After experiencing two solid years of recovery in 2012 and 2013, the region's specialty contracting sector is anticipating slower growth, but not a pullback, in 2014. Many of the old issues remain: stiff competition for jobs, lower-than-desirable margins and slow pay practices from some owners. Add to that new concerns about labor shortages for skilled workers, more regulation and uncertainty surrounding the impact of the Affordable Care Act. But then the good news: More work is available, materials prices have stabilized and most firms have solid recovery plans.

Photo courtesy of Cache Valley Electric
Cache Valley Electric did the electrical, voice, data and multimedia for USU's strength and conditioning center.

"Our prognosis for 2014 is overall continued construction growth," says Branden Derks, regional manager for ISEC's Rocky Mountain region.

Pat Wolach, executive vice president and COO at Denver's Douglass Colony Group, adds, "In recent years, Douglass Colony has experienced continued growth as a result of money becoming available to developers, government projects getting off the ground and out-of-state work opportunities."

"Construction materials prices fell 0.5% in November and are up only 1.1% year over year," says Chris Hipwell, executive director at ABC of Utah. "2014 should bring about some global economic growth, and the apparent budget deal in Congress should produce greater certainty among businesses, helping to improve a stagnant economy and national economic forecast."

But work force issues are likely to dominate the horizon for subcontractors. Mark Latimer, ABC Rocky Mountain president and CEO, says, "The challenge has moved from looking for quality projects to bid on to finding enough skilled workers to take on the additional projects that are now available."