Premier contractors operate on principles that produce sustainable value, consistent quality and high return on investment.  Many lesser-quality contractors skirt the law, limit compensation and eliminate benefits, safety and training programs in order to hit the low cost bid.  How do construction leaders communicate their superior value so owners and developers can avoid the risks and hidden costs associated with second-rate contractors?

Often low price wins the job, but does it deliver best value and return on investment?

Millennium Tower in San Francisco is still leaning. We called it the Leaning Tower of San Francisco in an earlier post when we explained that the tower, completed in 2011, has sunk about 16 inches after six years, two times the amount expected over the 50 year life of the project. It is leaning 2 inches.

It is built over landfill, and in an apparent effort to reduce development costs, the piers under the building do not reach bedrock. Additionally, an adjacent transit station being developed has been accused of contributing, if not causing, Millennium tower to lean.    Read more » about Leaning Tower Gains Lawsuit

The following article originally appeared in the February 2017 newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation.  Reprinted with permission.

Milestone events, like our acquisition by FMI, prompt a period of reflection and optimism.  You look to the past for conclusions and lessons; you look to the future with expectations and possibilities.  While I was in this period of pondering, I heard Tim Cook, Apple’s highly respected CEO, on the Charlie Rose Show.  Responding to the question about Apple’s continuing ability to innovate, he said, “We will always do it. Steve [Jobs] put innovation in our corporate DNA.”

That interchange made me think harder and deeper as I looked to the past.  For the past 33 years, from a very privileged perch, I have been observing commercial construction contractors in the Greater Houston Area.  This period per statistics and records has been the most volatile in history.  Adapting to frequent, often extreme, changes has been imperative for those companies that survived and prospered.   Read more » about Leadership and Lifelong Learning – Lessons from the Past; Keys to the Future

Hi there. The Chamberlin Man here.

Well, here we are. We’ve made another full lap around the sun. Welcome to 2017! It’s hard for an old guy like me from another generation to believe we’ve made it this far.

It’s also hard for me to believe how far technology has come. I just got my copy of the Winter Chamberlin News and read all about Electronic Leak Detection, or as the cool cats in the know call it, “ELD.” Let me tell you friends, if you’re curious about ELD methods, efficiencies and limitations, this story serves up some great insights. Take a look to get a pulse on ELD and see if it’s right for your next project.

The newsletter also features a project of which the Chamberlin team is particularly proud, the Hallmark Senior Living Community in Houston. Because the work was taking place while folks were home, this restoration project included a series of precautions and extra communications ensuring residents weren’t disrupted in the least.   Read more » about My, How Far We’ve Come!

President Donald Trump's proposed border wall isn't just highly controversial. Now that he’s been elected and has begun the process of fulfilling campaign promises, it is also becoming more apparent the project is a logistical nightmare for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a lack of enough skilled workers to build what would be one of the largest public infrastructure projects in history.

Bloomberg News puts a fine point on it:

A labor shortage has left few hands to build houses and factories in the region, where wages have already been rising and projects delayed. Now, the president’s plan for “immediate construction of a border wall” will force the government to find legal builders for a project that could employ thousands if not tens of thousands.   Read more » about Labor Shortage Could Force Trump’s Hand on Legal Status for Thousands

The “private sector solution” to workforce challenges in the Houston area is growing by leaps and bounds, but there is an incredible amount of work yet to do. The Construction Career Collaborative, or C3, continues to pick up steam and more industry leaders are being asked to join what has been described as “a movement.”

During a breakfast hosted this month by the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston, C3 Executive Director Chuck Gremillion told executives the best way to create an industry that’s attractive to young American workers is through better craft training, safety training, and a focus on the financial security, health and well-being of craft workers.

“We’re really a pretty simple organization,” Gremillion said. “We want to attract young people to a career.”

While the vast majority of construction companies understand the need for safety training, which is a great thing, Gremillion said it is regrettable there aren’t more firms with a focus on craft training.   Read more » about More Construction Leaders Are Needed to “Walk the Talk” on Workforce Solutions

This is another in a series of games we see on construction projects. Have any of you seen this one?

Most of us have heard that term applied to plumbing systems or negative feedback on our projects. Being at the end of the line usually means that you catch everything that falls apart above you in the job. This is especially relevant for this game on construction projects and schedules.

This game usually begins when the architects have incomplete construction drawings or the contractor can’t build something that the architects have detailed, and it has to be redrawn. It can also be caused when the owner’s rep, engineers, or GC doesn’t approve shop drawings for an order, delivery and install on time.   Read more » about Games Contractors and Subs Play – “It All Flows Downhill”

Last month the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) unveiled their stunning new space in Partnership Tower which will serve as a meeting place for heads of state, senior business leaders from around the world, and others who visit to learn more about the greater Houston area.  The construction of the space was achieved using the principles of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3), ensuring that the work was completed by the most highly valued craft professionals in commercial construction and that the resulting work was of the highest quality and delivered with the best safety performance.

I wrote about the beautiful new space which I had the privilege to see for myself at a reception held for the media.  That evening I spoke with a few members of the Partnership about what the beautiful new facility would be used for as well as their decision to support the skilled craft workforce by using C3 principles on the project.   Read more » about GHP “Pays it Forward” with Support for Skilled Workforce through C3 [VIDEO]

Recently at the annual Kiley Advisors Update Conference for construction industry owners in Houston, keynote speaker Christopher Daum, the President and CEO of FMI Corporation, discussed the ownership succession issues facing those current owners of construction companies, especially private family-owned sub contractors, as they come to the end of their careers and begin to wonder what will happen to their companies after they are gone. Though no one in the room would admit to it, many are at the end of the road looking for succession options at a time when we are all living in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world made even more so by the cyclical nature of the construction industry and the demographics of the workforce that contains their future partners or owners.

Daum explored and examined a number of possibilities for ownership succession in detail, but he made one point that hit several of the owners in the audience right between the eyes.    Read more » about Ownership Succession in Construction Companies

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