Estragon, sitting on a low mound, is trying to take off his boot. He pulls at it with both hands, panting. He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again.
Estragon: Nothing to be done.
Vladimir: I’m beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying, ‘Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything.’ And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.
These are the opening lines of the play “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. The entire play consists of Estragon and Vladimir waiting for a character named Godot, who inevitably never shows. Throughout the play they talk about all the things they should do or might do, but they never take action. They simply sit and wait, resigned to the idea that “nothing” is all they can do.
If you’re trying to run a precast concrete business, you might be feeling a lot like Estragon and Vladimir right now. You’ve worked hard to fight through this recession, you’ve stayed positive, but despite your best efforts, you can’t help wonder when the economy is going to make its big recovery.
It’s the back side of any recession that is the toughest on precasters, who often rely on contractors to pay them. The “pay when paid” clauses that many precasters operate under can have devastating consequences. It’s not uncommon for precasters to complete big jobs only to find the contractor won’t pay for the precast because the project financier had gone bankrupt and the contractor isn’t getting paid.
I recently talked with an NPCA member who is owed more $1 million. Another went to court last year and lost under the “pay when paid” clause. That’s unfathomable to me, but it’s reality and we have to deal with it. Other precasters feel like they’re spinning their wheels looking for work and are casting their nets farther afield trying to find jobs to bid. The projects are few and far between and the competition is tougher than ever.
But just as I’ve heard from members who are owed money or are struggling to find business, I’ve talked with others who have found ways to rise above the recession and are doing well in spite of it.
If Estragon and Vladimir were precasters, they’d be out of business by now. Talking and waiting but never taking action won’t cut it in today’s world. While the natural reaction in a recession might be to hunker down and hope to outlast it, that route will most certainly leave you waiting for the dough.
What have you done that has helped you rise above the recession?
President, National Precast Concrete Association