Roofing in Romania, Part II: Past as Prologue

[Editor’s Note: In May, Thomas W. Hutchinson presented a paper at the 2017 International Conference on Building Envelope Systems and Technologies (ICBEST) in Istanbul, Turkey, as did his good friend, Dr. Ana-Maria Dabija. After the conference, Hutchinson delivered a lecture to the architectural students at the University of Architecture in Bucharest, Romania, and spent several days touring Romania, exploring the country’s historic buildings and new architecture. Convinced that readers in the United States would appreciate information on how other countries treat roofing, he asked Dr. Dabija to report on roof systems in Romania. The first article, “Roofing in Romania: Lessons From the Past,” was published in the July/August issue of Roofing. In this follow-up article, Dr. Dabija continues her exploration of the forces shaping the architecture of Romania.]

A late 19th or early 20th century residential building in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

(Photo 1) A late 19th or early 20th century residential building in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

In buildings as well as in other fields of activity, there are at least three determinant factors in the choice of products:

  1. The technology. A key driving force is the technology that improves a product or system. Some systems are not at all new—the ones that use solar power, for instance—but are periodically forgotten and rediscovered; this is another story. The history of past performance is important here as well, as is the skill of the contractors installing the material or system. Technological advancements can mark important developments in industry, but the field is littered with “new and improved” products that never panned out, failed and are out of the market.
  2. The economy. The state of the economy is directly related to the state of the technology; better efficiency in the use of a type of resource leads to the use of more of that resource, as well as to a change of human behavior that adapts to the specific use of the resource. This dynamic is referred to as “the Jevons paradox” or “the rebound effect.” In a nutshell, William Stanley Jevons observed, in his 1865 book “The Coal Question,” that improvements in the way fuel is used increased the overall quantity of the utilized fuel: “It is a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth.” On the other hand, it seems that innovation is mainly accomplished in periods of crisis, as a crisis obliges one to re-evaluate what one has and to make the best of it.
  3. The political will. As one of the great contemporary architects, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, stated, “Architecture is the will of the epoch translated into space.”

Like many other things, buildings can be read from the perspective of these factors. And so we go back to square one: history.

(Photo 2) Palace of the National Bank of Romania (1883-1900), designed by architects Cassien Bernard, Albert Galleron, Grigore Cerkez, and Constantin Băicoianu. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

Our excursion in the history of the roofing systems in Romania moves from the 19th century to the present. As mentioned in the previous article, the use of metal sheets and tiles began sometime in the late 17th century (although lead hydro-insulation seems to have been used in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the sixth or seventh century, B.C.).

The Industrial Revolution that spread from the late 18th to the mid 19th century included the development of iron production processes, thus leading to the flourishing of a new range of building materials: the roofing products. The surfaces that can be covered with metal elements—tiles or sheets—span from low slopes to vertical. More complicated roofs appeared, sometimes combining different systems: pitched or curved roofs use tiles while low slopes are covered with flat sheets.

Copper, painted or galvanized common metal, zinc or other alloys cut in tiles and sheets, with different shapes or fixings—the metal roofs of the old buildings are a gift to us, from a generation that valued details more than we do, today (Photo 1).

(Photo 3) The Palace of the School of Architecture in Bucharest, designed by architect Grigore Cerchez. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

In the second half of the 19th century, in 1859, two of the historic Romanian provinces—Walachia and Moldova—united under the rule of a single reigning monarch, and, in 1866, a German prince, Karl, from the family of Hohenzollern, became king of the United Principalities. In 1877 the War of Independence set us free from the Turkish Empire and led to the birth of the new kingdom of Romania. The new political situation led to the need of developing administrative institutions as well as cultural institutions, which—in their turn—needed representative buildings to host them. In only a few decades these buildings rose in all the important cities throughout the country.

The influence of the French architecture style is very strong in this period as, in the beginning, architects that worked in Romania were either educated in Paris or came from there. It is the case with the Palace of the National Bank of Romania (Photo 2), designed by two French architects and two Romanian ones.

(Photo 4) A detail of the inner courtyard and roof at the Central School by architect Ion Mincu, 1890. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

The end of the 19th century is marked by the Art Nouveau movement throughout the whole world, with particular features in architecture revealing themselves in different European countries. In Romania, the style reinterprets the features of the architecture of the late 1600s, thus being called (how else?) the Neo-Romanian style. A few fabulous examples of this period that can be seen in Bucharest include the Palace of the School of Architecture (Photo 3), the Central School (Photo 4), the City Hall (Photo 5). Most of the roofs of this period use either clay tiles or metal tiles and metal sheets (Photos 6 and 7).

In parallel with the rise of the Art Nouveau style in Europe, the United States created the Chicago School, mainly in relation to high-rise office buildings. This movement was reinterpreted in the international Modernist period (between the two World Wars).

As a consequence of the Romanian participation in the First World War, in 1918 Basarabia (today a part of the Republic of Moldova, the previous Soviet state of Moldova), Bucovina (today partly in Ukraine) and Transylvania were united with Romania. The state was called Greater Romania. The capital city was Bucharest. Residential buildings as well as administrative buildings spread on both sides of the grand boulevards of the thirties, built in a genuine Romanian Modernist style (Photo 8).

(Photo 5) Bucharest City Hall, by architect Petre Antonescu 1906-1910. Photo Joe Mabel, Creative Commons Attribution.

Influences from the Chicago School are present in the roof types. Flat roofs began to be used, sometimes even provided with roof gardens (although none have survived to our day). It is probable that the hydro-insulation was a “layer cake” of melted bitumen, asphalt fabric and asphalt board, everything topped with a protection against UV and IR radiation. The “recipe” was mostly preserved and used until the mid-90s.

In the second half of the 20th century, the most common roofs were the bitumen membranes, installed layer after layer. Residential buildings and most administrative buildings had flat roofs. Still, in the center of the cities, more elaborate architecture was designed, so next to a church with a metallic roof, you might find a residential block of flats with pitched roofs covered with metal tiles, behind which the lofts are used as apartments (Photo 9).

Most of the urban mass dwellings, however, were provided with flat roofs (Photo 10). Even the famous House of the People (Photo 11)—the world’s second-largest building after the Pentagon—has flat roofs with the hydro-insulation made of bitumen (fabric and board layers).

(Photo 6) Residential buildings built in the late 19th or early 20th century in the center of Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

Corrugated steel boards or fiberboards were mainly used in industrial buildings and sometimes in village dwellings, replacing the wooden shingles as a roofing solution that could be easily installed (Photo 12).

After 1989, when the communist block collapsed, products from all over the world entered the market. The residential segment of the market exploded, as wealthy people wanted to own houses and not apartments. Pitched roofs became an interesting option, and the conversion of the loft in living spaces was also promoted. Corrugated steel panels, with traditional or vivid colors, invaded the roofs, serving as a rapid solution both for new and older buildings that needed to be refurbished. Skylights, solar tunnels and solar panels also found their way onto the traditional roofs as the new developments continued (Photo 13).

Today the building design market is mainly divided between the residential market and the office-retail market. Where roofs are concerned, unlike the period that ended in 1989 (with a vast majority of buildings with flat roofs, insulated with bitumen layers), most individual dwellings and collective dwellings with a small number of floors (3-4) are provided with pitched roofs, mainly covered with corrugated steel panels.

(Photo 7) The Minovici Villa, architect Cristofi Cerchez, 1913. Photo: Camil Iamandescu, Creative Commons Attribution.

For the high-rise buildings, the bitumen membranes (APP as well as SBS) are still the most common option, but during the past decade, elastomeric polyurethane and vinyl coatings have also been installed, with varying degrees of success. EPDM membranes, more expensive than the modified bitumen ones, are used on a smaller scale. PVC membranes have also been a choice for architects, as in the case of the “Henry Coandă” Internațional Airport in Bucharest. Bitumen shingles also cover the McDonalds buildings and other steep-slope roofs. In the last few years, green roofs became more interesting so, more such solutions are beginning to grow on our buildings.

The roof is not only the system that protects a building against weathering; today it is an important support for devices that save or produce energy. It will always be the fifth façade of the building, and it will always represent a water leakage-sensitive component of the envelope that should be dealt with professionally and responsibly. To end the article with a witty irony, the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright is supposed to have said, “If the roof doesn’t leak, the architect hasn’t been creative enough.”

(Photo 8) The Magheru Boulevard in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

(Photo 9) Apartment buildings of the late 20th century in Bucharest. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija

(Photo 10) Mass dwelling building of the mid-1980s. Photo: Ana-Maria Dabija.

(Photo 11) The House of the People (today the House of the Parliament) is still unfinished. The main architect is Anca Petrescu. Photo: Mihai Petre, Creative Commons Attricbution CC BY-SA 3.0.

(Photo 12) Corrugated fiberboard on a traditional house in the Northern part of Romania. Photo: Alexandru Stan.

(Photo 13) The roof of the historic building of the Palace of the School of Architecture, with skylights, sun tunnels and BIPV panels. Photo: Silviu Gheorghe.

MBCI Houston Plant Hosts National Manufacturing Day

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson presents NCI a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capital building and a Certificate of Congressional recognition during National Manufacturing Day.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson presents NCI a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capital building and a Certificate of Congressional recognition during National Manufacturing Day.

In celebration of National Manufacturing Day 2016, NCI Building Systems Inc. (NCI) opened three of its manufacturing facilities to the public, including its MBCI manufacturing facility in Houston.

More than 300 people participated in MBCI’s Manufacturing Day activities, which included facility tours, presentations from company and community leaders, a question-and-answer session and a catered lunch to participants as part of an ongoing effort to promote the strength of U.S. manufacturing and increase awareness of the outstanding career opportunities in the field. The tours showcased a working plant featuring MBCI designers, programmers and technology operators who each play a role in manufacturing the products our communities and industries rely on.

Students from Cold Springs – Oakhurst and Sealy ISDs, and professionals from The Lucas Group, Ernst & Young and The Welding School heard presentations given by NCI President, Don Riley and NCI Vice President of Manufacturing, Carlin Mueller, as well as Congressman Gene Green (TX-29) and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18). The messages delivered focused on the career and growth opportunities available in manufacturing, with Jackson-Lee sharing her views on the role of the industry in building the US economy, saying “I am excited about that fact that you are, in essence, recognizing the importance of acknowledging to America that we need to make things with our hands.”

Further emphasizing the importance of the work done by manufacturing companies like MBCI, NCI was presented a United States flag that was flown over the U.S. Capital building and a Certificate of Congressional recognition on the occasion of National Manufacturing Day by Jackson-Lee.

AIA Issues 2016 Election Results Statement

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has issued the following statement on the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, as well as the incoming 115th Congress.

“The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. During the campaign, President-elect Trump called for committing at least $500 billion to infrastructure spending over five years. We stand ready to work with him and with the incoming 115th Congress to ensure that investments in schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure continue to be a priority,” states AIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA.

“We also congratulate members of the new 115th Congress on their election. We urge both the incoming Trump administration and the new congress to work toward enhancing the design and construction sector’s role as a catalyst for job creation throughout the American economy.”

Robert Ivy concludes, “This has been a contentious election process. It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.”

Forecasters Predict Healthy Outlook for Construction Industry

After a strong 2015, there is a growing sense that the construction industry expansion will be more tempered over the next eighteen months. However, continued demand for hotels, office space, and amusement and recreation spaces will ensure continued growth in the overall construction spending market over this time period.
The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s construction forecasters, is projecting that spending will increase less than six percent for 2016, with next year’s projection being an additional 5.6% gain.

INFOGRAPHIC: To see each of the panelist’s projections, click here.

“Healthy job growth, consumer confidence and low interest rates are several positive factors in the economy, which will allow some of the pent-up demand from the last downturn to go forward,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, hon. AIA. “But at the same time, the slowing in the overall economy could extend to the construction industry a bit – with the biggest drop off expected in the industrial facility sector over the next year and a half.”

Market Segment Consensus Growth Forecasts 2016 2017

Overall nonresidential building 5.8% 5.6%
Commercial / industrial 11.7% 6.5%
Hotels 17.9% 7.6%
Office space 14.7% 7.5%
Retail 7.4% 5.2%
Industrial facilities -2.1% 2.9%
Institutional 4.5% 5.8%
Amusement / recreation 10.0% 5.7%
Education 6.5% 6.3%
Healthcare facilities 2.3% 5.0%
Religious -0.4% 1.9%
Public safety -3.7% 3.3%

Baker added, “The issues that could derail continued expansion in the construction sector include: weak U.S. manufacturing output, struggling economies in key international markets, the ripple effect from the Brexit decision, and the typical uncertainty leading up to a U.S. presidential election that results in reluctant investors.”

Architecture Billings Index: Mostly Stable Conditions in Nonresidential Design and Construction Markets

Following a generally positive performance in 2015, the Architecture Billings Index has begun this year modestly dipping back into negative terrain. As an economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the January ABI score was 49.6, down slightly from the mark of 51.3 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 55.3, down from a reading of 60.5 the previous month.

Every January the AIA research department updates the seasonal factors used to calculate the ABI, resulting in a revision of recent ABI values.

“The fundamentals are mostly sound in the nonresidential design and construction market,” says AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “January was a rocky month throughout the economy, with falling oil prices, international economic concerns, and with steep declines in stock market valuations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some of the fallout of this uncertainty may have affected progress on design projects.”

Key January ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (50.8), Northeast (50.4), South (50.3), Midwest (48.9)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (51.9), commercial/industrial (50.5), institutional (49.9), mixed practice (49.0)
  • Project inquiries index: 55.3
  • Design contracts index: 50.9

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

MCA Study: Metal Roofing Market Sees Continued Growth

The market for metal products in the U.S. grew 4 percent annually during the past five years, according to an industry study released by the Metal Construction Association (MCA). This growth is significant because it occurred from 2009 through 2014, during the economic downturn when construction volumes declined and building owners and specifiers were particularly cost conscious.

The metal roofing market has seen even greater growth in both the residential and commercial sectors. In the residential market, use of metal roofing grew 7.1 percent in new construction and 4.1 percent in replacement roofing. In the commercial sector, metal roofing grew 9.7 percent in the five-year period. The industry also saw an 8.7 percent growth in metal wall panels in commercial building during this same time period.

“We are encouraged by this data because as the economy continues to improve and construction volumes further recover, we see even greater opportunities for growth in metal building materials,” says John Ryan, MCA’s director of marketing. “Metal meets the requirements of today’s builders from environmental responsibility to ease of construction to durability.”

MCA credits much of this growth to the metal industry’s efforts to educate the design community about the long-term value of metal roof and wall products. Key benefits of metal products over competitive materials include: energy efficiency and performance, LEED certification/green building, aesthetic appeal, life-cycle cost, durability, and speed of construction.

MCA joined together with five partner associations beginning in 2009 to compile the data for this industry study. The purpose was to create a custom market model using standard measures in order to track industry growth over time. Study participants included data from the key associations: The American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI), the Aluminum Association (AA), Metal Roofing Alliance, National Frame Building Association (NFBA) and the National Coil Coaters Association (NCCA).

Ecotech Institute Clean Jobs Index: 1.2 Million Green Energy Jobs Posted in First Quarter

Ecotech Institute’s Clean Jobs Index reported more than one million green energy job postings across the nation in the first quarter of 2015. The Clean Jobs Index classifies clean energy jobs based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics description, which says that clean jobs are jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. The classification also includes jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

Ecotech Institute, a school dedicated solely to renewable energy and sustainability, created the Clean Jobs Index to provide objective information about renewable energy jobs and to compare states’ use and development of clean and sustainable energy.

“As more businesses look for ways to conserve energy and renewables continue to gain traction, more jobs are becoming available,” says Chris Gorrie, Ecotech Institute’s president. “States have come to see clean energy sources as an important piece of infrastructure, opening the door to great opportunities in renewable energy.”

Highlights from the Clean Jobs Index Q1 2015

    Number of U.S. Clean Jobs Postings in Q1 2015:

  • 1.2 million
    Top three states with the most clean jobs openings:

  • California – 131,215 job openings
  • Texas – 90,281 job openings
  • New York – 71,748 job openings
    States with the highest rise in clean jobs openings, compared to Q1 2014:

  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • Texas
  • North Carolina
  • Maryland
    States with most clean jobs per 100,000 people:

  • North Dakota
  • Iowa
  • Rhode Island
  • Colorado
  • Wyoming
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Ohio
  • Indiana
  • South Dakota

Ecotech Institute’s Clean Jobs Index is an aggregation of statistics by state. Although it may indicate a greater possibility for employment in the clean economy sector, the Clean Jobs Index in no way indicates the presence or the promise of any specific job opportunities. Data for the index is gathered regularly from independent research entities including: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Green Building Council.

WalletHub Small Business Study: Best and Worst Cities to Work

The personal finance social network WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2015’s Best & Worst Cities to Work for a Small Business.

In order to help job seekers consider small businesses as attractive employment prospects, WalletHub examined the small business environment within 100 of the largest U.S. metro areas across 11 key metrics. Our data set includes such metrics as net small business job growth, industry variety and earnings for small business employees.


    Best Metro Areas to Work for a Small Business      Worst Metro Areas to Work for a Small Business 
 
1
 
 
Charlotte, N.C.
 
 
91
 
 
Springfield, Mass.
 
 
2
 
 
Raleigh, N.C.
 
 
92
 
 
Tucson, Ariz.
 
 
3
 
 
Oklahoma City, Okla.
 
 
93
 
 
Augusta, Ga.
 
 
4
 
 
Austin, Texas
 
 
94
 
 
New Haven, Conn.
 
 
5
 
 
Omaha, Neb.
 
 
95
 
 
Bakersfield, Calif.
 
 
6
 
 
Nashville, Tenn.
 
 
96
 
 
Fresno, Calif.
 
 
7
 
 
Salt Lake City
 
 
97
 
 
Scranton, Penn.
 
 
8
 
 
Dallas
 
 
98
 
 
Toledo, Ohio
 
 
9
 
 
Houston
 
 
99
 
 
Stockton, Calif.
 
 
10
 
 
Boston
 
 
100
 
 
Youngstown, Ohio
 


Key stats:

  • The number of small businesses per 1,000 inhabitants is two times higher in the Miami metro area than in the Bakersfield, Calif., metro area.
  • The earnings for small business employees adjusted for cost of living are three times higher in the Houston metro area than in the Honolulu metro area.
  • The median annual income adjusted for cost of living is two times higher in the Ogden, Utah, metro area than in the McAllen, Texas, metro area.
  • The unemployment rate is four times higher in the Fresno, Calif., metro area than in the Provo, Utah, metro area.

By 2042, the Cape Coral, Fla., metro area is projected to experience the highest population increase, at 103.4 percent, and the Youngstown metro area the highest population decrease, at 11.1 percent.

The Foundation Releases MCI-EFI Regarding Business Conditions and Expectations

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (the Foundation) released the February 2015 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI). Designed to collect leadership data, the index reports a qualitative assessment of the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $903 billion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 66.3, a slight increase from the three-year high level reached by the January index of 66.1.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI-EFI survey respondent William Verhelle, chief executive officer, First American Equipment Finance, a City National Bank company, says, “The economy continues to improve. First American is seeing increased equipment acquisition activity among the large corporate borrowers we serve. We are optimistic that lower energy costs, if they remain at current low levels, will drive increased U.S. economic activity in the second half of 2015. We are more optimistic about the U.S. economy today than we have been at any time during the past six years.”

February 2015 Survey Results:
The overall MCI-EFI is 66.3, a slight increase from the January index of 66.1.

  • When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 30.3 percent of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 23.3 percent in January. 63.6 percent of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 76.7 percent in January. 6.1 percent believe business conditions will worsen, up from none who believed so the previous month.
  • 42.4 percent of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, up from 20 percent in January. 51.5 percent believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, down from 80 percent the previous month. 6.1 percent believe demand will decline, up from none in January.
  • 27.3 percent of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, down from 33.3 percent in January. 72.7 percent of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, up from 66.7 percent in January. None expect “less” access to capital, unchanged from the previous month.
  • When asked, 39.4 percent of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, a decrease from 50 percent in January. 57.6 percent expect no change in headcount over the next four months, up from 50 percent last month. 3 percent expect to hire fewer employees, up from none who expected fewer in January.
  • 6.1 percent of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” up from 3 percent last month. 90.9 percent of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “fair,” down from 97 percent in January. 3 percent rate it as “poor,” up from none the previous month.
  • 45.4 percent of the survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, an increase from 43.3 percent who believed so in January. 54.6 percent of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, down from 56.7 percent in January. None believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, unchanged from last month.
  • In February, 48.5 percent of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, a decrease from 50 percent in January. 51.5 percent believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, an increase from 50 percent last month. None believe there will be a decrease in spending, unchanged from last month.

February 2015 MCI-EFI survey comments from industry executive leadership:

  • Independent, Small Ticket
    “Demand remains moderate and competition is strong. We remain bullish for 2015 as we expand channels and products. We are planning on muted GDP so we are focused on making our own opportunities versus waiting for the general economy to expand.” David Schaefer, CEO, Mintaka Financial LLC

  • Bank, Small Ticket
    “Things just seem to be better. Gas prices and unemployment are headed in the right direction. I am concerned about the negative effect of lower gas prices, such as, higher fail rates of energy loans and energy stock value.” Kenneth Collins, CEO, Susquehanna Commercial Finance Inc.

  • Bank, Middle Ticket
    “I see continued strength in the transportation segment of the economy. That segment of our business will remain strong. The opportunities in oil and gas have substantially declined. I expect the decline to depress the volume of business during 2015. 2015 will be a mixed year with some industries doing well and others in decline.” Elaine Temple, president, BancorpSouth Equipment Finance

  • Bank, Middle Ticket
    “All signs have been pointing to a ‘break-out’ year in 2015. However, investment in capital assets continues to be sporadic. Companies continue to be cautious in expanding their production capacity. Let’s hope the economists are correct in their predictions for 2015.” Thomas Jaschik, president, BB&T Equipment Finance

Why an MCI-EFI?
Confidence in the U.S. economy and the capital markets is a critical driver to the equipment finance industry. Throughout history, when confidence increases, consumers and businesses are more apt to acquire more consumer goods, equipment and durables, and invest at prevailing prices. When confidence decreases, spending and risk-taking tend to fall. Investors are said to be confident when the news about the future is good and stock prices are rising.

Who participates in the MCI-EFI?
The respondents are comprised of a wide cross section of industry executives, including large-ticket, middle-market and small-ticket banks, independents and captive equipment finance companies. The MCI-EFI uses the same pool of 50 organization leaders to respond monthly to ensure the survey’s integrity. Because the same organizations provide the data from month to month, the results constitute a consistent barometer of the industry’s confidence.

How is the MCI-EFI designed?
The survey consists of seven questions and an area for comments, asking the respondents’ opinions about the following:

  • 1. Current business conditions
  • 2. Expected product demand during the next four months
  • 3. Access to capital during the next four months
  • 4. Future employment conditions
  • 5. Evaluation of the current U.S. economy
  • 6. U.S. economic conditions during the next six months
  • 7. Business development spending expectations
  • 8. Open-ended question for comments

How may I access the MCI-EFI?
Survey results are posted on the Foundation website, included in the Foundation Forecast newsletter and included in press releases. Survey respondent demographics and additional information about the MCI are also available at the link above.

ELFA’s Website Offers Wider Range of Resources for Financing Equipment

Visitors to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association‘s end-user website, Equipment Finance Advantage, will find new enhancements that make it a more powerful resource for helping businesses take advantage of the benefits of financing equipment. The site, found at www.EquipmentFinanceAdvantage.org, has improved navigation for a better user experience and offers a wider range of resources focused on how companies of all types and sizes can use leasing and financing to their strategic advantage to acquire the equipment they need to operate and grow. ELFA launched the original Equipment Finance Advantage website two years ago.

Highlights of the site’s user-friendly content include:

  • Equipment Finance 101: Overview of the benefits of equipment finance, the types of financing, the top 10 questions to ask before entering an equipment financing agreement, a customizable digital toolkit and more.
  • Success Stories: Real-world examples of companies using equipment finance for strategic advantage.
  • Resources: How-to articles, Q&As, updated end-user industry fact sheets, infographics and more to help businesses develop their financing strategy.
  • Videos: A series of short videos on a range of topics, from maximizing cash flow to staying ahead of the curve to end-of-lease factors to consider.
  • Find a Provider: A searchable list of ELFA members that provide equipment leasing and finance services.

“The critical role the $903 billion equipment finance industry plays in the U.S. economy, manufacturing and jobs is fundamentally because of the participation of individual businesses,” says ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE. “They have found the information at Equipment Finance Advantage to be an invaluable resource informing their equipment leasing and financing decision-making during the past two years, and we are excited to offer the newly upgraded EFA website to help keep them up-to-date with the latest research and informational content available.”