The Bottom Falls Out Of the Economy – 2008 and 2009
Last week I was in Honduras on a working mission trip in the Agalta Valley of Central Honduras. I missed last week CDM history post, and will cover quickly the years 2008 and 2009 on the journey of C D Moody Construction Company.
A few weeks ago I mentioned in 2007 the market was starting to head down. Little did we know that the bottom was going to fall out of the economy. I had lived through a number of recessions by 2008, but nothing prepared me for such a deep and lengthy recession.
It was like it happened overnight. It seems like everything came to a halt, it was like a panic and no one knew what to do. Construction companies were closing and where there used to be 4 bidders on a project, there were now at least 20 bidders. People were cutting cost to a new low and taking more risk with low to no profit margin. Banks were calling loans in or reducing the line of credit for construction companies. Some banks were just getting rid of certain size construction companies as customers. The bonding companies for construction companies were reducing bonding limits and requesting more assets pledged for bonding.
I was concerned and blessed at the same time. We were one of the four partners on the new international terminal at the airport, and that project would take us into 2012. I think back to when I was disappointed that the airport project was delayed getting started, and the delay was the best gift and blessing I could have ever prayed for in my life. It is still amazing to me how things work out in life.
Projects were now being delayed that had already been awarded. We won a new parking deck project in 2007 and every year after we were told that it was going to start. It is now 2013 and it has not started yet. The list is long for many contractors about projects that were put on hold and how it affected the business.
I knew it was bad and was going to be bad for a long time when a well-run subcontractor with plenty of work throughout the southeast just shut down. I met with the owner and he said the prices and cut throat way that business was becoming wasn’t worth the risk. He decided he had worked too hard and long to now give it all away. I think that was a great decision. If I had not had the airport project, I may have made the same decision after completing the work I was building in 2008 and 2009. The great recession had made trying to run a business no fun at all and the risk for running a company was greater than ever. The margins were so low, that there was no room for one mistake on a project. More and more disagreements were happening between contractors, architects, subcontractors and owners.
One of my biggest challenges was keeping my estimating department upbeat. We were getting our rear ends kicked in the bidding market. We would review our bids after losing and people were bidding below cost to win work and hoping for change orders or squeezing the subcontractor market to make up the cuts in pricing. I was not ready nor wanted to do business that way at all.
In 2008 it was our 20th year in business. Our son was working at the company with his degree in finance and our daughter was a senior in college and graduated in 2009 and came to work at the company. It was a dream comes true for me. I had my children working at the company. At the same time they were graduating at the worst time with the great recession. I was thankful to have them there, but in my heart, I wanted them to go for their dreams, just as I did in life. I didn’t want them to work at the business for me, but because they wanted to and loved working at CDM. (I will talk about this over the coming weeks. Helping my kids know they were free to go for their dreams and not daddy’s dreams). One reason I know I loved having my kids work at the company, was for my wellbeing. I felt I could protect them. I don’t know want I was protecting them from, I just know because of my childhood trauma, I worried excessively about my children, or anybody else that seem vulnerable to predators. I am not just talking about sexual abuse, but anyone that couldn’t protect themselves from bullies.
By 2008, I was starting to realize before I die, I wanted to see if I could ever live free internally from the hurt of my childhood sexual abuse, anxiety and PTSD. I was tired of the constant memories always churning in me. I often wondered, what my life would be like if I had never been sexually abused and the effects I suffer now, and then I quickly say it happened to me for a reason, to help others. I just didn’t know what that way would be in my life. My wife and I give a lot of our time and resources to help others, but I knew there was more that I needed to do to help other sexual abuse survivors. I knew in my heart when the time came for me to speak out, I would be ready. In 2008 and 2009, very few people knew about my abuse and I was still uncomfortable to say it out loud or even visit a center for abused kids. I was not ready to face it where I had said out loud that I had been abused, suffered from panic attacks and PTSD.
Even with all of the things going on internally, the great recession, I was and still am a very blessed and happy man. I am surrounded by love, a great family, great friends, and great health. Even though I worry about my constant worrying since childhood that I am hurting my health. Yet so far my annual physical are great, and I love to work out, I just eat badly too often.
In 2008 and 2009 we had some great projects going and winning building awards. My concern was what to do with people coming off the projects with work slowing down so much. I carried people for longer than I should have, but I knew it would be a long time for many people to find new work. One evening I was thinking, it must be horrible for any employee to wonder when it would be their last day at work. I decided that night that I would give any employee as much notice as possible and keep them posted on potential layoffs. No one was surprised about a layoff and had plenty of time to try to find a new job. Anyone I laid off always thanked me for keeping them as long as I did or thanked me for not blindsiding them. They would often say, you didn’t have to carry me that long, and many said either God bless you or you are a good man. Those words meant more to me than anyone knew. Those words let me know I did it right and I went the extra mile for people.
The great recession took a toll on everyone and still today is taking a toll on all of us and they say it is getting better. I am slowly seeing it in construction. Even with all of the things I said above, my recent trip to Honduras and working in a village in 2013 brings it all into perspective. I had the most incredible week working side by side with people who would give their right arm for my problems. I saw the most beautiful mountains, beautiful smiles, hardworking families and people just happy for some help. I saw people living with no indoor or outdoor toilets. I saw people living with dirt floors, no a/c or heat. They cooked with wood in an outdoor oven; many of the kids went to a one room school in the village. The livestock roamed throughout the village. We slept in bunkhouses on a working ranch. I got to sleep each night under the wall openings with only a screen on it, and no windows. No a/c, just the evening breeze and the fans. We had no TV’s or phone service. We had cool showers most days with minimum shower pressure. I got to listen every night and early every morning to the sounds of the animals and the outdoors. It was one of the most peaceful weeks I had ever had in my life. I love the outdoors, it reminded me of my boy scouts camping trips and my dreams of living on a ranch someday. I would go to bed between 9 and 9:30 every night to just look out my wall opening in the night at the beautiful stars and moon. I would wake at 4:20 am when the cows would start mooing and doze in and out until 6 am. I had never felt such peace inside of me, just the cool night breeze, no noise but the outdoors. Even though the work was hard and day time very hot, I felt that feeling I dream about; internal peace. I didn’t think about panic attacks or past hurts. I just have to find a way to have those feeling all the time at home. I also enjoyed taking my adult daughter on our first daddy daughter mission trip. Spending a week with my daughter with no interruptions, just talking about life, our dreams and helping other people.
The people who have reached out to say how much my blog has helped them are heartwarming for me. I was afraid to step out and talk about my sexual abuse, panic attacks, constant worrying and PTSD. I was afraid people would run from me, look at me differently, not do business with me anymore, or people would think I was weak. As long as I can help others ease some pain, help them know life is worth living, then it is all worth sharing my story.
Enjoy some pictures in the slide show from 2008 and 2009. Keep going for your dreams and even when you want to quit, keep going. I too get tired sometime and want to give up and go hide. That is the easy way out in life, quit and hide. I will keep working to find that peace I had in Honduras in my life every day. It does exist and it felt great.
May your God keep blessing you and never lose faith, even when things look extremely dark for you. That too shall pass.
My wife and I started an annual event in 2008. We pick a place to roam for a week, and we don’t know where we are going to stay or eat for one week. We pack light, and pick places that jeans, or shorts with tee shirts are the norm. In 2008 we started in the upper peninsula of Michigan and drove along the west coast of Michigan. We had a ball and stayed in some little cool towns on the water. In 2008 we took our daughter to Yale for a summer drama program, and visited the summer mansions in Rhode Island. Also in 2008, we took my parents on a cruise to Panama and Belize. My parents were stationed in Panama and my dad visited Belize for the first time. Belize is where my grandfather was born and raised until he came to America in 1901 at 17 years old. In 2009 we did the coast of Maine; New England is a beautiful part of the world. The little seaside villages are beautiful. By the way, when you don’t care or know where you will sleep every night, you can get some real great deals in little towns for a hotel room.
In 2009 I was awarded a Bennie award from Morehouse College. I was excited that night to be with my family and friends and receive the honor form Morehouse College.
If you are a praying person, pray I find that internal peace I had in Honduras and I listen to the way I am to help others in life. Thank you for reading my blog. Please share it with others.
Please enjoy some YouTube links of the mission trip to Honduras, info on the organization that sponsors the trip.
http://youtu.be/B_VjU_5R12o Video of the trip from the ranch the village
https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#A1532ODWBPBNc Misc pictures of the working mission trip to Honduras
http://youtu.be/_0wO7Wq8KZY Video of the Latrine Construction