By now the ground hog has foretold whether we shall have an early spring or six more weeks of winter. After how mild this winter has been, I doubt it really matters to most. I, much like the rest of the construction industry, have probably celebrated the great weather.
Why celebrate the mild winter and the lack of snow? The answer is simple: project progress. In Canada, general contractors usually need to factor in slowed progress and even days when not much will be completed because of extreme weather. This year so far we have only seen very short periods of snow accumulation and bitter cold. Many projects I am working on covering later this year, I have been told, are either on target or slightly ahead, when some of the project managers assumed when we spoke in the fall they would be looking at making up missed time.
So nicer weather means projects stay on target and clients are happy. However, sometimes other factors come into play that slow progress or increase the costs. Two factors hurting the Canadian economy are low oil prices and the Canadian vs. U.S. exchange rate. Some project managers I have spoken to have made changes to the suppliers they were working with to source products from within Canada, instead of paying 40 per cent or more for a similar product in the U.S.
One concrete barrier supplier I spoke with has seen an update in U.S. orders based on the exchange rate, simply because the cost for production has remained the same and getting 20 to 30 per cent savings is a big windfall for a U.S. client. The supplier told me that coming in $4,000 less than the local supplier and still being able to make a profit is a win for him.
Has your company seen any positive impacts from the warmer winter? Has your company seen growth by selling your products or services to U.S. based clients? Share your stories with me for an upcoming report. If you are struggling with the current exchange rate, let me know if you have found a way to solve this problem as well.
Chase is the director of marketing and client relations for the Construction News and Report Group, as well as the associate publisher for the GTA Construction Report, Ontario Construction Report and the Canadian Design & Construction Report.
He serves on the Niagara Construction Association’s (NCA) board of directors and also serves as the chair of the NCA’s Young Leaders Committee.
You can reach him at (905) 228-1151, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gtaconstructionreport.com.