ABC Supply Co., Inc.

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Four Takeaways from 2016 (and what they mean in 2017)

January 18, 2017

2016 turned out to be quite a busy year for contractors. To help you start this year strong, consider four key takeaways from 2016 and how they could impact your business in 2017.

1. U.S. Construction Activity Continued to Climb

2016 construction projects were on a steady rise throughout the year. Dodge Data & Analytics released its 2017 outlook, predicting new construction projects will rise 5 percent to $713 billion (up 4 percent from 2016), suggesting contractors should be busy at the start of 2017.

The yearly report specified areas of growth and decline:

  • Single-family housing: +12% in dollars, +9% in number of units
  • Multifamily housing: same in dollars, -2% in number of units
  • Commercial building: +6 % in overall starts
  • Institutional building: +10% in overall starts

Moving forward in 2017: With overall building expected to climb again across the U.S., contractors will be plenty busy at the outset of 2017. Make sure you’re ready for a fast start by taking advantage of your off-season.

2017 Dodge Data & Analytics Outlook

  1. OSHA Updated Key Safety Standards

OSHA recently announced a final ruling on its Walking-Working Surfaces standards, specifically fall hazards. Perhaps most notably, the update revised employer requirements for using personal fall-protection systems. The rule takes effect January 17, 2017, and is expected to affect 112 million workers at 7 million job sites across the U.S. OSHA predicts the new standard will prevent 29 deaths and 5,842 injuries annually.

Moving forward in 2017: Contractors can now choose fall-protection systems that work best for them. Important updates include:

  • Increased flexibility in choosing fall protection systems:
    • For example: The existing mandate to use guardrails as a primary fall protection has been replaced by contractors’ ability to choose from accepted fall protection systems they believe will work best in certain scenarios
  • Moreover, contractors can now use non-conventional fall protection in specific situations, like designated areas on low-slope roofs
  • The requirement of protection systems for surfaces 6 feet or higher
  • The prohibition of body belts as part of a personal fall-arrest system
  • Required training on personal fall-protection systems and fall equipment

OSHA rules vary by region. Check with your local supplier or municipality for laws and regulations specific to your area.

  1. Labor Challenges Continued

In 2016 the number of available skilled laborers struggled to keep up with the demand and consistent growth of construction projects, presenting a significant challenge for contractors.

  • Construction Outlook’s Q3 2016 report found that while skilled labor job openings have increased across the U.S., they have gone unfilled due to a lack of skilled laborers
    • The size of the labor pool ultimately stayed the same from Q2-Q3

Moving forward in 2017: With overall construction jobs booming, demand for additional skilled laborers is expected to remain high for another 12-18 months. To alleviate some pressure, contractors and project managers are using project management technologies and hardware innovations to streamline processes.

  1. Jobsite Technology Thrived

Technology played a key role in helping construction professionals tackle jobs more efficiently in 2016, helping contractors manage projects on the go and in the field.

              Moving forward in 2017: Professional contractors will start to see wearable equipment that will further enhance jobsite efficiency and safety.

  • Wearable technology, such as smart hats, shoes, glasses and watches, was also on the rise, with its market surpassing $4 billion in 2017
  • Smart hard hats that can display work instructions and 3D mapping of jobsites
  • Safety vests infused with GPS devices enabling workers to request help at a geo-targeted location, along with systems that alert workers entering pre-defined danger zones

Along with tools like ABC Supply’s Pictureit, virtual visualization models are increasingly being used.

  • Modeling helps contractors and their customers visualize a job before it begins
  • Enhance your sales process with virtual renderings using a comprehensive collection of roofing, siding and window product lines.

Keep reading the ABC Supply blog for more information and resources to grow your business in 2017.