Had our paths crossed three years ago at an airport bar, we would have enjoyed a pleasant conversation about the ballgame on mute above the spirit bottles while we waited for our flight to start boarding.

How things can change in relatively quick order. See, I used to be a sports reporter at a pair of smaller newspapers in my home state of Wisconsin. I traveled the state covering high school teams, athletes and coaches. I saw the jubilation of the small-town Monroe Cheesemakers (no, that’s not a typo; they’re the Cheesemakers) winning a boy’s basketball state title on St. Patrick’s Day in 2007. Later that same night I was back in the office hammering out multiple stories for the proud Monroe residents to enjoy the following morning.

Looking to calm my hectic schedule and not be “on call” as much, I moved closer to my hometown of Milwaukee when I joined the Journal Times (Racine, Wis.) as a copy editor and page designer. I enjoyed three years on the sports desk there flexing my creative muscles and churning out a strong section every day. It was the start of my career and I cherished those days of tight, daily deadlines.

But we all grow and change. I got married in July 2010 to my lovely wife, Rebecca, a middle-school math teacher in Chicago. She worked Monday through Friday and was home by 6 p.m. every night. I worked when duty called, which was nights until 1 a.m. and most weekends. My wife and I were ships in the night during our first year of marriage and that needed to be rectified.

In the summer of 2011, I jumped at the chance to join BNP Media and its Plumbing Group. Sure, I was nervous. It’s quite the ordeal when my toilet or sink gets even slightly clogged at our condo. It still is.

My fears were quelled during my initial interview for the senior editor position with sister publication Supply House Times. I sat across from Publisher Bob Miodonski who told me this industry of plumbing engineers, specificers, wholesalers and contractors is a tight-knit group that always is willing to help you understand what you don’t comprehend. And he was right.

Now as I take the editor reins with pme, I look forward to meeting all of you. Since joining the Plumbing Group, I’ve helped out on pme when needed and have been amazed by some of the projects we’ve featured. I’m baffled at how technology continues to evolve and how quickly engineers embrace and put it to work for clients.

And if the early reports on 2014 are true, I believe I entered this industry at a critical juncture.

FMI, a management and investment banking consulting firm for the construction industry, released its forecast for 2014 for all key sectors. The report is very encouraging on many fronts.

  • Commercial construction is expected to rise 5% in 2014, but it comes with a caveat. While retail sales as of this past June are up 5.7% over June 2012, new brick-and-mortar stores and other commercial starts will remain slow to rebound.
  • As the endless debates and votes regarding the Affordable Care Act continue, FMI’s predictions for construction in this key sector are a little unstable. In the past year, the health-care construction forecast dipped 1%, but it should clock in at $44 billion — an increase of 6% — in 2014.
  • FMI believes educational construction will bounce back strong throughout many areas in part because of increases in residential construction and increased tax revenues. But, because of cuts in government spending at all levels, the national market will only increase 4% more than 2013.

As 2014 approaches and I settle into my new position with pme, I look forward to meeting you and speaking about the advantageous growth opportunities we all have in front of us.

 Also, we can talk sports anytime.