The last word

State of the Industry - The State of the Demolition Industry

September 17, 2018

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) “An Update to the Economic Outlook: 2018 to 2028” released in August, real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to hit 3.1 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2019, which the CBO expects to create excess demand in the economy and lower the unemployment rate. While this portends continued growth in the building and demolition sectors, there are some unknowns on the horizon that could impede economic expansion.

The midterm elections, escalating international trade wars and the subsequent prospect of tariffs on U.S. goods could have a domino effect that impedes industry progress.

Conversely, the long-talked-about infrastructure bill, should one materialize, would be an added stimulus that would breathe new life into the demolition sector for years to come.

“When you're talking about trillions of dollars that the federal government wants to invest in infrastructure, and we’re in the construction, demolition and recycling business, that’s all the opportunity you could ask for right there,” Graham said. “Regardless, our infrastructure is failing, so there's an outlet there for growth for many people. We just need Congress and the states to find the funding and say, ‘OK, it's going to happen.’”

Regardless of what happens with the economy and prospective legislation, Barker said companies can grab opportunity in the coming years by being strategic about the jobs they pursue and the areas they specialize in.

“Don't wait until the opportunity passes—get in on the front side,” he said. “Of course, you have to continue to stick to your core area of expertise—what you bring to the market that nobody else does in a way to stay competitive. I think we're looking at the changes in the industry the same way: We're kind of slow as we enter into new markets, and we’re making sure that we approach new opportunities safely and correctly, and if it turns out to be a good market for us, we'll move into that.”

Despite all the changes in the industry, Knightly said the fundamentals of demolition are going to remain consistent.

“I ask myself, ‘Where are we going into the future, five years down the road, and are we going to be prepared for that with equipment, people and training so that we're on the forefront of the next curve?’” Knightly said. “But I don't think demolition in general is going to be much different, other than maybe having some new tools that change how we do it. There are still going to be the same buildings in the same types of neighborhoods that are going to need to be demolished. Demolition is demolition, and we're the ones who are going to be there to do the work.”