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Building it out: Contractors struggle to hire, get materials

Neal Denny, right, of Crown Construction Co., works with Brandan Sager to assemble a pergula Monday on a home on North Road in Tully. Contractors have faced pandemic-inspired delays, from difficulty getting workers to getting materials. (Provided photo —Todd R. McAdam/Cortland Standard)

Some construction companies in the greater Cortland area have been moving right along, trying to hire employees to keep up with work; others are juggling with a delay in getting materials.

As New York slowly reopens during the coronavirus pandemic, work is backing up for contractors. Some contractors lack workers; others lack supplies. Either can lead to delays for the customer.

Part of the issue comes from what companies — both construction companies and suppliers — were able to stay open early on during the coronavirus pandemic and then which companies choose to stay open.

“Fortunately we stayed open,” said Jeff Fredrickson, owner of Crown Construction Inc. of Dryden. “We figured out early what the rules were to be an essential business. My biggest challenge has been growing.”

He said the company has 35 people, but could use 10 more. He said that part of the problem with hiring people could have been that many people wanted to stay on unemployment because they received an extra $600 a week. However, that program ended last week. Fredrickson said maybe people will be looking for jobs now.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” he said, and the company made two hires last week.

“We’ve been advertising,” he said. “Normally when we advertise we get a bunch of people in and we haven’t right now.”

Other construction companies, like Complete Construction Concepts in Homer, are struggling to get supplies after some distributors weren’t considered essential businesses early on and shut down, said owner Don Richards.

His company has difficulty getting items like windows and doors, leaving it a little behind on some projects.

“We have four or five jobs we have going at the same time and we have to start and stop, start and stop,” he said.

Glenn Anderson, owner of Empire Construction in Homer, said he’s also having issues getting materials for projects.

“We never shut down,” he said. “We had essential work we could do. Now it’s more materials not coming in.”

As for hiring people he said “I think it’s always been an issue with the field.”

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