While the COVID-19 pandemic hurt some businesses, other industries are booming.
For small business owners in the construction industry, business has been strong and steady since the spring of 2020. Just ask Roy White, a mason contractor near Hemlock, New York.
“It’s been fantastic for us. Our only problem is we can’t find enough help. We have our core base of employees that’s been with us. We’ve been around for 40 years and we have good word-of-mouth for our business. We’ve had big crews in the past, 30-plus people, but that was years ago.
“Now we try to maintain a crew of 10-12. It’s just been tough to hang on to anybody young.”
Roy’s been so busy that he recently purchased a Yanmar SV40 mini-excavator. He needed an upgrade and went with a larger machine.
“It has heat and air conditioning – it’s a very nice machine,” Roy said. “We’re mason contractors so most of what we do is excavation footer work for homes. We have some skid steers and some mixers to pour concrete.
“We’re trying to update all of our equipment. We’re starting to get on the backside of a lot of it. Eventually, I’m going to take a backseat to someone else and I want to make sure everything is up to snuff.”
Roy wants to set up his business for success when he’s done. But in 2021, finding people with the right skills and work ethic to fill out his workforce remains an issue. He knows the construction industry isn’t for everybody, but people must have the right attitude to succeed.
“You have to have a strong work ethic in this industry,” Roy said. “It’s not just a physical thing. We work nine months out of the year here in New York. Part of the problem for me is finding people with enough drive. Everybody wants immediate gratification in their job now. No one is willing to pay their dues.”
The short term looks good for Roy and his crew. They are booked for the near future, but there could be challenges on the horizon. For one, people are beginning to move out of New York state.
“This season looks good, but we are having a mass exodus of people moving out of state. I expect to stay busy with repairs and renovations and things like that. We are a very niche business,” Roy said. “I know most of the guys in my trade in this area. We’re all in the same boat and can’t find enough help.”
Equipment Financing Pays Off
One thing is for certain, Roy wouldn’t hesitate to use Stearns Bank to upgrade his equipment in the future.
“There was an ease and speed about it that you don’t see much anymore. I debated about financing or paying cash. During these times, it’s important to hang on to your money. I made one phone call and I was approved,” Roy said.
“Stearns Bank helped me preserve my cash flow – which is huge. If you want to be a player in this industry, you have to have decent equipment.”