May 2014

More on the Upcoming UB Law Center Tour

We are joined by Neb Sertsu – Acting MCN Podcast 130x130 BrownVice-President for the University of Baltimore’s Department of Facilities Management and Capital Planning, to discuss the University’s perspective of the John & Frances Angelos Law Center. MCN, AIABaltimore and USGBC Maryland are hosting a tour of the new law center on June 5th.

Over 20 years was spent trying to secure funding to renovate the existing library on the campus of UB. After decades of disappointment President Robert L. Bogomolny headed an initiative to develop a small triangular surface parking lot at the corner of Mt. Royal Ave. and Charles St. $92 million in funding was secured via the General Assembly with and additional $15 million pledged by the University.

Unlike traditional methods for obtaining architectural services and proposals for design, UB was granted the opportunity to conduct an international design competition. President Bogomolny was responsible for the establishment of the design standards that guided those companies participating in the competition. Initial proposals were used to pare the group to 10 contestants. Following interviews, the list was further narrowed to 5 firms. The 5 finalists were granted stipends from the Abel Foundation to refine their designs for a final presentation to a panel of 5 architects from across the United States.

The architectural judges helped the University define and refine their expectations and desires for the new building. Further, they posed questions during the formal presentations of design to help the University in their decision as to the winner of the competition.

Mr. Sertsu describes how wonderful it was to see how the five groups arrived at different but near equal solutions to the challenges posed by this project. He notes that the final decision was very difficult but the focus of sustainability and integration of “non-traditional” materials from the Ayers, Saint Gross / Behnisch Architekten  collaborative submission made the difference. Glass allows natural lighting to be utilized throughout the building. It further transmits the sense of energy and enthusiasm to help students, faculty, and visitors alike become more productive and engaged in the University. The building has quickly become a hub where all the students and faculty gather to meet and spend time in between classes and appointments.

Response to the new building has been overwhelmingly favorable. Admission tours frequently see prospective students taking photos of this “one-of-a-kind” facility. The building has significantly increased “viral marketing” for UB. As a result, the University has experienced a renewed connection with the people of Baltimore and has significantly contributed to the betterment of the local community.

MCN, AIABaltimore and USGBC Maryland are hosting a tour of this facility with networking on June 5th. Any net proceeds from the event will benefit University of Baltimore scholarship programs. For more information on this event, please download the registration flyer or, click here to register online for the event.

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April 26th 2013. That was the day MCN accepted it’s very first membership application. A year (and two weeks) later MCN has 189 members. That averages to exactly 1 new member every other day. Not every other work day, but every other day! Only a year or so in business, MCN is already one of the largest construction associations in the state.

Verna and I would like to thank all of you who have joined MCN. From our old friends who joined right off the bat, to our newest member who joined today after just learning about the organization. MCN members represent a diverse spectrum of the industry. That diversity is not only in the work performed, but also from a geographical nature. MCN is on track to be a “statewide” association, capable of servicing members from all reaches of Maryland as well as the entire Mid-Atlantic region. And if you are not yet a member of MCN, let’s get you signed up now so you can build your network and get work. Remember what Robert Kiyosaki (Author of the #1 Personal Finance Book of All Times, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”) said, “The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.”

We are extremely pleased to have welcomed so many companies into MCN. Through our continued efforts to deliver premier networking and information designed to help you run your business and prosper in the industry, we are confident MCN will continue to experience steady growth. Verna and I are currently working on a couple programs to further enhance the value of a MCN membership.

Verna and I are keenly aware that “value” is a huge factor in MCN’s success. Our value proposition is short and sweet. Give people what they need for the best possible price. Eliminate waste. No unnecessary expenses. No “free rides”. Be fair. Be honest. Work hard. That’s how our members work and that’s what they expect from the people working for them.

Verna and I hope you will spread the word about MCN to your friends, colleagues, and others in the construction industry. By doing so you will expand your network in ways that have yet to be imagined.

Thanks for reading! Verna and I look forward to seeing you soon!

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Download the slideshow handout. Steve_Ball_HeadshotThe slides have been converted to a .pdf.

This program was recorded on May 8th 2014. Our speaker was Mr. Stephen K. Ball,  director of Gross Mendelsohn’s Construction & Real Estate Group. The entire program is 55 minutes and 29 seconds in length.

The following is a summary of the “key” takeaways from the seminar as reported in a blog published by Chris Haiss, from Gross Mendelsohn & Associates. Please enjoy the recording and all of Steve’s insights.

6 Characteristics of Profitable Construction Companies

Key Takeaways from Our Seminar for Contractors

Last week I attended a seminar given by my partner, Steve Ball.  The seminar, called “Key Characteristics of Profitable Construction Companies,” was full of insightful points about effective construction company management. Thanks to our friends at the Maryland Construction Network for inviting Steve to present to their members.

Here are a few highlights from Steve’s presentation:

  • They know when to walk away from a job.

No matter what business we’re in, we are constantly asked to lower prices for the work we do. Value your work and know what it’s worth. Know how low you can afford to bid and still make a profit. One key to being profitable is knowing when to walk away from a project before it even starts.

  • They know that the integrity of the company’s leaders is critical for long-term profitability and success.

Steve pointed out that when people like you and trust you, they will do things to help you when you’re not looking. In other words, when a company’s leaders are good to employees and treat them fairly and with respect, most of those employees will go out of their way for the company and its leaders. Your company’s profit will be driven in large part by what your employees do for you when no one is looking.

  • They know that having a merit-based performance review system in place will make them more profitable.

Your employees are more important than even your customers. Your profit is based on the work your employees do for you. Without high performing employees, you will have little to no profit.

A merit-based performance review system will help build profitability in your construction company. Recognizing them for their performance will help keep good employees working for you longer.

Read more in our blog post, “Why Construction Employees Really Leave.”

  • They know that “profit” is not a dirty word.

Culture shifts in recent years have led many to consider “profit” to be synonymous with “greed.” Profit is not a dirty word. If you don’t make a profit, you can’t do anything else. You can’t buy supplies, you can’t pay employees and you certainly can’t feed a family.

  • They know to limit certain employees’ freedom with pricing.

Let’s face it – not everyone is good at bidding jobs. Some employees want to give away too much, and don’t understand the costs connected to contract performance, such as variable and fixed costs. This lack of understanding will cause you to lose profit, or worse, not make any money.

You must first know what you can afford to bid in order to make a profit. Then, give the people who are responsible for bidding the tools and training they need to prepare good bids.

A burdened hourly rate calculator is one tool that can help you develop accurate hourly rates for your employees. Download it here.

  • They do “whatever it takes.”

Steve pointed to former NFL coach Chuck Noll’s words, “whatever it takes,” when describing the mindset that profitable construction company owners should adopt.

No one should be above doing grunt work to get a job done. Owners and management team members should be ready to make tough decisions, and remain disciplined and focused. One example of this is taking a disciplined approach to change orders.

Leaders of profitable construction companies also make the time for weekly work in process meetings, for example, to review where jobs stand. Highly profitable companies take this a step further and use a tool like a contractor’s work in progress calculator to keep up to date on the profitability of current jobs.

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Preview of UB Law Tour – The John & Frances Angelos Law Center

Mike Barber, AIA, LEED AP – Associate Principal, Ayers Saint GrossAyers Saint Gross gives his perspective of the features that have made the John & Frances Angelos Law Center a “defining moment” in his 28 year career. AIABaltimore, USGBC Maryland and  Maryland Construction Network have organized a tour of this facility, the first LEED Platinum law school project in the U.S. The tour will be held on June 5th from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Web PicAyers Saint Gross partnered with design professionals from Behnisch Architekten for an international design competition held by the University of Baltimore to select the architectural firm(s) for this project. The two companies first met while both were working on projects at Harvard University. ASG liked the Behnisch philosophy on sustainable design and sought to collaborate with them on this project. In a two month period the two firms worked to complete a preliminary design for the project that met the requirements of the competition and earned them the contract for this project. This was the second such design competition in the history of the University of Maryland system.

UB wanted an iconic piece of architecture for theUB_Logo_H_BLUE gateway to its’ campus. Located adjacent to the Jones Falls Expressway, at the corner of Charles Street and Mt. Royal Avenue, this structure has a unique form and incorporates technologically advanced materials and features not often found in traditional university designs. The design offers visitors to the building wonderful vistas of the city and, for passers-by, the opportunity to see within (and even through) the building so they can feel the energy from within. A ride in one of the pair of glass elevators within the building is said to be a highlight for any visitor to the building.

The glass curtain walls provide a high degree of transparency and, at the same time, decreases the need for artificial light. Those windows are computer controlled to help regulate the temperature in the building. Micro-perfed blinds are also regulated to control interior heating from sunlight without obstructing the views. There are several patios to give people the ability to experience the outdoors. Glass walled offices and classrooms allow a high degree of interaction between students and staff.

The floors house a radiant cooling and heating system. This unseen piping system provides climate control when the outdoor ambient temperatures are unsuitable for the building. This system releases the warmth and cooling in a very subtle but comfortable manner, leveraging the thermal mass of concrete. It also reduces the degree of ductwork needed for the structure.

Ayers Saint Gross is a full service design company, headquartered in Baltimore, with offices in Washington DC as well as Phoenix, Arizona. Services include architectural design, graphic design, interior design, landscape architecture, as well as master planning. While Ayers Saint Gross core concentration is in higher education, they are equally adept in most areas of design. Recent project have included a couple  of travel plazas along interstate 95 as well as visitor center at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and a study center for George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon.

Mr. Barber says that the John & Frances Angelos Law Center at University of Baltimore has been the highlight of his career to date. Further, it has been the most interesting, complex and wonderful project on which he has ever worked. He goes on to say that it has been the kind of project that, as a student, he had hoped to be able to design.

AIA and USGBC continuing education credit is available for participants in the tour. Mike, AIABaltimore, USGBC Maryland and Maryland Construction Network hope to see you at the tour. For more information on the tour or to register by mail, download a registration form here. If you would like to register online, follow this link.

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