With a backlog of construction projects extending out two years at Triangle Associates, Jim Conner feels “cautiously optimistic” heading into 2018. Conner says the company’s diversified clients ranging from education to health care to industrial work should keep it busy even in the event of a downturn.
“Our backlog is solid for 2018. We have some capacity to fill in, but in 2019 and 2020, it’s even stronger than 2018, which is wonderful. … A lot of our projects are long-cycle projects, so for instance, Wayland Schools just passed their bond this fall. We won’t turn dirt on that until next summer. Then it will be (going for) two or three cycles. The projects that passed in May and then next November, it levels out the bumps … The industrial market is looking to pick up still, or keep the same. That one has just been a pretty steady flow with the economy. You’re not seeing the big 200,000-square-foot additions or new buildings. People are doing that, but I see a lot of the smaller shops that might have been leasing space that want their own building that are building 15,000-square-foot to 30,000-square-foot buildings. You’re seeing a lot of that. If you divide it into two groups — the big guys and the small guys — I think the small guys are the most active. … With the shortage in the trades, the costs are up. Our fees and our costs are probably the same, so it’s just been this adjustment. Because there’s a lack of trades, their costs have gone up. In addition, you can’t get the work done as fast. When jobs need to be done quickly, they charge you more. It’s a little bit of a subcontractor’s market still, but even more so, it’s an employee’s market within the subcontractor world.”