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

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

You might think that your company or jobsite is secure and protected from risk. Don’t bet on it. If you think that you have everything covered and you have shifted your risk, think again. Whatever you might be doing to protect your company, the potential risk is much higher than you might think. We took a look at the Kroll Global Fraud and Risk Report and found that the stats were shocking.

According to the 2016/2017 Kroll Global Fraud and Risk Report, 82% of executives surveyed reported that they had an incident of fraud over the previous 12 months. The report, which examines major global theaters and industries, found that most responding companies have seen an increase in fraud, cyber and security breaches.

The study, completed by Forrester (Nasdaq: FORR), “one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world,” includes “10 in-depth interviews and an additional online survey with 545 senior executives worldwide across multiple industries.”    Read more » about Fraud, Cyber and Security Risks Rose in 2016

There is a saying that “Things are Bigger in Texas.” Whether we Texans just brag about it or whether others expect it from us, that is the myth.

Not on supertall buildings.

The latest report from The Council on Tall Buildings Council and Urban Habitat (TCBUH) on the supertall buildings completed over the last year titled 2016 Another Record-Breaker for Skyscraper Completions; 18 “Tallest Titles” Bestowed lists China, not Texas or even the US, as the country completing the most buildings over 200 meters or 656 feet tall. While second on the list of completions, the US was not even close.

According to the report, there were a total of 128 buildings completed in 2016 and China far outstripped Texas and the US with 84 completions to a paltry 7 in the US. South Korea followed with 6, Indonesia with 5 and the Philippines and Qatar tied at 4. In terms of combined height, according to TCTBUH, China completed 30,301 meters or 99,413 feet of tall buildings. Stacked end on end, that would be 18.8 miles high. That is pretty tall and enough to give the Chinese real bragging rights in that category.

If you look at the various charts in the report, and they are eye opening, you will see that the latest round of completions brings the leader China to a total of 500, followed by the US at 187, the Middle East at 137 and Europe at 47 buildings over 200 meters high.    Read more » about Things are Bigger in…China?

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

We begin 2017 with optimism and excitement. We have been able to “walk our talk” about executing the right succession plan. As of January 1st, we become part of the Houston Team of the heralded consulting firm, FMI. The timing is right for us, I am now an octogenarian; Candace, a leading-edge millennial on the springboard of her productive years. They are attracted to my past and her future.

Candace and I are humbled and honored to join our industry’s leading consulting firm. Our mandate is to continue to serve our clients exactly as we have and to help them grow in Houston and Texas. This move gives us the capacity to add significant additional value with FMI’s vast resources of bright people, tailored industry data, and an impressive track record of helping construction companies prosper and grow.   Read more » about Practicing What We Preach: Successful Succession

If gas prices are higher the next time you fill up the tank, one of the reasons there will be less money in your wallet is a shortage of skilled craft professionals along the Gulf Coast.

Reuters reports that refineries in the region have been forced to postpone some scheduled maintenance due to a lack of skilled craftspeople needed to complete the jobs.

Industrial Information Resources (IIR) “estimates that the coastal region from Brownsville, Texas to New Orleans - the largest U.S. refining region - will be short roughly 37,400 craftsman needed to complete all of the planned capital projects in 2017.” Postponing the upkeep of these plants, in many cases, means slowing production or having to deal with unscheduled outages. Unexpected outages in the past few months have already taken “hundreds of thousands of barrels off the market,” causing a rise in gas prices.

Exacerbating the issue of too few skilled craftspeople in the Gulf Coast region is that “Refiners are also competing for workers with a broader range of power companies, pharmaceutical firms and industrial manufacturers nationwide, which are also preparing for a spike in maintenance projects in 2017, according to IIR.”   Read more » about Gas Prices on the Rise Due to Skilled Labor Shortage

On December 20, KBR and the Fort Polk Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) celebrated the accomplishments of eight active duty Army soldiers who completed a rigorous, 120-day pipefitting training program. The program was delivered in an industry-education partnership with Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) in Leesville, Louisiana. The graduates were awarded National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Pipefitting course completion certificates and credentials, and every graduating soldier will be offered top helper positions on KBR project sites.

On August 16, 2016 KBR launched the training program to train active duty soldiers under the Army’s Career Skills Program (CSP).  Soldiers who are within 180 days of separation have the opportunity to apply and be selected to participate in these competitive, Army-approved, civilian training courses in preparation for their separation from the United States Army. KBR partnered with CLTCC Lamar Salter Campus to host the training location and provide the soldiers with 28 college credit hours.   Read more » about KBR’s Fort Polk Pipefitting Program Graduates Eight Active Duty Soldiers

Jessica Minh Anh to Ambitiously Host Four Major Runways in 2017 Starting with Paris

Famously known for producing mind-blowing fashion shows on the Eiffel Tower, Grand Canyon Skywalk, London's Tower Bridge, and One World Trade Center, Jessica Minh Anh has become an undeniable force in redefining modern fashion standards while representing a new generation of multitalented creators. The model and entrepreneur, who holds an impressive record of 3 iconic catwalks per year in different continents, has ambitiously increased the number to 4 shows in 2017. Starting strong in Paris with her highly successful annual “catwalk on water,” Jessica Minh Anh will transform the Seine's giant glass boat into a 100-meter floating runway on January 26, 2017.

To create an illusion of models walking on water, Jessica will have guests seated facing the multi-faced glass window and watch models catwalking in front of them while the boat is cruising.   Read more » about Haute Couture Takes Over the Seine River on January 26, 2017