Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) July 21, 2013
In an article today, July 20, 2013, Lee Dodson, owner of contractorside.com, discussed the family problems caused by the collapse of business of contractors and trades-people in the construction industry since 2007.
The construction business didnt just collapse, it disappeared. Dodson writes in The Brenner Brief. Jobs that were pre-financed continued for six months to a year, but when banks re-configured, house and structure values fell through the floor. There was not enough equity to support remodeling and additions, so an entire market evaporated. As the downturn continued, droves left the trade.
The new housing starts dropped by nearly 80%. Unless a company had major relationships with lending institutions, it cut back to bare essentials, laying off fully 70% of its workforce and dropped sub-contractors. Every contract was reviewed in cost cutting maneuvers designed to stay in business. Mergers were instituted to save viable companies.
What happened to the people in the trades? Dodson asked. They dropped prices, took marginally profitable jobs. Just to stay in the game, but conditions took their toll.
Trades-people suffered disasters the banks and large firms did not. In 2008, the construction business people were the first to face foreclosure. After selling off what assets they had accrued, rolling stock, retained materials, trades-people dumped real property. It was a no-win situation because values had reduced so severely that many went to short-sale, and when all else failed, the rest went into foreclosure.
Small business was assassinated. And with it, families bore the brunt. Women and children suffered the worst of it, Dodson writes. These were working people, wives sometimes doing the books, making sure that bills were paid, payrolls met, jobs moved.
And they are, perhaps, the angriest because they saw mates maligned by news services, burdened by government fees, and unprotected in court, if it was affordable. Banks were no better, Dodson opined.
This is why I focus on women today. The contractorside.com is an arena where spouses and family advisors can strike a blow for themselves and for their families. Many building professionals have a tendency to suck it up and move on, but the wives are actually much tougher when their lifestyle is threatened. If anyone can change the way business is conducted, it will be women, both in the business and on the sidelines. I encourage them to file.
The economic toll was overwhelming, but this toll was not the worst of occurrences. Fully 45% of families either divorced or de facto dissolved over a four year period from 2008 to 2012. Most small business trades-people could not qualify for unemployment or any other type of substantive relief. For these people, the recovery did not happen.
Jobs of any type were taken for sustenance, but this was not the worst effect of the downturn. Thousands of skilled workers either left the business or retired. Entry level work ceased to exist, therefore there are few workers to replace the natural attrition rate expected.
In California, the average age of a licensed contractor or subcontractor stands at 58, the renewal rate stands at 5%.
Have conditions improved?
In 2007, construction occupied 27-28% of the GDP. Today the trade is a bare 8%, up slightly from 3% a year past. The rate doubled, but when compared with four years ago, the rate is one third of what it was.
Competition is fierce, and the culture has evolved from a contractually solid commerce into a bazaar mentality where a signed deal is not set in stone, it is a starting point for further negotiations. Even in major dollar enterprises, amounts set fluctuate throughout the term of the project. Change orders are viewed as profit centers for both sides.
Can the business recover?
If women ally with their families, take advantage of contractorside.com, it will still be a climb. Things wont change quickly, but things will change.
Women are key.
The contractorside.com was created six years ago as a venue where the tradesperson can detail his or her experience, good or bad, so others in the trade may discover problems on the horizon.
Programmed by Colossal Ventures, Colin Ryan worked to add mounting pictures, sound bites, videos as part of users postings. Dodson directed space for other trades people to comment on postings and to add articles that might be of interest to the users.
The concept of mounting both negative and positive posts is new.
In cases, of legally delicate posts, whistleblowers, etc., anonymous posts are accepted. Posts are edited before final approval by the company, and are referred back for edit if necessary, but most are posted the day filed.
contractorside.com is the answer to Yelp and other websites that can be critical of people or companies in the construction business to level the field for trades people with this resource.
Dodson spent forty-one years in the construction trade, has written many articles for trade magazines, has served as expert witness in court cases, and has acted as mediator in many construction related issues. He is currently contributing to The Brenner Brief e-newspaper and has written and published two books, Infiltration, a fictional account of a terrorist attack in southern Arizona, and This Never Happened, a high desert murder mystery.