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Crystal ball for construction professionals?

I think most business professionals, particularly investors, would love to have a crystal ball in which to catch glimpses of their financial future. Self-storage developers take their chances with location, competition, zoning boards and the like. Of course, they hope to remove as much uncertainty as possible by conducting feasibility studies and due diligence before building or buying. But there are always seeds of doubt.

Not long ago, this business took a hit in the form of a steel crisis. The cost of materials went through the roof (no pun intended), and builders were forced to makes choices about whether to pass these increases on to customers. [To learn more about the driving forces behind the shortage, read THIS LETTER, published in the March 2004 issue of Inside Self-Storage magazine.] Concerns seem to have stabilized, but there are no guarantees the scenario won't repeat in some form.

Divination tools aside, you do have other methods for anticipating coming trends. For example, next Wednesday, you can particpate in a conference call addressing 2007 forecasts for construction segments and materials. Presenters will include Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America; Jim Haughey, chief economist of Reed Construction Data; and Jack Basso, chief operating officer of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

These guys will be addressing the issues of price and supply for specific market segments. They'll talk about things like:

  • Whether the housing meltdown will continue and if/how it could affect the nonresidential construction market.
  • Which construction segments are most likely to stay "hot."
  • If highway construction is like to continue expanding.
  • The prospects for public and private funding with the new Congress.
  • The outlook for materials costs, including which items are likely to be in short supply.
  • Whether labor and subcontractor shortages are likely to continue.

The call will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2-3:30 p.m. ET. To register , contact Dasha Brock at 703.837.5408 or

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