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No Time to Play Possum

September 19, 2008
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Don't be wild-eyed following this week's wild ride.

There’s an unsettling thought tailgating the bumper of this week’s wild ride on Wall Street. The bad news isn’t over. The risky lending practices that led to this mess are still surfacing in the form of massive losses, bankruptcies, bailouts and sell-offs.

Clearly, the housing and financial crises are not going to subside any time soon. For construction pros, business opportunities will be limited. But this is no time to play possum.

Historically, lean times have narrowed the field. Marginal performers can’t survive a sustained downturn. Therefore, now is a great time to focus on increasing your company’s share of market (SOM).

Despite taking some big hits in 2008, many of you have increased your SOM this year. Here’s what 269 respondents from the Building Materials Panel, made up of a cross-section of construction pros who read BNP Media construction publications, said about their 2008 SOM via a new survey conducted by Clear Seas Research.*

2008 Share Of Market Forecast
12% said SOM has decreased significantly
20% said SOM has decreased
33% said SOM has stayed the same
31% said SOM has increased
5% said SOM has increased significantly

On the whole, 4% more respondents have seen their SOM increase vs. decrease in 2008. But check out the percentages of those who feel their SOM will shift upward in 2009.

2009 Share Of Market Forecast
1% said SOM will decrease significantly
5% said SOM will decrease
38% said SOM will stay the same
48% said SOM will increase
8% said SOM will increase significantly

Overall, a whopping 50% more respondents project their SOM will grow versus decline in 2009. No doubt some respondents are overly optimistic.

But why? Following are some comments shared by survey respondents.

“Opening additional locations. Increased marketing program. Additional sales force.”

“We continue to outperform our competition, and fully expect to continue that trend indefinitely.”

“The green industry is growing.”

“More competitors will cease to exist.”

“As the market retraction continues, we see the corporate supply houses cut inventory and employees.”

“We have been in business six years now and have established our business as one that will take care of the customers.”

“Increasing our advertising via Internet and direct mail.”

“Higher certification of staff.”

“Economy will get better, housing market will improve.”

“More government funding for conservation products.”

“The baby boomer generation is growing old, more buildings are being required to have ADA compliancy regulations.”

“Switching focus to commercial during housing crisis.”

I was impressed by the volume and variety of reasons why construction pros feel they will gain market share. While many cited advertising and marketing for their confidence, others said they are pursuing niche opportunities, training employees, providing exemplary customer service-and seeing their competitors falter.

Overall, respondents indicated a vibrant determination to not just survive the downturn, but to use it as a launching pad for growth.

What about you? Are you gripping the sides of a life raft, or charging boldly into the fray expecting to come out stronger when the dust settles?

*For more information on the survey conducted by Clear Seas Research, contact SurowiecB@clearseasresearch.com or ShammamiF@clearseasresearch.com.
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