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Meet the Team: Ryan Welborn

Ryan pictured with his wife and three little girls

Continuing our “Meet the Team” series, we’re kicking off this week profiling Ryan Welborn, Director of Construction. Ryan is a highly respected problem-solving machine with a sense of humor and a genuine love for his family.

Where do you live?

Orion, IL

What do you do at Bush Construction? 

I manage projects under construction and provide guidance/support to fellow associates who are managing projects of their own.

Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work? 

My father.  If you work hard, more often than not, good things will happen.

How do you prefer to start your day? 

I like to start really early in the morning before the family gets up with a cup of coffee organizing for the day to come.  By the time they are awake, I have typically caught up on the random things from the previous day and can spend time focusing on getting them ready for school and daycare.

How do you prefer to end your day? 

Hanging out with my wife and three little girls.

The Cause and Effect of Construction Material Shortages and Price Increases

The Associated General Contractors (AGC) published its latest Construction Inflation Alert that offers insight on the most recent construction material shortages and price increases. There’s a lot to unpack in the edition, so we’ve highlighted some of the most important key points for you.

Seismic Pricing Fluctuations

This isn’t the first time that the construction industry has faced rapid material shortages and increased costs. In 2004, materials rose from 3.6% to 10.0% and “remained above a 5% annual rate for a total of 31 months, before subsiding to a 3.2% rate in October 2006.” Other dramatic increases came in 2008 and 2017, however, COVID-19, natural disasters, and transportation issues have caused the most significant disruptions.

From May 2020 to May 2021, the price of:

  • materials and services used in construction skyrocketed 24.3%.
  • lumber and plywood rose 111%.
  • steel mill products climbed 76%.

While some material prices have come down since mid-May, they are still higher than what prices were a year ago.

If Only Construction Projects Were Like Buying a Car

When you buy a car, the cost to build it is already factored into the total price. In construction, the cost of work isn’t realized until after material purchases are made or the work is completed. This presents a huge risk to commercial general contractors and business owners, especially when large material price increases happen after committing to a project.

If you are an owner considering a new build, addition, or renovation, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • reserve funds for additions or modifications to your project’s scope of work to mitigate risk. This can be accomplished through an owner contingency fund.
  • ask your GC about an early procurement strategy for materials such as structural steel, reinforcing, and roofing.
  • be mindful of oil prices as oil and its by-products are used in manufacturing steel, PVC pipe, roofing material, and more. When oil prices go up, so do materials and the cost to transport them.

While we cannot control the global supply chain, we can ensure your experience remains positive through open, honest, and transparent communication. Our team strives to keep clients informed of fluctuations in pricing due to forces beyond our control.

If you have any questions on how today’s pricing fluctuations might impact your project, feel free to contact us using the form below.

To read AGC’s report, click here.

Meet the Team | Leslie Wells, Senior Project Coordinator

Leslie pictured with her husband, Mike, and son, Graham.

If you’ve worked with Leslie you know that one of her many strengths is providing clear and concise communication. Her high-energy, organized, and go-getter personality makes her a valuable asset to all of her project teams.

Leslie has been one of Bush Construction’s biggest cheerleaders, from leading our daily stretch and flex to assisting in any number of our philanthropic efforts. She joined the team in 2016 as a project coordinator and was recently promoted to a senior project coordinator.

What do you do at Bush Construction? 

I am the Senior Project Coordinator and am responsible for:

  • issuing and tracking contracts.
  • spinning up projects in our project management software.
  • leading the closeout process for projects that I am the PC on.
  • managing team members’ schedules.
  • assisting with cost tracking (create/issue/track sub and owner change orders).
  • managing our project coordinator/preconstruction coordinator department.
  • collaborating across multiple project teams to ensure successful project outcomes.

What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?

I am currently working on studying for the Construction Industry Technician course through NAWIC.

What’s your go-to productivity trick?

I first prioritize my day then knock out tasks that will take the least amount of time first, and go from there.  Headphones – they are also necessary some days!

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re proud of?

I am proud to say that before coming to work for Bush Construction I had minimal knowledge of the construction industry. I have been able to be successful and gain so much knowledge working here thanks to a team that welcomes diverse opinions and provides opportunities for growth.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I don’t have a lot of spare time, but when I do I enjoy being outside and anything that involves being with our friends, family, and their kids.

Where do you live?

My husband, Mike, and our son, Graham, currently live in Davenport where we are both from. We recently purchased a property in Blue Grass, Iowa, and are in the beginning stages of building our forever home!

 

Meet the Team | Wayne Gordon, Director of Preconstruction

Wayne Gordon Family
Wayne pictured with his wife, Jenny, and their beautiful children Audrina, Kinzie, Callen, Laikynn, Colson

Wayne is the perfect mix of calm and collected. He joined Bush Construction in 2009 as a Project Engineer and quickly moved up to Project Manager. He’s been an integral member of our estimating and now preconstruction department. As the new director of preconstruction, Wayne oversees our preconstruction services including estimating, budgeting, procurement, constructability reviews, business development, and coordination of the preconstruction phase. Outside of work, Wayne is an involved husband, father, and community member.

What do you do at Bush Construction?

Director of Preconstruction

Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

My Dad

What was your first job?

Working on the family farm, where we raised hogs, corn, and soybeans

Where do you live?

In the country, near DeWitt, Iowa

What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Movie night with my family

 

Meet the Team | Chuck Geyer, Superintendent II

Chuck Geyer, Bush Construction Superintendent II
Chuck Geyer, Bush Construction Superintendent II

How many times have you said, “it’s nice to put a name with a face?” This week we’re launching a Meet the Team series so you can get to know our growing team of construction experts. From the field to the office, our team wears many hats and is dedicated to providing customers with a great construction experience.

This year Chuck Geyer was promoted to Superintendent II. Chuck has been a valued team member since 2014 and has done an excellent job of cultivating relationships with project owners. Additionally, Chuck is a leader who gets things done the right way, the first time.

What do you do at Bush Construction? 

Project Superintendent responsible for the daily coordination of trades in the execution of building construction, while working to ensure the project is completed in accordance with the project design, budget, and schedule.

What’s your go-to productivity trick?

Communication. People seem more productive when they are informed. Ensuring that every trade knows what is to be done in order for them to complete their task, and what they need to complete for the following trade to complete their task is an important key.

Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

I’ve tried to pick up something from everyone I meet. Sometimes it’s a positive influence, and sometimes it’s something you want to sure you don’t do. Both are important.

How do you prefer to start your day?

With coffee and silence. I like to get up early and get to the job before anyone else. Coffee is the easy part, silence is not.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

My wife, Kelly, and I like to golf as much as possible when the weather permits. We have been married for 10 years this December.

A Deep Dive into the Design-Bid-Build or Hard Bid Delivery Method

From the seasoned business owner to the start-up entrepreneur, selecting the delivery method to build a new space can be challenging. Delivery methods are not only hard to understand, but their many nuances can impact the cost, risk and timeline of a construction project. Given their significance, we launched a podcast series to help owners determine which delivery method is best suited for their next project. Today, we’ll explain the Design-Bid-Build or Hard Bid delivery method.

The Pros of Hard Bid

This delivery method is simple to understand and has been used for decades. First, building plans are designed by an architect. Then the plans are sent to contractors to bid. Finally, the contractor selected builds the building.

There is a perception among many that hard bid delivers the best price. While it may deliver the best initial price for the design that’s been planned, there’s great debate about whether the best design was priced. We’ll explain more later in this post.

The Cons of Hard Bid

During the design and pre-construction phase of a project, the owner and architect work closely together. A contractor’s voice likely won’t enter the conversation until after being awarded the project. As a result, the project won’t be looked at through the lens of a contractor, who could provide valuable insight into the construction schedule, budget, and raise any red flags early on.

Another pitfall of this delivery method is that the contractor is often selected solely on being the lowest price, not on their qualifications or expertise.

When to Use the Hard Bid Delivery Method

The hard bid delivery method is best used for non-complex, greenfield projects. For example, Bush Construction built a brand-new school in an open field that went extremely well. The client was an advanced owner, knew the ins and outs of this delivery method, and had successfully built many buildings before.

We’ve also been a part of hard bid projects that encountered significant challenges. For instance, we ran up against a site issue on a multi-family project. Had we, as the contractor, been involved in the pre-construction process, we would have been able to have an in-depth discussion with the owner and architect about a critical but missing project element. Even though we raised the site issue during the bidding phase, there wasn’t enough time to openly discuss the implications nor was the owner receptive to our feedback. As a result, the site issue caused a long schedule extension and the owner incurred additional construction costs due to multiple change orders.

Communication and Change Orders

The timeframe for collaboration between an owner, architect, and contractor is very limited in the hard bid delivery method. While an owner and architect may work together for months designing the building, a contractor might only have a few weeks to review the project’s scope of work, interpret the drawings and prepare for bid day. Not to mention there is little incentive for a contractor to spend time identifying and communicating project issues before submitting a bid. Remember, in this delivery method, a contractor is selected based on being the lowest price. It’s only after the contractor is awarded the project will they dig in deep enough to discover certain design gaps. This is when change orders come into play.

Change orders occur naturally, however, they are time-consuming and hard to administer. While the contractor is responsible for presenting change orders to the owner, it’s common the trade partner (plumber, electrician, carpenter) will bring the need for changes to the contractor’s attention. The contractor must vet the reason for the change order and determine if the design isn’t complete, accurate, or fully developed, or if the trade contractor should have interrupted the architect’s drawings differently during the bidding phase.

Lowest Price vs Long-Term Value

For owners considering the hard bid delivery method, here are three factors to think about as it relates to the lowest initial price and the best long-term value:

  1. The reason hard bid delivers a low price is that the cost of the contractor’s input has been cut out initially. However, that price will be passed down the line and could end up resulting in change orders.
  2. Having a contractor’s input during the design phase often proves beneficial. For example, impact-resistant drywall and concrete masonry units (CMU) are both viable options for school walls. While drywall is cheaper in the short-term, kids can kick holes in the drywall so CMU might be a more cost-effective, long-term solution. A contractor is able to evaluate the cost, schedule, and constructability implications of each.
  3. If an architect’s budget is off – high or low – the owner will either be responsible for raising more funds or requiring a redesign to incorporate elements they originally wanted in their building but had to cut out to fit the plan.

We’re Here to Help

We’d love to keep the delivery methods conversation going and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Simply fill out this contact form! Or continue reading our series of blog posts on the delivery methods:

 

Celebrating National Intern Day

National Intern Day was created by WayUp to recognize and celebrate future leaders – interns! Bush Construction has a long history of providing internship opportunities, and this summer we are pleased to have Trevor Viren join our team. Trevor is a QC native who will be going into his senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. With a major in Construction Management and a minor in Business Administration, Trevor is a perfect fit for our internship program.

Get to know intern Trevor

Is this your first internship?

This is technically my second internship in the construction industry. Last Summer I worked as a commercial estimating intern with Tri-City Electric.

How did you hear about the Bush Construction internship?

Trevor Viren is a 2020 summer intern at Bush Construction

I heard about the Bush Construction Internship when I met Rob and Lea Ann at the career fair at UW-Platteville. I had been looking for companies in the QC area and stumbled upon Bush, which I had somehow overlooked. In hindsight, I am very happy that I made the decision to approach them at the career fair to put myself in the running for an intern position at Bush.

What tasks are you currently working on?

The main tasks I have been working on have been for the Coram Deo Church project. I have been drafting RFI’s, reviewing submittals, communicating with the design team, communicating with subcontractors about revised quotes, tracking framing progress at the site, attending progress meetings with subcontractors, attending meetings with owners of the project, and updating drawings with the answered RFI’s. I have also organized a couple of other site visits with the project’s corresponding superintendents.

What have you learned from your time here?

I have learned more in my short time here than I have from any other job before! I have learned about the construction process, thanks to the Coram Deo project starting promptly when I started here. This has led to me being able to familiarize myself with common construction practices from a general contractor’s point of view.

What advice do you have for your peers considering an internship?

One piece of advice I have for my peers considering an internship is to absolutely in any way possible to take an internship if given the opportunity. I am very grateful and fortunate enough to have landed one at Bush Construction, and it is the best way to learn what goes on in the industry you plan to pursue your career in. You learn just as much in 2-3 months of a solid internship as you would in over a year of schooling.  If it is a possibility, try to make an internship opportunity happen!

“Trevor has been doing a great job on the Coram Deo Project, said Justin Hoerner, Bush Construction Project Engineer. “He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him. I’ve tried to put the pressure on him at times, and he puts his head down and gets whatever is being asked of him done. He’s been very coachable and asks plenty of questions until he completely understands it. During his short time here at Bush, Trevor has proven to be a very valuable member of the team!”

3 Ways to Improve Workforce Recruitment in the Construction Industry

Whether you’re building a team for an upcoming construction project or preparing for future growth, assembling a team of dependable, highly motivated, and skilled employees is critical to your success. While it can be extremely difficult to attract and retain these team members, here are three tactics for HR managers in the construction industry to employ.

1. Reach Potential Workers Early–Very Early

Before the pandemic, Bush Construction visited classrooms ranging from preschool to eighth grade.

“We wanted to familiarize students with the different opportunities in construction,” said Lea Ann Dies, Senior Human Resources Generalist with McCarthy-Bush Corporation.

Reaching potential workers before they have made it to college or even high school is an effective long-term effort to bring awareness to careers in the skilled trades. In addition, talking about movements such as Generation T also helps students understand that organizations are working very hard to changing the perception of the trades.

Studies show that far too often many make the wrong decision when choosing a job. There are plenty of reasons:

  1. People are motivated by high salaries even though studies show there’s no correlation between pay and job satisfaction.
  2. Many are unwilling to try a new job if they are unhappy in their current one.
  3. Many do not know their own talents.

“Obviously, the messaging is different based on the age of the group we are presenting to,” Dies said, “But the idea is to reach children and students early so they can understand the types of opportunities available in the trades and learn about our role in the community.”

“We look forward to hopefully picking classroom visits back up in the fall!” Dies said.

2. Internships & Job Fairs

According to the Harvard Business Review, approximately three out of four college students intern while in school. For many students, internships end up being much more than a way of gaining real-world experience while they’re still in college. They can turn into full-time jobs post-graduation. This year, Bush Construction hired two former interns into full-time positions.

“For college students, an internship is a great way to gain experience, get an insider’s view into a specific career path, and test out whether that profession is right for them,” Dies said. “On the flip side, an internship program enables employers to build a steady pipeline of young, qualified, and talented candidates.”

This summer, Bush Construction is proud to have another intern, Trevor Viren as part of their team.  Trevor is a Quad-City native who will be going into his senior year at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. With a major in Construction Management and a minor in Business Administration, Trevor will be working on finalizing quality control checklists with Bush Construction’s project management team.

In addition, attending job fairs is another recruiting and brand awareness tool. Many educational institutions hold career fairs to expose their students to potential employers with diverse hiring needs. Registration has begun for fall recruiting events, with most colleges and universities shifting towards offering virtual career fairs because of COVID-19. Iowa State University, for example, will be hosting its Engineering Career Fair on September 15th and 16th. Developing relationships with vocational schools is also a good way to learn about the talent pool that will be available after students complete the program(s).

3. Online Recruiting Platforms

Whether you are recruiting for in-office or field positions, employees are likely to track down your website, visit your social media profiles, and review third-party sites like Glassdoor to learn more about your company’s culture. Alternatively, searching for the right talent on digital platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, CareerBuilder, and more will help staff your workforce.

To learn more about careers available at Bush Construction, visit https://www.bushconstruct.com/meet-the-team/careers/.

Five Ways to Increase Project Efficiency

One of the most important aspects of construction management is creating and maintaining an effective schedule. Construction operations, big and small, include troves of interconnected elements that must work cohesively and sequentially to maintain the project schedule.

From inception to completion, each of these details contributes to the overall success of the job. However, without effective schedule management, the project can easily experience delays. Avoid the chaos by implementing these five practices.

1. Develop a Complete Project Plan

A detailed and complete project plan is essential to developing a master schedule. If available to the project, use 3-D modeling technology, like BIM (Building Information Modeling) to develop a coordinated plan established to identify design conflicts, reduce waste, and eliminate problems.

Once completed, involve all decision-makers in the final approval of the project plan to reduce the need for changes later that may delay the schedule or lead to rework. The foundation of schedule management ties directly to the quality of the design and plan.

2. Create a Master Schedule

A solid and realistic master schedule provides the backbone for the total project execution. When developing the master schedule, divide out each part of the project by phase while ensuring the accurate sequence of the tasks. It is best to never have an activity that extends beyond 15 days.  Also, after finalizing the master schedule, communicate clear expectations to all parties.

3. Manage Supply and Supplier Schedules

The master schedule only works with accurate order processing and delivery of project supplies. Select trusted suppliers with a reputation for quality and reliability. Then, communicate the schedule and project expectations to each supplier. Define the roles for order management, including responsibilities for tasks and proper communication channels.

4. Identify Pitfalls and Challenges

Scheduling challenges can occur with any construction project, no matter the scale. However, the larger the project, the more likely delays, and issues become. World events, like we are experiencing now with COVID-19, lead to disruption. In addition, labor shortages continue as an issue in the industry.

Major weather events, supply chain problems, changes to the project plan and other issues may impact the project flow. Build in time for unexpected delays and develop a contingency plan from the start so that each person understands their role in the face of challenges.

5.  Monitor and Report Progress Daily

Daily reporting is vital for successful and effective schedule management. Without proper communication and reporting, issues may go unaddressed. In addition, pay attention to times where the project falls behind or moves ahead. This is accomplished by creating detailed three week look aheads for each trade contractor to better communicate the project expectations on a daily in a much more detailed fashion than the overall master schedule. Correct and update the schedule based on changes or delays. Ensure effective and consistent communication occurs with all decision-makers and managers on the progress of the project.

 

Effective Schedule Management Based on Experience and Excellence

At Bush Construction, we offer professional solutions based on years of experience in the construction industry. We prioritize relationships with our clients, our team and our suppliers. Trust and quality matter to us. Effective and accurate schedule management is a vital part of building trust. We manage each project to stay on schedule and on budget.

Contact us with questions regarding our construction schedule management solutions.

 

Author: Jerod Engler | Vice President of Construction | Bush Construction

What is Contingency and How Does it Benefit Construction Management?

The word “contingency” has many different meanings, depending on the industry you serve or your point of view. In construction, contingency refers to a percentage of money reserved to cover unanticipated project costs. A contractor, an owner, or a design professional (aka architect, engineer, etc.) all likely feel that the proper use of contingency within a project stems from different, but justifiable causes.

Design professionals

For instance, a designer undoubtedly assumes responsibility for planning and designing a building that complies with all building codes and regulations. However, to draft a complete project that indicates every possible section or detail, and also encompasses every possible combination of material, model, or manufacturer is inconceivable. Therefore, in the designer’s eyes, it may be perfectly acceptable during the construction phase to use contingency spend to accommodate variations or updates that need to be made to the “as-bid” plan set.

Owners

In contrast, if an owner is fortunate enough to have any contingent funds left in their budget, they are likely to prefer that they are used on project betterments. Perhaps to add items to the project that had been eliminated during design or value engineering, or maybe just to incorporate items from their wish list that hadn’t made it into the project initially. It is conceivable to see the justification for this case as well.

Contractors

Lastly, a contractor may take the stand that the use of contingent funds is reserved for unforeseen or differing conditions than those outlined in the plans and specifications from which they based their bid on. For example, old foundations or utility piping buried on a project site that wasn’t documented on the as-builts (record drawings) of a particular property. The contractor had no way of knowing the subsurface conditions of the entire project site and therefore should be entitled to additional compensation, drawn from the project contingency. It seems fair to me…I may, however, be biased.

Whatever your viewpoint, one thing is clear. Every project should have some measure of contingency included and its acceptable uses defined and agreed upon at the onset, you’re going to need it!

 

Author: Rob Davis | Vice President of Operations | Bush Construction

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