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Old 04-29-2011, 09:54 PM
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I am desperately trying to convince my husband to move west. I really like Colorado and would love to call it home.

Hubby is an Electrical Foreman. Can anyone tell me how the construction industry is out that way? How about where I can look for jobs? Newspapers online aren't much help.

We like the Highlands Ranch area, so information for in and around there would be most helpful.

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Old 04-30-2011, 02:29 AM
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My perspective isn't from the employer/contractor level, but as a former manufacturer's rep for over 40 lighting lines. I was working for a long-term established rep agency which covers the four corners Western states, based in Denver. I had to give this job up because my commission income in the last few years didn't exceed my expenses calling upon WD's and contractors in the region. The owner of the agency tells me that he isn't making expenses anymore, and he works out of his house. The costs of his travel to the Dallas market and the Las Vegas lighting industry shows are more than he gets in commissions these days ... and he used to get 20-40 RFP's a day, years ago. Now he doesn't see that volume in a month, and he's seeing a high percentage of projects that don't get funded.

FWIW, I see several trends in the lighting industry currently affecting this area:

1) Major retailers/design studio's have closed their doors. Yup, laid off the design staff and inside/outside sales staff, sent restockable inventory back to the manufacturers for credit, and gone bankrupt. Typically leaving a lot of bills paid out for pennies on the dollar. And we're not just talking about Mom & Pop lighting showrooms, but some of the regional industry powerhouses for decades.

2) Lighting manufacturers are closing their doors. Just two weeks ago, my former associate told me that one of his major art design lines closed their doors; literally, their workers showed up on a Monday AM to be met by locked doors, sheriff's deputies, and a notice that the plant was out of business. The owners had completed grand move-in to a new facility just last year at a cost of over several hundred thousand dollars amid talk that business was booming. But on that Monday morning, the phones were disconnected, the owners weren't reachable, and it's obvious that they'd planned the shut-down for some time because they already had the flyers printed up for the disposal auction of the inventory and manufacturing facilites. Of course, they're also not paying out the current owed commissions ... my friend said they owed him several thousand in commissions which they apparently aren't going to pay. Worse yet, they had several project awards which he sold that will not be delivered.

3) Trends in lighting price points. We used to sell several emergency exit lines at pretty decent prices; these were good projects for us when multiple units were sold. I had an opportunity to help out a local contractor recently for an exit lighting upgrade from incandescent to LED lighting ... and we'd sold retrofit kits with LED light bulbs for this purpose for years. Today, it's less expensive for a contractor to go to a retail box store and buy a complete new exit lighting fixture than I can sell the retrofit kit to a WD. They've got red or green universal bug-eye fixtures for less money than I could ever sell them for. Similarly, we used to rep one of the major lines in ceiling fans/controls which held their top-line performing and designs exclusively for dedicated lighting showrooms ... but capitalized on their name with a 2nd level product line (smaller motors, less fancy fixtures) now sold in the box stores. That competing product line wiped out my sales to showrooms; the showroom owners were asking why they'd want to compete with the discounters ... even though we both knew that the premium product was exclusive to the showrooms, the national ads from the manufacturer implied that the box store product line was the same stuff. I've even seen their product show up in Sam's Club at retail price points lower than I could sell the merchandise to WD's ... or even purchase it for my own use as a manufacturer's rep.

4) I'm seeing manufacturers go behind their independent reps with lower quotes directly to contractors in an effort to make a sale. That means the traditional sales channel through a WD is being by-passed once the contractor has a rep quote in hand for specific SKU's from a manufacturer. Take the rep out of the picture and I don't believe that many electrical contractors could bid projects by themselves unless the whole industry service support is changed by the manufacturers to an in-house sales network ... which they've historically not wanted to do.

So, in my view ... the boom years of construction trades in the area are now passed and there's a lot of skilled folk not working many hours these days if they haven't already left the area. I know a number of journeyman electricians (and a couple of master's) who are thankful to have plant maintenance jobs right now with a 40 hour work week at an hourly wage and benefits package far below union scale for their time. Which calls in another issue ... there's a lot of non-union electrical contractors in the area who can and do BID work for a lot less than union scale. Other than public works projects calling for Davis-Bacon prevaiing wages, most work here is now done for a lot less than that, and the competition is fierce to see who will cut their margins to a minimum.

Overall, unless you can find a contractor with a project or two on the books that needs a supervisor, you'll find getting construction trades jobs here pretty slim pickin's. The Denver newspaper has very few column inches of "help wanted" ads anymore ... compared to the go-go years of recent memory where that section was many pages long. IMO, your best bet to find work in the trades will be to contact the potential employers directly and ask if they are hiring ... not currently being in the area will be a huge handicap compared to folk here who are ready and able to show up to work immediately. There's no local shortage of capable, qualified journeymen or supervisor level workers in the trades here right now.

Last edited by sunsprit; 04-30-2011 at 03:58 AM..
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