After very good years, business in the construction industry is collapsing this year. This also affects many raw material suppliers and freight forwarders in Upper Austria.
For weeks there have been rumors in various circles in Upper Austria that the Mollner raw materials, construction and recycling group Bernegger could part ways with up to 300 employees.
Company boss Kurt Bernegger vehemently rejects this. “Of course, we are also feeling the economic downturn in the construction sector, particularly among private clients”says Bernegger: “But we can compensate for the declines because we are broadly positioned and are redeploying within our own company. Regardless of this, with the construction of the large recycling plant in Enns and the expansion of rail logistics, we have the largest investment program in the company’s history.”
As in the previous year, sales this year will be around 230 million euros, and Bernegger employs around 1,000 people. “We are even looking for 50 to 60 people in different areas”says Bernegger. There will be changes: on the one hand, there will be natural fluctuation, but on the other hand, employees should be able to be flexible if times become more difficult – for example, work at a different location instead of in Molln.
“It would be important for the mood to improve again and for the stricter home loan rules to be relaxed even more – people want to invest, but often cannot because there is a lack of capital. Otherwise, the winter will be really difficult for many companies”says Bernegger.
As part of the usual fleet renewal, Bernegger recently sold 30 old trucks. This could lead some to speculate that fewer employees are needed, says Bernegger. “The truth is: we’re just not growing as fast as in previous years. Nevertheless, our fleet has been expanded with 42 new trucks, we have around 200 in total. And we will be at full capacity by the end of the year.” The high energy costs had a negative impact on the result in the previous year. The prices here have been secured for this year.
Sub-carriers lose orders
One consequence of the economic downturn is that Bernegger is awarding significantly fewer freight orders for gravel, gravel or excavated earth to subcontractors. So far, this has been around 20 percent of the business or up to 50 trucks that were used for Bernegger.
Other large companies are also placing fewer orders out to third parties, confirms Günther Reder, chairman of the transport companies’ specialist group in the Upper Austrian Chamber of Commerce and head of the company of the same name in Hörsching. “We hear from the industry that there is a significant decline, especially in construction and construction-related industries, and that this particularly affects the smaller ones.” The situation was even better until the summer, but according to a survey the outlook had turned from positive to negative. International business is also declining. “The uncertainty is great”says Reder.