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So, Did You Have a Good Teens?

Dec. 20, 2019
This last decade has seen the longest unbroken period of economic expansion in our country’s history.

To me, one of the oddest things about the last twenty years (which have been full of oddities) is that there were never good names everybody could agree on for the two decades we’re just finishing up.

The “aughts” never caught on and neither did the “teens.” The decade, not just as a time period but as a concept, used to be this convenient mental shorthand for grouping events, ideas and cultural touchstones. Someone says, “The Seventies” and it instantly brings to mind disco, bell-bottoms, Watergate, The Godfather. I feel as if we’ve lost that; that the last twenty years seem kind of shapeless.

Which certainly does not mean they’ve been uneventful. This last decade has seen the U.S. recover from the Great Recession and go on towards the longest unbroken period of economic expansion in our country’s history. The construction market has (for the most part) expanded, and contractors and sub-contractors of all stripes have reaped the benefits.

The plumbing and heating industry has seen the influx of more high-efficiency technology, particularly in the use of variable-speed pumps and the near-universal acceptance of tankless systems. Growing concerns about climate change have brought alternative energy sources such as geothermal or solar more into the mainstream, while the actual effects of climate change have ushered in a new era of sustainability: building for a future where extreme weather events are the norm. That means water conservation in time of drought, stormwater management in time of flood.

The wave of digital transformation that has swept the world was slow coming to such hands-on, face-to-face industries as service contracting, but that wave has finally reached our shores. Fleet management, invoicing, marketing, inventory—everything you need to run a plumbing business you can do on your phone (but you’ll probably prefer to do it from your laptop if you can touch-type). You can store all your business data on the cloud, and then use that data in innovative ways to make new customers and keep your existing ones happy.

For all the changes, there have also been continuing trends. Good help keeps getting harder to find. With about 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day and the new generations reluctant to enter the trades, the labor market seems to get tighter with every passing year. Rare is the plumbing operation these days that doesn’t have an in-house development program that lets employees work as they train. Most also have prefab shops to help them do more work with fewer people. And everybody nowadays is using press tools for the same reason.

Meanwhile this magazine, CONTRACTOR, has been through plenty of changes of its own. I’m now settling into my second year as Content Director. We’ve also seen two changes of ownership over the last decade. You can read about our new parent company, Endeavor in this article. Exiting times!

Personally, along with my new job, this was the decade I got married and my wife and I welcomed our son, Lincoln, into the world. So… pretty busy.

I wish all our readers a happy, prosperous new decade, and I also hope that living in The Twenties will give us a slightly firmer, surer grasp on the times we live in and the world around us. I think we all need it!

About the Author

Steve Spaulding | Editor-inChief - CONTRACTOR

Steve Spaulding is Editor-in-Chief for CONTRACTOR Magazine. He has been with the magazine since 1996, and has contributed to Radiant Living, NATE Magazine, and other Endeavor Media properties.

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