A History of Tilt-Up Construction

While Thomas Edison was credited for a number of revolutionary inventions, he also deserves some credit as one of the pioneers of tilt-up construction. Very few realize that tilt-up construction became popular around the turn of the century, when Edison became a prominent name, and even fewer know that the practice originated long before this.


In North America, tilt-up construction dates back to the 18th Century when communities would come together for barn raisings. While this practice eventually lost popularity with the general public, the Amish and Mennonite communities continue to hold barn raisings to this very day. These structures are often built in a single day, which highlights the most obvious advantage to tilt-up construction, which is the speed in which a project can be completed.

Barn wall tilt-up construction
Library of Congress/Public Domain: Men work to secure a wall tilted up


In the late 19th Century into the early 20th Century, Thomas Edison was making a name for himself by churning out ground-breaking inventions like the light bulb, phonograph, and even a movie camera. Around the early 1900’s, he turned his attention briefly to construction and began to revolutionize the way houses were being built.

Thomas Edison tilt-up house model
National Park Service/Public Domain: Thomas Edison posing in front of a tilt-up concrete house model

Edison drew inspiration from his predecessors who were raising barns in rural America and incorporating this method in urban areas. Instead of wood, however, Edison’s houses were concrete. Even with the more modern material, Edison found that houses could be constructed in a fraction of the time and sold for far less than the average home at the time.

Edison's Concrete Houses in Gary, Indiana
NYTTND/Public Domain: Edison’s concrete houses still stand in Gary, Ind.

“Tilt-Up construction eliminates the costly, cumbersome practice of erecting two wooden walls to get one concrete wall,” Edison was quoted as saying about his new venture. The method, which was patented in 1917, offered a more affordable housing option to the lower-class demographic in cities across the United States. Some of these houses still stand throughout the country, including full blocks of them in Phillipsburg, New Jersey and Gary, Indiana.


The speed in which structures can be constructed using tilt-up construction was particularly appealing to the United States military, especially during World War II. Among the many types of buildings on base that were built using this method were the barracks for the soldiers. Rows of these bunkhouses could be completed cheaply and quickly, which made it invaluable to the war effort.

Military barracks
Library of Congress/Public Domain: Oakland Army Base barracks

While concrete was still used for some of the structures, the military opted to revert back to using wood for buildings like the barracks. As time went on, there was a shift back to concrete, as the military continues to erect tilt-up buildings, most of which are much more detailed and aesthetically pleasing than those built in haste during the 1940’s.  


According to the Tilt-Up Construction Association (TCA), this method of construction grew by more than 111 percent  between the years of 1995 and 2000, but it has been popular for erecting structures ever since World War II. Because of the war, labor shortages were the main reason general contractors looked to tilt-up construction for their projects.

Tilt-up construction

Warehouses and factories are, perhaps, the best examples of tilt-up projects, but that doesn’t mean it is limited to just those sectors. There are plenty of instances where general contractors have built offices, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, schools, and churches using tilt-up construction.

There are more than 10,000 buildings, accounting for 650 million square feet, erected each year using the tilt-up construction method, according to the TCA. It remains the preferred method for general contractors who are looking to save on time, materials, and labor.

Inflation and Interest Rates Highlight Design Build Need

Since the pandemic hit, the only thing constant in the construction industry has been volatility. We went from a total shut down to demand being almost off the charts for a number of sectors, and now, with soaring inflation and the Fed raising interest rates, we are back to a period of uncertainty.

Just when it appeared that there was light at the end of the tunnel, general contractors are forced to deal with even more adversity. The current situation, which has some believing that we are headed for recession, is causing certain construction projects to be put on hold. Developers are not willing to take the risk of paying more for these projects and are opting to wait it out.

When we enter times of economic uncertainty, it’s common to focus on these types of stories. It’s easy to get swept up and in the “doom and gloom” of the situation as they often dominate the headlines. However, while it is true that projects are being paused, there are still plenty of them that are moving forward.

The construction projects that are continuing to see green lights are moving forward because the developers simply see some advantage in proceeding. Simply put, these projects are still profitable and that is often credited to how they are going to be built. A true design builder is the most cost-efficient solution for developers who are hoping to push through projects in these uncertain times.

Construction Superintendents looking at blueprints


One of the biggest benefits of working with a true design-build firm is that it is going to save time. Having all the players on a project under one roof creates a symmetry that directly translates into efficiency. Interaction between the architects and the engineers becomes seamless, as does the eventual hand off to construction.

During a time when interest rates are skyrocketing, along with indications that the Fed is planning to raise them even more, time is certainly of the essence. Developers have more confidence working with a true design-build firm who can get their project across the finish line with more haste.


Aside from the savings a developer sees from an accelerated timeline associated with working with a design-build firm, costs are mitigated in other ways. Projects can be value engineered form the very beginning to ensure money is saved at every turn. The entire budget for a project is coming from one source when you work with a true design-build firm, and those teams will work in tandem to ensure the client gets the most wants out of their project without breaking their budget.

Architects will work hand-in-hand with the engineers and the construction team to find solutions that are cost-effective for the project. This is not always the case for the design-bid-build process where the architects often have no interaction with the general contractor, who begins to touch the project only after it has been designed.

Designer Meeting


When the architecture for the project is handled by a separate entity than the one that handles construction, problems can arise. When this occurs, the developer can find themselves in a situation where each of the firms they are working with are trying to assess blame to the other. Not only could this delay the project even more, it could turn into added costs that were not budgeted in from the start.

This is such a common issue that the AIA even released a report that outlines how architecture firms and general contractors can work together in a way that is more beneficial for the client. What they detail are pain points that are solved by merely bringing these two teams under one roof, like you find at a design-build firm.


Another advantage to dealing with a design-build firm is that all of the charges are coming from one place.  This allows for careful oversight, which means there is a better chance the project comes out on or even under budget.

Oktoberfest 2022: Build, Beer, and Brats

Prost! Last Friday, we tipped our steins back and celebrated Oktoberfest at our company-wide quarterly event. While these types of events are normally held offsite, it is sometimes nice to use our beautiful breakroom and courtyard to gather our team, especially when we can enjoy this beautiful Fall weather in Arizona.

This time of year is perfect for an event like Oktoberfest and a good time was had by all of our teams from, LGE Design Build, LGE Design Group, LGE Residential Design Build, and Creation.

Our break room was decked out with the traditional blue and white checkered décor, while the sounds from our hired accordion player, Tom Angelo, filled the air. His tradition German selections, along with his take on many contemporary rock songs, set the backdrop for our team members as they competed against each other in various games.

Traditional German food was brought in for a buffet-style lunch that included Brats with sauerkraut, pretzel bites, pogi, German fried potatoes, and apple strudel. Of course, there was a wide variety of German Beer and a tasting contest for those who wanted to show off their refined palate.

As we do for every quarterly event, we announced our Rockstar of the Quarter, along with the winner of the job site photo contest. Certificates were presented to the team members who sported their lederhosen and other traditional German garb.

We Have Touchdown in Houston

Team members from Creation and LGE Design Build joined some guests last week in Houston to celebrate the expansion of both companies’ footprint in the Texas market. The event was a happy hour to mark the groundbreaking of two new industrial projects in the northwest part of the city – Houston Point 290 and Cypress Creek Distribution Center.

These projects represent the first two industrial construction projects for LGE in the Houston metro area. With more than 21 million square feet under construction as of late July, Houston ranks toward the top of the list of U.S. cities when it comes to industrial growth.


Both projects are conveniently located near the intersection of Hwy 6 and Route 290, providing easy access to other major transportation thoroughfares. Each location is situated approximately 10 miles from Interstate 10, which connects Houston to the East and West Coasts.

Houston Construction Map


Houston Point 290, a three-building complex, will boast just under 385,000 square feet of state-of-the-art industrial product. The buildings will range in size between 150,000 to 106,000 square feet and will cater to tenants that are seeking a facility for light industrial work or warehouse space. Other features of Houston Point 290 include:

  • 112 dock doors
  • 32’ clear height
  • 341 parking spaces
  • 130-135’ truck courts
  • 31 trailer spots


At just over 150,000 square feet, Cypress Creek Distribution Center will be a rear-load industrial facility with best-in-class amenities. It will feature two main points of ingress and egress with direct access to FM 1960, making it ideal for distribution purposes. Other features of Cypress Creek Distribution Center will include:

  • 42 dock doors
  • 32’ clear height
  • 150 parking spaces
  • 125’ truck court


The architecture of all the buildings will feature the modern design that has become the calling card of LGE Design Group. With clean lines and two-stories of storefront window systems, these buildings will have a uniform appearance, despite their separation into different locations.


With its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico Ports, Houston is well-poised as a distribution hub domestically and internationally. The industrial vacancy rate, as of July, was 5.7 percent with a net absorption approximately 6.6 million square feet, year-over-year. Of the 21.9 million square feet under construction, more than a third of it is happening in the northwest submarket where Houston Point 290 and Cypress Creek Distribution Center are located.

In 2021, Houston was atop the list of cities with a thriving big-box retail market, with an 11 percent increase in industrial facilities over the course of that year. E-Commerce sales have been very strong, especially since the pandemic, driving up new industrial construction starts right along with them.

Sand: The Forgotten/Disappearing Construction Material

When you hear the words “construction materials,” it is only natural to think of the more common commodities, like lumber, steel, or glass. Someone in the industry might also include less popular materials like gypsum or copper. However, a material not often considered is one that directly affects the production of a number of vital materials: sand, which is in short supply globally.

When it comes to raw materials, sand only trails water as the most used commodity in the entire world. In the construction industry alone, between 40 and 50 billion tons of sand is used every year. The demand is so strong that sand pirates have stolen entire beaches overnight and islands have completely disappeared from illegal mining.


Among the many products that are produced with sand, the more prevalent ones used in construction tend to be concrete, glass, and plaster. Considering that all three of these materials are found in almost every construction project across the globe, many general contractors are monitoring the sand shortage situation closely.


For those unfamiliar with sand’s role in the production of construction materials, they may wonder how it’s possible to have a shortage of sand. In the United States alone, there is more than 86,000 square miles of desert, which is less than 1 percent of the total sandy deserts on Earth.

However, the sand in deserts is very fine and smooth, so the ability for the grains to bond is basically non-existent, rendering them completely ineffective for the production of materials like concrete. Even cities like Dubai, which are surrounded by vast deserts, have to import sand from countries like Australia to construct their buildings.

The sand used in the production of construction materials is mainly extracted from riverbeds, lakes, oceans, and beaches. This type is known as marine sand.

Sand mine dug into hillside


Most of the sand that you find on beaches is primarily made up of quartz and mainly originates in rivers and streams. Erosion takes place in these waterways and the sand that is produced is carried to the ocean where the waves break it down even further. The hard pounding of the water currents and waves against the rocks creates a type of sand with jagged edges, allowing it to bond together easier. This process is what makes marine sand better suited as bonding material than that of desert sand, which is roughly all the same size and smoother because it is moved by the wind.


This process of extraction is not very eco-friendly as it creates unnatural erosion, destroys ecosystems, and pollutes waterways. Citing environmental concerns, specifically erosion, the State of California, under pressure from local activists, forced the CEMEX Lapis plant in Monterey to shut down its operation. This was the last coastal sand mine in the United States.


Unlike other commodities, sand has very little to no regulations, depending on what part of the world you are in. This is what ultimately makes it a cheap commodity in comparison with others. Other than ocean mine operations, which is a little more involved, it is fairly easy to extract sand and transport it.

Due to the lack of regulations, sand can theoretically be mined by anyone who has a shovel and a bucket and it often is. However, they do have to compete with the large companies who have the proper machinery for such operations.


It may sound like something from out of an apocalyptic movie, but sand pirates are very real, although in some areas, like India, they are referred to as sand mafias. These organized gangs have been known to remove entire beaches literally overnight. Over time, we have seen entire islands disappear due to erosion because of illegal sand mining operations.

There is no differentiating between pirates and sand mafia, as both often rely on intimidation through violence to carry out their mission. There are plenty of instances where bribes were offered and murders were committed by the sand pirates who operate on black markets all over the world.  From the Caribbean, to India, to the Far East, sand pirates have murdered journalists, law enforcement officials, and environmental activists.

Sand mine aerial view


Another negative byproduct of having no regulations is that there is no inventory of just how much sand is actually out there. What we do know is there is not an infinite supply and mining it can have catastrophic effects on the environment depending on where and how it is sourced.

Nearly a third of the construction on the entire planet is happening in China, where they produce more concrete than the rest of the countries in the world combined. From 2011 to 2013, China used more concrete than the U.S. did in the entire 20th Century. This, of course, means they use a large amount of sand for their concrete.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released a report where they make 10 recommendations to solve what they call a “crisis” in the sand industry. Among their recommendations are “recognize sand as a strategic resource”; “map, monitor and report sand resources”; “restore ecosystems and compensate for remaining losses”; and “source responsibly.”

Arguably the most important recommendation from UNEP states, “Establish best practices and national standard, and a coherent international framework.” Organizing the international community to regulate the sand industry is tantamount to solving all of the other present issues.


Crushed rock can be recycled from demolition sites to make products that are historically made from sand. Another emerging alternative to concrete and steel in construction is engineered timber.

Lendlease recently completed 25 King, the tallest and largest engineered timber building in Australia. While the building does have a concrete base for the first two floors, the next nine floors are all constructed from engineered timber. As more products like engineered timber come to market, the construction industry’s reliance on scarce materials like sand will begin to wane.

E-Commerce Still Driving Industrial Warehouse Demand

The demand for industrial warehouse space remained surprisingly strong during the pandemic. Statistics showed that shopping habits changed dramatically, especially during the shutdown, and many people shifted toward e-commerce retail for almost all of their needs. In 2020, e-commerce sales rose by $244 billion since the previous year, which was a 43 percent increase. Because of this increase, brick-and-mortar retailers joined e-commerce companies by seeking out industrial warehouse space to fulfill their online orders.  

As one would suspect, Amazon led the way in sales during the pandemic, with their May and July sales in 2020 up 60 percent compared to that same period the previous year. The e-commerce giant had always been atop the food chain amongst its peers, but the pandemic seemed to catapult them even further out ahead. As of June of 2022, Amazon enjoyed 37.8 percent of the market share and brought in more revenue than the next 13 online retailers combined.


While other online retailers did not get quite the boost Amazon did from the pandemic, they did see their e-commerce sales grow significantly. The increased demand for products purchased online led many retailers with brick-and-mortar locations to shift their focus to a more e-commerce approach.

Industrial Warehouses Aerial

This created a significant uptick in demand for industrial warehouse space for retailers looking to fulfill their online orders. From 2020 through 2021, approximately 40 percent of industrial absorption in the U.S. was made up of companies who were looking to use these facilities for e-commerce purposes.  


What made the move of placing an increased emphasis on e-commerce sales even more appealing to big box retailers is the cost of rent for these industrial facilities compared to their already-existing brick-and-mortar locations. It is considerably cheaper to rent industrial warehouse space than it is to rent a high-traffic retail location. The national average for renting retail space is $26-per-square-foot, whereas in the industrial sector, the national average is $8-per-square-foot, and can be as low as just over $4-per-square-foot in some metro areas. Even the more saturated industrial markets, where prices can be nearly double the national average, they are still well below their respective retail markets.

National Average Monthly Asking Rent in US Dollars, Q1 2022


The e-commerce industry has only recently begun to slow, and there has even been some cause for alarm triggered by Amazon who has been delaying or cancelling planned warehouse projects. More than 15 warehouse projects have either been delayed or cancelled since the beginning of 2022. They have even gone as far as shuttering some of their brick-and-mortar stores that just recently opened.

Even though this would appear to be a projection of the e-commerce industry as a whole, the moves do not seem to be indicative of any lack of demand for online shopping. Amazon officials have even pointed toward internal reasons for their realignment of priorities. Instead of a decrease in online retail demand, they are citing labor issues as the main reason for the scaling back on these facilities.

“We hired more people and then found ourselves overstaffed when the omicron variant subsided rather quickly, at least from our standpoint in warehouses,” Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said recently. “So, the issue has switched from disruption to productivity losses to overcapacity on labor.”

Labor, in general, has been an issue at Amazon as of late. A number of facilities in the U.S. and abroad have been the scenes of worker strikes, citing unsafe labor conditions and low pay. However, it is unclear how much this factored into their decision to contract their warehouse footprint.


A more in-depth look at the e-commerce industry supports Olsavsky’s claims that the move by Amazon was precipitated by internal reasons as opposed to what is happening in the market. Experts project 266.7 million people in the United States to shop online in 2022, which is a decent portion of the more than 2 billion people globally in the same category. In 2021, e-commerce sales reached more than $870 million and comprised 11.8% of total retail sales. In the first quarter of 2022, e-commerce sales rose by 2.4 percent, but dipped slightly in terms of total retail sales.


Despite inflation, the demand for the industrial sector has passed its pandemic peak, but still exists, and in areas where vacancy rates are down, warehouse space is even more coveted. A once-flourishing area like the Inland Empire in California is down to a 0.6 percent vacancy rate with industrial leasing rates on the rise there. Keeping up with demand, which is partly due to the continued upward mobility of e-commerce, is even more difficult in places like this.

While this issue is more pronounced in land-constrained markets, like the Inland Empire, the supply side of the industrial sector is having trouble keeping up with the demand across the entire U.S. Experts have forecasted 2023 to be another year of growth in the nonresidential construction industry, with the industrial sector poised to lead the way.

LGE Adding Another to the Loop 303 Corridor

Earlier this month, LGE Design Build, alongside developer Echo Real Estate Capital, broke ground on Echo Park 303, a two-building, modern industrial facility in Glendale, Ariz. This project will mark the latest addition to the flourishing Loop 303 corridor, in the West Valley of Phoenix, which is becoming one of the premiere industrial submarkets in the nation.

Situated on nearly 40 acres of land, just north of Luke Air Force Base, Echo Park 303 will feature a total of 676,000 square feet of best-in-class industrial product. Future tenants of the facility will enjoy easy access to major transportation thoroughfares as it sits near the intersection of Northern Parkway and Reems Rd., approximately three miles from Loop 303 and less than ten minutes from Interstate 10.  It will be in the immediate proximity of distribution centers for major brands like Red Bull and Mark Anthony Brewing (White Claw and Mike’s Hard Lemonade), as well as Cold Summit, a large-scale cold storage facility, which sits directly across the street.

Echo Park 303 Site Plan

“It’s an exciting time to be building in Phoenix, especially in the West Valley,” said Blake Wells, director of preconstruction at LGE Design Build. “We are one of the leading markets in the nation when it comes to industrial projects like this one, and the incredible demand for the 303 corridor is a major reason for that.”

Upon completion, which is expected in Q3 of 2023, Echo Park 303 will be comprised of a 456,000-square-foot building and a smaller 220,000-square-foot one, with clear heights of 40 feet and 32 feet, respectively. Ample parking will be available as well, with 743 parking spaces and gated yards for nearly 150 trailer spaces, making it an ideal facility for companies looking to distribute their products across the Southwest.

In addition to the best-in-class industrial amenities, Echo Park 303 will boast more than 28,000 square feet of Class A office space. Highlighted by the signature modern architecture of LGE Design Group, these buildings will feature two stories of storefront window systems to allow for natural lighting in the lobbies and offices situated on the corners of the buildings. The windows will be complemented by the use of clean lines and open space of the modern exterior structure that will define the entrances, enhancing the overall aesthetics of the surrounding area.

Echo Park 303 Rendering

“We are very excited about this project and to be working with Echo Real Estate Capital,” said Wells. “They have been amazing partners throughout the entire preconstruction process and we hope this project sets the foundation for many future collaborations between our two companies.”

Volatility of Construction Materials in Q3

The previous two years have been a wild ride when it comes to the prices of construction materials. While some materials have fluctuated drastically, many others have steadily risen. With bottlenecks in the supply chain and rising gas prices, along with other untimely factors, the cost of securing necessary construction materials placed an added burden on every firm across the nation. These costs had to be, unfortunately, passed on to the consumer.

However, as pressure on the supply chain continues to dissipate, certain commodity prices have begun to improve. While the ongoing war in the Ukraine continues to pose challenges globally, gas prices have recently begun to trend downward, and that cost appears to be already reflected in the price of some domestic materials.


Lumber has been one of the most volatile of materials over the past two years.  Since September of 2020, this commodity has drastically fluctuated, rising 40 percent over the second half of 2021 and now lowering 16 percent over the first half of 2022. 

Lumber prices chart


While flat glass has somewhat stabilized nationwide, we have seen a staggering increase of 40 percent in the price of glass for storefront systems, here in the Southwest, over just the past quarter.

Flat glass prices chart


Prices on steel mill products have dropped more than 14 percent since spiking in May as demand continues to wane. Experts point to the overproduction of steel in Q4 of 2021 as the reason for this drop in price.

Steel mill products prices chart


In the month of July, the index for final demand for goods fell by 1.8 percent, which is the largest drop since early 2020 when it fell 2.7 percent. Much of this decline can be attributed to a 16.7 percent drop in gasoline prices. 

Final demand for goods chart

What to Know About Semiconductor Construction in Phoenix

Phoenix natives know that driving north on Interstate 17 means two things – traffic and scenery. But well before the terrain turns to majestic mountains, there is another changing landscape, just as you’re leaving Phoenix, that has also been turning some heads.

From the highway, it is hard to miss the 38 cranes that are scattered throughout a 1,100-acre construction site where the Loop 303 meets the I-17. This site will be the future home of a $12 billion semiconductor plant operated by the Taiwanese company, TSMC. 

The sheer size of the operation is undoubtedly impressive, but the implications it has for other projects in the Phoenix Valley doesn’t necessarily have local general contractors singing its praises. The ripple effect of such a project has posed major challenges for construction firms who were already having a hard time sourcing materials because of the pre-existing supply chain issues. 

When you consider the fact that Intel is investing $20 billion in two similar facilities in the Phoenix Valley, it is safe to say that securing materials for other projects in Arizona will become even more difficult. Subcontractors are already being put on allocation for many of the materials needed for the semiconductor projects.

While it may be difficult to pin down exact numbers as to what degree these new facilities will delay other construction projects, an in-depth look at what we already know about the TSMC plant and recent legislation may help shed some light on what can be expected in the near future.


Just as the onset of the pandemic created a shortage in the supply of many items, computer chips, like the ones that will be produced by TSMC here in Phoenix, also proved to be scarce. These chips are vital for not only computers, but cell phones and major household appliances as well, along with many other electronic devices.

Technicians building semiconductor chips


In early August, President Biden signed into law the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act (CHIPS for America Act). Of the $280 billion allocated toward the bill, $52 billion will be devoted specifically toward incentivizing chip production domestically. Just one week prior to Biden signing the CHIPS Act into law, U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-California), made a trip to Taiwan to meet with the chairman of TSMC to discuss what the bill entails. The meeting is a strong indication that TSMC is considering building more factories at their site in Phoenix.


Construction on the TSMC plant began in 2021 and they are expected to start production of their chips in 2024. Completion of the fabrication structure (“fab”) is near completion, and as of June, about half of the glasswork had been installed. Under normal conditions, a plant like this can generally be built in a little more than a year’s time, but supply chain issues and the fact that this is a Taiwanese company building their facility overseas, it is expected to take longer.


Across the 1,100 acres of land in North Phoenix, the TSMC complex is expected to total 3.8 million square feet once completed.  If the company does decide to build additional “fabs” on the site, the total cost could be as high as $35 billion.

Semiconductor Chip


In addition to the TSMC and Intel facilities, other developments are in the works to strengthen the supply chain to the these plants. Most notably, Sunlit Chemical, a company that produces chemicals used in the manufacturing of semiconductors, broke ground on a $100-million facility earlier this year, near the TSMC plant in North Phoenix.


The TSMC plant is immediately expected to create 1,600 jobs and nearly 5,000 manufacturing jobs over the next three years. According to Intel, their semiconductor plants will create approximately 15,000 jobs, which doesn’t include the more than 3,000 construction positions needed to build their two facilities. Because Sunlit Chemical relies heavily on automation for the production of their chemicals, their impact in terms of labor will not be as significant, but their services are vital to TSMC and Intel’s operations. They will, of course, need to dip into the construction labor pool to complete the building of their 900,000-square-foot facility.

The Loosening Supply Chain in Q3

In late 2021 and into the early part of 2022, the supply chain outlook was dire. A combination of logistical bottlenecks, production setbacks, and labor shortages brought shipping to a near halt. Volatile global politics and domestic instability further complicated the situation. Over the course of the first half of the year, these issues have not been totally alleviated, but they have been diluted enough to show a stark improvement.

Recent figures show there is cause to be optimistic about the current conditions of the supply chain. The once “perfect storm” that was causing all the problems seems to be dissipating as shipping delays on water and land are becoming less frequent.


There has been an 80 percent reduction, since the beginning of the year, in the number of ships that are waiting in U.S. ports. Shipping containers are also no longer in short supply, and there is even a current surplus of approximately 6 million of them across the globe.


The unemployment rate in the transportation sector was at 4.2 percent in the month of July, putting it more than a full percentage point below its pre-pandemic mark. In the same month, approximately 3,500 trucking jobs were added. Since the shutdown, the trucking industry only saw one month, this past March, where job numbers dropped, but only slightly. Despite that small setback, the sector has enjoyed nearly two years of straight growth.


While nationally there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel, additional factors have emerged in Arizona where the construction of three semiconductor plants have made it difficult for local subcontractors to source materials. Many of these subcontractors have been put on allocation for vital building materials, which is delaying some projects.


The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed last November, might also present a similar predicament once these projects begin. A provision within the act requires that all materials for roads and bridges must be sourced domestically, which could reintroduce some strain to the supply chain, nationally.

Click below to download and share our Q3 Supply Chain Infographic, along with our other research.

Midway: Elevating Industrial Design in Chandler

The growing industrial submarket in the Southeast Valley of Phoenix will be seeing a three-building complex added to it very soon. Midway Commerce Center, on which LGE Design Build recently broke ground, will add just over 300,000 square feet of best-in-class industrial product to Chandler, Ariz.

The buildings, which are being developed by LGE’s sister company Creation, will be suited for light-industrial tenants who are looking for state-of-the-art distribution facilities with easy access to major transportation thoroughfares. The facility will be conveniently located near the intersection of State Route 87 and Loop 202.

The interiors will feature a 32-foot clear height with 52-foot column spacing, along with nearly 70 dock doors between the three buildings. The size of each of these buildings will slightly vary in size.

“What’s most exciting about Midway is the design of the project,” said Chris McClurg, principal at Lee & Associates, the firm who is handling the leasing. “We have buildings ranging from 75 to 108,000 feet, up to 118,000 feet, with excellent loading, clear height, and power.”

The logistics amenities of Midway Commerce Center will only be complemented by the exterior designs, all of which were done by LGE Design Group. The entrances will boast a two-story storefront window system with a sleek, modern look that is accentuated by clean lines and a steel canopy that curves around the corners of the buildings.

Aerial view of Midway Commerce Center

“We went through a process with the City of Chandler where they really wanted to elevate the design standards for industrial design,” Mike Russo, lead design architect for LGE Design Group. “Some of the design moves that we did got integrated. I think there’s a lot of details in the design that are gonna show through once it’s built.”

The modern design of Midway Commerce Center will do more than just add to the aesthetic of the City of Chandler’s rapidly changing landscape. The already-existing skilled workforce in the community is also expected see the project as a welcome addition.

“This project fits in well with the vision for the city as well as the Chandler Air Park area,” said Ryan Kaup, economic development specialist for the City of Chandler. “I’m most looking forward to additional product come online as we have very low industrial vacancy rates in the community. We have a very educated community and having these buildings available really will help us as we continue to attract those advanced uses.”

Midway Commerce Center is expected to be completed in Q3 of 2023. Please direct all leasing inquiries to Lee & Associates.

Breaking Down Q3 Construction Labor

When it comes to employment in the construction sector, the numbers can be a little misleading if you are not exactly sure how to interpret them. There are so many different positions that need to be filled, across a number of skilled trades, so the overall figures may look positive when, in fact, there is still a long way to go. This is the case for the present situation in which the construction industry finds itself.


The construction unemployment rate is now well lower than the pre-pandemic levels and the sector is filling more positions daily. Skilled trades, however, continue to struggle to recruit the younger generation to fill the gap left by early retirees from the pandemic.

Construction unemployment rates


From April to July, the construction unemployment rate fell, this past quarter, from 4.6 percent to 3.5 percent, which is well below the pre-pandemic mark of 5.5 percent. There is even a larger decline when looking at the entire first half of 2022, which began with a 7.1 percent mark for unemployment. This was the highest the rate reached since April of 2021 when it was at 7.7 percent.

residential and nonresidential construction sites


In July, total construction employment rose by 32,000 hires, however, the nonresidential construction sector has yet to surpass its pre-pandemic levels. Residential construction appears to be shouldering a large portion of the lift when it comes to new hires. As of June, nonresidential construction was still -2.9 percent below its pandemic level for employment, while residential was up 6 percent.


The skilled trades, specifically, continue to struggle to fill positions that were vacated by older workers who opted for early retirement during the shutdown. The construction industry is still looking to add approximately 650,000 workers in 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This number is quite daunting when considering that less than 45,000 apprentices completed their programs in 2021.

construction skilled labor chart

To learn more about the current state of the construction industry, click here to download our Q3 2022 Construction Delivery Outlook.