While the federal stimulus program has helped many construction industry firms avoid the most immediate, far-reaching and detrimental impacts of the recession, it hardly has been a panacea for all or a substitute for tough strategic decisions. As markets shift, shrink or even disappear, some companies are scrambling to adjust, while others, having seen signs of tough times ahead, execute game plans adopted before the downturn hit.
Some industry observers believe this recession is more difficult than past slumps because so many firms have built up capacity over years of boom. Trying to maintain that size has led companies into bidding wars, risky price cutting and corporate pain. “If 2009 could be described as the year of scratch-and-claw, then 2010 will be the year of hand-to-hand combat,” says Gregory DiFrank, president of River Consulting LLC, Columbus, Ohio. But others say the market is resilient and will generate opportunity for firms that reach deep into their talent pools to find and create new paths ahead.