Irrigation professionals have a positive outlook for 2014, according to the latest survey from the Irrigation Association.
Each year, the Irrigation Association surveys its landscape irrigation contractor members on the state of the industry.
The 2014 survey found that professionals had a growing optimism about current economic conditions.
Of those surveyed, 70 percent indicated that total sales in 2013 were greater than those in 2012.
More than 110 contractors from 33 states and two Canadian provinces completed the survey. Most respondents are small business with 33 percent having fewer than 10 employees and 30 percent having 11 to 25 employees.
Key findings include:
- Respondents cited workforce needs as their greatest business challenge, followed by sales and state rules and regulations. In 2013, contractors listed sales challenges ahead of workforce needs.
- Drought’s impact was lower, with 48 percent reporting that they were not affected by drought in 2013. In contrast, 71 percent reported in last year’s survey that drought impacted their businesses significantly or moderately.
- For the second consecutive year, respondents cited “fly-by-night” contractors as their top issue because these competitors undercut the profits of law-abiding companies. Irrigation contractor licensing ranked second. Licensing is supported by an overwhelming 90 percent of surveyed contractors.
- Water prices continue to rise. More than 70 percent of contractors reported that potable water prices increased in 2013, consistent with survey results in 2012.
- When asked about training, 80 percent of contractor executives reported that they are personally receiving the continuing education they need. Eighty-nine percent felt that available education and training adequately prepares their employees for the job at-hand.
- In both 2014 and 2013, contractors rated local reputation as the most important factor in differentiating themselves from the competition, followed by customer service, advanced skills and expertise, and length of time in business.