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Meet the Team: Colin Freese

We are so excited to welcome Colin Freese to our team. Prior to joining Bush Construction, Colin was a Senior Designer/Mechanical Engineer, proficient in using CAD and a multitude of other programs to design products for clients. We held a rapid-fire with Colin and learned a lot!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Ida Grove, Iowa.

What high school & college did you attend?

I graduated from Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School(OA-BCIG High School) and after that attended the University of Iowa.

What are your hobbies?

I like to play golf, pick-up basketball, and league sports like softball and volleyball.

How do you feel about working for Bush?

I’m excited about working for Bush and ready to contribute.

What are you most excited about?

I’m most excited to be able to see the projects I’m working on progress in real-time with my own eyes, something that I didn’t get the opportunity to see at my previous job.

How do you feel about the slight shift in your career path? 

I’m feeling more enthusiastic about construction than I did about manufacturing, and that makes me feel more confident about my choice to pursue this opportunity with Bush.

Technology & Construction: Have you Overlooked the Power of a CRM?

Evaluating sales and marketing software is like redesigning a website – no one wants to do it; however, every few years the process is necessary to stay current, evolve with customer needs and support a company’s growth strategy. One widely overlooked software purchase in the construction industry is an integrated sales and marketing automation platform, or a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. An integrated CRM serves as an organization’s single source of truth for customers, prospects, opportunity data, and more. It’s a marketer’s dream for understanding the customer journey and has the power to create higher producing customer-first teams.

Why CRM’s Bring Significant Value

If you work in construction management and would like to understand the benefits of a CRM, software review websites like Capterra or G2Crowd are great places to start. These websites offer insight from real-life users and the ability to compare multiple platforms.

Another resource is our podcast episode on Technology & Construction: Have You Overlooked the Power of a CRM?. Here are the top five highlights:

  1. Operations vs Sales vs Marketing – Construction companies tend to focus heavily on their operations. As a result, software purchases center around estimating and workload tracking. The last thing leadership, commonly made up of engineers, may think about is how to grow their business through an integrated sales and marketing approach. While the great divide between sales and marketing exists across almost every industry, in construction, it’s important to be mindful that the gap between operations and sales and marketing can be even more significant.
  2. Digital Marketing is “New” – In construction, a small-to-mid-size marketing department may be made up of one or two individuals who are typically responsible for providing logos, planning events, posting social media updates, and coordinating RFPs. While these tasks are important, engaging with customers based on their digital preferences and preferred frequency to push them further down the sales funnel is a new way of thinking. And may require a lot of internal education.
  3. Find a Champion – Find an executive or high-level manager that understands the importance of an integrated sales and marketing automation software and will champion your efforts. Work together to gain the support of your leadership team.
  4. Show the Cost Savings – Yes, that’s right, an integrated CRM will save you money. Not only will your financial projections be more accurate, but you may also be able to hold off on hiring the business development rep (BDR) you’ve been thinking about. When you compare the cost of an integrated CRM to a BDR, the software is much less expensive. The “smaller” investment will yield a much higher, more immediate result. When your team references one system of record, it’s easier to see where the bottlenecks are and act. Now, everyone feels responsible for helping clients achieve their construction goals.
  5. Determine Success Benchmarks – Define measurable goals and create a detailed plan (with timelines) on how you will achieve them. Is it to replace an outdated CRM or do away with Excel documents used to currently track your opportunities? Is it to send customer emails on topics they consented to receive updates on? Or would you like 100% usage by a certain date and time? Either you or your CRM onboarding partner can help you outline a plan and not only meet but exceed your goals.

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.

Bush Construction Selected as Varco Pruden Builder

We’re pleased to announce Varco Pruden (VP) Buildings, a world leader in steel systems construction, recognizes Bush Construction as an authorized builder. As one of only two VP builders in our region, this new partnership provides us with exclusive building opportunities and discounted pricing.

“We are excited about the partnership with VP and all the possibilities it will bring to our customers,” said Jerod Engler, Senior Vice President at Bush Construction. “Our team will be able to design and price buildings in-house, speeding response times and increasing our cost-competitiveness of pre-engineered steel building solutions.”

Bush Construction will have exclusive access to VP Command, a proprietary design, engineering, estimating, and ordering program utilized by VP builders. VP Command reduces both estimating and design time and accurately details building structures.

About Varco Pruden

Since 1948, VP has been a world leader in pre-engineered steel building systems.

  • Specializes in pre-engineered buildings ranging in size from 1,200 –1 million sq ft.
  • Has a network of manufacturing and service centers located across the country.
  • Partners with 1,000+ independent, authorized VP builders like Bush Construction.

Foundational Principles for Quality Construction

At Bush Construction, our experience over the years and across industries continues to demonstrate the importance of quality construction played out each day on actual projects. In fact, we manage each project from inception to completion on the principle that quality comes first. We base our approach to excellence on specific foundations of quality construction.

Five Pillars of Quality Construction

1. Experienced Project Management and Support Team

Industry experience is vital for quality construction. That starts with a highly trained and knowledgeable project management team. Our leadership understands how to best build a support team designed to successfully execute the project design plan to ensure quality construction, including proper schedule management. Without the foundation of a confident and informed team, the project risks a lack of overall quality.

2. Clear and Consistent Communication

Whether we are communicating internally with our team or externally with our clients, we strive for clear and consistent communication. We allow time for questions and discussions to ensure all parties understand the direction and details for each step in the project. We encourage each team member to speak up if problems arise to avoid quality issues down the line. We also consistently communicate the standards and expectations of our entire company to instill trust that when you work with Bush Construction at any level, you can expect quality.

3. Detailed Design Plan Implemented with Job Site Quality Control

While our overarching quality standards add value on a macro level, true quality construction comes through strong detail management. We implement each detailed design plan with specific job site quality controls. For every project, each stakeholder approves the final design plan before construction starts. In addition, every person on the project knows exactly what’s required to do their job right. Quality control checks are in place for completed tasks to identify problems early in the process.

4. Established and Trusted Relationships with Suppliers

Arguably, the most important foundation for quality construction is the quality of the supplies used for the project. We value our established and trusted relationships with our subcontractors and suppliers. And because of our excellent relationships within our local subcontractor and supplier market, we are consistently able to offer competitive pricing.

5. Investment in Industry-Leading Technology

Technology matters in quality construction. From 3-D design tools to advanced scheduling applications, the right technology ensures each construction project adheres to the best design and schedule standards. In addition, technology provides added layers of protection for quality construction, including accuracy and safety.

Quality Construction Based on the Best Knowledge, Experience and Resources

At Bush Construction, we prioritize quality construction based on a foundation of integrity. Across all our companies, quality is paramount with each project and customer interaction. We employ standards for training, operations, and project management to ensure consistent quality. In addition, the breadth of our resources allows more control over the quality of component parts and processes.

Contact Bush Construction to discuss how we can apply our standards for quality construction to your next project.

 

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

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

COVID-19: A Message from Bush Construction’s CEO

COVID-19 has turned many of our lives, businesses, and local economies upside down. My heart goes out to all those who are suffering as a result of this deadly virus.

While Illinois has issued a shelter in place order and Iowa has provided guidelines on social distancing, both states have deemed the construction industry an essential service. This means Bush Construction is open for business. We are here to help you in any way we can during this unfortunate time.

Bush Construction has always been committed to providing a safe working environment for our employees. In addition to our standard safety protocols, we are taking additional measures to keep our workers safe and do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

  • We, along with our affiliate, McCarthy-Bush Corporation, have established a COVID-19 Response Team that meets weekly to share information and discuss best practices.
  • We are working closely with our superintendents and foremen to follow social distancing recommendations and ensure job sites are sanitary.
  • The majority of our office personnel are working remotely and using video conferencing tools to maintain the strength and productivity of our internal teams.

During this time of uncertainty, Bush Construction will continue to follow the recommendations of local, state and U.S. leaders. With that said, if you need us, we are here. Call, email or schedule a video chat with any of our team members. We’re here to support our clients and community through this time of crisis.

Sincerely,

A.J. Loss | President & CEO | Bush Construction

 

COVID-19 Resources

Centers for Disease Control

Iowa Department of Public Health

Illinois Department of Public Health

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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