U.S. heritage compliance industry flat since 1990
A new analysis of data for the United States heritage compliance industry presented at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in April 2014 shows that the industry grew at a mean annual rate of 1.6 percent since 1990. Despite decades of nominal growth, real growth has remained relatively flat for the last 25 years (Figure 1). Real growth is non-inflationary growth. The U.S. heritage compliance industry is currently estimated to be just over $928 million in size and expected to reach $1 billion in 2015.
During the 1970s and particularly during the 1980s, real industry growth hovered around 15 percent annually with the exception of 1979 and 1980 which had low, but still positive, growth (Figure 2). There have been only four years since 1971 with real negative growth: 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2009. An abrupt, but currently unknown, change took place in 1990 and marked the end of two decades of aggressive industry growth. Since this time, growth has remained in the low single digits.
There are many ramifications of this new information, not least of which is the ability of the industry to attract investors as an entire generation of founding owners are divesting for retirement. New investors seeking a competitive return on their investment are likely to be reluctant to take equity stakes in firms in an industry without significant growth.
This new analysis was presented in a paper by Dr. Christopher D. Dore, a heritage business consultant and Adjunct Professor in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, entitled “The Two Greatest Business Challenges Heritage Consulting Firms must Solve for Future Success.” Dr. Dore’s paper was in a symposium entitled “40 Years of CRM (1974-2014): Accomplishments, Challenges, and Opportunities”. Dr. Dore stated that “while I’ve been tracking industry metrics for nearly a decade, this new analysis caught me by surprise.” He continued “we have known that some individual firms have been struggling to add value over this period as heritage services have been increasingly commoditized. To see this expressed at the scale of the entire industry, though, was unexpected.”