It’s a cliché to say that “our people are our greatest asset.” Calling it overused would be an understatement. The funny thing is, it is quite a true statement. Your people are your greatest asset and give your firm a brand identity, a reputation in the marketplace, and a certain feeling that emanates from your offices.
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Specialty contracts control the relationship between a specialty contractor and a prime contractor or, in some cases, a project owner. So it is important for specialty contractors to negotiate their contracts to be, at least, mutually beneficial to the parties and, if possible, favorable to the specialty contractor. Of course in reality, some parties take a hard line on their contracts and refuse to negotiate, which might lead one to question the advisability of entering into a relationship with such parties.
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Running drills serves as an important learning tool in many forums and should be considered to be included as part of your safety plan. I’m sure each of us has experienced a drill in one form or another, whether it be on a ball field or as part of a fire alarm drill at work or at school. The process of sounding an alarm and walking through the motions that must occur to demonstrate a preparedness should a real emergency occur is important. Both the act itself and the analysis after the event can serve to raise awareness of opportunities for improvement and recognition of successes. There is much that can be said about the phrase “practice makes perfect;” our challenge is to understand how we can leverage this more effectively with regard to safety.
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Interview with Chris Andrews, Product Manager, Low Voltage Lighting & Controls Systems, Eaton
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An explosion in technology is changing the way people live, work, and use space. Wi-Fi, cell phones, and tablets have blurred the lines of where people connect for work and leisure – inside, outside, it no longer matters. As a result, people are spending more time outside for work and leisure activities, and they’re bringing their mobile devices with them. This presents homeowners, businesses, and facility managers with a new challenge – providing the convenience of safe, permanent, and dependable power sources for outdoor events or for charging cell phones, tablets, and laptops outside.
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In recent years, electrical contractors have begun receiving the bulk of their drawings from architects in PDF or digital form. It is now up to the contractor to figure out what to do with these digital plans. The old “go to” process was to print the whole set and get to work estimating; measuring and counting manually with a set of highlighters and other manual tools. This took up valuable time, and the possibility for mistakes was high. Contractors needed a better, faster, more consistent way of doing their takeoff; thus, the demand and need for an easy on screen takeoff program was born. Estimating software companies were great at calculating the bid, but they did not have a way of counting and measuring from a digital plan.
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The combination of a robust construction market and the ongoing shortage of skilled labor has created numerous challenges for contractors across the country. On one hand, contractors are seeing more opportunities to expand their business into new markets. On the other hand, they’re strapped for talent to meet demand. With fewer resources available, it’s become more important than ever to streamline processes and find ways to do more with less. That’s where digital tools come into play.
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Innovation; it can’t be avoided. It hits almost every industry at the most opportune time; and when it does, it can disrupt the way we do work in such a way that it can bring even large corporations to their knees. Innovators will always seek out weaknesses and leverage new ideas in their efforts to meet customers high demands or expand the market by finding ways to serve previously underserved segments. Like automobiles were to the horse and buggy and like MP3’s are to the music industry, history shows us that advanced technology has been the inevitable disruptor in every industry. Just as we saw the advent of industrial robots revolutionize automobile and other manufacturing plants, we are beginning to see the early stages of this same innovation in construction.
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Looking back at the mid-2000’s, workforce development was the main focus at that time, then the Great Recession happened and survival became a way of life for the next 6-7 years. Let's fast forward to 2017. Now that the economy has rebounded – although different from prior years’ – workforce development is back as a top concern of most electrical contractors.
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The “Winds of Change” is a discussion surrounding Agile Construction®, and specifically leadership of an Agile business. Agile is a business model that is capable of adaptation to meet changing needs, both in the short term and in the long term. Short-term Agility surrounds the needs to recognize and meet the needs of customers and vendors at the project, division, and overall business levels, while still maximizing the available profit opportunity. This requires effectiveness and efficiency throughout the business system. Longterm Agility comes from leadership. Leadership must recognize and respond to changes in the business environment. These changes are detected by knowing what to watch for in the “wind.” Rapid detection and early action based on these “Winds of Change” is effective leadership and the only way to ensure Winds the long-term success of any business.
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