-By Jeff Henry, NFBA-
The “2016 Post-Frame Market Sizing Study”—now available to all Post-Frame Market Initiative supporters—forecasts continued steady growth for the post-frame industry. Through 2020, post-frame construction spending is expected to grow at a rate of 4.3 percent annually. The growth extends to all five building segments examined in the study: agricultural, industrial, light commercial, residential, and commercial (Figure 1). New this year, the study compares industry revenues by building sector within the four major geographical regions of the United States: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.
Emphasis on the Residential Sector
As low grain prices and strong competition between builders have contributed to diminishing revenues in the agricultural market, builders have looked for opportunities in other sectors. The “2016 Post-Frame Market Sizing Study” reinforces what members have long been reporting: the residential building sector presents a significant growth opportunity.
The residential building sector now represents about a 28 percent share of the post-frame market, up from 19 percent in 2013. Historically represented by garages and hobby shops, the residential market is now reported by members to include a growing portion of single-family homes.
Recent patterns in PFMI social media activity further substantiate the public’s interest in post-frame homes. In August 2016, NFBA conducted a photo contest on Facebook, and interest in the winning photo, a post-frame single-family home, exploded. Compared to a typical page, this particular post received 10 times more “likes” and reached more than 92,000 unique contacts in fewer than 20 days. Most important, people migrated from Facebook to postframeadvantage.com, where visits to the Design pages and Find-a-Post-Frame-Builder tool increased by 126 percent.
This activity underscores the changes predicted in 2014 and currently evidenced in the field: The marketplace is evolving. To continue expanding their businesses, post-frame contractors will need to diversify their operations. Among NFBA members, 45 percent of contractors report that they do not construct residential buildings, and 41 percent indicate that they do not work in the commercial segment of the market.
NFBA’s ultimate charge is to help members expand their businesses. One way we can accomplish this is to train contractors in how to work in the various building sectors. Many are not accustomed to working with code organizations or subcontractors, or they are not familiar with ways to reach prospective building owners in these sectors.
To maximize the industry’s opportunity, NFBA plans to expand the scope of PFMI to include internally focused educational efforts, teaching contractors skills to expand their operations across the building sectors.
Planning for 2017
As we plan for the tenth year of the PFMI program, we are evaluating the program’s strategies and tactics. As we do this, we will be keeping these points in mind:
Driven by growth in the residential sector, the growth rate in building construction as a whole will exceed that of post frame.
The commercial and light-commercial segments of the post-frame market are expected to have the fastest growth by percentage, but growth in the residential sector will be larger by volume.
Misconceptions about post frame and lack of awareness of its advantages—or even of its existence—are the largest inhibitors to the growth of post frame.
The person most likely to make the final decision about whether to use post frame is the building owner.
The fact that building owners have the greatest influence in the decision to use post frame raises the question of how best to target them. New tools in NFBA marketing and social media expand our opportunities to reach this broad and diverse audience.
Expanding the market for post frame is a core activity of the association, but it is also the responsibility of all in the industry. The Post-Frame Market Initiative provides an avenue for educating decision makers and design professionals. It has a proven record of influencing their choices, leading to increased use of the post-frame building system and growth of the industry.
We ask for your commitment to support the 2017 PFMI program. You should recently have received a 2017 commitment form. Please contact me at NFBA headquarters (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss any questions you have about the program or to offer recommendations for its improvement. I welcome your feedback.
In conclusion, continued steady growth is forecasted for the building construction market over the next few years, and post frame is expected to grow both in nontraditional building sectors and across geographical regions. Through collaborative effort and a common voice we can maximize the return on our efforts.