Builders Report $1.7 Billion in Project Volume

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Construction man-hours were down slightly in the region but dollar volume for projects was up substantially, the Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania reported Dec. 6.

Members of the association, which represents 145 contractors and affiliated construction industry services members in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio and Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania, heard reports on the organization’s activities for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. The annual meeting was held at The Lake Club in Poland.

The 3,341,719 in man-hours reported for the fiscal year was down slightly from the 3,688,084 for the year ended Sept. 30, 2022. The historical average for man-hours since 1971 is about 3.65 million.

Kevin Reilly, Builders Association executive vice president, attributed the drop in man-hours to a decrease in construction at the Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown.

“There’s still work going on inside that plant, stuff that you don’t necessarily see or know about,” he said. “It’s still contributing to our man-hours, just not to the extent that it was during construction.”

The nearly $1.72 billion in total building and nonconstruction spending for the 2023 fiscal year was more than five times the $321.2 million reported for the previous year, Reilly said. Another Lordstown project, the Trumbull Energy Center, accounted for $1.2 billion of that total. But even excluding that, dollar volume was up $115 million.

Association officers also reported on the growing success of the annual skilled trades expo, held in September at the Mahoning County Fairgrounds in Canfield. Some 5,200 students from seven counties in Ohio and Pennsylvania attended this year’s expo, said Gary Hartman, association services director.

“This was getting us away from going to schools and college career fair nights, sitting at a table and handing out pamphlets and trying to tell kids what a bricklayer does,” Hartman said. At the skilled trades expo, kids get firsthand, hands-on experience, he said.

“That really is impressive, said Scott Froelich, vice president of TEMA Roofing and outgoing Builders Association president. “What an opportunity for workforce development right here in front of us.”

The success of the expo has led to establishing a preapprenticeship program operating in seven schools in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. Now in its third year, more than 500 students are enrolled.

Reilly also reported on the results of negotiations with seven local trades, which resulted in labor agreements ranging from three to five years. Negotiations were “a little bit more difficult,” with compensation being the key issue. Some deals went “down to the wire,” he said. 

“The big item that all these negotiations came down to was the wage fringe increase and you’re dealing with the prolonged effects of high inflation,” Reilly said. The average total package increase was 3.9%, compared with a 3.2% increase the previous year.

Pictured at top: Scott Froelich, vice president of TEMA Roofing and outgoing Builders Association president.