Key Take-Aways: Continued Optimism, Scenario Planning, and Focus on Training and Safety in the Workplace
Picking right up from last week’s event, METALCON Co-Founder and CEO, Frank A. Stasiowski, FAIA, in partnership with the Metal Construction Association and Rob Haddock, CEO and Founder of S-5! Metal Roof Innovations, welcomed everyone to this week’s FREE online “no-BS discussion” of challenges and workarounds happening in real time. Rob and Frank were joined by special guests Art Hance, president of the MBCEA and owner/president of Hance Construction, Inc. and Heidi J. Ellsworth, partner with RoofersCoﬀeeShop® and owner of HJE Consulting.
Frank started things off with a quick update of where things are at as of Wednesday, April 8, including the stock market showing a gain of 600 points, Dr. Fauci’s update indicating a loosening up of restrictions in the coming weeks, Bernie Sanders’ withdrawal from the presidential race, medical drugs from Japan undergoing testing, and an overall “hope” that we may be hitting a possible apex with the numbers of sick and dying.
After the update, Frank jumped right to some polling questions to take a pulse of how things compared to last week. Polling Question #1: How many on the call have applied for an SBA Loan? 65% reported no. Frank said, “While this is a better number than what was reported last week, it is still high.” He urged participants to immediately apply for an SBA loan if their companies have fewer than 500 employees. He added, “Even if you think you won’t or don’t need the money now, apply and get the money now while it’s available.”
Polling Question #2: Of those who have applied, have you received the funds yet? 97% replied no. Frank, who also serves as a board member of a local bank, concurred and said, ”Banks have not been told yet when the money will come in.”
Polling Question #3: Since last week’s METALCONLive!, how many have done scenario planning? 64% reported yes. Last week, 56% reported they had done their scenario planning so Frank was pleased to see the increase but implored the remaining 36% to work on this immediately.
Before turning it over to Rob, Frank interjected one final update regarding the president’s announcement about the pending Infrastructure Bill. Frank commented, “If this passes and comes through in the coming months, it will have a critical impact.” He advised participants to reach out to their local representatives and express support of the bill.
Rob began by commenting on how different restrictions are across the United States and believes there will be a “gradual” easing up by early May — but of course the situation remains fluid. He shared that S-5! was still not seeing any slowdowns, and he remains optimistic that business will begin to resume to normal levels by summer.
Polling Question #4: Compared to last week, are you more, less or same optimistic? 53% reported same, 16% reported less and 31% report more. Frank remarked, “This is a positive curve.”
Frank then introduced the first special guest, Art Hance, and asked him to share his perspectives of the current situation and what his company is doing. Art is the president of the MBCEA and owner/president of Hance Construction, Inc., which specializes in providing tailored construction services. Art said he was also “a bit optimistic after seeing today’s infection and hospitalization rates.” He shared his personal theory that COVID-19 has potentially been in the states since last year and echoed Frank and Rob’s tactic saying, “It is imperative for business owners to plan ahead and not react day-by-day.” While some states are limiting construction jobs, Art believes we are heading in the direction of a future backlog. He advised paying close attention to projects that are put on hold as it related to lien rights and protecting outstanding payments.
The next special guest introduced was Heidi J. Ellsworth, partner with RoofersCoﬀeeShop® and owner of HJE Consulting. Based on her own weekly online chat with the roofing community predominantly located in the Northwest, Heidi reported that roofing work is ongoing and continuing. Her roofers are reporting that the “phones are ringing!” They have seen a slowdown in new construction projects, but repair work and the need for emergency work is strong. For example, Nashville still has a high demand due to the recent tornado. Commenting on the availability of materials, Heidi said, “No issues are currently being reported with the U.S. supply chain, but issues exist with getting materials from international countries.” All in all though, roofing contractors are still working!
Polling Question #5: Are you now experiencing project delays or cancellations as compared to last week? 80% reported yes.
The following chat question was posed, “How will accessing capital change?” and each speaker offered their viewpoints. Frank commented that the “0% rate will have an impact on it.” Art offered, “It will depend on the market; e.g. if the infrastructure bill passes this will have an impact on capital availability.” Rob said, “My opinion is that there is a lot of capital out there based on calls he is currently receiving from venture capitalists; investors are looking for a stronger rate of return so looking at capital investments as a better bang for the buck.” “From the bank’s perspective,” Frank commented, “they are getting flooded with thousands of refinancing applications from homeowners asking for interest only or variable rates.” Frank theorized homeowners may be taking out home equity loans on their homes to use the extra money to invest in other areas including the stock market.
The conversation turned to training and safety. Frank asked guests Art and Heidi to comment on what MBCEA and RoofersCoffeeShop are currently doing. Heidi said, “General contractors in the Northwest, especially roofers, are carrying ‘essential worker’ cards and the NRCA and the AGC have both issued social distancing and hand washing guidelines.” Art commented, “At our company, we installed new hand washing stations five weeks ago and the MBCEA is working extra hours to help members with resources on how to deal with the virus.” Frank stressed the significance of training and safety in the workplace and how it should be a critical part of scenario planning. Art echoed this viewpoint and said if crews weren’t working right now, take advantage of the opportunity to train.
A participant asked Art about a possible “virtual MBCEA conference.” Art confirmed their annual conference scheduled for May 7-9 was canceled and indeed they are working on launching a series of virtual breakout sessions and a tradeshow. They are working with their sponsors and exhibitors and hope to have something announced in the next two weeks.
Polling question #6: Are you seeing cancellations because of COVID-19? 75% reported no.
Closing comments were made by the speakers:
Frank shared his optimism by saying, “Industry will be back in full steam by September! We are moving forward with the planning for METALCON 2020 to happen in October and encourage everyone to attend and use the event as a way to “re-ignite sales.” He announced a new push to bring more architects to the show by offering a dedicated learning path and also looking to potentially work with other associations that were forced to cancel and reschedule their 2020 shows.
Rob shared a more global perspective of seeing shows/conferences being rescheduled for the Fall as a sign that majority are planning for a Fall rebound.
Heidi believes, “Digital media will continue to take a lead and be part of the new norm.”
Another successful METALCONLive! ended with Frank urging participants to apply for loan or grant money, and ramping up their employee training so they are ready when restrictions begin to loosen.
Join us this Wednesday for our next METALCONLive! Event – Register below.
If you missed this week’s event, want to listen to it again or share it with a colleague, click HERE to download the recording.
For more information about Rob Haddock, check out his recent article “Seize The Opportunity Presented By These Uncertain Times” in the recent issue of DesignandBuildwithMetal.com.
Click HERE for a list of S-5!’s upcoming FREE Webinars; the next one is scheduled for April 15.
Click HERE for MBCEA’s COVID-19 Resources.