Part 3 – By Ron Pestone
You know the rest of the story; you’ve heard it many times before. The Construction Manager choked the stumbling sewer guy’s money supply to almost zero. When he couldn’t take anymore they gave him a three day notice, threw him off the job and called in his bonding company. Eventually another contractor was bought in and he finished the original sewer contractor’s contract for three times its original value. The bonding company went after the broken sewer contractor and he lost his business and finally his house. You want to be a team member on this Construction Manager’s team?
The crime of it all was that the Construction Manager knew this guy was only a sewer contractor and other than a price cheaper than dirt he had nothing else to offer. What would it have taken to show him how to coordinate his work? A phone call to a pro, a hook up with a layout engineer and some CAD drawings would have done the trick, that was all that was needed. But the wolf smelled blood from day one and the only thing this poor sap had to offer, was to boost the wolf’s bottom line. If you know anything about construction, you know these wolves do not come in wolf’s clothing. They come in three piece suits and wing tip shoes. They are smooth as silk but deadly. They are looking for prey. Best defense with these wolves is to draw the line in the sand very early in the project.
Then there are the Construction Management firms who, when busy, send the “D” team out to run the project. By nature these are not bad people but they are inept. They have no idea what to do and are too afraid to leave the trailer and walk the job because they are sure everyone will find out just inept they are. So they hunker down in their trailers, sending avalanches of letters, trying to cover their backsides. There is no real coordination and the job starts to run wild with everyone going in different directions. Schedules go out the window and if there is one rogue contractor in the mix all hell breaks out. Weakness and stupidity rule the day and everyone becomes a loser. In their fear of being found out the “D” team blames everyone else for the mess and all the subcontractors get barraged with back charges. Nobody makes any money and everyone involved starts laying out sizable money trying to escape the jaws of the legal team who are representing the Construction Management firm and their “D” team. You know anybody who wants to be a team member on this team.
General Contractors are like Construction Managers and they are divided in the same two camps. Some are great and the same subs have worked for them for years, some for generations. Others are monsters whose only plan is to increase their bottom line by devouring the weak. They eat their subs with relish, and despite their horrible reputation there always seems to be a line of subs trying to sign on with them.
You can go through the whole list of owners and their representatives, of developers, of public and private organizations, of Construction Managers and even homeowners and they all fall into one of these two camps. You must decide in every case as early as possible how you are going to handle them, are you going to be a team player or an adversary.
There are two things you should never forget. One, reputations are earned; people and companies get them for a reason. Two, never believe they will make it up to you on the next job. Lions never become vegetarians
As I said early on, if you have a chance to join a good team do it, become a team player. Never be a chump. Your company comes first. Slay the dragon.
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