Rebuilding after storm could test building industry’s capacity

Ken Naquin, CEO, Louisiana Associated General Contractors photographed in 2015. (Photo by Don Kadair)

The rebuilding process following Hurricane Ida could create business opportunities for commercial builders while exacerbating preexisting challenges involving workers and building materials, says Ken Naquin, CEO of the Louisiana Association of General Contractors. 

“For the first time since probably [Hurricane] Laura of last year I’m a little worried about the capacity of the industry, and the capacity of the industry’s workforce, and availability of materials,” he says. 

The post-Laura rebuilding is far from over, and a plethora of infrastructure projects are competing with general contractors for workers and materials. Naquin says the commercial and infrastructure sectors of the construction industry generally aren’t busy at the same time as they are now. He says contractors are telling him they could use 25% more workers than they currently have. 

At the same time, builders are dealing with shortages of supplies such as drywall, windows and doors, and roofing materials. Lumber has gotten a little easier to get but prices remain high, he says.

“Prices have jumped up with the pandemic and have not really come down,” Naquin says. 

He says he’s particularly concerned about the capacity of smaller companies that do residential work. 

“Those guys are going to be in very high demand,” Naquin says.