As I write this month’s column, the holiday season is upon us. The holidays mean different things to different people, but for me, it’s a time to reconnect with friends and family — especially given the past two years dealing with COVID-19. I also find it rather poetic — one year over, and a new one just beginning. It’s a time of reflection and hopefulness.

It’s also a time of strategic planning for manufacturers, contracting business owners and yes, engineering firms. And as you strategize for the year ahead, don’t miss our 2022 industry outlook cover story. Unfortunately, all the problems the plumbing and HVAC industries have been facing in 2021 won’t magically disappear at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2022. The ongoing supply chain issues and rising inflation are generating a lot of uncertainty about the coming year.

“Our primary concern heading into 2022 is the ongoing supply and distribution constraints facing the marketplace,” says Uponor North America Commercial Segment Manager Daniel Worm. “Factor in rising inflation, employment shortages in the trucking and distribution industries, and rising costs of goods, all sectors of manufacturing are going to face challenges in keeping their businesses moving forward.”

While these issues will certainly have an impact in 2022, industry experts remain optimistic despite the challenges ahead.

“Many customers are very positive about 2022, while some are cautiously optimistic,” says Sloan Senior Manager of Strategic Accounts Kim Darke-Miller. “A lot of customers have a large pipeline of work for 2022 and are hiring more personnel due to project volume. There is still a good mix of renovation work as well as new construction.”

Another positive note for 2022 is the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will set many critical infrastructure improvement projects in motion. The IIJA makes general investments of more than $550 billion for water infrastructure, roads, highways, bridges, ports, airports, rail, transit, pollution mitigation, as well as for upgrading the energy grid, broadband, cybersecurity and more. Of particular note is the water infrastructure portion of the package. This act will generate new projects and jobs for the plumbing industry as a whole.

The past two years have been anything but normal, and the entire world has had to adapt. As businesses plan ahead for the future, it’s best to be flexible by continuously planning to help navigate the instability and uncertainty that lies ahead. It’s also a great way to ensure you can capitalize on the opportunities that come your way.

As we say goodbye to 2021 and usher in 2022, I want to thank you — our readers — for your continued support. Whether you have a question or comment about an article, an idea you think should be covered in PM Engineer or are interested in contributing content of your own, please reach out more in the coming year. In the meantime, I wish all of you peace, joy and happiness in 2022. Happy New Year!