IA survey: Irrigation sales on the rise, drought lets up

May 5, 2014 -  By

Irrigation AssociationThere’s a growing optimism about current economic conditions in the irrigation industry, according to a recent survey by the Irrigation Association (IA).

The survey, conducted annually by the IA to gauge the state of the industry, provided that 70 percent of respondents indicated total sales in 2013 were greater than those in 2012.

More than 110 contractors from 33 states and two Canadian provinces responded to the 2014 survey. Most respondents are small businesses, with 33 percent having fewer than 10 employees and 30 percent having 11 to 25 employees.

Key survey findings include the following.

Respondents cited workforce needs as their greatest business challenge, followed by sales and state rules and regulations. In 2013, contractors listed sales challenges ahead of workforce needs.

Drought’s impact was lower, with 48 percent reporting they were not affected by drought in 2013. In contrast, 71 percent reported in last year’s survey that drought impacted their businesses significantly or moderately.

For the second consecutive year, respondents cited “fly-by-night” contractors as their top issue because these competitors undercut the profits of law-abiding companies. Irrigation contractor licensing ranked second—licensing is supported by 90 percent of surveyed contractors.

Water prices continue to rise, with more than 70 percent of contractors reporting potable water prices increased in 2013, consistent with survey results in 2012.

When asked about training, 80 percent of contractor executives reported they are personally receiving the continuing education they need. Eighty-nine percent felt available education and training adequately prepares employees for the job at-hand.

In 2014 and 2013, contractors rated local reputation as the most important factor in differentiating themselves from the competition, followed by customer service, advanced skills and expertise and length of time in business.

LM Staff

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