Business for contractors up on Hawaii Island


Business for contractors working on big jobs is up on Hawaii Island, a labor union organizer said.

The Hilton Waikoloa just renovated one of its towers, said Mark Travalino, organizer with Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 368. The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is under renovations, and a few other hotels have taken on smaller projects, he added.

“New construction is coming up” too, Travalino said. “There’s definitely an increase in construction.”

Travalino’s observations fall in line with a national report about remodeling. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry said earlier this year a survey of remodelers that inquiries about work were up 4.7 percent in the second quarter since the first quarter, requests for bids were up 3.3 percent in the second quarter compared with the first quarter and the conversion of bids to jobs increased 4.6 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter.

The value of jobs sold had already increased 5.9 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter.

“As consumer confidence has increased, so has the confidence of the remodeling community,” said Tom O’Grady, NARI’s Strategic Planning and Research Committee chairman, in a news release from the national organization. “It appears that everyone has finally settled into this ‘new normal’ economic picture, and more bids are turning into remodeling projects and at higher price points.”

Stephen Hayward, owner of Liberty Construction Inc., said he wasn’t so sure consumer confidence has come back.

“I just think people are afraid to spend money,” Hayward said.

He’s been a contractor in West Hawaii for nearly three decades. If he were relying only on contracting work to pay the bills, things wouldn’t be going all that well for him right now, he said. He admitted he hasn’t been out aggressively seeking new work, either.

Mostly, though, he just thinks people aren’t ready to take on new projects around their homes.

“I’ve seen (the West Hawaii economy) up and down a few times,” Hayward said. “The other ones were more positive. This time, work hasn’t come back.”

NARI officials said the remodelers they surveyed across the country were optimistic about the economy and the improving remodeling market. A message left with NARI was not immediately returned and the organization’s website did not list any Hawaii Island members.

Messages left with several other contractors were not returned.