Just as the US summer construction season begins, companies are struggling to find enough cement. The real estate market shows no sign of cooling, but there could be a cloud on the horizon. In parts of the Pacific Northwest, for instance, there’s not nearly enough cement, 15 per cent less than last year even as demand has climbed by 30 per cent.
"It’s definitely affected our bottom line," says Dave Bertsch, president of Champion Concrete Pumping. "If it continues, we’re going to have some layoffs. We are going to have to liquidate some equipment. It’s a domino effect." At Spokane Rock Products, manger Steve Robinson has to ration supplies to his customers.
The cement shortage is putting a crimp in construction nationwide, according to homebuilders and contractor trade associations. "If you get to a situation where projects are going to be delayed and people are out of work, that’s a significant blow to the economy," says Stephen Sandherr, Association of General Contractors, CEO. Contractors in 10 states, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Florida, report sever shortages as the heavy construction season gets under way.