A Look at the Bright Side for 2011

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? As I write this we are in the first week of 2011 and coming into a new year always brings questions about what might lie ahead or how we plan to improve our personal and business situations going forward. Most people make the usual New Year’s resolutions of losing weight, saving more money or just spending more time with family, and those are all admirable resolutions,  but what can we expect in business going into 2011?

As recyclers of C&D debris, what can we do in the coming year to improve our business as well as the environment we live in? Many recyclers I talk to saw some improvement in 2010, not hard to do after the meltdown of 2007, 2008 and 2009. At this point in time most recyclers have trimmed all of the fat they can and still conduct business. It has been a time to get lean and mean or get out of the way!

In August 2009, I wrote an article “Is that Light at the End of the Tunnel?” I predicted 2010 would be the year of the turning point and I really believe that is coming to fruition. Listen to what the head of the National Association of Realtors had to say in December 2010. David Crowe, the association’s chief economist, said new home starts across the country increased by 7% last month. He also said 2010 will record the first increase in new home sales nationwide in five years. Crowe estimates that new home sales will be up 20% more in 2011 over 2010. Is that a sliver of light I see?

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the longest, deepest recession since the great depression officially ended in June 2009. Not much solace to those that are still struggling to find work, but things may be changing. The Labor Department reported the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4% from 9.8%, its lowest level in 19 months and the economy created 103,000 jobs during the month of December. These are not earth shattering numbers by any means, however I think they lay the foundation for opportunity. Developers I know are starting to take down the bigger buildings now, knowing construction costs will never be lower and when the projects are completed in 2012 they are making bets they will have tenants for those projects.

With unemployment being as high as it is, it will take time to shape the recovery. The biggest factor will be getting people back to work and I believe this will take the better part of three to five years before we see more reasonable unemployment numbers around 5%. A slow recovery
is not a bad thing, this will mean that it is sustainable for the long term and I am ok with that.

I tell my kids that when you are in your 20s it’s ok, even smart to “roll the dice” in life. If you are looking for success you need to take some chances and even fail to better understand what it is you are looking for. Now at the age of 50 and entering a new year, my moves are much more calculated. I still enjoy the process, but if I had not “rolled the dice” in my 20s there is a good chance I would not have been in this business. I guess I am a bit of an optimist because I really do believe in this great country and opportunity exists for all of those willing to really look thru the windshield of life, as opposed to the rear view mirror. I truly hope this is a good year for everyone in our recycling industry and that better days are ahead. Perhaps a quote I once heard from Warren Buffet is appropriate as we move into 2011, “You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”

Happy New Year!

Besides serving as the president of the CMRA, Hixon is vice president of ERRCO C&D Recycling which is under the umbrella of LL&S Recycling, Gateway MetalRecycling and DeVito Trucking with locations in Epping and Salem, N.H., and wholly owned by Reenergy Holdings LLC based out of Latham, N.Y.