Diversify to survive — that is the message from several industry experts as the recession continues to take its toll on construction.
Reflecting on the past few years, Charles Dunstan, president of the Construction Association of Bermuda, says downsizing, lay-offs and cost-cutting have been essential for many businesses in order to stay afloat.
But through those tough decisions, many companies have emerged as more efficient and “stronger”.
Breaking even is now the task in hand, as the profits of the past have fallen by the wayside.
Mr Dunstan suggests the key for many businesses will be to “innovate to survive”.
Builders’ supply store Baptiste Ltd is a positive example of this strategy.
Three years ago, as the economic downturn started to bite, owner Sacha Bearden set about remodeling the Warwick store and diversifying her lines.
The business now sells everything from home décor to gardening equipment and candy, and has attracted a new predominantly female clientele.
“It’s not been easy but we are getting there, and it’s definitely worth it,” says Ms Bearden, who also praises her staff for their hard work in coming on board.
Charles Dunstan, managing director of Kaissa Ltd, also explains how the specialist roofing and waterproofing subcontractor has had to diversify to stay afloat.
Kaissa Ltd has turned to renovating older buildings but can also advise homeowners on making new-build properties more energy-efficient.
Despite the recession, some new start-up companies are thriving.
Read Darcy Robertson’s account of the first year of interior design company, Commercial Interiors Group (CIG).
Value for money and responsiveness to the client’s needs are vital in today’s economy, says Mr Robertson.
This is also the message from Werner Stegmann, owner of Atlantic Ceilings Ltd, Turnkey Services Ltd and Turnkey Scaffolding Ltd, who is opening up a retail and wholesale showroom and warehouse for his new company, Atlantic Building Supplies.
Mr Stegmann says the new building supplies company will aim to provide “quality products at the best price possible”.
“Our customers are demanding more convenience and a wider range of materials at a better price,” he says.
Elsewhere in this Construction supplement you will find advice on taking out contractors insurance.
Both BF&M and Freisenbruch-Meyer Insurance Services Ltd stress that your cover needs to be watertight ahead of breaking ground on any construction project.
If you are looking for safe and reliable scaffolding, Bermuda Scaffolding Company Ltd can meet your needs with its extensive range of Layher ‘Allround’ scaffolding systems.
For windows, shutters and doors, TreeCon Ltd can supply products which stand up to the natural elements of Bermuda’s harsh climate.
If you are looking to save water, then why not consider installing a Stealth toilet. ENCON Bermuda Ltd explains how the world’s most efficient toilet can help Bermudians preserve this most precious resource, for just $375, including the seat.
On the subject of saving energy, Bermuda Engineering Company Ltd explains the financial advantages of installing a solar energy system.
Alternative Energy Systems Ltd can also help to make this affordable. The Bermuda company is offering a SunPower Solar Starter Kit with six 240 watt AC panels, including installation, for under $9,000.
Renovating your home? The BAC Group can install efficient plumbing, air conditioning and fire protection systems to help create the best indoor environment for you.
As for the outdoor environment, Bermuda Brickyard explains how Tremron Concrete Pavers and Soil Retention Products’ Driveable Grass can add attractive touches to your patio or driveway.
With regard to the future of construction in Bermuda, it is ever-evolving, as David O’Beirne of OBM International explains with his account of the island’s first Private Public Partnership (PPP/P3) project — the new King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
Bermudians are adaptable, innovative people, having survived more than four centuries living on a remote island in the mid-Atlantic.
The challenge for the construction industry as it moves forward in these tough economic times is to maintain that creativity and innovation.