If you had to choose between good business results and good business relationships, which would you pick? This might seem like a trick question – after all, results are what you put into the bank at the end of the day, but you know that a hard-working team of motivated people makes that possible.

But it isn’t a trick: there's a conflict between people and profits playing out everyday that executives need to be aware of.

Across North America, wood is being rediscovered as a cost-effective, versatile and sustainable material for mixed-use construction. After a prolonged emphasis on steel and concrete for buildings other than homes, wood is increasingly being used in mid-rise residential, office and mixed-used projects. This transition is largely due to advances in building science and technology, new building systems and products that have been developed for use in a wider range of buildings.

What do you get when you combine a former real estate bubble and a severe economic downturn? For some communities, the result has been a shrinking inventory of undeveloped land and a declining market of viable golf courses. Now that the economy is showing glimpses of recovery, many developers are looking at former, now fallow golf courses as potential sites for new development.

However, golf courses carry with them a unique and complex history, making their conversion and development a trap for those unaware of or unprepared for the myriad of land use, environmental, liability and public relations issues that certainly lie ahead. Here's what your company should know when developing one of these projects.

A bustling job site with plumbers, electricians, carpenters and roofers can be a difficult place to manage a contracting business, but construction contractors do this daily.  Under that dusty hard hat is someone who is always juggling the paperwork involved for the job on-site including the order forms, delivery notices and last-minute changes demanded by the architect. This is a paperwork nightmare for someone sitting behind a desk in a comfortable office, let alone someone making business decisions standing on the site of a half-built house.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry added 30,000 jobs in December 2012. While unemployment remains stubbornly high for this sector, this represents the largest monthly increase in two years.

As the construction industry slowly begins to recover, it is a good time to think about putting a plan in place to address the safety of new and less experienced workers.  Employees are most vulnerable to injuries when they are new to the job because of their inexperience or lack of familiarity with the new company.

Most contractors pride themselves on quality and do everything in their power to avoid or promptly remedy defects in their work. Often, contractors will provide a warranty that covers any defects that arise within a year or longer after the project is complete. But the expiration of a warranty does not mean the contractor is off the hook. Latent defects may arise years, or even decades later. When they do, the builder is in the difficult position of defending work performed long ago.

The construction industry faces a variety of crises, not the least of which is the economic downturn. But the business also faces a variety of high-profile problems including injuries and deaths on the job, labor issues, cost over-runs, natural disasters and structural collapse, among others.

According to preliminary figures from the Associated General Contractors of America, there were 721 deaths in 2011, down significantly from 2006 (1,239). This could be tied to a weakened economy, but nonetheless good news.

The hum of heavy equipment, service vehicles and back-up generators is the sound of a thriving construction business. But with diesel prices hovering between $4 and $5 per gallon, fuel costs have a significant effect on profitability. It’s estimated that fuel accounts for 40 to 50 percent of an asset’s operating costs. In addition, contractors must be concerned about fuel-related issues including carbon emissions, penalties for excessive idling and the environmental certifications required for bid eligibility.

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