2009: A Retrospective from Contractors and An Early Outlook For 2010

As most of you know by now, our marketing company works primarily with manufacturers who sell to the contractor marketplace. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the economy in 2009 wasn’t good to most contractors, especially those whose primary market was new construction.

To that end, we did phone interviews with 22 contractors across the country in the last quarter of 2009, primarily in the HVAC and plumbing markets, to get a better sense of how they are surviving and what’s on their minds. We chose these types of contractors because they not only do new construction, but also do service and replacement work which we thought would give us a better read on the consumer as a whole.

Here are some highlights:

  • Contractor’s sales – Were off between 7 to 15%. Some were off as much as 25% and some (2) had actual sales increases in 2009.
  • Commercial business – Started to come back late 3rd and early 4th quarters.
  • Government stimulus package – Helped in increasing sales (more in HVAC than plumbing).
  • Biggest concerns – Tight credit, finding qualified people and big government.

2010 – Most contractors are cautiously optimistic. They know they will have to work smarter in ’10, but believe the opportunities will be there from both new business as well as competitors going away.

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