I am a thirty-something so my experiences with a stick shift automobile are contained in three short memories. My most recent memory of a stick shift was driving the company’s 20-foot flatbed to Las Vegas when we wanted to swap it out for our newer automatic. Then there was the “little young lady from Pasadena” that drove me around in her 1970’s beige Volvo when I was a sophomore in high school. All I can say is that it pays to date older women.
My most vivid memory though is from when I was eight-years old. I can remember my dad trying to teach my mom how to drive the family’s Datsun hatchback stick in the parking lot of the local K-Mart. She couldn’t quite get the rhythm of letting off the clutch while pressing the accelerator. There’s nothing like sitting in the back of a vibrating Datsun in the middle of an empty parking lot. So, why do I bring this memory up?
It’s because our current construction industry feels like learning how to drive a stick shift. We slowly ease off the clutch, press the accelerator, and roll along with some good housing numbers for a few weeks and then with a rev and a swift jerk, construction seems to grind to a halt.
Sure, the Hurricane Sandy recovery is going to bring construction jobs to the northeast, but how long will it really take to start re-building? If you are any kind of estimator, you know that no project begins overnight, especially when Congress just passed a Sandy Aid package last Friday.
Last November, I was like many others who believed that there would be a change in the White House simply due to the economic winds that were blowing. I thought there was no way that the electorate was going to put up with the current administration when all of the economic indicators were down, but I was wrong. It seems to me that there was a lot of money sitting on the sidelines waiting for the election results and I do not think those who are holding the purse strings are willing to wait another four years to see if the other party makes its way back to the top.
So, when will we see construction catch the accelerator and run without stalling again? If I were a betting man, I would say in the next 12-18 months. People have money to spend and for too long they have played it safe. They will no longer accept the .001% growth of a normal, yet safe savings platform. They will not look at it as protecting their money, but will begin to look at it as losing money on opportunities that they did not take.
Let’s all hope that those who want to play the market again, will invest in new homes and commercial construction so that those with a stake in the industry can shift into high gear and start cruising again.
Written By: Gary W. Jayne II, Sales Manager for Flannery, Inc. and a Historical Observer (but not a certified Economist).