The three-legged milking stool has always been a useful metaphor and it’s an appropriate way to look at a trio of critical issues facing precasters right now.
Like the stool’s three legs, we depend on three factors for stability in the precast concrete industry. Any time one of them weakens or fails, the whole industry feels the collateral damage. Unfortunately, the first two legs – our economy and leadership – have been mighty wobbly for years and for some companies that has meant reductions in locations, employees or even closing the doors for good.
I don’t need to tell you, or anyone, about how sluggish our economy continues to be. Nor do I need to drone on about our “leaders” – those gridlocked elected officials who seem more interested in reelection than in actually representing their districts. If I get going on either of those two topics, you might never see the end of this blog. Suffice to say we need a productive government that creates an environment conducive to thriving businesses and that passes legislation that puts money where it needs to go. That, and only that, will spur the kind of economic growth we so badly need, particularly in the construction industry.
We have the power to influence these legs, but you know as well as I do that neither are going to get suddenly better overnight. So let’s focus on the third leg – society. This leg of the stool is very much in your control right now. From my 20,000 foot perspective, it’s painfully obvious that some companies are clinging to a stubborn resistance to change – hunkered down with bunker mentalities. Others engage in desperate bidding practices that hurt not only them but the whole industry in the long run.
What we need to be thinking about is how to innovate, improve, expand and add value to product lines and how to better communicate with specifiers, contractors and employees to best advocate the benefits of precast concrete materials. This is going to take individuals that aren’t afraid of some calculated exposure to risk and that are willing to put in the hard work needed to achieve prosperity.
I know it’s hard to not let the way the country has languished at the bottom of the economic spectrum rub off – the same as it’s hard to not let your mood be affected by the weather – but we have to be willing to change and adapt. Playing defense is important, especially when faced with the worst economy any of us have ever seen, but it alone won’t win you the game. You need to play some offense to do that.
I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: The precast concrete industry that emerges from this depression will be leaner, meaner and stronger than ever before. If you adapt, you will be a part of an industry that is more focused, opportunistic, dynamic and tuned into customers than ever, and it’s going to be good for the long-term health of the industry.
But before you can do that you have to ask yourself, where do I want my company to be in three, four or five years and what do I need to do now to get there? Then, take some action.
Doug Ruhlin says
Ty – You hit the nail on the head with your next-to-last paragraph, in my opinion. Times today may not be the best, but something good will come out of this – a better precast industry (and nearly any other industry you can think of). Sorry to those who don’t push through to that brighter future, but I firmly believe we will be a better, more productive, greener / more sustainable, and more profitable industry in the future. The bottom of the spectrum won’t be there….so why not take steps now to ensure you’re among the leaders? Why not position yourself for the future now, rather than waiting until you are jumping on the bandwagon?
I think I’m repeating your words, but you put it well.