We've now put another mediocre year, roofing-wise, behind us.
2010 was a year where we saw modest improvements in some market
sectors. The residential construction market, for example,
"rebounded" to levels that were more common 25 years ago. In the
nonresidential sector, our industry was saved, such as it was, by
the public and institutional sectors. Let's all say a quiet prayer
of thanks for schools, prisons and the Department of Defense.
So what's in store for 2011? Allow me a few observations: First,
it's reasonable, unfortunately, to expect more of the same. Until
employer confidence returns, construction activity will stagnate.
And until there is greater and easier access to capital, new
construction projects will remain on hold. More homes will be built
in 2011 than in 2010 but only about one-third as many as were built
just five years ago.
Second, we are not too far from a time when pent-up demand for
roof system replacement will cheer us. There are only so many roof
patches that can be made and only so many reroofing decisions that
can be deferred. When the economy improves, we may well be at the
front of it.
Third, watch out for regulators. One outcome of the Republican
victories in the November 2010 elections is that
regulators—especially in Washington, D.C.—have a new
sense of urgency to get their work done. 2011 will be a critical
year for us to be vigilant....
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