Page 27 - BusinessWest December 7, 2020
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 said. “It’s a big problem because you really have no idea where the pricing is going to be.”
Availability of building materials has also been an issue this year. Perrier said light fixtures and flooring materials are two items he’s had trouble procuring for the last several months, while Pelle- tier said doors and hardware have been in short supply. Rahkonen said find- ing certain parts for heavy equipment, such as excavators, has been difficult as well.
“We had a couple projects that needed vinyl fencing, and we just couldn’t get it because it just wasn’t out there,” Mercieri said. “We’ve since fin- ished those jobs, but we were delayed by four to six weeks in getting the fencing.”
Much of the supply deficits are caused by overseas factories that experienced shutdowns early in
the pandemic. These manufactur-
ing delays from months ago are still being felt now as contractors need these supplies. “We just can’t meet the same deadlines because we can’t get our hands on the materials,” Pelletier said.
From the delays caused by socially distanced workers to not having mate- rials when they’re needed, Pelletier said it’s difficult to take on fast-track jobs that need to hit a deadline. Mercieri echoed that point when discussing his company’s many jobs at hospitals.
“If you are renovating an operating room, for example, the hospital will need it back on line by a certain date, no matter what.”
Mercieri also mentioned a recent instance where he was offered a project that involved complicated construc- tion and needed to be built on a tight schedule.
“When COVID hit, we were up front with the owners and advised them that, with the tight schedule and all the uncertainties of COVID causing delays, they might want to consider some alternate plans,” he told BusinessWest. “They rejected our suggestion and wanted to move forward at 100%, but ultimately they scrapped the project.”
Another concern early on was lost time due to COVID-19 infections. How- ever, Mercieri said none of his work- ers have tested positive. The closest call was an exposed plumber who was not on site, but had worked with the plumber on Mercieri’s job site. Con- tact tracing revealed these two had not worked together in the previous six weeks. Perrier said a few of his employ- ees and subcontractors on projects
in Eastern Mass. weren’t so lucky and contracted coronavirus.
“We shut down the site for two or three weeks while contact tracing was completed,” he said, adding that the employees recovered, and everyone who had been affected tested negative. “Sites were sanitized, and then back to work.”
John Rahkonen, owner of North- ern Constructions Service, said four of
“It’s a challenge to stay on schedule, but at least we’re now able to bring more than one trade in at a time and assign them work in different areas, so they’re not on top of each other.
Widespread Impact
The economic impact of COVID-19 on a national level is often reflected at the local level, especially for construc- tion companies. In the travel sector, Standard and Poor’s recently projected a 70% decline in airline-passenger traffic for 2020. The core business of Perrier’s company involves aviation construction, ranging from airline and rental-car facilities to restaurants and retail stores located at Logan Interna- tional, Bradley International, and other airports.
“We had a considerable amount of work that, within a period of two
his employees came down with minor cases of COVID-19, with one showing no symptoms at all. He was quick to point out that no one contracted the virus from the job site.
“Even though most of our crews work outside, we encourage people to stay in their own bubbles,” Rahkonen said. “If you stay within your bubble, you’ll be in pretty good shape.”
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