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Friday, January 30, 2009

The real Washington

At the D.C. Metropolitan Subcontractors Association (DCMSA) meeting Casino Night, from left, Kevin Glass, Early, Cassidy and Shilling, Inc. (insurance and surety bonds), Bob Houston, director of estimating at Shapiro & Duncan Mechanical, and William A. Hicks, controller, with John Rhee, Project Manager, from PowerMax Inc. Mechanical Contractor.
At right below: Barbi Carter, member services co-ordinator, with Barbara Sanders, director of education and meetings for the DCMSA.

No time wasted yesterday, as I and North Carolina publisher Bob Kruhm spent the day in Washington D.C.'s North Virginia and Maryland suburbs connecting with local construction associations and interviewing potential publishers for Washington Construction News.

The Washington D.C. area, of course, is much more than government -- of course real people with real jobs, challenges, and aspirations live in this community.

Undoubtedly the recession has hit this area -- staff at the Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association (representing home builders in the District of Columbia and its Maryland have been laid off and builders are struggling to survive. Other contractors in the commercial side are challenged as well by intense competition, project delays and financing challenges.

Yet, undoubtedly, the powerful presence of the federal government here allays some of the market challenges. This region is a wonderful place to work; combining diversity, history and opportunity.

Yesterday evening, we visited a casino night event organized by the D.C. Metropolitan Subcontractors Association (DCMSA). Under association rules, we could not attend the business meeting -- where, under a lawyer's guidance, members share information about the business practices of general contractors.

Strict rules are observed to prevent any violation of anti-competition or Combines laws, while allowing the sub contractors the necessary information about payment and business practices of general contractors and developers; giving them the tools to know if there are warning signs about potential slow or non-payment of their invoices.

Not surprisingly, this type of information is vital in a recession, and DCMSA staff say membership has increased significantly in recent months.

At the Casino Night, I won and lost a pile of funny money, but we all ended the game ahead, knowing the importance of relationships, association participation, and industry support.

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