Throughout the last year we have endured both rapid recovery and rough seas in the hospitality and construction industries. We asked Continental Contractors President and CEO Pete Welch for his take on the last 12 months, and what he anticipates for the coming year for Continental and the industry as a whole.   

2023 is the year we stop talking about 2019. There is no doubt that 2019 and the years leading up to it were watershed years for the hospitality industry. However, we are in a new time and we need to be focused on what is in front of us and what’s to come. As an industry we have had an incredible recovery thus far and we have certainly outpaced and outperformed where most industry experts predicted we would be a year ago. It is no secret that rate and occupancy have been the drivers and, for our segment, it has been deferred projects, re-enforced PIPs, conversions, and re-positionings. This being my fourth cycle in the industry, my experience is that we always come out stronger than where we were prior to a downturn. This cycle appears to be no exception.

Given the rise in interest rates and continued discussions surrounding a recession in the next six to 12 months, we have yet to see a slowdown in the number of projects being approved and released. Another encouraging sign has been that the design community, which runs eight to 12 months ahead of us, has also shown no sign of slowing down. For many firms, the only hindrance to growth has been the inability to hire enough qualified help. All of this is extremely encouraging and, of course, brings its own set of challenges such as supply shortages, shortened timelines, pricing instability, and increased pressure to hit deliverables. Managing it all, while continuing to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, has put extreme stress and pressure on all of us. However, looking back at this year as an industry, not only did we survive, but we have really started to thrive. We know there could be more challenging times ahead, but, whatever they may be, we know we have the strength and insight to make it through.

As a company, this year Continental Contractors hit the amazing milestone of $1 billion in revenue since inception. We also hired back to our pre-pandemic strength, opened a new Florida office, and invested heavily in IT and operating systems. Our backlog into 2023 continues to grow and we are budgeting projects well into 2024. All of these accomplishments are amazing but none of them are easy. In many ways, things are much harder today than in the years leading up to 2020. As an industry and as leaders, we need to recognize the toll the last few years have taken on people. We need to understand that none of us is the exact same person we were prior to the pandemic and how we must continue to manage needs to adapt to that truth. There are countless newsletters, statistics, and market research that can give us a very accurate picture of the health of the industry, but in my mind the most important thing we need to concentrate on is the health and wellness of our people.

This coming year Continental will be focusing heavily on that in a number of different ways. None of this works unless we take care of each other and we continue to grow both personally and professionally. This is an incredibly demanding industry and we can only be successful if we recognize the demands, ask the hard questions, and refuse to overload our teams. The projects are becoming more complex, more time-consuming, and even more time-sensitive. My goal for 2023 is to get in front of this, ask better questions, and make the hard decisions that will make everyone successful and provide balance in our lives. We are in an exciting time and I love the work, but what I really love are the people in our industry. Let’s take care of each other. Peace.