STAYING AFLOATBy Jackie Latragna

When luxury buyers have more than a million dollars to spend in their pocket, they tend to be more picky with their home purchases, and rightfully so. In today’s ever-evolving market, it is important for builders to know exactly what the buyer wants and what will set them apart from the competition.

 

IF THESE TRUCKS

 By Duane Gabor  

If you were given the choice to have an extra skilled worker or a computer join your site crew, chances are you’d rather have the laborer. While we still are years or even decades away from machinery running job sites, paired with the proper technology it can make a major impact on our daily work.

Emerging technologies that help generate data from onsite equipment and automate tasks are transforming the way we work in the construction industry today. To learn more, I recently sat down with Ryan Crandell from LoJack to discuss ways customers have achieved significant value just from measuring and reporting on data from their worksites. 

Excavator stand in construction site
By James White
As the economy picks up steam and your construction business grows, you may find yourself at a crossroads: Will you stay small, or will you expand your operation to take on more jobs? 
 

There are many decisions to make when growing your business, and one of the biggest is about equipment. You can always hire more workers and increase your marketing strength without too much trouble, but the bottom line is that you can only take on as much work as you are able to send machinery to. You can line up tons of jobs, but your customers will experience long, frustrating wait times if you only have one excavator for getting that foundation dug. 

 

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].  

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