quite a bit of uncertainty regarding the labor market, as 53 percent reported they don’t know or don’t plan to change their staff size.

However, could the fact that more firms plan to hire than fire—even when the market is weak—mean the worst is over? Some contract glaziers talked to™ about what they are seeing in terms of job growth and opportunities.

Jonathan Schuyler, preconstruction executive and partner with Giroux Glass Inc. in Las Vegas says that although the economy is a continuous struggle, they are starting to see a bit of light.

“In Las Vegas, post City Center saw a dramatic reduction in the work force. Nowadays, for the most part, we are looking at renovations and low-rise work. Because of this, over the course of the past year our work force has been reduced by 50 percent in the office and upwards of 75 percent in the field,” says Schuyler. “In the past few months we have noticed an upward trend with respect to building as a whole, but nothing that would lead us to believe we will see an increase in office staff over the course of the next year. Our field will continue to fluctuate dependent upon circumstance. In terms of overall growth, I do believe we will see an increase in the field of 5-10 percent based upon what we are seeing in preconstruction. This is positive news for us. We believe we have educated ourselves to understand our market and feel we are suited to thrive given the gauntlet of opportunities--whether positive or negative--we have built upon over the course of the past ten years here in Las Vegas.”

Jennifer Russell Vanasse is the vice president of the Window Shop Inc. in Plainville, Conn., a small, non-union operation, and says she feels that 2011 is going to be another tough year for the glazing trade. She says while her company typically does not work on State or Federal glazing projects, she is starting to see a small increase in new project bidding, as well as some older projects out for re-bids. 

“I also seem to be getting an increase in requests for bids from companies that I do not normally do work for. Whether that is because companies are closing or general contractors are price checking, I am not sure,” she says, and adds, “It is no doubt a scary market out there right now. Companies worry they can't keep their employees busy; consequently, prices drop, sometimes below cost. Speaking for myself, we are trying to be competitive in a market where prices are really tight. However, we know our bottom line, which I feel is the key to a company’s ultimate survival in a down market, like we are experiencing right now.”

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