Photo by Gage Skidmore
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Following last week’s election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, JLC pushed out a survey to readers – a mix of builders, remodelers and design professionals – asking for feedback on what a Trump presidency might mean for their business. Here is a quick summary of results, including selected comments.

67% of respondents requested to remain anonymous.

What was your initial reaction to the result of the 2016 presidential election?
55% expressed favor in the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election, mirroring the electoral college votes that decided the outcome of the Presidential vote. Among those indicating support for Trump, the words “relief,” “elation” and “euphoria” were used most frequently to express their initial reaction to the election results. Trump supporters were also more prone to use ALL CAPs and exclamation marks with their answers.

4% of the respondents expressing favor in the election result took a decidedly anti-Hillary, rather than a pro-Trump, position.

41% of respondents expressed disapproval for a Trump presidency. The words “horrified” (or “horror”) and “disgusting” were the most common words used to indicate these respondents' initial reactions.

4% of respondents expressed a neutral position, with one of these remaking, “I was taken aback by how many of my fellow sole-proprietor tradesmen outwardly showed their support for their chosen candidate. I have always thought it best for one’s personal feelings to remain ambiguous as to not alienate customers.”

Regardless of their position, 30% of respondents on both sides indicated the election results were unexpected. Trump supporters used the word “surprise” most often, while the opposition used the word “shock."

From a respondent in Washington DC: “I believed that the rural areas would carry the election, so I was not surprised. But I had no idea that the margins would be so large. America did the right thing. “

From a respondent in North Carolina: “Very pleased, I hope we can begin to get away from all the political corruption.”

From a respondent in Montana: “A man who has a history of not paying his contractors for many years has deeply disturbed me. A man who avoided the draft during the Viet Nam war five times and then started his campaign by criticizing John McCain, a POW, disgusts me. A man who condemns Mexican immigrants who are the best construction workers I have ever encountered disgusts me.”

What, if any, impact do you think a Trump presidency will have on the economy and small businesses?
58% predicated the impact would be a good for the economy, citing most often the prospect of lower taxes, repealing Obamacare and Trump's business experience as reasons. About half of these respondents did not give a reason, only indicating "positive," "tremendous," or "huge improvement."

39% predicated the impact would be a negative for small businesses and the middle class, frequently citing Trump's past business dealings as evidence that economic conditions are likely to grow worse.

From a respondent in Connecticut: “Hopefully the current positive reaction I’m experiencing from every small business owner I come in contact with will continue. Business owners are tired of being portrayed as greedy selfish people who take advantage of workers. Only the professional political class Washington insiders could be so clueless about the fiscal condition of small business owners in my state. In my experience, after eight years, small construction businesses that still remain are only now just beginning to come back to life. Washington can’t collect enough income taxes? Don’t they realize if a small business owner can’t make a profit, he doesn’t pay income taxes?”

From a respondent in Wisconsin: “The knee jerk reaction, I believe, will be strength [for economy] because of many businesses ramping up because they view the Republican control of all branches will benefit their business with lower taxes and less regulation. But I believe in the long run we will all learn that our government, as imperfect as it is, is still an equalizer for the little guy. We should recognize that virtually all regulations were not put in place to make our lives harder, but to protect the majority from some perceived harm. By that I do not say that all regulations are doing a good job. Politics is a very complicated business! But I see the policies of the Right side of the aisle generally favoring the very wealthy. With the very wealthy getting even more wealthy and the rest of us (generally) continuing to slide the other direction, this does not bode well for a dynamic economy.

What, if any, impact do you think a Trump presidency will have on construction regulations?
35% of all respondents (both for and against Trump) foresee a reduction in construction regulations. Trump supporters tended to suggest that existing regulations were “restrictive,” “limiting” and “stringent,” and viewed regs being “loosened” as favorable. Trump opposition frequently suggested conditions would be “less safe” and Trump’s influence on regulatory policy would have a negative impact on the environment.

24% (both for and against Trump) felt there would be no significant change. 5% indicated they don't know.

From a respondent in California: “Streamline them. Keep the important ones and get rid of ones that were only intended to collect fees and fines.”

From a respondent in Michigan: “Regulations may be loosened quite a bit, but those regulations are there for a reason; safety, energy, health. They are not perfect and may need modification, but not thrown away entirely, which we worry may happen."

From a respondent in Ohio: "Probably very little. Initially cutting some red tape may look like a good thing, but eventually the Industry and the market will self-regulate. However, costs may rise if dumping imports gets curtailed. We'll have higher costs if we go all-American, but in the end that'll be good for the country."

What, if any, impact do you think a Trump presidency will have on the labor force?
49% responded that a Trump presidency would have a positive impact on the labor force (for various reasons including revival of trade education, job growth and actions against illegal immigrants).

33% indicated it would be a negative (for various reasons including Trump’s anti-labor position in his own business dealings and increased discrimination towards Hispanic workers).

12% (both for and against Trump) suggested that the shortage of workers (skilled and unskilled) would increase.

Immigration was the biggest impact on labor singled out by both Trump supporters and Trump opponents. 13% of respondents suggested that deporting illegal immigrants would be a positive (some form of "leveling the playing field" most frequently mentioned), while 11% indicated that reducing the number of Spanish-speaking laborers would be a negative ("increase the shortage of labor" or the equivalent was the most common reason).

From a respondent in California: Eliminating illegal immigrants from the workforce will help increase the incomes for those of us who are 'playing by the rules.'"

From a respondent in Virginia: “If the tax rate on businesses is reduced, then businesses will hire more and the competition for new jobs will increase the pay in all business sectors.”

From a respondent in Michigan: “I anticipate that the labor force will be hurt by employers who can do whatever they want in terms of pay (no minimum wage), insurance (no Affordable Care Act protections anymore), and safety (fewer regulations).”

What, if any, impact do you think a Trump presidency will have on sustainable building practices?
30% of Trump supporters believe that sustainable building practices will improve, while 20% responded they "don't know" or "don't care." Several emphasized that this was something that the market would decide, not Trump.

The majority of Trump opponents (83%) predicted that a Trump presidency would have a negative impact on sustainable building practices and energy efficiency, often citing his position on climate change as evidence.

From a respondent in Idaho: “People will build the best they can for the budget, it is about education not rules and codes, we build some of the most energy efficient and safest homes in the world here and we don't even have any building code enforcement.”

From a respondent in Pennsylvania: “I would like the country to engage in a serious discussion about these kinds of things, but presently is almost not permitted due to fear of being labeled a ‘denier.’ We need to talk about what practices really make a difference, versus ’greenwashing.’ We need to look at case studies and ROI, not just houses for the 1% that are essentially green ‘follies.’ ”

From a respondent in Washington state: "The smart money is on sustainable building and renewable energy. It will advance because of bottom line economic and real world benefits. But its growth curve will be curtailed by an ignorant and resistive government that will probably throw up obstacles all along the way."

From a respondent in Texas: “I believe America is moving in the direction of more sustainable buildings. However, the cost to construct such a building is still too high for the average developer. As a LEED AP there are some things that are cost effective to implement; but, others such as solar panels, wind turbines, etc. that make it impossible for the small developer to implement. Forcing these things onto people will strangle the small developer and kill small businesses that are trying to build their own infrastructure. I believe President Trump will see this and maybe he will grant more tax credits to help the little guy implement sustainable ideas. Here in the majority of Texas, as I assume there is in many other states, there are no incentives that help small developers or home builders implement some of these "Green" ideas. “

Is there anything else you want to add?
From a respondent in Texas: “I believe America needs to give President-elect Trump a chance to prove that his will be a Presidency for the people.”

From a respondent in California: “The choices in this election were not very good but Mr. Trump is a loose cannon who did not have a clear direction for the country during his campaign. Uncertainty is not a good thing in a recovering economy such as ours and we do not know what will happen next so that's not a good thing.”

From a respondent in Florida: “I would like to say that simply disagreeing with the status quo should not garner the vitriol that is currently being hurled at folks who voted for Donald Trump. The sustainability world, like many others can't seem to muster the simple act of listening to what others have endured for these last 8 years. We have to listen and try to understand each other …”

From a respondent in Massachusetts: “While I am dismayed regarding the way Trump treats minorities and women, I'm willing to give him a chance to see if he can improve our business climate.”