May 4, 2018 by Rob Blackstien
We’ve been overwhelmed with a lot of bad news lately. If it’s not yet another mass shooting, it’s soaring gas prices in Vancouver, or Ontario politicians dropping like flies in the wake of inappropriate behaviour.
Hell, even the weather in March did little to perk me up. St. Patrick’s Day temporarily brightened my spirits… until that unfortunate run-in with a Leprechaun.
That’s why I was overjoyed to see the bullish outlook for the Ontario construction industry based on the Ontario Construction Secretariat’s (OCS) 2018 Contractor Survey.
Almost a third of all contractors in the province expect to conduct more business this year than they did in 2017, while only 16 per cent are anticipating less business. The rates are fairly similar across the province, but contractors in the Eastern and Southwestern regions are particularly optimistic, with 34 per cent in each region predicting a boost in business.
Nearly two in five contractors think that construction activity as a whole will rise in the province. The engineering/civil sector has the rosiest outlook according to contractors, with nearly one half pegging an increase in this area of the industry. That sector is followed by institutional and high-rise residential, each with 39 per cent of respondents forecasting an increase in those sectors.
Clearly, contractors are beginning to realize how vital the adoption of new technologies is to their future. Just over seven out of every 10 respondents stated that this is important; over a quarter believing that technology is very important to their company’s future. Interestingly, the main motivator that will drive contractors to adopt new technologies is meeting the demands of their clients. At 39 per cent, this is far and away the main reason contractors will invest in technology.
However, the money to invest in these emerging technologies is going to have to come from somewhere, and currently only 13 per cent of contractors indicated they have a budget dedicated to this. That number will need to rise significantly to address what seems to be a disconnect in what contractors generally understand is important and what they are ready to invest in.
What’s holding them back? The cost or budget restrictions (34 per cent), unclear return on investment (25 per cent) and training requirements (24 per cent) are the top three barriers to adoption of new technologies for contractors.
Clearly, a shift in thinking is necessary to get the industry on board with what’s coming, and the investment in time and training that will be required to get there. And a big part of that must come from the technology vendors themselves, who — as these results suggest — may need to do a better job of selling the long-term benefits of their solutions.
But the good news is, many contractors are projecting a better year in 2018, and those rosier results may breed an environment that’s more conducive to embracing the tools and technologies of tomorrow’s contractors.
So from where I sit, that looks like a half-filled glass.
Finally, we’d like to extend our congratulations to On-Site’s Jacob Stoller for winning a Shingo award for his book The Lean CEO.