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  Softening Business: Mounting Pressures

In addition to seeing business soften, many suppliers and Subcontractors say they are also feeling pressure from builders-and more aggressive competition-to lower rates.

Caroline Boyd, residential outside sales manager for the Mosaic Tile Co. in Greensboro, said builders are keeping a sharper eye on the budget as they select tiling for their homes. More builders are making selections from the lower price ranges.

Likewise, Richard Brenner, the CEO of Amarr Garage Doors in Winston-Salem, said his customer base of garage door installation companies is reporting that manufacturers are pressuring them to lower the price of installation. Brenner's customers, in turn, are putting the pressure on him to reduce his prices.

For some, the pressure for lower prices isn't coming so much from the builders as it is from other subcontractors who are suddenly competing for less work.

Edward Catalano, owner of EC Painting and Drywell Inc. in Greensboro, said he has seen a decline in work and knows others in his industry have as well. Because of the tighter market, he said many painting and drywell companies are bidding on projects at a cost-only basis, just to keep people working.

"People are dropping their prices and trying to get a bigger piece of the pie," he said.

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