4 Ways the Covid-19 Pandemic Impacted Drywall Contractors
This topic is not something I write about because we are all past covid, but because many of us are ready to put covid behind us. Remodeling, and especially drywall repair companies, were hit with many hardships during the past two years. Many contractors closed their doors for good or had to transition to another home services niche due to the loss of profit and time.
While 2022 will continue to be uncertain, the road ahead looks clearer, and we can plan for the future instead of just thinking about next week. Here are three things you should consider when planning your future course.
What were the four major ways the Covid-19 Pandemic impacted drywall contractors, especially in the South-East?
Customer Demand and supply shortages
While homeowners are completed remodeling projects and repairs at record numbers in 2022, 2020 and 2021 were seasons where they either were not interested in having minor repairs done or customers who needed urgent maintenance could not get them completed due to materials shortages. At one point, the gypsum board was so hard to get Home Depot and Lowes were behind by weeks at a time, leaving contractors in a hard place while they attempted to explain they had to delay projects that were already started. Even sheetrock manufacturers here in the US were impacted due to transportation delays, only contributing to the crisis.
Quarantine restricted contractors from entering homes and commercial establishments.
We all remember when Covid was first announced. This huge pandemic is coming, but we were either ignorant of what it truly meant, or we were naive about its impact. Perhaps, most have us may admit we were a little bit of both. While Italy was getting hammered with incredible death tolls, hospitals were being overwhelmed, and panic in Europe was being broadcasted all over the world, more populated cities in the US were proactive in shutdowns. The only issue for places like Atlanta, GA, or New York City is, the lockdowns were so strict that any repairs that were not urgent, and some that were, went ignored due to legal restrictions preventing service contractors from entering some residential areas, nursing homes, and commercial establishments.
Ace Theyrl from Ace Painting Services in Atlanta said,
“we had busted pipes in a warehouse near the Peachtree Plaza. Plumbers were barely allowed in, but once they repaired the leaks, that was it, the doors were locked! The drywall was still soaking wet, and no one was allowed to do the repairs. This really impacted our company.”
Even if customers could choose to allow repairs to be done in their homes, many were hesitant. Jesse Greene, from Charlotte, NC said
“We did not know what was going on. Everyone was wearing masks, so we did to. We really had no information on how bad the pandemic was or was going to be, and that was before it really hit in 2020. So, many of us were too scared to let strangers into our homes, even if they were wearing masks. We did not want to get covid! We had an accident where we put a huge hole in our wall. It was not an emergency, but we still needed to get it fixed, but I was too afraid to call anyone.”
Jesse’s story is not unique. Many customers were hesitant to allow contractors they had never met in their homes, not knowing if they may have covid or if they came in contact with someone who may be positive.
Customers no longer saw repairs as a priority.
As Covid-19 began hitting the US, no one went without being impacted. Concerns about the economy and if it would drop, the presidential election, the tragedy of George Floyd, and many other events caused homeowners to re-evaluate what their priorities were in their own lives. Suddenly, they did not truly need to get their home painted or their ceiling repaired. That rotten spot in the deck could be ignored for another year, and those windows can be taped and insulated instead of replaced. This was likely the thing that impacted contractors the most. How could they make any money if the service they offered was no longer something people were interested in?
We interviewed Matthew Smith, owner of Rock Hill Drywall Repair located in Rock Hill, SC, about their experience. He said,
“When the pandemic first hit, we saw an immediate drop in calls. Customers were just no longer interested in either having a drywall contractor enter their homes or, they did not care anymore about repairing any wall or ceiling damage. Businesses were the same. Think about it, if a business has closed its doors and all of the employees are now working from home, why would they need to do any repairs to the office? It did not matter anymore. We barely survived the pandemic, but things look a little better now. We hope the industry will recover like it was pre-pandemic.”
Rock Hill Drywall Repair in Rock Hill, SC, along with many other drywall contractors, suffered greatly due to the pandemic. Roughly 20% of home services contractors ended up closing their doors, and although things are getting better in regard to the pandemic, we now have another issue showing its teeth; the recession. Will contractors survive this new type of financial pandemic? I guess we will see.
Justin Blitz, CR is an author, columnist and business growth, strategist.
He enjoys spending time with his family, playing baseball, and volunteering his time at his church.