CHARLOTTE – Katie Tyler said that while construction business is up since the economic downturn appears to have eased, the industry may never return to its pre-recession levels.
Tyler, the president and CEO of Charlotte-based Tyler2 Construction, spoke Wednesday at The Mecklenburg Times’ second annual Women’s Business Breakfast. She joined a panel of four other local female business leaders addressing a crowd of around 100.
Tyler said that business has returned to the Charlotte construction industry, but the amount of money made may never return to the level it was in 2005. She said that construction companies need to find ways to innovate if they hope to remain viable over the long term.
“Everybody needs to ask themselves a question, what does getting back mean?” Tyler said. “I honestly think for most people it’s getting back to the way it was in 2005 or 2006 and I’ve honestly given up on that as a goal.”
Tyler2 is as busy as it’s ever been, Tyler said. But she said the profit margins that her company was seeing before the recession brought construction across the country to a standstill are no longer possible.
“The margins are not sustainable. We used to make between 12 and 15 percent (margins) on jobs,” Tyler said. “Now we’re making 2.5 or 3 percent. You cannot build a company on that.”
Tyler said she thinks that business leaders too often are quick to dismiss ideas that could lead to the next big innovation. She urged the women at the breakfast to take the time to listen to each and every idea.
“I would encourage everybody here to listen to what they’re hearing — ideas that are new and innovative,” she said. “Don’t dismiss it right away … let it percolate.”
Tyler said that her company has taken advantage of unmet needs in the Charlotte market to find new business.
“Where is the need for buyers who want to own their own building but don’t know how to go about it?” she said. “We’re looking at the design-build market as a possibility, specializing in things that no one else does.”
Tyler gave a few examples that she said are possibilities in the Charlotte market, and said to look at trends and look to build from those.
“You’ve got huge homes that aren’t selling and no demand for huge homes,” she said. “You’ve got an aging population that’s not ready for nursing homes, but may not be able to live in their homes. So, there is an opportunity to take those large mansion homes and make them special needs (homes).”