By Christine Graf
Economists and industry experts predict that the construction industry will continue to be plagued by rising material costs, material shortages and supply chain disruptions throughout 2021.
“The price increases are pretty drastic,” said Sara Turoczy, manager of business development at MLB Construction Services in Malta. “Along with lumber, we are seeing steel pricing skyrocket.”
MLB is a commercial builder. When the pandemic hit, they were working on projects for several customers including Saratoga Performing Art Center. The work at SPAC included construction of a two-story concession and venue space, as well as a smaller concessions building and an outdoor pavilion.
In addition to continuing work on projects that were underway, MLB took on numerous last-minute projects.
“We’ve been able to take on emergency calls in everything from medical to the hospitality industry,” said Turoczy. “In the beginning, when no one really knew protocol or what needed to happen, healthcare was really scrambling to try to do the best that they could to section people in the right areas and keep everyone safe.”
When company president Jim Dawsey received an emergency call from Wesley Health Care Center in Saratoga, he and a crew of workers were there the next day to build a space for the center to house COVID patients.
“Jim took the call on Friday, and he was up there on Saturday morning building it out himself with a small crew of people,” said Turoczy.
MLB, a company with 66 employees and a second office in North Carolina, works in many different sectors of the construction industry and frequently bids on large projects. According to Turoczy, an increasing number of these projects are being postponed. She said state agencies are not currently awarding contracts.
“There is some uncertainty of whether some project will move forward at all. We haven’t had any projects that have been specifically canceled. They have just all been postponed—at least the ones we were looking at,” she said. “For the most part, we are just being told that these projects are being postponed and reevaluated.”
These postponements can have major implications for companies that are bidding on jobs. If the owner of a project delays the awarding of the contract, there is the potential for material prices to increase dramatically during that time frame.
“Since we have to hold our (bid) number, it becomes a challenge when the prices keep increasing between the bid due date and months later when the project gets awarded,” said Turoczy. “We are nearing the third month of being asked by one owner to hold our price.”
By Christine Graf