PKF North America recently hosted a panel of construction executives to discuss the uneven economic recovery and the state of the industry. While the details for each panelist varied, the themes were the same: Their companies are a lot smaller than they were four years ago, so they must embrace efficiencies in all forms.

For some office employees, that means taking on additional duties. The controller of a small commercial contractor said she now handles HR work. “Our new normal is departments of one,” she said.building under construction

A recession often causes business leaders to aggressively explore new revenue streams, but that approach too often leads to subpar results. One panelist said his company doubled-down on core strengths — notably concrete, framing and masonry — while shedding other services it added when times were flush. In addition, the firm made a conscious choice to maintain funding for its top notch safety and inspection program, hoping that such an investment in quality will pay long-term dividends.

Construction management consultant Monroe Porter recently suggested the same strategy of focusing on core strengths. “You have to be more strategic,” Porter said. “You have to make the tough decisions.”

In the long view, experts believe prospects for the construction industry are actually a bit brighter than the overall market. In the meantime, times will continue to be tough for many contractors. Panelists suggested two strategies that could boost the bottom line in the short term:

  • Technological advances can help improve efficiency and productivity.
  • The Canadian construction market is strong and likely will remain strong in the coming years, particularly in infrastructure projects and other public works.

To read more about the panel and the strategies that were discussed, click here to download our latest whitepaper.

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