State of the Industry: A View from the Top

Mid-year is a good time to check in with HBW leaders to get their take on trends in the industry – and the DC Metro market. In an all-encompassing review, Phil Scott and John Leach share their thoughts on the forces influencing HBW’s business.

Industry Trends HBW Construction

When we were planning for 2023, we forecasted some market changes and did some strategic planning to help HBW succeed. We recognized that although these situations were out of our control, how we reacted would make a difference. At the mid-year point, we’re right where we need to be and confident that HBW has recovered financially from the pandemic.

The industry, and the economy, throw curve balls regularly, so planning ahead has never been more important. Instead of setting annual goals and working on them for months, we’re lucky if we can set quarterly goals before there’s another major shift. As we look toward the back half of the year, here are the trends we’re watching.

Trend: Lingering uncertainty around the future of office work

We expected that office interior work would continue to decline as companies vacillate on whether to return to work in offices and, if they do, how does that look. That was an important heads-up because it gave us a chance to expand into other sectors, replacing the dollar volume of interior renovations on our books.

Trend: Supply chain woes

Advanced planning for all of our jobs is more critical than ever as supply chain issues continue to impact delivery times. For clients who don’t have insight into these disruptions, we adjust our timelines so the right products are on the job site at the right time. Even once the global economy recovers and the labor shortage eases, our planning process will continue to be a competitive advantage.

Trend: Finding the right talent

The labor crunch is hitting our market, too, and daily we hear from subs that are struggling to find the right employees. To keep positions at HBW filled, we stay attuned to what candidates want and how to provide a comfortable environment for work. Our focus on company culture has continued to pay off; we have an engaged and talented staff!

Speaking of talent, we believe that success in construction doesn’t have to start with a certain degree of training or experience. The industry requires the right kind of person: smart, motivated, and willing to learn. This is why we are lucky enough to be able to promote from within, including Angel Colon, who recently moved from Senior Estimator to Assistant Vice President of Estimating this spring.

Trend: Retrofitting vs. Rebuilding

This trend is big in our market. Many property owners have no choice but to renovate because they have a lot of inventory and little demand. They are getting creative with how they reposition their real estate. In a recent Howard Hughes project, we updated seven buildings. These weren’t gut jobs but they did upgrade lobbies and create amenity centers that would be attractive to employers and employees, incentivizing them to return to the office. Some of the spaces were turned into collaboration rooms while others featured full gyms, golf zones, pool tables, and other perks. 

The DC market is flooded with office buildings and there’s a major trend to convert them to multifamily, completely shifting entire buildings out of the office market. That change means we’ll see an increase in businesses that serve residential needs, and HBW is ready.

Trend: More retail and restaurants

Retail and restaurant construction is booming for HBW. It’s not just chains and franchises, we’re also seeing small, independently owned places reaching out for their builds. Anytime we can help create communities, the work is especially rewarding.

Trend: More medical and life science

Medical life science is the sector that is exceeding our projections. Look for us to continue leaning into and hiring specialists with medical construction experience so we can continue to grow our knowledge base and client list.

Trend: More four-legged friends

We have seen a huge uptick in pet-related build-outs, including vet hospitals, offices, grooming facilities, pet resorts, daycares, and parks. All the pets that provided companionship through the pandemic are driving an increase in animal-related services. HBW has completed five Playful Pack Pet facilities and is wrapping up Apex Vets. This 21,000 SF, 24-hour emergency veterinarian hospital in Wheaton, MD is the only privately owned pet hospital in the area. The work taps our medical construction expertise for specialty surgical and treatment rooms as well as comfortable spaces for doctors, staff, and owners.

HBW Construction Veterinary Specialists

One thing that’s not trendy is repeat business. We consistently deliver the kind of service that keeps clients coming back. Our focus on building relationships and exceptional communication provides the kind of service that’s tough to beat in this area, and impossible to leave. We projected – and have seen – that the majority of our work is repeat business and referrals.

We used to think that the pandemic represented the biggest changes we would ever experience in our business, but 2023 has shown us that things are continuing to change – fast. Our ability to adjust and move on is a source of strength for HBW employees and clients. Look for more of the same for the rest of the year and beyond as HBW grows.

To learn more about our sectors and recent projects, visit our Market Sectors page on our website. For those interested in joining HBW Construction, visit Careers.