By Ulrik Pedersen

Heavy equipment companies today have a huge amount of data at their fingertips – from machine IDs and location to internal ERP data and external data like weather. Companies that use this information to their advantage can become “data-driven” organizations – meaning they can make relevant and quick decisions based on data, and ultimately improve their bottom line. But, looking at the myriad information available can also induce headaches. How do you make sense of it all to deliver relevant insights? By applying Business Intelligence (BI) and advanced analytics, heavy equipment companies can gain valuable insight into their fleets, better understand customers’ needs, and increase ROI. 


By Eric Halsey

As contractors’ projects grow increasingly complex, networks of suppliers and subcontractors have grown. When difficulties arise, the added complexity can create added headaches. Worse, the subcontractor or supplier can file a claim on your bond. So what can you do about problematic suppliers and subcontractors? Here are our top tips for avoiding potential hassles and getting on with running your firm: 

By Brenoch Wirthlin

In the most recent legislative session, some important changes were made to Nevada’s construction defect law, which largely benefits contractors. AB 125 substantially revises the procedure for homeowners to pursue claims for alleged construction defects. It establishes a procedure for a homeowner and the contractor/supplier to have a judgment entered before a civil action for the construction defect starts. 


By Duane Gabor

The construction sector is the building block of our world. Without the construction worker, cavemen wouldn’t have gotten shelter from the rain; the pharaohs wouldn’t have their pyramids; I wouldn’t have an office to go to; and you wouldn’t have a house to live in. Construction has been one of the most enduring and integral contributors to society, but how it’s done is evolving, and fast. New technologies — from smart hard hats to geo-fencing — are at the heart of the evolution happening in this sector, which is going to manifest itself in many new ways soon. I’ve seen many a construction site change around me, and here are my predictions on how construction sites of the future will operate and the impact they’ll have on us. 


By Tarron Gartner-Ilai

Of the risks associated with a construction project, the tried and true are time and money: is the project on schedule and will the costs of completion exceed the projected bid, or not? Dozens of factors, both within and outside the project manager’s control, can affect the project’s outcome. 


By Calin Riley

When beginning a construction project, controlling costs is always a top priority. Too often, however, project owners limit their ability to manage costs by separating the design process from construction. Design/build projects, on the other hand, link the two together at the start.

This process ensures that the contractor is able to provide input to the architect on critical decisions that will determine a project’s efficiency. Including the contractor in this process ensures that the plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems meet and do not exceed the owner’s requirements, which can cause unnecessary additional fees. Integrating the contractor into the team early on can also ensure that the latest energy efficient products are installed, which will contribute to the overall lifespan of the building and control recurring costs far past project completion. By determining these specifics up-front and investing in the proper equipment and technology, project owners are decreasing the possibility of having to make these changes later – which will likely be much more expensive further down the road.

When the designer and the contractor form a team early on, they are also able to foster a relationship that maximizes both trust and communication. Effective communication leads to long-term success in almost everything, so why would a project delivery system be any different?

Establishing these communication channels from the beginning also saves the owner time and money in the long run because they allow for open dialogue, thoughts and ideas to flow between teams. In addition, when a project owner is comfortable with the team as a whole, they can avoid potential for shoddy workmanship that could result from a lowest bidder platform. While the bid may be low up front, the hidden costs and time delays that can result from lack of teamwork between the designer and builder will likely skyrocket. Implementing this project delivery system will also reduce change orders on an owner’s next project. It is best to consider and select these two professionals as a team rather than as separate providers.

The concept of design/build is not only related to money. It is related to the overall efficiency of a project from design through construction completion. By enabling the designer and contractor to join forces from day one, the project owner is creating a stronger opportunity for long-term success.

Calin Riley is the director of business development and a project manager for Riley Contracting Group, Inc., a team-oriented general contractor building relationships throughout central North Carolina for more than 25 years.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact [email protected] or [email protected].

By Brian Binke and Katie Dragicevic

The project-based, cyclical nature of the construction industry presents unique challenges in presenting your firm as a “Best Place to Work” to both current and future employees. In a recent survey conducted by the AGC (Associated General Contractors of America), 87 percent of construction firms looking to hire reported having difficulty filling professional and craft worker positions.

With 51 percent of firms reporting they had to increase base pay to retain employees, it’s essential that companies create enjoyable cultures and environments that keep staff looking forward to coming in to work. Large and frequent pay raises are not a sustainable retention and growth strategy, therefore companies must identify areas in which they can grow and set themselves apart from the competition. The following are the top qualities that construction professionals value in a company:

  1. Family Atmosphere – The No. 1 reason employees consider making a change is because they do not feel they are appreciated. They feel like they are just a number or a profit center. Not all firms can be family businesses, but being treated like family can go a long way toward keeping workers happy and invested in the success of a company. Open-door policies and engaging with workers and their families makes them much less likely to leave a company.
  2. Professional Growth Opportunities – Employees want to know there is room for growth and will consider leaving a firm if they feel they have reached the ceiling in their current position. Developing a plan for an employee’s future and ensuring they are aware of opportunities available to them can help keep them invested in their work and the future of the company. A defined career track with a progression of titles and responsibilities is an attractive element to both current and potential employees.
  3. Stability – With so many factors affecting a firm’s ability to keep their employees working (project load, seasonal slowdowns, weather, etc.) workers value a company’s ability to keep them consistently busy. An absence of work can make employees feel uncertain about the stability of the company, and ultimately their role. Try to get ahead of work by anticipating slow periods and coming up with assignments and even training opportunities that can be accomplished during this time.
  4. Large and/or Interesting Projects – New and challenging work is a great way to keep employees engaged and growing within a company. It not only exposes them to other aspects of the business, but also provides them with experience and expanded skillsets that they will see as valuable to their long-term career growth.
  5. Promises, Promises – Broken promises are one of the fastest ways to sour a relationship with an employee. It additionally sends the message that if company leadership isn’t expected to keep their word, employees shouldn’t be expected to either, among themselves or with clients. Workers value a company with follow-through as this sets the tone for the organization’s expectations around integrity and commitment to customers.

Making an effort to improve in just one or two of these categories can have a positive effect on your firm’s ability to retain existing employees and attract new ones.

Brian Binke is president and CEO and Katie Dragicevic is a marketing specialist for the Birmingham Group (TBG). As an affiliate of MRINetwork since 1967, TBG has been one of the leading national executive search firms that serves the construction industry. Brian Binke has been globally recognized as the top revenue producing executive recruiter out of MRINetwork’s more than 3000 recruiters. For more information, contact Brian Binke at [email protected].

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact [email protected] or [email protected].  

By David Nour

Drones are surveying building sites. Fleet managers are relying on GPS. With technology dramatically impacting the construction industry, what is the role of the human relationship? I submit that as technology removes the personal touch from how we interact with each other and how we accomplish our work, our business relationships become more important than ever. But let me go one step further and say: To get the most out of your business relationships, you need to make them personal.

Most of the world builds relationships first, from which they do business, not the other way around. But in the United States, it's very typical for executives to keep a distinct separation between the two spheres. It is driven into us early in our careers that we are somehow more objective if we keep our distance. I've even heard people say, “It's going to be hard for me to fire somebody if we are friends.” Our fundamental American need for efficiency tells us “focus on the business part. If and only if that part works, you may bring in a personal relationship component.” I believe these are flawed assumptions. I believe that my relationships with my clients have become stronger and more productive as a result of our becoming friends. Because we are friends, we accept a healthy dose of pushback, of candor, leading to mutual respect. I learned early on that “meals make memories.”

Every time I work closely with a client, we make time for a meal together. We laugh, we talk about great experiences, and we show our vulnerabilities. We build trust. Whether you are building relationships with your staff, your supply chain partners, or your clients, make time for a meal. Put the devices down and strike up a conversation. Past experience shows us that people prioritize work for people they know, like and trust. We all hold ourselves more accountable to the people who reward us for our contributions to their desired outcomes. I'm not referring to mere financial rewards, but the more motivating knowledge that we are truly invested in each other's success. To get the most out of your business relationships, invest in the personal side as much as you invest in the professional. That’s about as far from technology as you can get—and it’s a welcome reprieve from the demands of dealing with technology’s disruptive effects, day in and day out, up, down, and across the construction industry.


  1. As technology removes the personal touch from the construction industry, building business relationships become more important.
  1. Business relationships become stronger and more productive when they become personal as well.
  1. Socializing over a meal is a great way to deepen relationships—and take a break from the disruptive effects of technology.

David Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® — the quantifiable value of business relationships. He is the author of nine books translated in eight languages, including the best selling "Relationship Economics - Revised" (Wiley), "ConnectAbility" (McGraw-Hill), "The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital" (Praeger), "Return on Impact" (ASAE), and the 2016 forthcoming "PULL: Co-Create Value by Listening Louder" (St. Martin's Press), an essential guide showing C-level leaders how to optimize relationships, create market gravity, and greatly increase revenue.Learn more at David may be reached at [email protected].

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact [email protected] or [email protected].    

By Jill R. Johnson

This is the third in a three-part series. The first part is here and the second here.

Construction companies that routinely protect themselves from expensive, protracted litigation by including in contracts mandatory arbitration of disputes may be puzzled over whether to include a new, optional clause in contracts that allows for appeal of an arbitrator's decision. After all, isn't the point of arbitration to achieve a quick and final resolution? In November 2013, the American Arbitration Association and International Centre for Dispute Resolution adopted new rules that allow appeals of awards, provided that both sides agree to this provision in advance. The Federal Arbitration Act allows appeals of arbitration decisions to the courts in only limited circumstances related to fraud or misconduct, but the AAA rules provide for appeals to a three-member tribunal of neutrals on the much broader grounds of errors in applying the law or determining facts. The question, then, is what are the benefits and drawbacks to agreeing to be bound by optional AAA rules that allow appeal?

Potential benefits

In complex cases, there is a greater likelihood of a single arbitrator making a mistake in applying the law or overlooking key facts. An appeal not only provides the opportunity to review these mistakes, but also places the matter into the hands of three neutrals with significant appellate experience. (The AAA rules require the tribunal to be comprised of judges or other neutrals with substantial appellate experience.) In effect, the appeals option creates a middle ground between the potentially enormous costs and time involved in a court system appeal versus the near-absolute finality of a non-appealable arbitration decision.

Potential drawbacks

The drawbacks are the additional investments of time and money, which run counter to one of the basic reasons that parties opt for arbitration. Even if a decision is not appealed, including it as an option makes it necessary to create a record of the initial arbitration. That usually will involve retaining a court reporter, and perhaps additional investments in presentation technology. If there is an appeal, parties essentially are paying for a second arbitration. Although there won't be oral arguments, there is the cost of paying three neutrals, administration, compiling the record and attorney time. It also should be noted that cases are not remanded. The tribunal will confirm the original award or modify it up or down. Thus, the outcome of an appeal will not be the opportunity to "retry" the case. Given these considerations, construction professionals should carefully assess whether the complexity and financial magnitude of their dispute merits the "insurance" of an appeals option.

Jill R. Johnson is a commercial litigator with Chamberlain Hrdlicka (Atlanta), who counsels clients with construction and related disputes. She may be reached at (404) 588-3574 or [email protected]. Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact [email protected] or [email protected].  

By Jill R. Johnson

This is the second in a three-part series.Find part one here.

Businesses in construction continue to review how game-changing rules in arbitration will affect them. In November 2013, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution adopted new rules that potentially remove the finality of initial arbitration decisions. Called the Optional Appellate Arbitration Rules, decisions reached under contracts that include this clause can be overturned on review by an AAA appellate panel of three neutrals. Grounds for overturning a decision include situations involving alleged “material and prejudicial” errors of law and/or “clearly erroneous” determinations of fact. The application of the new rules is optional, and must be agreed to by all parties (typically in a contract). Parties should, therefore, carefully review any arbitration provisions in their contracts to determine whether they contain an agreement to permit the appeal of an award. The new rules also make keeping a record of arbitration proceedings almost essential in order to properly document an appeal.

While this might seem like it makes arbitration more like a conventional appellate court process, there are important differences and the process is extremely efficient compared to the courts. To initiate an appeal, the appellant must file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days from the date the underlying award is submitted to the parties. One of the next steps is to select an appellate tribunal of three neutrals from an AAA-approved list of former judges or other neutrals with substantial appellate experience. There also are certain filing requirements, including payment of a non-refundable $6,000 deposit required by the appellant. Within one week of selecting the tribunal, the parties, case manager and tribunal must schedule a preliminary conference “to review and formalize the briefing schedule, set a deadline for the submission of the record on appeal and address any other procedural issues consistent with these rules and the objectives for an expedited, cost effective and just appellate process,” according to the AAA rules. There usually is no oral argument or hearing, meaning that the appeal will be determined by the documents presented to the tribunal.

The entire appeal, from the Notice of Appeal to the issuance of a decision, is designed to be completed within approximately three months, with the tribunal’s decision due within 30 days of the parties’ last written submission. This abbreviated schedule makes an arbitration inexpensive compared to a court appeal, but it is not without costs. In addition to the filing costs, the client will still have to pay additional fees for the neutrals, AAA administration and attorneys. There also is the cost of keeping a record of the original arbitration. Once the appellate tribunal renders its decision, that decision becomes the final award for purposes of judicial enforcement proceedings. Unlike a court appeal, the arbitration tribunal cannot remand a case to the original neutral. The tribunal can only confirm the original award or substitute a new, final award. The decision is final, with no appeal to a higher tribunal or any entity outside the arbitration process. Thus, it is a one-step appeal process with the certainty of being resolved by the appellate tribunal.

Jill R. Johnson is a commercial litigator with Chamberlain Hrdlicka (Atlanta), who counsels clients with construction and related disputes. She may be reached at (404) 588-3574 or [email protected].

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact [email protected] or [email protected].

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