At construction conference: recovery

The title of the conference was “The Recovery Has Started,” and the title will tell you a lot about the tone of the 2012 Building and Infrastructure Conference presented by merger-and-acquisition specialists Lincoln International and L.E.K. Consulting.

Keynote speaker John Burns, CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, described himself as bullish on housing and construction industries. He pointed to 20% gains in total permits and single-family housing starts. He alluded to the power of pent up demand. And even though the rate of delinquent mortgages is running at about 11.9%, that figure seems more manageable when one considers that it’s only 6.2 percentage points higher than any normal year, he said.

Add to that analysis a forecast for distressed sales as a percentage of all home sales to begin declining after 2012, then you have a bullish outlook. 

Lending his voice to the chorus of recovery was L.T. Gibson, president and CEO of US LBM Holdings, which operates in eight Northeast and Midwest states. “In our markets, we saw quite a bit of improved activity this year,” he said, in a panel discussion about the near term M&A outlook. “More importantly, what we’re seeing going into the fall and spring with our order patterns is cause for continued optimism.”

With single-family starts heading toward a 500,000 plus in 2012, Gibson is looking for another 15% to 20% increase in single-family starts in 2013. 

U.S. LBM Holdings was created in late 2009 and has since acquired eight LBM dealers, allowing each to maintain its locally known brand name. Gibson said the company continues to look for new acquisitions. 

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