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Wait a Minute. Construction is at its Highest Level Since 2008?

Last week I received the AGC Smartbrief email newsletter and did a double take.  According to an early November research report, construction spending was up 0.6%, reaching its highest level since May 2008 with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.09 trillion.  After my initial surprise passed, I thought this was good news, but wondered, how does this compare to the heady days of 2006 and 2007?

I got curious and went and grabbed source data from the US Census Department to plot it over time.  Here’s what US total construction spend since 2004 looks like:   

US total construction spend

When viewed this way, you can see that the recovery is steady, bringing us back to pre-crash levels.  And those were pretty high-flying times. I still remember back in 2006 counting 72 tower cranes on the Miami skyline (yes, I counted them). That was back in the early days at Vela Systems when I was keeping track of all the projects so I could try to visit them. 

Why is this exciting to us as a technology company? Growth creates more opportunities and sparks innovation. It forces companies to become more efficient, to be better communicators and to manage more projects at the same time. This is where technology comes in.

The race is on to keep up!  If you’re a general contractor or trade, how are you documenting your progress?  How do you communicate with the owner and create a smooth handover? If you’re an owner, how do you get a status on what’s happening on your project sites? 

For one thing, you should check out our private Beta where you’ll be able to see how you can turn the mobile phone camera in everyone’s pocket into a powerful communication tool. Use technology to become more efficient during these growth times and you'll reap the benefits now and during whatever ups and downs may come in the future.  

Written by Josh Kanner

Josh Kanner has been involved in enterprise-focused software startups since 2000 with a focus in the AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) industry since 2005.

Most recently he was co-founder of Vela Systems, a pioneer in the use of web and tablet workflows for construction and capital projects. There he led the company’s product, marketing, and business development functions. Vela Systems grew from bootstrapped beginnings to include over 50% of the ENR Top Contractors as customers and deployments all over the globe. The company was successfully acquired by Autodesk in 2012 and has been rebranded as BIM 360 Field.

Prior to founding Vela Systems, Josh was responsible for product management and strategy at Emptoris (now part of IBM), a web-based strategic sourcing software company with customers including Motorola, GlaxoSmithKline, Bank of America, and American Express.

Kanner graduated from Brown University and earned an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He still gets excited to put on a hard hat and walk a job.

View more posts by Josh Kanner.

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