US crane & transport reaction to Covid-19

By D.Ann Shiffler23 March 2020

The US crane, rigging and specialized transportation sector is preparing for layoffs, seeing projects delayed or cancelled and have generally assessed that the economic downturn due to the Covid-19 virus will be damaging but short.


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In a quick digital readership survey by American Cranes & Transport (ACT) magazine - conducted late last week and over the weekend - 49 percent of respondents said they have not had projects cancelled, 34 percent have had projects cancelled and 17 percent didn’t know.

As far as jobsite shutdowns, 44 percent said they had not had a job shutdown, 44 percent said they had a jobsite shutdown and 12 percent don’t know.

In terms of seeing project delays or rescheduling, 68 percent said they had seen delays or postponements, 29 percent said they had not seen delays or postponements and 2 percent didn’t know.

In addition, 51 percent said they expect to see short term layoffs of staff, 34 percent don’t’ know and 15 percent said no.

And finally, 41 percent said they didn’t know if crane rental rates had been impacted, 32 percent said they had been impacted and 27 percent said they had not.

There was one question that asked for write-in comments, “How does this downturn compare to the recession in 2009?” Following is a sampling of responses to this question.

  • “It’s too early to tell. Most clients working at normal volume for this season.”
  • “The biggest concern is we don’t know when we can get back to normal. There seems to be an underlying concern of not knowing when things will be clear.”
  • “While this downturn in the economy will probably be classified as a recession, it is different from the former recession. The former recession was brought on by a financial crisis; this recession was brought on by a health crisis. This time around, the banks are solid and appear ready and able to help; companies have better reserves, and hopefully as soon as the health crisis is no longer a crisis, things will bounce back quickly.”
  • “At the current moment we are taking precautions and preparing ourselves for similar events. We haven’t seen immediate changes however are expecting them.”
  • “It’s still early to predict.”
  • “Much more rapid onset, without the very busy period leading up to it. We had a decade of record revenues leading up to 2009. Since then, it has been a roller coaster without significant high points.”
  • “Much worse, as it effects every aspect of society, business, and government. The bright spot is that the Federal Government has proven to be reacting in an exceptionally, and surprisingly, good manner.”
  • “Pennsylvania has shut down all construction projects, which is a big hit for our company.”
  • “It’s very different. I do believe that it’s temporary and in about 4 months we will be in recovery mode. I also believe there will be a boom to catch up.”
  • “Way too early to tell that story. This is a cliff effect versus vision into that downturn in 2009.”
  • “We don’t have purchase order cancellations yet, but we are expecting it will start next week. We are still receiving requests for quotes. Hopefully they will materialize into new orders.”
  • “The 2009 market decline was over 4 to 6 months. This will be over 4 to 6 weeks.”
  • “This hit much quicker with changes taking place daily if not even hourly.”
  • “This event is much more dramatic in the escalation of the impact. Government orders to reduce staff, shutter projects or close offices are driving a lot of the impact. Our expectation is that this is a major pause, but the demand remains, and we will see a quick return to high levels of activity as soon as there are some encouraging reports on the infection trendline, treatments or vaccine.”
  • “We face a worldwide reduction and all countries/customers have the same problem. You cannot compensate business somewhere else.”
  • “Hopefully this is a temporarily shut down due to a virus. In 2009 if you lost your job it was impossible to find work.”
  • “Worse than 2009.”
  • “Similar to 2009.”
  • “Far worse than 2009.”
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