eNews November 12
In the News
November 12, 2020
|I. Election Fog Clears Slightly, Senate Still Cloudy|
|II. Commercial Construction Struggles Reach Las Vegas|
Election Fog Clears Slightly, Senate Still Cloudy
Lame Duck Expectations
This week, Senate Republicans released their versions of the FY2021 government funding bills and have started immediate negotiations with House Democrats to reconcile differences. Both parties are heavily motivated to reach a deal in the coming month and a half. Republicans need a win that will help keep their seats in the Georgia run-off, and Democrats are trying to clear the slate before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
This likely means there will not be any major surprises or changes to current law in the appropriation bills. It is possible that the funding bills could include additional COVID-19 relief funding, but talks are not far enough along to meaningfully predict. At this time, we do not expect significant changes to bankruptcy or collections law, such as were included in the House’s HEROES Act.
On Saturday morning, most media outlets began calling the race in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden, based on his widening lead in Pennsylvania. If all results hold as they are expected to, Biden will win with 306-232 margin in the Electoral College.
President Trump is holding to his rhetoric that the election was illegally stolen, has outstanding legal challenges in several key states, and is refusing to concede at this time. His Administration, in line with this position, has not yet started to turn over the reins and start the official transition process. While this is not completely unprecedented—in 2000, the transition teams waited until the Supreme Court ruled for President Bush in December—it is unclear what President Trump’s exit strategy is at this stage.
In the meantime, President-elect Biden released his transition team, heavily drawing from former Obama-Biden Administration alums. According to reports, they are starting their work by convening with career employees at the various agencies and familiarizing themselves with the items currently being worked on within each agency.
United States Senate
Democrats succeeded in gaining one net seat in the Senate, narrowing the GOP majority. Because no Senatorial candidate received more than 50% of the vote in Georgia, both Senate seats will go to a runoff on Jan. 5, setting up a massive battle over which party will control the Senate. It is heavily expected that Republicans will keep at least one, if not both, of the Senate seats.
U.S. House of Representatives
There are around 20 House elections that have yet to be called, many in California and New York, where mail-in ballot counting continues for another two weeks. Most expectations are that Democrats will lose around nine to 12 sets in the House, giving them a much narrower 15-20-seat majority compared to the 30-seat majority they have now.
PACE, LLP is NACM’s Washington, DC lobbyist on federal issues that impact the business credit community.
Commercial Construction Struggles Reach Las Vegas
—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate
Many industries have languished in recent months due to the hardships of COVID-19, and the construction sector is no exception. Analyses have shown the impacts are ongoing, including a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) that found 78% of respondents reporting project delays and disruptions in October. A new wave of struggles is reportedly washing over the sector this month, the latest hit occurring in Las Vegas.
On Nov. 4, Construction Dive reported significant losses in Sin City’s commercial construction, specifically entertainment and hospitality—two sectors the industry relies upon in the region. The Rider Levett Bucknall crane count index is one unit of measurement economists are using to review commercial construction progress in the U.S., including Las Vegas, where the number of construction cranes plummeted to four in the third quarter of 2020 from 17 in the first quarter. Other cities experiencing a drastic decline in crane use this year are Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
Nevada Contractors Association CEO Sean Stewart likened crane count drops to the completion of several multibillion-dollar projects, such as Resorts World and Circa Resort and Casino, which cost $4.3 billion and $1 billion, respectively, Construction Dive states. Both casino hotels opened at the end of October in addition to the completed expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
However, according to Chris Ring, of NACM’s Secured Transaction Services, large commercial construction projects face numerous challenges because of COVID-19, with projects’ progress in question for several reasons. Projects could be halted altogether because of shelter-in-place orders, Ring said, or projects could be delayed because social distancing is causing trades to not work in tandem. An example of the latter is if an insulation contractor and electrical and plumbing contractors work different shifts. Projects could also be delayed because contractors are having trouble finding labor because some laborers choose not to work because of the fear of contracting the virus.
“Pay-when-paid clauses are critical because of the delays,” Ring said. “Also, if the purchase order incorporated other documents by reference (general contract and/or subcontract) and those contracts have liquidated damage clauses because of project delays, the material supplier may be on the hook for those damages.”
Ring said not all hope is lost for the construction industry though as residential new home sales and remodels are up—arguably because interest rates are low—as well as DIY sales. Home construction doesn’t appear to be as deeply impacted because large crews are not required, he noted.
As for Las Vegas, AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson told Construction Dive that the city often finds a way to bounce back, citing the city’s ability to overcome the economic struggles between 2006 and 2011.
“I tend to write off Las Vegas too readily. It seems to find ways of reinventing itself,” Simonson said in the article. “This might be a riskier assumption because so much of their income depends on conventions, and it’s not clear if convention business will resume even after COVID-19 is held in check.”
Get the Edge: Manage, and Succeed In, the Modern Multigenerational Workplace
It’s no surprise that 2020 has been a struggle, to say the least. Who knew the world would completely come to a halt this year and force us out of our comfort zones to stay afloat? Everyone has had to cope with the challenges this year has thrown our way, and it seems that everyone is handling it differently. Let’s review...
- Boomers who were totally against working from home… have now been forced into it.
- Millennials are experiencing role reversal as they force their aging parents to stay home (no more parties, mom!).
- Gen X is getting an overdose of family time and finally realizing how hard it is to be a teacher.
And that’s just the half of it. Every generation is experiencing life a little differently these days, and it’s important to recognize how things are changing in this modern working environment.
And of course, the new modern workplace no longer refers to the millennial-centered, kombucha-on-tap, ping pong enthusiast, “nap pod” workplace. It’s the virtual workplace, and it’s our new reality. With the shift to virtual, we’ve also seen a shift in the way people work—the how, the why, the where, the when.
It’s critical to understand how this shift is creating changes in your entire working environment, so that you can continue to be effective and thrive despite the lack of in-person connection. Plus, simply being aware of the changes will help you be more in-tune with your teams, colleagues, even your friends as we’re all navigating through this “new normal” together.
The good part is, none of us have really experienced such a shift and disruption ever before—at least not all at the same time—so we’re all discovering new things together. Get ahead of the game now, and find out how each generation is managing in the modern workplace and what will help them be most effective going forward.
- Traditionalists (1928-1945):
- Oldest generation still in the workplace and thus part of COVID’s “vulnerable population”
- Will likely never return to the physical workplace due to safety and health concerns
- Still interested in more “traditional” forms of communication (think: snail mail and phone calls)
What you can do: Make yourself accessible and understand their limitations. Allow remote working for this generation, and help them with any virtual challenges. If they were still working with you, don’t discount their expertise and ask for their advice.
- Boomers (1946-1964):
- As much as they hate to admit it, many fall in COVID’s “vulnerable population”
- Can be stubborn about staying home and forgoing in-person gatherings
- More interested in flexible working styles than ever as many venture into retirement. In fact, many took this as the perfect opportunity to retire
What you can do: Make your workplace continually accessible virtually and encourage a flexible working style if possible. Give Boomers the chance to serve as a mentor to younger employees in a virtual mentorship environment where they can share their wisdom as they move toward retirement and find ways to leave a legacy.
- Gen X (1965-1981):
- Many are stuck at home with kids, trying to balance work and online schooling
- Always wanted more work-life balance, but now they’ve had enough
- Ready to return to normal life but need some time to refresh and recover
What you can do: Don’t forget to emphasize that your teams take care of themselves in a time that can be stressful and exhausting for everyone. Understand that your Gen X’ers may be dealing with a lot at home and give them space to complete work on their own terms if at all possible.
- Millennials (1982-1998):
- More cautious about in-person interactions to protect older generations and loved ones
- Very comfortable with the virtual working environment, so they can be a resource for those less-skilled at technology
- Finding creative ways to be social via Zoom, but feeling the impact of loneliness and isolation on mental health
What you can do: Despite the youth this generation has on its side when facing COVID, they are not taking any chances, mostly to protect their older loved ones. Encourage them to help older team members with virtual challenges, and be sure to recognize their innate desire for consistent feedback at work in new ways (i.e., try hosting office hours for younger employees to receive feedback monthly).
- Gen Z (1999-2012):
- Perhaps the most impacted generation when it comes to mental health during the pandemic
- Easily adapted to online work and school, but frustrated with the lack of connection
- Short attention span, so long Zoom meetings won’t hold them long
What you can do: Give your teams space to practice positive mental health and mindfulness—whether it’s encouraging an online yoga class as a group, or a morning meditation before starting the workday. Find ways to be creative during online meetings to keep the attention of this younger group (show videos and run live polls), and check in on them once in a while to ensure they are feeling as engaged as possible.
As varied as our responses and reactions to the new modern working world are, all generations share one thing: an innate human desire for connection. Luckily, many technological tools have made it possible to stay somewhat connected during this time (thanks Zoom!), but nothing compares to the true in-person connection that we’ve all been missing over the past few months. Make it a priority to focus on your people even more the rest of the year, and find creative ways to make everyone feel valued and appreciated. A phone call to check in, a handwritten note to say thank you, or even a post of appreciation in the team Slack channel can go a long way in this “new normal.”
Taking the first step toward understanding your people and their unique situations could be the thing that sets you apart from the rest and keeps them feeling excited, engaged, and ready to take on the world—with you.
Crommett will present the NACM webinar “Modern Multigenerational Workplace (with COVID implications)” Nov. 23 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Register here.
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A delayed downtown Minneapolis construction project has seen its share of complications. As with many companies, construction projects and other business ventures, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust its ugly head into the world, impacting billions of people. The Dayton’s Project in downtown Minneapolis has a delayed opening due to COVID-19, and now the site is facing a mechanic’s lien.
Pinnacle Drywall System Inc. filed a lien in mid-September for more than $270,000 worth of unpaid work, states the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. “This is an established practice in the industry and is well within the scope of expected business processes,” said a spokesperson for The Dayton’s Project in an email to the Business Journal. “The subcontractor has been paid, resulting in a short duration for this lien, which we anticipate for any other liens that arise as we finish delivering this 1.2 million-square-foot masterpiece.” However, the article reports the county database does not show the lien being satisfied.
There are a number of speed bumps in Minnesota in regard to the preliminary notice to owner on private projects. “One of the principal hiccups is the lack of early attention to the Notice to Owner requirements in the many states which have them,” said James Sander, Esq., with Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren Ltd.
Contractors with a direct contract with the owner of the real property must provide notice, or they will lose lien rights, according to Minnesota’s statutes. If there’s no written contract, then the contractor has 10 days after work is agreed upon to provide the notice to the owner. Subcontractors have up to 45 days after first furnishing to provide the written notice. Material suppliers can request the name and address of the owner, and it must be provided within 10 days of the request. Failing to do so will hold the party liable for damages and expenses along with attorney fees and costs. There are other situations where the notice is not required, such as if the improvement provides or adds more than 5,000 total usable square feet or the existing property contains more than 5,000 total usable square feet.
“Many subcontractors and suppliers doing business in Minnesota still do not collect enough job information or realize that they can lose their lien rights within the first 45 days on commercial work under 5,000 square feet,” noted Sander. “There are many projects like tenant build outs and convenience stores or fast food locations that might come in under 5,000 square feet and require the Notice for a lien to be valid.”
According to John Fatino, Esq., with Whitfield & Eddy, PLC, “Credit professionals should be prepared to not only file the lien but be prepared to go all the way to the district court.” Since Minnesota is a pre-lien state, those preliminary time frames are so important. “You need to mark these times to be first in line and to not miss the deadlines,” he added. “Do the pre-lien notice immediately; have a system in place for timelines.”
The notice can be dressed up, within reason, to show that as a potential lien claimant, you are excited to work with Company X and can’t wait to be the supplier on the project. “People are often reluctant to send the notice as many believe it sends a bad message against the customer’s creditworthiness,” which it does not since it’s required by law, noted Fatino.
“Take advantage of the Notice to Owner requirement as a way of announcing involvement in the project,” added Sander. “This is a way of giving the owner the ‘heads up’ to make sure that they collect the sender’s lien waiver—which of course means payment.”
Liens must be filed within 120 days of last furnishing, and a notice of the filing must be sent to the owner by certified mail, states NACM’s Secured Transaction Services. Lien claimants can foreclose by bringing action in the district court of the county in which the improvement is situated within one year of last furnishing.
It’s nearly always an economic decision to foreclose on the lien. The example Fatino gave was: it’ll cost $7,000 to file but you’re only out $5,000 in unpaid invoices—might not make sense. Another scenario is the reputation approach, where lien claimants will be tenacious as a matter of principle to let others in the industry know they are not to be taken advantage of in the process.
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