CAM 135th Annual Report

Construction Association of Michigan’s
135th Annual Report

Video Highlights

Read the published Annual Report in the April edition of CAM Magazine.

Presented Virtually for 2021

April 6, 2021 – For the first time in its history, the Construction Association of Michigan (CAM) presents its Annual Meeting virtually. Traditionally, CAM’s Annual Meeting takes place during its trade show each February. This year, the trade show, the Great Lakes Design & Construction EXPO, has been moved to later in the year due to COVID-19 restrictions. It will be held along with the Mid-Year Economic Event and CAM Magazine Special Issue Awards at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on June 9th.

CAM’s 135th Annual Meeting video kicks off with inspiring words by President of CAM, Kevin Koehler: “There’s something special about the pride, the skill, the passion it takes to build something great. The Construction Association of Michigan, CAM, understands that passion and provides contractors with the resources they need.”

Viewers are introduced to Sam Ruegsegger, Project Executive of The Christman Company and CAM’s current Chairman of the Board. Mr. Ruegsegger welcomes viewers and introduces the 2020-21 Board of Directors. Given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, he provides encouraging words of support moving forward: “We are all in this together, and we must stay resilient and focused.”

Details are presented on how CAM, as well as its various departments, performed in 2020, including the work done toward informing CAM’s members on the changing guidelines related to the pandemic and the efforts put forth toward getting the construction industry re-opened safely. Unique this year, the meeting also highlights 2020 success stories of many of its member companies.

In closing, Mr. Ruegsegger remarks: “I would encourage all of you to take advantage of all that CAM has to offer. Join us at an event, send some of your leadership team to our Advanced Leadership Academy, or any of CAM’s education and safety programs, download our mobile buyers guide app, and check out what projects are bidding in the plan room. Get engaged! You have my word, CAM will continue to serve its membership to the best of its ability: to Advocate, Legislate, and Educate.”

Learn more about Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO, which also includes the CAM Magazine Special Issue Awards Breakfast, and the Mid-Year Economic Forecast and State of the Industry Luncheon, scheduled for June 9th.


Need more information?


Tracey Alfonsi
CAM Director of Member Services
Office: (248) 972-1113

Health Screening Tool Adopted by Construction Industry

Screening Form Tool in Action 2

Health Screening Tool Adopted by Construction Industry

COVID Screening App Built in Northville Passes 540,000+ Form Submissions from Job Sites as Mobile Tech Gains Traction Industry-Wide

Northville, MI (Feb. 3, 2021) – SPARK Business Works announced today the company’s mobile health screening tool has been implemented at 700 construction job sites across the country, with more than 540,000 digital forms submitted in the first six months. More than 500 companies (including 40+ CAM member companies) are now using Easy Safety Forms to help protect crew members working in the field and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

SPARK deployed their Easy Safety Forms platform for free in spring 2020 to help construction managers meet COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. To comply with strict health screening requirements and protect workers at job sites and inside facilities, managers needed an efficient and trusted solution for daily collection, entry, submission and tracking of essential employee health information. Built for mobile devices, SPARK’s system eliminated the dependency on manual paper processes, while improving safety, timeliness, data security, and distribution for job sites across the country.

“We know from our work with the construction industry that technology needs to be a fast, easy and simple experience for workers, or crews won’t adopt the new technology,” said Brad Wilson, Vice President, SPARK. “Helping Michigan firms automate field data tracking– including from safety forms– has been a core competency for SPARK for several years, so we jumped at the opportunity to launch this free tool and share with the CAM community”.

SPARK’s Safety Forms product has now been used to help protect hundreds of job sites and their workers, without any training hours or new hardware to implement. To deploy the tool quickly, job sites received a printed poster with a QR code that workers scan to launch the digital health screening form on their own mobile device. Once implemented, managers receive alerts based on risk triggers and store and access the data securely.

“Our lead developer, Emanuel Pelean, was thrilled to see his code deployed so smoothly at scale from right here in Southeast Michigan to more than 30 states by Q4 2020,” Wilson added. “COVID seemed to accelerate the adoption of digital tools in construction, and because each firm operates in their own unique way, we are seeing an increase in requests for custom digital workflows. This is on top of the already large demand for data automation, fueled by labor shortages, prior to the pandemic.”

Smartphones are the most-utilized work devices on construction sites, with 92% of workers using mobile devices daily compared to 83% for laptops, according to the 2020 JBKnowledge ConTech Report, a survey of contractors and construction workers focused on the state of construction technology.

About Spark Business Works

Spark Business PNG

SPARK Business Works builds websites and custom software for clients to level up their digital presence, streamline processes, and deliver data to decision-makers. They have been an active member of the Construction Association of Michigan since 2019.

Learn more:

PPP and Employee Retention Credit Update

Paycheck Protection Program & Employee Retention Credit

An Update from BDO USA, LLP

January 15, 2021

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (Act), signed into law on December 27, 2020, contains significant enhancements and improvements to the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). Here are a few items we are seeing our clients taking immediate advantage of:

  • Revisit the Employee Retention Credit: Companies that received PPP Loans were originally ineligible for the employee retention credits, but the Appropriations Act revised that requirement, allowing companies to revisit their qualifications in 2020 and amend 941’s to claim the credits, even if they received a forgivable PPP Loan. Commencing January 1, 2021, companies will only have to experience a decline in gross receipts of 20% (instead of 50% as required in 2020) for the 2021 quarter when compared to the same quarter in 2019. We would recommend that any company that received a PPP loan review their 2020 operations to see if they qualify for a refund of the employee retention credits
  • Tax Deductibility of expenses paid with PPP Loans: The Appropriations Act finally legislated that expense paid using forgiven PPP funds are fully tax deductible, as many organizations had been pushing for all along. The deductibility applies to both the 1st and 2nd round of loans if a 2nd loan is taken.
  • PPP Loans – Round 2: A second round of PPP funding is available to companies regardless of whether they received a loan the first time around. A summary of the differences between the first and second round is as follows:
PPP loan med
  First Round:    2020 Second Round:  2021
Maximum Amount That can be Borrowed: 2.5 X avg monthly salary, up to $10mm 2.5 X avg monthly salary, up to $2mm
Employee Counts to be a “Small Business” Eligible for the PPP 500 or fewer 300 or fewer
Can businesses that received a PPP loan in 2020 apply for a 2nd PPP loan? No Yes
Required to Demonstrate Decline in Gross Receipts to be Eligible? No Yes.  Must have a 25% loss in gross receipts for any quarter of 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019
Covered Period 8 or 24* 8 or 24
Eligible Expenses Payroll costs, rent, covered mortgage, utilities Same + 4 new categories – see above
Are PPP expenses deductible? Yes! Yes!
BDO logo

BDO USA, LLP is the U.S. member firm of BDO International Ltd., one of the world’s largest accounting and advisory organizations serving the middle market, with more than 1,600 offices in 167 countries. BDO carries out its business mission of “providing trusted solutions in an ever-changing world” through its unique solutions and expertise in the areas of assurance, tax, advisory, and digital technology to a wide range of publicly traded and privately held companies.




Brendan Sullivan
David Swatosh
Amy Whipple Headshot 2019_0
Brendan Sullivan

Tax Managing Director
Direct:  248-244-6565
Mobile:  248-563-3629

David Swatosh

Managing Director, R&D Tax Services
Direct:   248-688-3361
Mobile:   734-634-8707

Amy Whipple

BDS Director, Business Development
Direct:  248-688-2100
Mobile:   586-254-1560

CAM Magazine Announces 2020 Project of the Year

2021 Project of the Year graphic

CAM Magazine’s Project of the Year 2020 Award Goes to…

The Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center Named CAM Magazine Project of the Year 2020

The Construction Association of Michigan is excited to announce that The Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center has been selected as the 2020 CAM Magazine Project of the Year. Congratulations to the Detroit Pistons, the Henry Ford Health System, ROSSETTI, Hobbs + Black Architects, and the Christman-Brinker joint venture formed of The Christman Company and the L.S. Brinker Company.

The premier facility is comprised of three interconnected buildings: the Pistons Performance Center houses one of the biggest and the best training facility in the NBA, along with the franchise’s corporate headquarters, making it the first in the NBA with the entire organization under one roof; Henry Ford Health System’s William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine that serves the Pistons, as well as athletes of all levels and serious fitness buffs, with second-to-none sports medicine and technologies; and a parking garage nestled in between the two structures.

The pages of CAM Magazine’s January 2021 issue tell the success story of this striking facility with an inclusive, community-minded mission dedicated not only to welcoming the public into the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center via retail spaces and a soon-to-be-developed fitness space, but also inviting smaller Detroit contractors to be part of its own bustling jobsite during construction via a mentoring protégé program. The series of articles not only covers the project’s construction details but also provides the perspective of the all-star team of owners, designers and contractors whose vision and talents brought this building to life and added new vibrancy to an area of Detroit between New Center and Wayne State University.

“The Construction Association of Michigan is proud to celebrate this state-of-the-art center built by CAM member companies,” said the association’s president, Kevin Koehler. “I applaud The Christman Company and L.S. Brinker for successfully collaborating to develop this impressive facility for the Henry Ford Health System and Detroit Pistons organization. The project is a win-win-win, for the project teams involved, for the owners, and for the city of Detroit.”

In 2021, CAM Magazine will celebrate 25 years of publishing its annual awards issue called the Special Issue. Early each year, CAM puts out a call for its member companies to submit their best construction projects of the previous year. Twelve finalists are selected and featured in this issue, which comes out each October. The owners, general contractors, and architects from these projects are interviewed and sites toured prior to the writing of the feature articles. The Project of the Year is selected by the CAM Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee, magazine staff, and an online vote.

CAM is currently accepting submissions for its Special Issue 2021. To be eligible, projects must be constructed or designed by a CAM member company, and must have been completed – or reached substantial completion – between June 2020 and June 2021. The deadline for submitting Special Issue 2020 projects is Friday, March 12, 2021. Advertising opportunities are available. CLICK HERE for more information and to submit your project.

The list of all 12 finalists and their project teams from CAM Magazine Special Issue 2020:


The Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center (Detroit)
Owner/Developer: The Henry Ford Health System and Detroit Pistons
Construction Manager: Christman/Brinker, a Joint Venture, Detroit
Architects: ROSSETTI, Detroit, and Hobbs+Black Architects, Ann Arbor

2020 FINALISTS (in no particular order):

MSU Edward J. Minskoff Pavilion (East Lansing)
Contractor: Clark Construction Co.
Architect: LMN Architects & Fishbeck

University of Michigan – Michigan Union Renovation (Ann Arbor)
Contractor: Walbridge
Architect: Integrated Design Solutions, Hartman-Cox Architects, Workshop Architects

Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital Macomb Campus Bed Tower Vertical Expansion (Warren)
Contractor: AUCH Construction
Architect: HKS Architects

McLaren Northwest Addition-Wayne & Joan Webber Emergency Trauma Center (Mount Clemens)
Contractor: Roncelli, Inc.
Architect: AECOM

Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse Alteration (Detroit)
Contractor: The Christman Co.
Architect: EYP Architecture and Engineering

Christian Financial Credit Union Headquarters (Sterling Heights)
Contractor: Thompson-Phelan Group, Inc.
Architect: Barber-McCalpin Associates

FRS Headquarters (Rochester)
Contractor: Frank Rewold & Sons Inc.
Architect: Auger Klein Aller Architects

LinkedIn Detroit Regional Headquarters (Detroit)
Contractor: L.S. Brinker
Architect: SmithGroup

Veoneer North American Engineering Center (Southfield)
Contractor: Jonna Construction
Architect: Harley Ellis Devereaux

Innovation Garage (Ann Arbor)
Contractor: Barton Malow Co.
Architect: Integrated Design Solutions

Robert C. Valade Park, Atwater Beach Site (Detroit)
Contractor: Commercial Contracting Corp.
Architect: Hannah Neumann/Smith

CAM Magazine, established in 1980, is the official publication of the Construction Association of Michigan (CAM). It is a monthly, full-color, glossy magazine devoted to the individuals and companies who comprise the commercial construction industry in Michigan. CAM is the oldest and largest regional construction association in the United States. Founded in 1885, CAM is a not-for-profit organization is based in Bloomfield Hills, MI, consisting of over 2,000 members, including general contractors, subcontractors, equipment and material suppliers, architects, engineers and service firms.

COVID-19 State Emphasis Program for Offices


COVID-19 State Emphasis Program for Offices

MIOSHA focuses efforts on protecting workers in traditional office settings

As Michigan reaches 300,000+ cases of COVID-19, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is focusing on office environments and how the close proximity of employees can lead to outbreaks of the virus.

On November 5, the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reported 18 new outbreaks from the previous week tied to office settings and is continuing to track 21 outbreaks tied to offices previously reported.

On November 15, in an effort to break the cycle of spread, MDHHS issued a new emergency order that enacted a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities, including office work.

Under the current guidelines, employers are required to create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely. Under statute, MIOSHA can cite employers, require abatement, and fine them up to $7,000 for failing to produce a remote work policy or if the employer’s preparedness and response plan is non-compliant.

MIOSHA Press ReleaseEmphasis ProgramGuidelines for OfficesMichigan COVID DashboardCAM COVID Resource Page

Need more information?


Jason Griffin
CAM Director of Education & Safety Services
Office: (248) 972-1141

CAM Legislative Breakfast 2020

CAM Legislative Breakfast 2020: Bipartisan Support for the Construction Industry

By Dennis Burck

The CAM Legislative Breakfast has been providing an annual review of Michigan’s legislative priorities and their impact on the construction industry for five consecutive years.  While the 2020 gathering had to be done virtually, it was still a much-needed insight into what we may expect from our government in the coming months.  Special thanks to all of our sponsors and participants.

Featured Panelists

LegBreakfast Speakers

As government and industry cope with the gravity of Coronavirus’s economic upheaval, the construction industry is not immune from falling in its orbit. Projects were delayed, budgets were stretched thin and economic stimulus was exhausted.

“2020 has certainly been a challenging year for all of us,” CAM President Kevin Koehler said. “The global pandemic, our workforce shutdowns here in the construction industry, the lockdowns on our families and friends, the presidential election, the friction we are experiencing between our governor and the White House and frankly, our ongoing budgeting issues — they have all taken a toll on our industry and on all of us.”

“Through it all, CAM has worked hard to get us back to work, keep our men and women safe, and to keep our members informed about everything that is going on,” Koehler said.

For its 5th annual Legislative Breakfast, moderated in a virtual format on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, CAM welcomed Rep. Steve Marino (R) of Harrison Township, Rep. Brian Elder (D) of Bay City, Sen. Ken Horn (R) of Frankenmuth and Sen. Sylvia Santana (D) of Detroit to the panel. The group weighed in on construction legislation, the budget deficit and the political forecast for 2021. Despite the challenges, there is bipartisan support and optimism that the construction industry is one of the most prepared industries to weather the present and future.

The virtual Legislative Breakfast was generously sponsored by Conci Painting Inc., JJ Barney Construction Inc., Ruby + Associates Inc., Superior Materials LLC, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 2, Operating Engineers Local 324, CAMComp Workers’ Compensation Plan, National Electrical Contractors Association (Southeastern Michigan Chapter), Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, BeneSys Inc., Watkins, Pawlick, Calati & Prifti PC, Plante Moran, and MCA Detroit.

CAM Lobbyist Jason Wadaga, Vice President of Governmental Relations for Kindsvatter Dalling &  Associates (KDA), moderated the discussion.

Legislation in Action

Opening up the dialogue, Wadaga inquired what each politician is working on at the moment.

Santana said she is trying to pass legislation to keep low-level offenders in the workforce and out of jail. “I think these efforts really impact our economic stability here in Michigan,” Santana said. “We have a lot of returning citizens leaving the jail in Ionia who have experience in trade skills. I think those individuals would definitely benefit from an opportunity to work in construction and support our infrastructure in the state of Michigan.”

Across the “aisle,” Horn said he has been focused on getting the manufacturing and construction industries back on track after the economic fallout from COVID-19. “Our roots are construction and manufacturing. The people that build things are the people that make Michigan work,” he said.

One of his focuses is increasing developer access to the Brownfield Transformational Act funding.  “It is for big significant projects that could literally change the skyline of the community. With that legislation, you see [Dan] Gilbert’s tower going up on the old JL Hudson’s site,” Horn said. “We want to make sure our departments are propagating the rules properly so developers can take advantage of that programming with big developments.”

Marino explained that his prime focus is on facilitating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Construction and manufacturing will be the number one economic driver to bring us out of this as it always has in Michigan. We as the government need to be smart about what we’re doing, stay out of your way and equip you guys for the goals that you need.”

Elder said he is looking forward to more bipartisan legislation being passed. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Elder was part of the team that worked on the recently passed COVID-19 Business Liability Package. The bill extends protections to businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits and enables them to extend unemployment assistance to employees.

“The COVID-19 crisis effectively put a pause button on our term. The economy took first priority, so there is a significant amount of work we can do in the lame-duck period with good bills with bipartisan support that is queued up and ready to go through hearings. We have a lot of work to do that’s been bottled up due to the COVID-19 crisis.”  One piece of legislation that was held up is the Michigan Construction Payment Act, colloquially known as “Prompt Pay.”

Bipartisan Support for “Prompt Pay”

Elder is the sponsor for HB-5375 or the Michigan Construction Payment Act. The bill was introduced in January 2020. “It is a reasonable bill. It simply says that if contractors complete their work, they have to be paid within 30 days,” Elder said. “That is true of many construction projects but not all. It is a best practice that should be extended to everyone in the industry.”

Elder said he hopes to work through it in the lame-duck session.

Marino is a co-sponsor of the bill. He said that a hearing is likely in the lame-duck session, however, everything is pending the COVID-19 crisis. “We do have to do work outside of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. “I do look forward to the discussion.”

Both senators were supportive of the bill as well. “We have a good understanding of the bill itself,” Horn said. “It is now just a matter of grinding it out and getting her done legislatively, but I am supportive of the idea in concept.”

Santana said she would like to see the bill extended to not only the private sector but to municipalities and counties as well. “As we’ve seen in the city of Detroit, we’ve had several minority contractor businesses pretty much dismantled because of payee circumstances,” Santana said. “I think it will help a lot of our subcontractors as well as the larger providers of work to let them know there is a deadline to be paid within the service of their work.”

Budgeting for 2021

Wadaga said that initial reports might have seen the state stuck with a $3 billion deficit in 2020, but the actual number is just under $1 billion. Wadaga asked each member of the Michigan Congress to weigh in on the budget moving forward.

“One of the markers we need to lay out is how open is our economy?” Horn said. “Our public schools and local governments are dependent on tax revenue. What is consumer confidence out there? Much of that is driven through retail sales and the travel industry in Michigan.”

Both manufacturing and construction industries are trying to catch up on past work with margins stretched thin, Horn added. “What is happening is they’re filling out contracts but they’re doing them with 190- or 120-day grace periods, and those grace periods came to an end in August. Their cash flows are really hurting.”

However, Horn remains optimistic about the national economic recovery. “I hope out of this we learn that manufacturing is indeed a national security issue in terms of our medicine and car parts. We need to make things in the USA.”

Santana said there were already foreseen constraints going into the 2022-2023 budget years, but the pandemic has complicated things further. “I am cautiously optimistic about where we stand in the state moving forward with the budget. Lucky for us, we did come up with the legislation that would allow us to collect sales tax for online purchases. This ultimately was a benefit so we could sustain our sales tax revenue.” A group of bills was signed into Michigan law in December 2019 to allow the state to collect online sales tax far before the online shopping boom during the pandemic.

Santana said the future is tied to how we continually navigate the COVID-19 crisis. “With COVID not having an end in sight, we do have to project for future budgets to make sure we can sustain ourselves. There is a lot to be concerned with, but I am hoping there will be an end in sight with COVID so our economy can get back to full force.”

Marino said that federal help carried the day. “Ultimately, it was the CARES Act that helped address the fiscal year and the vast majority of the shortfall we were looking at.”

Election Outlook

With members of the House campaigning for another term in Michigan against the backdrop of the presidential election, Wadaga asked each member of Congress how they are hedging their bets in this election cycle.

“The presidential election is really driving voter enthusiasm on both sides and that will have an impact on what happens,” Elder said. “The [Michigan] House is a jump ball. I think it will be incredibly close. I don’t think we will know that on November 3.” Elder said that he expects Biden will carry the state of Michigan given more accurate polling data than 2016.

“Macomb County is crazy. I don’t know if anything is mainstream in Macomb County,” Marino said. “I would love to say no matter what it will be over after 11/3. I am really looking forward to the election being over and getting back to work.”

Horn chimed in: “I think the biggest loser nationally will be the mainstream media and social media for how they handled the recent issues.” Regarding the race in Michigan, Horn said it is not much different than 2016. “In my area, we are a little bit like Macomb. We have Saginaw and in the southern part and west wall where I represent there is a lot of labor, and they voted for Trump in 2016. But I think Biden brings a different perspective to that vote.” The House will still likely remain Republican, Horn added. “It will be close, but we will still maintain authority.”

Sen. Santana said she sees a different voting climate in southeastern Michigan than in 2016. “I think people are tired of the last few years. Regardless of the outcome of the election, at the end of the day, we have to make sure we come together as a country. It’s been too partisan,” Santana said. “COVID has really changed the game for all of us. I think ultimately it is about stability here in Michigan, job opportunities are available and we are doing whatever we can to rebuild our infrastructure and economy.”

Panel Moderator

Jason Wadaga
Jason Wadaga

Jason Wadaga
Vice President Governmental Affairs
Kindsvatter Dalling & Associates

Jason serves as KDA’s lead lobbyist. He can typically be found in legislative meetings, committee hearings and at legislative session representing KDA’s lobby clients. He also serves as the Executive Director for three of KDA’s association management clients, including the Construction Association of Michigan.

His career includes extensive experience in politics and the legislature.  He started his political career as a Sophomore at Northern Michigan University working on a variety of campaigns which brought him to Lansing.  He spent nine years in the Michigan Legislature working in a variety of roles including serving as the Chief-of-Staff to State Senator Rick Jones before joining KDA. Born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Jason lives in East Lansing with his wife Kimberly and sons Nolan and Reid.

2021 Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO

2021 Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO

CAM is pleased to announce that CAM-HBA team is busy planning for the 2021 Great Lakes Design and Construction EXPO and 135th CAM Annual Meeting.

While COVID-19 presents obvious challenges, assuming State of Michigan Executive Orders and relevant health department regulations permit, we believe we will be able to produce a GLDC Expo 2021 safely and responsibly.

Highlights of our proposed event include:

  • A single day show on Wednesday, February 17th, to maximize exhibit floor traffic and energy
  • An Economic Forecast Breakfast and CAM’s Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon to attract attendees, including pre-event reception on the exhibit floor
  • An “integrated” floorplan that brings together the show floor with adjacent meeting space for both the keynote events and training sessions
  • A socially-distanced floorplan that separates booths by 10 feet in order to ensure exhibitor and attendee safety

Available Booth Space

While there are still several months between now and GLDC Expo 2021, we appreciate your REPLY to help us plan to ensure your company has a positive exhibit experience.  If you’d like to exhibit, complete our contact form with the booth size and approximate floorplan location you would prefer. Due to the fluidity of the situation, no deposit is required at this time and this does not obligate you to participate. Click here to view the sample floor plan.

For more information contact Ron Riegel at or 248-972-1110, or visit our website at

Expo Logo Final
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Construction Buyers Guide: There’s an app for that

CAM Launches New Mobile App

August 26, 2020

If you’ve ever tried using an internet search engine to locate a resource to support your business, you know your results will be full of paid advertisements, misinformation, inaccurate contact data, and hundreds of companies that don’t quite fit your intended search criteria. Construction companies, suppliers, and business service providers are a dime a dozen but how do you locate and target the “good” ones?

The Construction Association of Michigan is a membership-based trade association, connecting commercial and industrial construction companies to bid opportunities since 1885. In 1936, we printed the first Construction Buyers Guide. It began as a pocket-size book, listing CAM member firms and their contact information.

Over the years, the Construction Buyers Guide became a staple in most construction trailers. It wasn’t unusual to find well-worn, dogeared copies on the desks and in the work vehicles of building managers, project managers and superintendents. In the last 84 years, it has grown from a small booklet to a 7”x11” (no longer pocket-size!) ring-bound directory, averaging over 300 pages of contact information for architects, engineers, trade associations, labor unions, and CAM member companies. It continues to be a valuable resource throughout Michigan’s commercial and industrial construction industry.

With the advent of mobile phones and our increasing dependency on them to perform day-to-day business operations, the time has come for the clunky Buyers Guide to undergo a dramatic transformation into a fast, user-friendly mobile app.

Since August of 2019, the CAM team, together with our development partner jacapps, has been working to bring you the Construction Buyers Guide App, now  available in the Apple and Android stores. It is free to download.

Being a CAM member implies a certain level of professionalism, sophistication and legitimacy. If you’re seeking a resource to support your construction business, you will find it in the Buyers Guide App. The contact information will be current, relevant, and useful.

For more information on getting listed, contact the Construction Association of Michigan at or call (248) 972-1000.

Scan to Download

BG App Image
1936 Buyers Guide for web

Mid Year Forecast Recap

Optimism for a V-Shaped Recovery: A Summary of the CAM and HBA Annual Mid-Year Economic Forecast

By Dennis Burck

The CAM/HBA Mid Year Economic Forecast has been providing an annual industry review for ten consecutive years.  While the 2020 gathering had to be done virtually, it was still a much-needed insight into what we may expect from our economy in the coming months.  CAM and HBA were thrilled to welcome Elliot Eisenberg, PhD, as our 2020 economist and guest presenter.  Special thanks to all of our sponsors and participants.

Quick Links

2020 has been a year of many firsts for the construction industry and beyond. This year’s Mid-Year Economic Forecast sees many industries and sectors of the economy showing early signs of V-shape rebounding, followed by projected long-term steady growth to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

Elliot Eisenberg, chief economist for consulting agency GraphsandLaughs LLC, lead the seminar. Known as the “Bowtie Economist,” his voice has appeared in many publications, including Bloomberg, Business Week, Bureau of National Affairs, Forbes and Fortune. He is also a member of the Expert Advisory Board of Mortgage Market Guide and is a regular consultant to several large real estate professional associations, hedge funds and investment advisory groups.

“What is going on is the following: Our economy is suffering two things at once. We are experiencing a recession, and we are experiencing suppression,” Eisenberg said.

“Suppression is ending, and we are getting a nice beginning of an improvement. There is a mechanical element to this. Just getting out of your house means you are going to spend money. There will be a rapid recovery. But then the recession sets in and the question is how fast will we recover from that?”

Eisenberg supported his forecast threefold with data-driven analysis on GDP growth, inflation and construction from a variety of accredited economic and federal sources.

Lake Michigan Credit Union and Plante Moran generously sponsored the seminar.

How Firms and Lenders Are Navigating the Pandemic

Laura Claeys, a CPA Partner for Plante Moran, said the temporary pause is over and we are seeing many organizations return to work. “Although the economy in Michigan has been slowed by the pandemic, we feel there is pent-up demand in the state,” Claeys said. “Many jobs in the state have been delayed, but not canceled. Optimism in the state remains very high even though the working conditions might be different than we’re used to.”

The pandemic provided organizations the opportunity to access their structure, look at their team and strategy to make them stronger and nimbler to address economic challenges in the future, she added. “We’ve helped many of our clients take that inventory in their organization and found creativity, excitement and plenty of opportunity for them to move forward,” Claeys said.

“Lending institutions are stronger than they were in the last downturn, which I think bodes well for all construction companies and organizations in Michigan. Plante Moran is proud to be in the State of Michigan and serve the construction community.”

As a long-time sponsor of the Mid-Year Economic Forecast, Lake Michigan Credit Union was represented by Chief Lending Executive Eric Burgoon.  “We thought it is important to give you an update for you and your customers that will really help you smoothly work through the closing process with your team since there are some things that changed in our industry,” Burgoon said.

The CARES Act dramatically changed the number of mortgages that are placed in forbearance, the deferment of payments on a mortgage. “Prior to the CARES Act, 0.2 percent of all mortgages nationwide are in forbearance. Now 10 percent are in forbearance. This has really affected the building industry a couple of key ways.” One thing it does is puts into question whether or not someone can purchase or build a home because availability to some lenders has declined, he said.

“This has really created a fear in the industry of escalating foreclosures. This has caused many lenders to dramatically change their underwriting guidelines. Specifically, large banks have created credit overlays or eliminated products completely.” Common changes are higher credit score requirements, higher down payments and higher interest rates on large products. These are things the construction industry must take a second look at now.

“You want to make sure one of your clients building with you that they have preapproval for a mortgage in process to reassess that. Make sure that preapproval is still valid, make sure the lending partner you are working with follows guidelines so when you get to the end of the construction period, it is not a problem,” Burgoon said.

The pandemic hasn’t changed Lake Michigan Credit Union, however.  “We are proud to say we have not changed our products at all. We continue to offer construction financing throughout the shutdown. We still offer our 5 percent down construction loan. We haven’t had any credit overlays or done anything to make getting a mortgage more difficult.”

GDP Growth

Though large sections of the economy were effectively shut down for months to combat the spread of the pandemic, there are enough early indicators to show the first stages of meaningful recovery, according to Eisenberg. “Do not confuse this early recovery with a true ‘V’-shaped recovery. With autos and homebuilding, I think there will be a true ‘V,’ but it will not be everywhere.”

The first sector of the economy to provide the backbone to the forecast was automotive data.

Data from LMC Automotive shows a decent ‘V’ shaped upturn, while JD Power reports it may have new car purchases recover to pre-pandemic levels by August. “Automobiles are relatively like the harbinger of housing because they are a large [purchase] like a house,” he said. “This is a pretty good sign, but temper your enthusiasm.”

Another meaningful metric was restaurant traffic, up much higher since more venues opened up across the county. “I am more optimistic about it and believe the improvement is solid and real. This is a perfect example of suppression ending. This depends on a large extent how we psychologically feel about going to a restaurant.”

Other indicators that showed meaningful growth were manufacturing and hotels.

However, there are still many obstacles to overcome to increase the GDP to pre-pandemic levels. One problem is that firms are hesitant to invest along with a growing number of unknown factors along with the pandemic to consider–a trade deal with China, a second wave of the virus and the U.S. government’s response is pressing. Furthermore, Eisenberg cites publicly traded companies are suspending their dividends or reducing their dividends in levels haven’t seen since the Great Recession (2008-2009).

Chiefly among all other obstacles to GDP improvement is unemployment, Eisenberg emphasized. Estimates from the Wall Street Journal range from 20 to 30 million jobs lost due to the crisis. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ June report shows a 13 percent unemployment rate. Due to calculation errors by the study, Eisenberg argues that the real number is closer to 16.3 percent.

“People who lost their jobs will have to find new jobs with new employers, and that is going to take time,” Eisenberg said. “We are not going to create 20 million jobs in a month. That is simply not going to happen. If we create 2 million, I’ll be very happy.” For reference, during the height of unemployment during the Great Recession, the unemployment rate was 10 percent.

Sustained recovery comes down to the government stepping up to secure households and support businesses to get back on their feet, he stresses. “Government spending has come to the rescue. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The government came out guns blazing here,” Eisenberg said. “Our economy was in a coma, and this kept us alive period while we were locked in our houses and didn’t have our jobs.”

More needs to be done to get the unemployment number down. “Even at 10 percent, we saw mass dislocations and a long, miserable recession. I’d like to think it would come down to 11 or 12 by the end of the year. This will still be worse than the last recession so congress has to come through with funding.”

Due to the low-interest rates at 0.125 percent, now is not the time to worry about the national deficit, he added. According to Eisenberg, the consequences of increasing the deficit will be nothing compared to the “ravages” of what the economy will endure without additional spending.  “This is threat number one to our economy: Will congress come through, and how much will they come through with? They are going to help households get jobs and while they are unemployed. If they don’t come through and we go through this time of high unemployment in this 13 to 14 percent range, we are going to have a world of hurt in our economy.”

Eisenberg said he doesn’t see politics ultimately obstructing the recovery spending. “There is political will to do it, they are just fighting over what they want. They are going to figure it out, but they need to do it before the end of July. They do not have the luxury to be waiting.” If significant relief measures are taken, the recession will be relatively short and painful with a steady recovery, he said.

Inflation - What Inflation?

The U.S. Department of the Treasury injected $267 billion of stimulus checks for most Americans into the economy to combat the economic fallout from the pandemic.

“You are going to say ‘The money base is going up like crazy. More money, more inflation?’ I don’t think so,” Eisenberg said. It is important to note that the monetary base does not create inflation on its own, he added.

“First you have to have the velocity of money moving. The dollars here are not moving anywhere: Banks hold bonds. The Central Bank creates money then gives this to the bank.”

Though most Americans have all gotten $1,200 richer, this is moot in comparison to how the Central Bank and other banks are handling this crisis. “There is no more money in the economy since the banks are trading. The bank in turn takes the bond and gives it to the Central Bank. The bank is essentially trading bonds for cash to the Central Bank,” Eisenberg said.

Another indicator Eisenberg and his fellow economists use to measure the threat of inflation is the type of inflation. CPI inflation is more volatile as it includes food and energy prices. But Core inflation is the metric to watch. When considered, there is no evidence of inflation from the Core standpoint, he said.  “So, what is going to happen to rates? Absolutely nothing for years.”

Construction Outlook

The best construction news comes from the housing market, according to Eisenberger.

“Housing is in a ‘V’-shaped recovery. It is a sector that is doing remarkably well. It completely collapsed and completely recovered.”

An unaccounted-for psychological effect, he argues, is that after people were stuck in their houses, they realize they want to move. “There are unprecedented mortgage applications,” Eisenberg said. “Things are going to improve.”

What follows this crisis is an entirely different scenario in comparison to the 2008 crash when housing was at the center of the recession. “Housing is not the crux of the problem. Now there are no houses. Look at the inventory: 1.5 million now compared to the 4 million years ago,” Eisenberg said. “In terms of new housing, 2010-2020 is the worst decade of building in decades. There is a massive shortage of housing.” Eisenberg forecasts a full recovery in housing construction by August or September due to the higher demand.

“This is a recession that bypassed housing,” he said. “This is a true ‘V’-shaped recovery. Prices continue to rise. Rates are low and demand is strong.”

Final Thoughts

If history can be a guide to the present crisis, data from how the economy faired after the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 can be an indicator. In a graph of all U.S. economic recessions in history, the data shows the pandemic as a 6-month recession.

“This is the recession that followed the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918. It led to a depression, but the depression was unbelievably short. The Spanish Influenza killed 500,000 people. This is a very big percentage of the population. It comes in two waves and goes away. Then the economy rockets,” Eisenberg said.

Recessions coming from issues outside of the U.S. border tend to be shorter, he added. “This is a recession with nothing organic. 2000 was the Dot Com Boom. 2008 was massively organic. The recession of 1990 was too much real estate,” Eisenberg said. “Those three were all slow and jobless recoveries. I tend to think this one is going to look like those older recessions because of the evolution of it. There is nothing organic here. We were just whacked from this virus from China.”

With his personal graph utilizing data from the best available sources, he forecasts the worst will be a 10 percent real decline, then we will make up 4 percent of that loss by the end of the year. “It will take two full years until February 2022 to get things where they were. This is going to be a slow recovery. First quick, then slow, but we’ll get out of it.”

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Elliot Eisenberg, PhD
Elliot Eisenberg, PhD

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is an internationally acclaimed economist and public speaker specializing in making the arcana and minutia of economics fun, relevant and educational. He earned a B.A. in economics with first class honors from McGill University in Montreal, as well as a Masters and Ph.D. in public administration from Syracuse University. Eisenberg, a former Senior Economist with the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C., is the creator of the multifamily stock index (the first nationally recognized index to track the total return of public firms principally involved in the ownership and management of apartments), the author of more than eighty-five articles, serves on the Expert Advisory Board of Mortgage Market Guide and is a regular consultant to several large real estate professional associations, hedge funds and investment advisory groups. He has spoken to hundreds of business groups and associations, often as keynote speaker.  Learn more at

Midland County Flooding – Call for Assistance

Midland County Flooding: Call for Assistance

By Jennifer Panning
Published June 15, 2020

On Tuesday May 19th, the Edenville and Sanford Dams broke and flooded Midland County. 21.5 billion gallons of water rushed out at about 2,000 cubic feet per second.  Houses were knocked off their foundations, 2nd story homes saw water on the 2nd level, and water with sewage contaminated homes not completely destroyed.

I want to share what my daughter Morgen and I witnessed. First, 11,000 people were evacuated safely with the assistance of the local police and firefighters who went door to door notifying the community.  (Many families only had time to leave with what they were wearing.)

Recovery started immediately through local organizations and individuals providing resources and reaching out to others in need. Neighbors helping neighbors, sharing their homes or providing a meal.

A couple of Northwood University students started a Facebook group (The Pack Helps Midland) to help others. My daughter and some other students of Northwood University started volunteering in the Sanford area helping to demo homes. Through this, they would show up to a home in need and, in some instances, the owners would send them to another home with greater need. They took a box home of a friends’ family photos and salvaged what they could, picture by picture.

On May 29th, I visited the area for the first time. Street after street was lined with the contents of people’s homes waiting to be picked up and discarded. With a few others, I walked the campus of my Alma Mater, Northwood University (America’s Free Enterprise University), taking in the damage.  (This is the first University to survive a 500-year flood and 100- year pandemic!)  There were 200 student volunteers who quickly completed the work that they could on campus and then went into the surrounding community to help others. I talked with a student whose family lost their home and yet he was helping others that day.

The entire Midland County Area will need support for many months, maybe years. A 500-year flood is powerful. The pictures and personal accounts don’t begin to tell the stories of so many who have lost so much. MOST of this rebuilding won’t be covered by insurance and will come from donations. This is the reason I am asking you and CAM members to help. I have attached a few links to share with others. (long term recovery)…/FLOOD-RELIEF-VOLUNTE… (volunteer opportunities)  (you can designate to directly help Northwood Employees who lost their homes) (day volunteer opportunities, still in need of many)

Please consider assisting a quiet community that needs your help!


Jennifer Panning, Artisan tile
Jennifer Panning, Artisan tile

Artisan Tile was founded in March of 1995 by Jennifer Panning, Artisan Tile has emerged as a leader in the Southeastern Michigan Tile Industry. Doubling sales time and again, Artisan Tile has grown to who they are today. As a partner in many of the premier construction projects in Southeast Michigan, Artisan Tiles most notable project is the Northwest Airlines Edward H McNamara Terminal, for which they were awarded the prestigious IUBAC Craft Award for Best Tile Project in 2002.