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Old 01-28-2010, 02:57 PM   #1
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New GC/New To Forum


Greetings,

This is long, but may hold your interest.

I am new to the forum, and new to construction (in some ways). I have worked for a small engineering company for the last 5 years, I am a licensed P.E. in Washington State. I am a junior principal here (meaning I own about 10% of the company) and the main owner holds the rest.

The guy who owns our outfit, was a superintendent for heavy civil construction firms (roads, bridges, and school/prison) for about 25 years before starting an engineering company. I came along after the firm had been established for about 5 years. I quickly rose to the top due and was offered ownership. Whether or not I rose to the top because of the boom in the development market, or I actually am good at this stuff remains to be seen, although the boss seems to think it was the latter. LOL.

I am mostly in charge of sales and project management. The sales are the hardest part right now. To keep my company profitable I need to generate about $70k in (design) sales per month. It is pretty scary thing to undertake in this market. That translates to roughly $700k in construction per month.

Last year, even though it was a horrible time to start, our principal finally had enough of being an engineer. caveat -Getting public works projects require a lot of ass-kissing and glad-handing when you are an engineer. We (engineers) cannot be chosen on price or value alone (it is illegal). 90% of the public works projects I have got have been through networking (not what you know, but who), but we are only 30% public works. end caveat. Back on track, the boss got fed up with that contract aquisition method, and started a construction company focused on public works. Even though every contractor bidding thes projects is cutting their own throats right now, our public works construction side has made enough to stay afloat.

Recently, some of our private clients have shown some interest in our construction services for specialty projects. So we started another construction company, dba our engineering firm. 2 firms in that one uses all union labor/trades and one does not. Everything is licensed, insured, blah, blah, glah. We have done a little work there too, most recently built a 138' rail road bridge. I actually did the environmental permtting work, one of my guys did the structural design, and then we built it. A real cradle to cradle kind of thing.

In my job I do a lot of construction administration. Basically act like a general contractor, but the client gets bills directly from the contractors I choose, I approve them and the client pays. I am administering about $4mil (private) right now. I send the client a monthly bill for my time. This works fine on projects over about $50k. On any small jobs, my time ends up costing waaay to much of a percentage of the overall construction cost. I end up with sour clients, even though I did just what was asked.

In the past when my clients would ask me to manage their <50k projects (get bids, permits, inspect, approve etc) I would usually try and point them to a good full service GC, and leave me out of it unless a real technical design question came up. I have a few GCs who I work with that I think do a really nice job. In a lot of situations, my clients really want me to do it anyways. You have to understand in some cases we have been working together for years to get through land use/permitting issues. They have built up a trust in my abilities, and do not want to go on their own.

So, I sat down with our principal last week and asked him if I could start to just bid the smaller jobs with the dba. Letting me be the super, and using our labor force for the work. He was pretty enthusiastic, but reiterated, "No bids hit the street without me approving them, and you explaining every detail to me." He is a logistic genius (seriously) and can shoot holes in almost any plan at will, but when you get through a meeting with him, you see the answer clearly almost every time.

So with that, I actually put together a couple bids, boss approved them and I got both jobs. The clients did not even look for other contractors, even though I had recommended several very good guys to both of them. One is a small residential bridge, one is a stair tower down a cliff. The stair tower is design-build, we have a land use hearing for it coming up, and then I will finish the details.

Truthfully we will lose a little money when I work as a supt. When I bill out for const admin, the profit is built in. I want to make the jump because my design staff is pretty much the best we have ever had, they are autonomous to the point that I just throw something on their desk and they produce at a profit. I figured the chance to round out my skill set is worth the little loss.

So if you made it through, thank you for reading.
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:09 PM   #2
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Re: New GC/New To Forum


Oh yeah, a couple of other things about me.

I found these forums when doing web searches for home-construction stuff. I am just finishing a year and a half D-I-Y $150K remodel of my Grandparents 1907 home. I am going to be moving my wife and 3 daughters there at the end of February.

I utilized many of your technical posts, pictures and ideas on our home. So thanks.

There were other times where posters were arguing about some building code issue or another, and I knew the right answer and interpretation, but because this site is only for contractors, I couldn't log in and give it. Now when I come across those, I will do it.

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Old 01-28-2010, 04:01 PM   #3
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Re: New GC/New To Forum


Welcome!

You could have come on board before. We have a few engineers on board!
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Old 01-28-2010, 04:31 PM   #4
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Re: New GC/New To Forum


We won't hold the Engineering thing against you... honest...

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Old 01-28-2010, 06:55 PM   #5
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:48 PM   #6
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Welcome to CT!
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:49 PM   #7
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:59 PM   #8
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Welcome to CT!
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Old 01-30-2010, 12:33 PM   #9
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Old 01-30-2010, 02:01 PM   #10
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Re: New GC/New To Forum


Welcome to CT... things are definitely difficult out there right now. Nice that your major partner has trust in you... GL If you need anything you can post privately.

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