Buck Smoak, director of business development for Auld & White Constructors LLC, said most contractors are working on current jobs and adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“Being part of the mayor and governor’s list of essential businesses, most commercial contractors are continuing with construction projects in progress and adhering to CDC, Department of Health and local guidelines for back-office operations,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues guidance.
Smoak said April 2 that for the most part, current construction projects will continue.
“Even in the shutdown orders across the nation, with a few exceptions, the governments have recognized that construction is an ‘essential business’ that needs to stay active,” he said.
Auld & White continually evaluates projects in preparation for possible jurisdiction shutdowns of project sites “so we can move and shift our workers and superintendents to open-air locations or to projects deemed essential because of the nature of the work.”
Smoak said Auld & White checks in workers daily to ensure they are not showing symptoms and issues daily reminders to sanitize regularly and practice social distancing at all job sites.
“The demand for sanitizer is huge and supply is not very available,” Smoak said.
“We were proactive on the front end and set up sanitizing stations at all the job sites and our workers have been inventive in building hand-washing stations when none are available,” he said.
Smoak said Auld & White is professionally cleaning all job-site trailers to promote additional safety, providing on-site staff with extra training and allowing back-office staff to work remotely based on the mayor’s executive order and good work practices.
He said the company has no known cases of coronavirus among employees.
Smoak said active projects have not been put on hold. “Some projects we were supposed to start have been put on temporary pause. These number very few,” he said.
“Most of our clients are preparing for the long-term business needs of their operations, a lot of which are in essential services like financial/banking, gasoline and convenience stores, health care and logistics and transport.”
Smoak said Auld & White’s clients plan their construction projects to meet their needs six to 18 months out.
He said new buildings and additions are continuing while interior renovation projects have the potential to pause “if the surrounding environment is sensitive,” such as hospitals or senior living facilities.
“For now, everything is continuing forward.”
Auld & White is involved in health care facility work, gas station construction, warehouse projects, senior living facilities and government projects. Those either are essential services or are connected.
Smoak said some projects that were about to start before the pandemic have been put on hold.
“The economy was very strong heading into this situation and we think that strengthens our clients’ ability to recover after these precautions end,” he said.
Auld & White put into place emergency leave paid time-off to reduce the financial impact to employees. Some office staff can work remotely, reducing the daily amount of office personnel by more than 50%.
He said technology has produced a higher level of communication within employee workgroups and increased communication with clients and partners.
Smoak said Auld & White is preparing for continued operations and focusing on keeping employees gainfully employed.
He said for some companies, cash “reserves may be depleted because the flow of work was at such a high-paced level before the COVID-19 impacts.”
He said Auld & White expects “that this high-paced construction level will restart after the dust settles.”
“It just may look different with shifts in market demands,” he said, such as reduced restaurant and retail investments until those industries recover fully.
“Corporate office demands may wane and medical care demands may increase,” he said.
“Based on the rhythm of local business activity, we feel investments in construction-related improvements will continue forward locally.”
“The economy was very strong before this situation paused it.”