It’s been a long, cold, snowy winter across much of the country. So there is likely explanation of why the economy has stalled in the last couple of quarters. Everything slows down when you’re buried under ice, snow and sub-zero wind chills. Our sunny predictions last fall for 6% growth in the precast concrete sector look ambitious in light of the unusually brutal winter we’re just now putting behind us.
An incident in my driveway the other day got me thinking about our precast forecast again. My snow shovel broke. It was an older shovel that’s been in service for the past 20 years. It finally snapped under the weight of repeated use this winter. Apparently my situation wasn’t unique because there had been a run on snow shovels at the local hardware stores. There was not a snow shovel to be found on this snowy weekend.
So my driveway and sidewalk remained untreated. That’s when a local entrepreneur showed up. The neighbor kid was armed with a shovel and a business proposal. He would not lend me the shovel or rent me the shovel, but he would be happy to move my snow for a mere $40. Classic supply and demand, I thought. He was perfectly willing to do the transaction, but I would have to pay a premium for his service.
“How about this?” I asked. “I’ll give you a guaranteed $20, which is the going rate in the neighborhood. And if you do a great job, I’ll give you a nice tip.” He agreed, and did a great job. When it came time to collect, he went to my wife, Miss Barbara, and she tipped him $20, so he got his original $40 and everybody was happy.
It got me thinking. It’s been a slow start for the construction industry, but not everybody is lagging in this winter of discontent. Snow plow drivers are making a killing. Neighborhood kids with shovels and ambition are flush with cash. Sunbelt precasters are doing well. Your view of the economy depends on how it affects you, and your business.
Meanwhile, the local weather experts predict a cold, wet spring. But the angle of the sun is arcing higher, the days are longer, and soon we will see the green shoots in the fields. Homebuilders will build, road projects will ramp up and precast plants will hum with increased production. And the winter of our discontent will be just a memory.
President, National Precast Concrete Association