Plumbing Heating Cooling and Contracting industry response to recession
WPI: What effect has the GFC had on your respective businesses?
A: Ron Newman: We have had very little effect but new construction is off and the contractors that have previously concentrated on that market are creating competition not present in the past.
A: Kenny Calkins: Our revenues are down over 50%.
WPI: What effects do you feel the economic downturn has had on the plumbing community at large?
A: Ron Newman: As noted, the various segments of the industry have blended due to lack of activity in some markets.
A: Kenny Calkins: There are a lot less people spending money on upgrades and repairs and not building as many new buildings as before. Not to mention houses.
WPI: What measures have you implemented within your businesses to counter the downturn?
A: Ron Newman: Maintaining quality and improving service levels has somewhat insulated us from the cheaper competition seeking to pull our customers away.
A: Kenny Calkins: We’ve laid off office staff and field personnel since we do not have the work to keep them employed and eliminated any unnecessary expenses.
WPI: What can the plumbing community do collectively to combat the GFC?
A: Ron Newman: There is little that we can do other than improve our business practices and efficiency streamlining our operations to protect the bottom line until markets improve.
A: Kenny Calkins: We should all think locally with our purchases. Continue to work to strengthen our licenses.
WPI: What markets do you feel have been worst hit? Why?
A: Ron Newman: New construction both residential and commercial/industrial.
A: Kenny Calkins: Housing, because too many people forgot that there house is supposed to be a home not an investment. Also, hi-tech jobs as those are going overseas.
WPI: Has there been any industry upside to the GFC?
A: Ron Newman: The stimulus package with energy tax credits has helped raise average invoice amounts as the customer needs to buy better equipment to meet the qualifications for the program.
A: Kenny Calkins: Not that I can see, although in the long run we may all look back at this as a way to get back to the basics of life.
WPI: When do you predict the markets to turn around?
A: Ron Newman: 2010 should begin a slow turn around with full recovery (?) around 2012 or shortly thereafter.
A: Kenny Calkins: If I could predict the future I would spend my days and nights standing on the edge of a craps table. I didn’t see this coming and I don’t see when it could end.