Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
Because of the economy in the last few years and the recession, everybody’s interested in what other businesses are seeing, what they’re doing and what their outlook is for this year. It’s something I get questions about and talk to people about all the time.
No one knows what the future holds, and we never will. However, we have a pretty good idea what the outlook for 2012 will be, since we conducted market interviews with 53 different clients at the end of last year.
We’ve done this several years now, and it works really well for us. I would highly recommend other companies do the same. We get a lot of information from clients about how we’re doing in their eyes and what they’re seeing in their business.
If I call up and just ask for business, I may not get much out of that. But if I call up and say, “We’re interviewing clients for next year to determine your needs and next year’s outlook,” they are very helpful. In many cases we find out about projects we didn’t already know about and may not have known about otherwise.
From these interviews, we gathered that most people think 2012 is going to be about the same as 2011, maybe with a slight improvement. But it’s going to be slow growth coming out of the recession. We heard that pretty much across the board with our clients and others we’ve talked to.
Most state agencies are maintaining facilities rather than building new ones. In some markets, like shopping center/retail, there are more renovations than new deals.
Same thing is true in transportation — there’s more focus on maintenance rather than building new roads. But that gives us some great opportunities as well. There is pressure to gain more efficiency from our existing transportation systems and that pressure has spurred innovative ways to use technology and policy changes to achieve more with what we have.
When people ask how Sain is doing this year, the message I tell people is we feel very blessed to be where we are. We all have a greater appreciation for what we have now and look forward to the opportunities ahead.
There are some bright spots in our business, and we are experiencing some growth this year over last year, particularly in the traffic and transportation areas of our business. We’re also seeing new opportunities and focusing on healthcare and automobile manufacturing this year.
In the past 10-15 years, we’ve had a lot of success by diversifying our business, especially when it comes to transportation/traffic and the federal markets. These areas have really helped sustain our business, so we will continue to work towards being more diversified.
Joe Meads is a Principal/Owner at Sain Associates, Inc., headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, with offices in Cullman, Alabama, Pulaski, Tennessee and Mandeville, Louisiana. Sain is a site engineering, traffic/transportation engineering and planning and land surveying firm with experience in more than thirty states.