Construction contractors are modestly optimistic about 2013
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
1/16/13 at 6:50 AM
Oklahoma builders are feeling more optimistic, but some warn that a full recovery may be a ways off.
Associated General Contractors of America says 44 percent of Oklahoma builders expanded their workforce in 2012, compared to 19 percent that cut back and 38 percent with no changes.
The gains were small, however. The association said a survey showed that 72 percent of the contractors that hired added 15 or fewer people, and only 28 percent hired more than that.
Oklahoma builders outperformed the national average; only 37 percent of builders across the country added to their payroll last year, with 31 percent shrinking their workforce and 32 percent holding steady.
Bob Jack, senior vice president of Manhattan Construction, said he believes things are improving - slowly.
"2013 we feel is a year in transition," he said. "We won't have a full recovery, but at Manhattan we have some backlog we're working on."
Jack said that of the 14 cities Manhattan works in, the Tulsa division is probably the strongest.
Kenny Easton, owner of the Tulsa-area contractor Frametek, said he also believes conditions are improving for builders.
"We're headed in the right direction," he said. "I haven't had any problem in the last two years."
However, Easton said he believes it may take several years for local builders to experience a full recovery. And while home construction has improved over the last year, Frametek still takes on more remodeling jobs than new construction projects.
Jack said his company plans only "very selective" hiring in 2013.
"We don't see any major increase in our staff in the next year," he said.
The industry association reported that more than 30 percent of contractors involved in construction for highways, power facilities, public schools, retail and warehouses predicted growth, while public construction was at 17 percent growth and manufacturing was at just 10 percent.
Jack said he believes government and K-12 school construction has slowed significantly, although private and American Indian development has picked up.
Despite the improvements, some builders are having it rough, Jack said.
"Some companies are being pinched," he said. "We're seeing a fair amount of consolidation."
Some, but not all. Easton said he's seeing signs that overall construction volume is picking up.
"I deal with a lot of lumber yards, and they tell me they're shipping out more material to builders," he said.
However, Easton said it may take a few more years before building can return to anything close to its 2005 peak.
Original Print Headline: Builders see growth
Robert Evatt 918-581-8447
Ductwork sits on a patio during construction of the Hardesty Arts Center in the Brady District downtown. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Gary Tennehill (left), Troy McGonigal and Greg Lower (right) look over a plumbing system for the expansion at Riverfield Country Day School in Tulsa. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World