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Surviving A Down Economy

The residential housing market is in the midst of the worst economic slump that most of us have the capacity to remember. Some CFA members (as well as many others in the industry) have closed their doors. Nearly everyone has cut back operations severely in hopes that will be enough. Ways of coping with the current downturn are as varied as our members themselves.

At the recently completed World of Concrete I spoke with many members who were able to make the trip, to find out what strategies they were employing to carry them until the market returns. I also queried them as to their expectations about the “new economy” when the market does turn around.

Some of our members are old enough to remember the last time we had a major market downturn. Those of you in family businesses or enterprises that have been passed down from an older generation have the benefit of their experience. Others of you don’t. Even if your area of the country isn’t experiencing the severe hardships of the upper Midwest, Florida, and other depressed regions, wouldn’t it be prudent to plan for such an event – after all, its not a matter of if, but when.

That brings us to Summer Meeting 2008. The original theme for this summer’s convention was to be “Managing Your Workforce.” While a noble topic, it doesn’t necessarily apply if you have put your entire workforce on furlough. With that in mind, the board and meetings committee decided to change the focus of the summer meeting. This year’s event will present topics relating to “Surviving a Down Economy.” There will still be a couple of great presentations about workforce management, including one on the Legal Issues on Immigration and one on Sustainability. After all, these are issues that you were facing before the downturn and will face again once things improve.

The balance of the summer meeting presentations will focus on strategies and techniques being employed by CFA member companies to squeeze that extra dollar out of their assets, their manpower, and what customers they still have.

There will be a full seminar on financial strategies by Doug Staebler and one on What to Expect in the Commercial Market. The remainder of the program will focus on specific solutions employed by members who are surviving. Topics will be presented in short presentations by your peers – those who have been there, followed by a series of round tables discussions where you can get specifics about their experiences and share your concerns and ideas.

Short topics currently planned include: Relocating Your Business; Precast Concrete with RCFs; Breaking into the Decorative Market; Overlays; and Marketing to the Commercial Market. If you have a strategy or story you would be willing to share with the membership, give us a call. This is too important of an issue not to get all the good ideas on the table.

Lastly, the CFA’s Company Certification Program will be introduced at the summer meeting. An afternoon will be devoted to an overview of the program, a preparatory seminar for the exam, and the qualification exam. We get at least one call per month from someone who says that certification is being discussed in one or more of their jurisdictions. Certification is coming, and the CFA wants to be ahead of the curve.

Oh, and by the way did I mention that New Mexico is an absolutely fabulous place to spend an extra few days. Over the next couple of issues of Concrete Facts we will highlight some of the sights and activities that are just an hour drive or less from the Hyatt Tamaya Resort, site of this year’s Summer Convention.

Now is the time to start planning for this year’s convention, as well as positioning yourself as a stronger business when the economy turns around or, not to sound pessimistic, the next time it heads south.

Ed Sauter, Executive Director, CFA
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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us