MCN’s 2023 Top Metal Builders report is a tale of “yin and yang” showing a clear “return to growth” yet still showing labor shortage to be the biggest challenge among top metal builders. According to the results this year, the list of top metal builders shows a growing industry with the largest contractors and erectors reporting significant growth in the average tonnage and square footage of the metal buildings they constructed between 2021 and 2022.
Note that MCN breaks out the list of 20 top erectors from the list of 100 top contractors, so that they don’t end up counting work on the same building twice, once for the contractor furnishing the metal building system and again for the erector putting up the steel. Knowing that some companies furnish and erect, but also are contracted to only erect a building, making them both contractors and erectors. Rather than separate those numbers out in the same entity, MCN identifies those companies as contractors.
BY THE NUMBERS
The average tonnage and square footage of metal building contractors and erectors increased significantly in 2022 compared to 2021. For the 100 largest contractors, the tonnage increased 8.1%, while the square footage jumped up 15.6%. The 20 largest metal building erectors saw an even greater increase in both tonnage (29.9%) and square footage (24.3%). Those numbers indicate a healthy industry on the rebound from a couple of tough years. And when they took only the 100 largest builders, regardless if they were contractors or erectors, they saw similar significant increases. The average tonnage increased 20.9% and square footage was 22.4% higher.
Top 100 Contractors Ranked by Tonnage: www.metalconstructionnews.com/media/MCN-Images/2023-Contractor-Tonnage.pdf
Top 100 Contractors Ranked by Square Footage: www.metalconstructionnews.com/media/MCN-Images/2023-Contractor-SqFootage.pdf
Top 20 Erectors Ranked by Tonnage: www.metalconstructionnews.com/media/MCN-Images/2023-Erector-Tonnage.pdf
Top 20 Erectors Ranked by Square Footage: www.metalconstructionnews.com/media/MCN-Images/2023-Erector-SqFootage.pdf
Biggest Challenge – Labor Shortage
In addition to compiling the numbers, MCN surveys builders about the biggest challenges they are facing and what they would like to see changed in the metal building industry.
Resoundingly, the biggest challenge facing the metal building industry is labor shortage. In fact, every year since 2011 when MCN began asking metal builders what their biggest challenge was, the lack of skilled labor has led the pack. This year, 42% of top metal builders said it was the biggest challenge they faced in 2022, jumping up from 23% reported in 2021. Following labor shortage, rising material and labor costs and lengthening lead times were reported.
One notable change between 2021 and 2022 is the supply issue disruption, seeing a significant reduction from 21.3% to 8.5% of the metal builders reporting. Replacing that challenge is inflation and interest rates. Top metal builders report delays in funding for projects or cancelled projects because of the increased costs of borrowing money. Rounding out the list, weather delays and permitting problems saw a slight increase for both of these this year.
MCN Asked: What would you most like to see change in the metal building industry?
Of the over 150 responses, while many of the answers were related to labor shortage, lead times and pricing, there were a number of unique responses that could help the industry going forward in the key areas of training, design, and sustainability.
Training – Top metal builders pointed to the need for training in a number of different areas. Training is part of the answer to solving the skilled labor shortage and attracting young workers to the industry, but also to raising the overall quality of the industry. For example, to help the overall image of metal building systems, many of the responses called for more erectors to be accredited, with one response asking for support from manufacturers.
Design – Most of the builders who talked about design asked for more flexibility and more options. Responses ranged from “increased flexibility of framing design using conventional steel methods,” to “modernize the façades” to a very specific request, “make a more aesthetic 36-inch-wide panel.”
Sustainability and Energy Codes – Top metal builders raised the issue of energy code changes and insulation systems ranging from rolling back the energy code requirements to finding ways to solve insulation and vapor barrier needs.
Click HERE to read the full report from Metal Construction News including lists of accredited and non-accredited contractors and erectors.
About Metal Construction News
Metal Construction News is a partner publication and show guide producer of METALCON. Metal Construction News is the original news magazine of the metal construction industry and is the premier source for news, products and strategies. Devoted to educating building systems contractors, general contractors, suppliers, manufacturers and more, each issue features project overviews, field techniques, and technical issues dealing with the metal construction industry.