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Aggregate industry optimistic about the months ahead

By |  January 4, 2022
John Sather Whitaker Construction Co.

Sather

Sather, for one, believes the industry as a whole changed its attitude and expectations when the long-awaited national infrastructure bill passed. The passage of other infrastructure bills affecting states and cities produces more confidence, as well.

“I would actually project that it’s going to be a pretty good year for us and for others based on the infrastructure bills that have gone across,” he says. “And with the housing development going, I think it’s going to be another great year with expansion.”

What to watch

While the months to come should provide no shortage of project opportunities, industry stakeholders expect 2022 won’t be without challenges.

As Sather describes, Whitaker Construction is expanding yet experiencing difficulties recruiting and retaining employees to match its growth. To attract high-quality employees, the company implemented a recruitment staff that visits community colleges and high schools to discuss the viable career paths available to young people.

Whitaker Construction also offers training programs for its employees to help them achieve their goals and work through the ranks.

“We educate our employees so they can move up in [the] company, and hopefully, one day be running part of the company,” Sather says.

Another challenge producers such as Whitaker Construction face is rising fuel prices.

“We’ve seen a 25 to 30 percent increase in fuel,” Sather says. “[With] a two-year project, it’s hard to incur those costs.

“That’s the one thing we’re being cautious with now – looking at extra costs and adding fuel surcharges into our work,” he adds.

Tysver has concerns of his own, too. He says General Equipment is keeping an eye on volatile steel prices, noting that his company has seen steady price increases for the last six to 12 months.

Micah Tysver General Equipment & Supplies

Tysver

“Pricing, as a kind of rule of thumb, has been good for 30 days,” Tysver says. “Right now, because of the volatility of the market, every quote that we see – at best – is good for seven days.”

Haver & Boecker Niagara is also focused on navigating supply chain conundrums that carry into the new year. According to Thompson, managing the supply chain means working with suppliers, building stock levels and communicating with producers on lead times to ensure they meet their inventory requirements and maximize uptime.

“Whether we stock it here or on their site, [we need] to make sure they don’t have any downtime,” she says. “Because, of course, if you are not able to run, you don’t make any money. And that’s really what it comes down to: us keeping them operative.”

Final thoughts

Despite the challenges ahead, industry stakeholders are excited about what’s to come in 2022.

“Everybody we’re hearing from is expecting 2022 to be – at worst – fairly flat with 2021,” Tysver says. “But I think more expect to see an increase in production.”

Adds Thompson: “All the signs are pointing in the right direction. We always wish we had that crystal ball, but we can really just go by the feeling that we’re getting from our producers in the U.S. and Canada that we serve the most, and really take our cue from them as to what we need to do in our business to serve them better.”

Carly Bemer

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) is the associate editor at Pit & Quarry. She can be reached at 216-363-7930 or cbemer@northcoastmedia.net.

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