The Resiliency of Construction

Laurie Cowin
January 22, 2019
THE TALK... | Markets & Trends
As the housing market crashed in 2008, I was in the early days of my career in construction-related publishing. Despite entering the workforce—and the construction-related workforce at that—at arguably one of the most tumultuous times possible, I somehow weathered the Great Recession with my job intact.
 
I spent the first five years of my career writing for various Hanley Wood-owned commercial construction and architecture magazines before transitioning to Qualified Remodeler magazine, where I spent five years immersed in the residential remodeling space. Most recently, I reported about heavy commercial construction and infrastructure for the online publication Construction Dive.
 
During those years, I came to realize just how resilient the construction industry is, as much as the individuals within it. I heard about this resiliency in each interview and saw it as my job took me to various tradeshows and meetings around the country. I also was fortunate enough to work with editors who not only loved their craft, but also loved and respected the industry we wrote about. They, in turn, instilled that same love and respect in me. Twelve years later, I’m proud to call myself an editor and, I hope, an advocate for construction and all of its facets. I’m also thrilled to be engaged with my new role as senior editor for Window & Door.
 
Although I have equal experience in residential and commercial markets, my passion lies with residential construction. There’s something intimate about being invited to explore someone’s dream home, interviewing the brains behind the remodel or new build, studying photographs and floor plans to understand the design, and sharing the lessons learned with the industry at large.
 
The fenestration industry, however, is new to me. Most of my experience with windows and doors is in learning about the finished product, mostly from the major manufacturers. The science behind how these building materials are made, the supply chain that keeps the flow of products moving, and the business acumen it takes to remain competitive in the market are subjects I’m eager to learn about.
 
Reporting about this industry won’t be without its challenges, some of which may resemble the economy I came into when I started in this career more than a decade ago. Economists quoted in Window & Door’s 2019 Industry Pulse Economic Insights forecast a recession could hit again as early as late next year, driven by the chronic skilled labor shortage and high interest rates slowing growth. Tariffs, taxes and other federal legislation also could affect the industry.
 
With 71 percent of companies planning to hire in the next year, we will continue to dive into employment trends, including a heavy focus on the labor shortage. Previous coverage in Window & Door includes steps to successfully recruit, how to take a grassroots approach to recruiting and exploring other demographics, including women. Last year I explored another demographic: military veterans. With 250,000 people leaving military service each year, veterans are another group that represent huge potential.
 
Challenges and opportunities await in the coming years for window and door dealers and manufacturers. Through it all, I anticipate seeing the industry respond with the drive and resiliency I have come to expect. My door is always open to hear your ideas, experiences and suggestions about how we can better cover this industry. Send me an email at lcowin@glass.org or give me a call at 703/442-4890, ext. 188. I look forward to talking with you.
 
 

 

Laurie Cowin is senior editor of Window & Door. Contact her at lcowin@glass.org.