The Unthinkable Has Happened. How Should Contractors Respond?

Contractor looking concerned on site

The pandemic presents contractors with a challenge unlike any in recent memory.

May 11, 2020
Bruce Orr - AEC Business

Any construction veteran expects the economy to contract and expand. However, the global pandemic presents contractors with a challenge unlike any in recent memory.

How should they respond in an environment of such uncertainty? For some perspective, I chatted with Dr. John Killingsworth, a construction management professor at Colorado State University who has conducted extensive research on how contractors can weather economic downturns.

BRUCE ORR: John, let’s say you’re in IT or are a c-suite executive at a contracting firm. This event has occurred. What are some of the questions you should be asking right now?

JOHN KILLINGSWORTH: For starters, we have to acknowledge that the uncertainties are so tremendous that many contractors have no choice but to be reactive in the short term. They’re literally not sure whether particular job sites will be open or closed tomorrow or whether they’ll go to work next week. They’re also looking at predictions—from highly qualified statisticians, public health officials and others—that are just all over the map due to the limited nature of the data we have at hand.

Mr. Orr may be contacted at


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