The NEWS plans to produce a series concerning how the economic conditions today are affecting the contracting world. Each editor is in the process of surveying contractors from their respective areas to find out how the economy is affecting business - and what you are all doing to combat it.

I’d like to hear from contractors from the states of Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. If you are a contractor from these 13 Western states, I request that you please e-mail me ( or post a comment below to let me know how business is in your area and what obstacles you are facing. Your information is important in the news gathering process. (And, who knows, you might just end up being included in the final article. Picture, too!)

I did plan on visiting one and all, but my boss said something about a limited travel budget for 2009. I guess I still could do it, but riding a bicycle might take some time to get to all of you – and I am on a deadline. Plus, sleeping in a pup tent is not my idea of getting a good night’s slumber. (And, no, I cannot swim all the way to the Hawaiian Islands, either.)

So, I am counting on Western contractors to drop me an e-mail to let me know what’s happening in your area. From a close source in Phoenix, which she termed the “foreclosure capital of the world,” it appears that one of the area’s biggest problems is the fact that people are ripping out their heat pumps, air conditioners, furnaces, etc., when their houses are foreclosed on. Apparently, some - or is that many? - are taking the guts and leaving the shell. If this is accurate, what issues are contractors facing when replacing ruined equipment? Can repairs be done to systems with parts missing? Many banks own homes right now, so how is equipment selected when a contractor is working with a bank and not a homeowner? Are they being paid in a timely fashion?

Bottom line: Let’s hear from you folks in Phoenix, as well as Seattle, Berkeley, Denver, Portland, and all points in between in the West. I’m much interested. (And, yes, since I am on a deadline, I’d like to hear from you before the end of this month, if not sooner. Face it: Travel by Internet is far faster than via a tired red “Pee Wee Herman” Schwinn bike.)