The leader of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) says that despite multiple challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is primed for growth in 2022.
“[Metal builders and contractors] have adapted to the challenges of COVID-19 and have managed to successfully run businesses in an environment of constant change, volatility, supply chain shortages and a labor crunch unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” wrote MBMA chairman Greg Pasley in a guest column this month in Metal Construction News.
Pasley continued: “Despite the difficulties, the overwhelming feedback from these construction professionals was enthusiastic, and they projected a positive outlook, fueled by a robust economy and a confidence that investment growth will continue through 2022.”
By the Numbers: MBMA Says 2022 Signs are Positive
There are a lot of reasons for metal building manufacturers, builders and contractors to look forward to 2022.
Pasley says positive signs for the industry going forward include:
- According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), design activity over the summer was roaring back as more and more places reopened—despite ballooning costs for construction materials and persistent delivery delays. In November, the AIA reported increasing demand for design services for the tenth consecutive month.
- Dodge Data & Analytics reports that construction starts are forecast to continue to rise in our key active segments (commercial, industrial and institutional) through 2024. Also, the Dodge Momentum Index, a monthly measure of the initial report for nonresidential building projects in planning, remains near a 14-year high. Compared to November 2020, the Momentum Index was 44 percent higher in November 2021.
- Multiple steel producers have announced that they are expanding or have plans to expand production. The Wall Street Journal reported in October that “Steel Companies See Hot Market Extending Into 2022”.
“The extended boom in the $180 billion U.S. steel industry that began last year following the Covid-19-related shutdowns of mills is giving steelmakers more time to bring new plants into service and renew customer contracts at higher prices, executives said. Steel inventories remain tight as mill outages and transportation bottlenecks have crimped shipments, keeping some steel buyers on edge about acquiring enough supply in the coming months,” reported the Wall Street Journal.
Dodge Data & Analytics, while optimistic, did caution there are several unknowns going forward: “Planning data continues to suggest a healthy level of construction to come in 2022. However, due to higher prices and shortages of labor, actual growth is expected to be modest. The new Omicron variant for COVID-19, and its potential impact on economic growth, highlights the tremendous uncertainty the construction sector will face over the coming year.”
Planning for the Future … By Looking Backwards
While many Americans would just as soon forget the hardships and challenges brought on by the pandemic economy over the past two years, Pasley says it is important to plan by looking back at the past.
“As we look ahead, it helps to first look back to understand what we gained in the pandemic environment,” wrote Pasley.
For Pasley, a review of the past brings up these key highlights:
- We learned that the metal building industry is essential. Pasley: “Our work matters. Companies need us. The government needs us. Economic growth is impacted by the buildings our industry puts in place and the speed with which we manufacture and build them.”
- The industry learned to be more flexible, adjusting to abrupt changes in customer expectations, and adapting new measures, such as work-from-home, during the pandemic to keep staff safe. Communication has shifted with online meetings and training and virtual conferences offered.
- The metal building industry improved its understanding of the importance of diversity within the workplace.
“For many, it’s taken a critical labor shortage to change the perception of what a metal building employee looks like. We’ve opened our eyes to a much broader view and have found that our openness has led to changes that make our companies stronger, more future focused and better equipped to be inclusive and open minded,” wrote Pasley.
The Road Ahead for Metal Building Market
Looking ahead, Pasley says that his association members need to “roll up their sleeves” and redouble efforts to cement their stronghold in the low-rise commercial building market.
“Let's not lose sight of the past and use what we learned in a once-in-a- lifetime pandemic to push us forward. Let’s be diligent in educating our customers and our potential customers on the advantages of metal buildings. Rather than sit back and relax, it is time to push ourselves forward to take advantage of the abundant market opportunities ahead,” concludes Pasley.
Contact Green Span Profiles today to find out how our diverse line of insulated metal panels (IMP) can help your metal building business grow in 2022.