View from the President February 2013


by Greg Schwalb

Greetings and Happy New Year! I hope you are having a successful 2013 so far. The year has started off at a fast pace and there is cautious optimism for our trade. Hopefully you had a chance to re-energize for 2013 and all of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

So what has changed from 2012? Politically, things look much the same. President Obama won re-election and is starting his second term. Republicans are in control of the House, and Democrats still control the Senate. We seem to be no closer to resolving the “fiscal cliff” then we were last year. It seems that the tin can just keeps on getting kicked further down the road. Are you prepared for the implementation of the Health Care Reform? It seems to be a shoe-in at this point. At the state level the major discussion seems to be focused on tax policy and reform.

After six consecutive years of a construction downturn, we are seeing signs that would lead us to be optimistic about 2013. In Nebraska, the trending of building permits issued for both residential and non-residential construction is on the rise. The increase is being led by the private sector. According to Reed Construction Data, there is over $4.9 billion of commercial projects in the pre-bid phase. In road construction, there are many road widening, bridge replacement, and other projects on tap this year. Several mega-sized, multiyear projects that get going in earnest figure to keep those who draw plans, drive earth-movers, pour foundations, raise steel, frame buildings, lay brick and outfit buildings humming for several years to come. Finally, in a recent report by the Nebraska Business Forecast Council, a panel of leading state economists, report continued housing growth and other commercial construction should bring 1,300 new jobs in 2013 and another 1,300 in 2014. Let’s hope the trend continues in this favorable direction.

Things are humming as always with the Nebraska Building Chapter! Have you checked out our new websiteit officially previewed in December 2012. You’ll find there a lot of good information about upcoming events and programs, legislative action, health and safety and much more. The Chapter is actively watching many Legislative Bills affecting our industry, including LB 372, Buy Nebraska Act and LB 373, changes to the NE Construction Prompt Pay Act. You may wish to pay special attention to these two. The run down on the Legislative Bills and a lot more can be found on the site. Let us know what you think about this new and improved website and look.

Based on the results of a recent industry survey, the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is on the rise. Hopefully your organization has already embraced BIM or Lean construction principals. The Nebraska Building Chapter is leading the way in BIM training, and has trained more individuals than any other Chapter in the U.S. We will continue with additional BIM training, and will kick off Lean Construction training this year. We hope that you will support the Lean training in the same manner that you did the BIM.

On a personal note, I want to recognize and thank Dan Vokoun for his leadership and guidance of the Nebraska Building Chapter while serving as President of the organization in 2012. Dan will not be going far, as he will continue to serve on the Board as Past-President. Dan, I look forward to your continued service, leadership and advice in the upcoming year.

Finally, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as President. I am looking forward to meeting you at our upcoming events. Please feel free to contact me at or 402-339-2221 if you ever need any assistance, information or have concerns and/or ideas about how the organization can better serve you and your organization.