GroundBreak Carolinas is pleased to share thoughts and insights from key construction industry leaders in the Carolinas. Ben Wilhelm, President & COO of Charlotte-based McFarland Construction, offers his take on market trends as we enter 2024, and elaborates on one trend that he sees as both an “opportunity and a threat.”
What is your outlook on the construction industry for 2024?
The market has cooled off for retail, office, and multifamily projects that are sensitive to interest rate fluctuations and material/labor increases. However, the major metros throughout the Carolinas remain desirable markets for jobs, population growth, and exceptional quality of life, so I am more optimistic for our corner of the country than anywhere in the United States. An election year typically factors into some uncertainty, yet we are seeing strong activity in corporate campus work, health sciences, and public investment.
What concerns you the most about the upcoming year?
Central business districts are the heartbeat of our big cities. Places like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta are facing headwinds with large office tower vacancy rates. Most large leases will need to be re-negotiated over the course of the next 18 months, and I think this is a concern for the business districts of Charlotte and Raleigh. How might we innovate and adapt to the notion that employers may not see large numbers of office professionals return to the workplace in the foreseeable future? It is an opportunity and a threat because we will need to think differently to solve this trend.
With nearly 30 years in commercial construction, Ben Wilhelm has strong expertise in operations, client management, P&L, organization development, strategy, and collaborative negotiation. Ben also actively promotes community engagement, subcontractor and partner relationship management, and advocacy for small business contracting. Ben earned his Doctorate in Business Administration from UNC Charlotte, MS in Organization Development from Queens University of Charlotte, and MBA and BS from the University of Indianapolis. He has served on numerous non-profit and private company boards and is an adjunct faculty member in the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte.