by: Pierre G. Villere
In the mid-1990s, my wife and I attended a conference in Aspen, Colo., a voluntary effort on our part to hear one of the great thinkers and futurists of the last third of the 20th century who was shaking up politics and policy from Capitol Hill to Sacramento, and every place in between.
Amory Lovins ran a think tank called the Rocky Mountain Institute, which was a pioneer in educating influencers and thought leaders on the importance of the green movement and sustainability as a whole. This was a brand-new topic back then, in an era when cars were still emitting noxious fumes and getting 10 to 15 mpg; more significantly, there was absolutely no discourse in America at that time on the importance of our environment, and Amory gets substantial credit for raising this issue and launching it to the forefront of America’s consciousness.
But what I remember most about this conference was Amory holding up a pack of cigarettes, and explaining that the relatively new and brick-like cellphones would soon be no larger than that pack of cigarettes, and would have all the computing power of our desktop computers. He was smoking rope, I thought.
Recently, I watched a download of Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere from that era, and was struck by the scene when Richard Gere is in his convertible in Beverly Hills talking on a phone the size of a shoebox. It was startling to see that throwback … a decade and a half later, Steve Jobs created the iPhone, which revolutionized the computing, communications, gaming and information worlds.
The Big Picture. I mention Amory Lovins because he had a big influence on me, and I learned from him that being an original thinker and thought leader was important in understanding what the future holds; when my editor and I were discussing a title for this regular column, the term “strategist” came up, and I thought it fit given my philosophy of looking at the big picture every day, and using that big picture to shape our firm’s thoughts on what the future holds for our industry.
In my upcoming columns, I will explore these views as we usher out 2019, and look ahead at 2020 – and the beginning of a new decade. The shape of progress on so many fronts is accelerating, and it will be interesting to watch this progress unfold before our very eyes.
There are so many things that will change between now and 2030: technology, as in how we will live, work and play with our personal devices, and how technologies like 5G and its successor technologies will spawn ever newer applications and devices we can’t even imagine today; a reshaping of suburbs, where dying malls of yesteryear will be repurposed, and existing communities will be reshaped into more livable, walkable and greener places to live; the transportation evolution where the Uber/Lyft concept will mesh with autonomous vehicles created from scratch, mini-buses that will allow us to step on and off in a coordinated manner, serving our movement needs throughout our business and personal lives.
Millennials. But the biggest peep into the crystal ball will be what the Millennials will look like in 2030, as the oldest of that cohort approaches 50 years of age.
Already, they have reshaped our urban centers, our restaurants (notice there are no tablecloths anymore, and notice the community dining style trend of restaurant design), our thinking about transportation, the environment, and many other influences that will shape the coming decade. For they hold the future in their hands, and their significant numbers will continue to vastly dictate the customs and culture of American life.
I don’t believe our industry makes rocks … we make America’s future. In everything we build, our products hold a key, as nothing gets built without the products we produce. Look for my columns in the months ahead, where I will look at each of these topics and share my views of the decade of 2020, and what it means for our business and our daily lives.
Pierre G. Villere serves as president and senior managing partner of Allen-Villere Partners, an investment banking firm with a national practice in the construction materials industry that specializes in mergers and acquisitions. He has a career spanning almost five decades, and volunteers his time to educate the industry as a regular columnist in publications and through presentations at numerous industry events. Contact Pierre via email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @allenvillere.