Innovative construction practices, noteworthy design, current dilemmas and trends: articles of interest highlighting the construction industry.  Enjoy!

“The Future is here, it is just not very evenly distributed yet.” - William Gibson, Author

Advanced technology is screaming onto the construction jobsite today. Everything from remote driverless dump trucks to self driving concrete trucks, smart phones, ipads, laser scanners, thermal imaging cameras, RFIDS and geospatial devices are all being adopted by contractors on the jobsite. Some companies are investing in the new technologies and others are waiting. They will soon be screaming if they don’t pay close attention to the rapid development of augmented reality and its impact on all parts of our industry.

Personal protection too, is about to get a makeover for the first time in decades.    Read more » about The Future is Here

This game has many variations, but one of the worst is the basic game of change orders.

As a subcontractor, you are into the job and the scope changed or the drawings were finally completed and you were finally able to get the shop drawings completed. It took longer because the owner’s rep or the designers could not or would not make a decision.

Sometimes you have to submit a change order to help you cover the additional work that was necessary to meet the revisions. You submit them to the General Contractor as scheduled and a week later get a denial in no uncertain terms.   Read more » about Games General Contractors and Subs Play – Change Orders

When I was in grade school, we used to play “Crack the Whip” where one boy would act as an anchor and 5 or 6 other kids would form a chain, hold hands and begin to run usually counterclockwise. As the speed began to pick up the kid at the end of the line would go flying into the air usually taking a nosedive into the turf. I was a skinny kid and usually ended up flying through the air, fun until gravity played its role.

Later, as a teen at the roller rink or on the ice, we played the same game with the person at the end of the whip speeding at an incredible speed, but sometimes ending up being slammed into the boards. You get the idea I’m sure. The person at the end of the chain takes the brunt of the blow. This might be a fun game to play as a kid, but tough on the person at the end of the whip, especially when it is you. Crack! Bam! Boom!

General Contractors play this game with higher division subs when it comes to scheduling.    Read more » about Games Contractors and Subs Play: Crack the Whip

The potential use of eminent domain authority is at the heart of a controversy over a proposed bullet train that would connect Dallas and Houston.

During this legislative session in Austin, which is held for the first five months of the year, Texas Central Railway is hoping lawmakers do not do anything to prevent its $12 billion project from moving forward. The project would use Japanese technology allowing riders to make their way from Houston to Dallas in just about 90 minutes - a trip that typically takes 4 hours or more by car or truck.

Rural Republican lawmakers are asserting themselves, arguing the project could end up being costly to taxpayers and the company might use eminent domain to condemn land for construction.   Read more » about Eminent Domain at the Heart of Controversy in Proposed Texas Bullet Train Construction

Next week the 2017 National Craft Championships, hosted by the Associated Builders and Contractors of America (ABC), will take place at the beautiful Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale.  Prior to their trip to Florida, I was able to meet up with three of the craft trainees and apprentices from the Houston area who will be competing in the event.  Each of these competitors is sponsored by the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), the educational affiliate of ABC Greater Houston.  Each of them receives CMEF Training either at a CMEF sponsored college campus or at the CMEF training facility in La Porte, Texas.   Read more » about Houston-area Craft Professionals Ready to Compete in the 30th annual ABC National Craft Championships [VIDEO]

According to the Northern District of Georgia, a second construction company owner has been charged with conspiring to pay bribes for City of Atlanta contracts.

We previously reported that Elvin Mitchell, the owner of one of the largest minority contractors in Atlanta, was indicted for bribing city officials with over $1 million as a way to gain $10 million in City of Atlanta contracts. He pled guilty to those charges.

Now, a second contractor, “Charles P. Richards, Jr., has been arraigned on conspiratorial bribery charges for paying over $185,000 to obtain City of Atlanta contracts.”   Read more » about Games Contractors and Subs Play – Bribery 2

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

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) announced yesterday that more than 170 of the top construction apprentices and trainees in the country will compete in the 30th annual National Craft Championships, March 1-2 during ABC’s Workforce Week ’17 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Competitors from 29 states will contend for gold, silver and bronze medals and a safety award in 13 competitions representing 11 crafts.  The two-day competition includes a written exam and a hands-on, practical test where competitors will demonstrate their high-level craftsmanship and best safety practices.

“The National Craft Championships is a great opportunity to show off the exceptionally skilled and well-trained craftsmen and women that work on Associated Builders and Contractors member jobsites,” said 2017 ABC National Chair Chuck Goodrich, president of Gaylor Electric Inc. Indianapolis.  “ABC looks forward to showing off the very best the merit shop construction industry has to offer, including six Gaylor Electric apprentices, and drawing needed attention to the terrific career opportunities available in the construction industry.”   Read more » about More Than 170 Top Construction Pros to Compete at ABC’s 2017 National Craft Championships

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