Retail Center Provides Lessons for Estimators


RetailCenter_Insights.gifThe grand opening for the retail complex took place in late September 2015.

K2 Electric, based in Phoenix, Arizona, won the bid for the shell build-out and associated site work with a 12-month build time. “It’s noteworthy because it’s the largest project on which we have estimated, and the largest I’ve done,” explained John Jordan, K2’s chief estimator.

At $4.5 million electrical, the Premium Outlets’ approach is something new for most of Southern Arizona: It provides outdoor mall space where people can relax, hang out, and participate in events. The indoor space is estimated to be 320,000 sq. ft.

Swallowing hard, Jordan related the problems, twists, and turns that made this job stand out among others he’s worked on.

Rental Space in Bid

Included in the bid’s costs was the need to rent a house near the Center construction site. What drove the need for a house rental is K2’s company policy, which is to avoid creating the need for workers to commute more than 50 miles each way each day. And Tucson and Phoenix happen to be 115 miles apart. Due to the long distance between Phoenix and the construction site, manning the job for K2 Electric was a mixed crew. There were as many as eight of its regular electrical workers, plus another 35 to 40 people recruited in the Tucson/Marana area. Thus, the job peaked with a crew of roughly 45.

So in this case, the Phoenix-based electrical workers were able to avoid a longer commute by sleeping locally during the week.

But that wasn’t what made this project stand out.

More Than 20 Electrical Bidders

arial_Insights.gifJordan estimated the job in tandem with Casey Kotzenmacher – an estimator who, at the time, was relatively new to the company (began June 2014). “We decided to bid on this job because it was slow out here in the Phoenix area,” Jordan said. “Obviously, having the two of us work on one project was not a problem, as the WIN 6000 software we used allows multiple estimators to work at the same time on the same job.”

Bidding the job was an adventure of sorts for K2. Normally, the company does not like to pursue jobs on which there are more than 20 other electrical contractors submitting bids.

But with things being slow, the company elected to make an exception. But not, however, before doing its due diligence. “We actually interview the general contractors involved in most jobs, and we did for this one, too,” Jordan said. “They’re very important, of course – they’ll run the project.

“We decided that these generals were people we wanted to work with, so we bid to them.”

Sharpen Your (Electronic?) Pencil

mall_Insights.gifObviously, with so much competition, it was really important to get the bid just right. To get it done in a timely manner, Jordan got help.

“We split it up so that I ended up doing the estimating for one piece and Casey the other,” he said. “He took the buildings. I finished my end up earlier, so I took three of the buildings and did them, too.”

So what made the project stand out? Fate had played a hand.

One piece of the project involved work that K2 normally subcontracts out. Without naming the company or the business it is