Workplace Wellness Programs for Small Businesses

Workplace Wellness Programs for Small Businesses

Promoting healthy lifestyles in a healthy workplace

By Christina Martinez

For a small business, losing just one employee to frequent sick days (absenteeism) or an extended absence can lead to significant productivity losses. It can also damage morale as the remaining employees are then forced to pick up the slack.

Large businesses are no longer the only ones who are implementing employee wellness programs.  Small businesses are following in their footsteps, realizing that these programs can not only reduce healthcare costs, lessen worker’s compensation claims, decrease absenteeism and prevent employee turnover, but they can also increase productivity, reduce stress and improve the attitudes of employees.

If you are considering a wellness program to save money and have a healthier, happier workforce, consider some of these ideas to get started.

  1. Encourage employees to include healthy activities into their workday. And, make this both practical and possible. For example, organize walking meetings, allow extended lunches for employees to work out or go for a run, or support standing desks.
  1. Ask for employees’ feedback. Ask employees what they feel can be done by the business to help improve employees’ health.
  1. Leadership Buy-In. Start wellness program activities at the leadership level and lead by example. Make your leaders the health promoters for the company.
  1. Make your work environment reflective of a healthy culture. Take a look around your work space. Does the physical environment make it easy for employees to get or stay healthy?
  1. Request employees to share their success. Encourage employees to share health-related efforts and successes with others.
  1. Discuss health and wellness alongside business decisions. For example, if you’re considering relocating or changing working hours, consider employees’ health as an important factor in decision-making.
  1. Provide rewards and incentives. Use a rewards, incentives or recognition program to recognize, award or celebrate health success.
  1. Clean out the kitchen. If you have an open kitchen, cafeteria or vending machines, provide healthy options. Get rid of the junk.
  1. Encourage occasional web surfing. Don’t get me wrong, chronic web surfing is a productivity killer. However, research shows that occasional, passive web surfing really boosts employees’ moods.
  1. “Off the clock”? Encourage employees to disengage from work. The ‘always on’ atmosphere at many small businesses can lead to stress, burn-out and poor employee wellness. Encourage productivity while at the office and encourage employees to disconnect from work during off-hours. Leadership can set the example by leaving at a reasonable time and limiting non-urgent communication outside of business hours.

Whatever you as a company decide, decide to do something to actively promote the health and mental well-being of employees.

Christina Martinez is Triune’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. Christina brings over 10 years of high level marketing experience to Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor founded in 1997. Triune is headquartered in Dallas, TX –

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


Managing O&M Manuals for Effective Closeout

Managing O&M Manuals for Effective Closeout

By Christina Martinez

General contractors often struggle with the gathering and delivery of operation and maintenance (O&M) manuals to owners at the completion of a project. This is due in part to the fact that contractors generally wait until the project is completed before considering the assembly of O&M manuals.  Unfortunately, the rush of trying to execute the manual can often make closeout a costly afterthought that leaves your customer with a bad last impression.

Timely, accurate O&M deliverance is critical to any project because, among other things, it will determine when you receive your final payment.  So for your next project, consider the following proactive measures before construction begins:

  1. Implement a project information management system (PIM) that is built specifically for construction projects.
  1. Before the project starts and as soon as you receive the contract, clarify and understand the requirements of your O&M manuals using contract specifications or best practices from previous projects.
  1. Create a digital system where subcontractors can upload O&M manuals as they are completed in a digital format for review and approval.
  1. Include the O&M manual requirements as an exhibit in your subcontractor’s contract, so that they can familiarize themselves with what is required and provide it in a timely fashion.
  1. As documents are collected, make them easy to find, access and use.
  1. Track and report on progress internally and with subcontractors as the manuals come together.
  1. Assign deadlines to subcontractors for receipt of all documentation related to their scope of work.
  1. Begin organization and assembly of O&M binders as soon as subcontractors begin their scope of work.

These steps can help you save up to 80 percent of the time that it currently takes you to deliver O&M manuals to your clients. In addition, your company will leave a good last impression on the owner.

Christina Martinez is Triune’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. Christina brings over 10 years of high level marketing experience to Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor founded in 1997. Triune is headquartered in Dallas, TX –

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


How to Declutter Your Office by Digitizing and Storing Your Documents

How to Declutter Your Office by Digitizing and Storing Your Documents

By Christina Martinez

From invoices to receipts to flyers and catalogs, it seems like the stream of documents entering our lives is endless. In the age of online storage, small businesses wrestle with digital clutter as well as paper. For busy entrepreneurs, separating important items from ones that go immediately to the recycling bin–and keeping from getting swept away by a tidal wave of clutter–can seem like a full time job. With all the other demands on your time, clearing out the clutter can be the last thing on your list.

Getting organized and streamlined can also save you money on rent, too. Our company was looking for storage space outside our office because of all the room we needed to store project files. After digitizing our records, we ended up freeing up an entire room that was filled with boxes with no need to get extra storage space.

Here are some tips to help you clear clutter and keep your small business organized.

  1. Digitize your paper documents. To think paperless and minimal can be scary, but you must get acquainted with the idea in this day and age. Most printers nowadays work as scanners, so this can be done easily; however, if you do not have one with this capability, you can purchase a desktop portable scanner at a very inexpensive price. A variety of desktop scanners help you transform your paper documents into high quality digital images that can be easily stored and accessed electronically. In addition, you can bundle it up with a software that provides added functionality such as scanning multi-page documents of different sizes to a specific file format, printer or application. Some scanners also offer the ability to scan directly to a USB drive or smartphone/tablet.
  1. Organize your digital data. Not only can going paperless save time and resources, but in order to reap its full benefits, you will need to create a system for organizing your digital data. Simply saving to your computer’s desktop is not ideal because it can then be difficult to find specific items quickly as your desktop will become cluttered with more and more icons. Electronic files should be categorized and filed in appropriately labeled folders for maximum efficiency.

It is also wise to create a consistent naming convention for all your files and folders. This will make it easier to sort and organize your documents alphabetically, numerically or chronologically. Below are a few tips for naming your files effectively:

  • Be specific. Rather than naming a Powerpoint file “presentation,” choose something more specific such as “Westside Sales Meeting Presentation.”
  • Add dates at the beginning of your folder and file names for chronological sorts, e.g., “2015 Westside Sales Meeting Presentation.”
  • If you want a file to appear first in an alphabetical list, add an exclamation point (!), a zero (0) or the letters “AA” to the beginning of its name, e.g., 0-2013 Westside Sales Meeting Presentation.”
  • Include the initials of the last person to edit the file if multiple versions are circulated, e.g., “2013 Westside Sales Meeting Presentation-BC.”
  1. Backup and store your digital information. Backing up all of your digital data to another storage component at least once a week is recommended to ensure that important information remains accessible and safe in a separate location. Here are some data backup solutions from which you should consider:
  • USB Flash Drive. While USB flash drives can be small in size, they typically contain from 8GB to 64GB of storage space, making them a highly portable option for storing photos, documents and other files.
  • External Hard Drives. External hard drives are typically about the size of a small book and can offer up to 1TB (1 terabyte = 1,000 gigabytes) or more of storage space. This makes them perfect for storing and transporting large files and image collections, HD videos and more. In addition, many include software that will allow you to back up your data automatically.
  • Network Storage. Network storage provides a central location where computers on a local area network can store, access and share data. Networks are most common in business settings.
  • Cloud Storage. Cloud storage services offer an even more robust option for data storage and retrieval. Data that is located “in the cloud” is stored on a network of public servers accessible via the Internet. Services are available from a host of providers–typically for a monthly fee–and usually include the ability to back up data from all your devices automatically.
  • Personal Cloud Storage. For a powerful storage solution without monthly charges, Western Digital’s My Book Live enables you to build your own cloud storage on a personal network as opposed to a public server. This device will connect to your wireless router to provide shared personal cloud storage and wireless backup for all the computers on the network. In addition, you can access your files remotely via the internet or a specialized mobile app.

As you can see, filing and storing data digitally can help tame information overload and ensure that all your information is safe, accessible and easy to find whenever you need it.

Christina Martinez is Triune’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. Christina brings over 10 years of high level marketing experience to Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor founded in 1997. Triune is headquartered in Dallas, TX –

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


How Can Small Contractors Develop Successful Strategic Alliances with Larger Ones (Part 1)

How Can Small Contractors Develop Successful Strategic Alliances with Larger Ones (Part 1)

6 Things to look for in a partner

By Vince Fudzie

This is the first part of a series that discusses what to consider in choosing a partner, what needs to be in your agreement and how the venture will operate.

Wikipedia defines a strategic alliance as an agreement between two or more parties to pursue a set of agreed upon objectives needed while remaining independent organizations. For our purposes, an alliance between a small company and a larger one can take many forms from a teaming agreement to a 50:50 joint venture.

A simple Google search reveals tons of information discussing the topic of strategic alliances. However, it is a challenge to find one cogent article on how to successfully develop alliances between small and large contractors. In practice, alliances are difficult to manage under the best of circumstances, let alone in a situation that may have been born solely out of socio-political influences.

Because choosing the wrong partner can have disastrous financial consequences for smaller contractors with limited resources, this decision is crucial.  I am amazed by how many companies haphazardly form ventures without first thoroughly vetting one another’s cultures, ethics and business philosophies. Before entering into an agreement, as is the case with any relationship, it is wise to get to know your partner first.

If the following character traits sound like advice from a marriage counselor, then you’re absolutely correct. An alliance is very much like a marriage, so make sure that your partner has a good number of these traits:

  1. Commitment. Without both companies’ wholehearted commitment from the top to the lowest levels of their organizations, the venture is destined to fail. In general, this commitment needs to focus on the overall success of the joint venture which is the only way to assure an equitable relationship. If this commitment does not exist, you should seriously reconsider entering into an agreement.
  1. Respect. A lack of respect can stem from a number of reasons, but it is often due to the perception by one of the parties that the other is receiving unequal rewards for the level of risk they are incurring. When this perception and resulting lack of respect permeate throughout your partner’s organization, it makes for a very contentious relationship. You need to talk with your partner early on to address such issues. If your company offered no value, then there would probably be no need to discuss partnering.
  1. Humility. Sometimes the nature of large businesses can breed a level of egotism that flourishes throughout the organization, even for newer, inexperienced employees. Having this type of partner can be disastrous, especially if this characteristic extends to interaction with project owners. Once an owner catches wind of an egotistical contractor, your project success is prone to disaster.
  1. Trust. Any viable relationship begins with trust between the parties, and, prior to inking any agreement, you must begin to develop it. Just as in personal relationships, trust can be developed in many ways. Behaviors such as developing rapport outside the office, following through on commitments, being well-versed in what you bring to the venture, standing up and taking responsibility for missteps, and being considerate of others’ time – these are the types of actions that create trust in business and in life.
  1. Shared Values. Good partners should possess shared values. For example, both firms should have similar values of integrity, collaboration, service and excellence. Alignment of core values will be critical for successfully working together. If one of the partners is short sided in any core value, it may lead to disappointing results for the project and discord between the parties.
  1. Vision. Too often, companies form alliances in a “just in time” fashion – just in time to turn the proposal in. They may even spend time developing a rapport. And, if they don’t win the proposal, there is a likelihood they may not speak again unless another opportune project presents itself. This is not how committed partners act. Partners with vision are committed, not only to the project, but to the relationship being built. They find a partner with the right traits and build upon their mutual bond. Otherwise, you are playing the game alone and never really creating a team with the best possibility of winning.

Choosing the right partner is simply the beginning of a potentially fruitful relationship. However, a successful venture will require not only the right partners, but well-thought-out and well-implemented agreements with the right heart and spirit by those involved.

Vince Fudzie MBA, CPA, CIRA, is the Managing Member of Triune. Founded in 1997 with headquarters in Dallas, Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build general contractor in the Southwest region of the country.

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insights specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


Ways to Reduce the Cost of Bidding

Ways to Reduce the Cost of Bidding

By Ed Krum

In today’s competitive market, everyone is looking for ways to reduce overhead in every aspect of their operation. This includes the basic costs associated with estimating projects.

The old adage, “it takes money to make money,” has gone out the window. The opportunities to connect with your clients, subcontractors and suppliers via the internet has changed the way most companies look at estimating.

In the past, procurement of the plans and specifications by means of either a deposit or direct purchasing was both costly and cumbersome. With the advent of electronically distributing the bidding documents either via disk, FTP site or electronic plan room, you can reduce the cost to only printing the plans you need and, in most cases, a reduced size set (11×17). This now allows the general contractor more access to many more subcontractors in various trades to ensure a quotation is received. This makes things much easier, since sorting through pages of documents is no longer necessary.

While electronic document management may seem very obvious, it takes a dedicated person to contact each and every subcontractor and supplier to remind them of the proposal required from them.

Owners, developers and other entities that bid out work are slowly catching on to benefits of electronic submissions and are now letting contractors submit their bid/proposals electronically. This change in attitude by owners has now allowed contractors to take advantage of the “late” arriving subcontractor bid, thus reducing the overall cost of the proposal to the owner among other benefits.

Although there is no sure-fire way to reduce bidding cost, prudent general contractors only peruse the bid jobs that have the best advantage in their favor of winning. While larger projects are tempting, they also draw the most bidders and, therefore, are harder to compete. This type of bidding is like throwing money away. Ardent contractors will try to find those projects where the amount of bidders is limited in order to increase their chances of being successful.

Whatever type of project you choose to bid on, electronic bidding allows you to streamline communications, check on bidding subcontractors and suppliers, and use the system for document management.

Ed Krum, Senior Estimator for Triune, is a highly accomplished, multi-talented project manager with over 25 years of commercial construction experience. He is skillful and highly regarded in value engineered, conceptual, competitive, negotiated and design-build estimates.

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insights specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


The Liquidated Damages Clause—When is it just a Penalty?

The Liquidated Damages Clause—When is it just a Penalty?

By Sarita Smithee

Construction contracts often contain a liquidated damage clause that provides for payment a stipulated amount in the event that work is not completed within a specified period. Owners often impose these clauses against contractors to ensure the timely performance by penalizing the contractor if the work is not completed on time.

Purpose of Liquidated Damages Clauses

Construction contracts include liquidated damages clauses for project delays because damages caused by delays are often difficult to foresee. Liquidated damages may be assessed by owners for failure to timely complete a project, or, less commonly, they may be claimed by contractors when owner delays increase the costs of project completion.

Typically, a liquidated damages clause specifies an amount per day that the owner is entitled to recover in damages if the contractor fails to complete the project by the contracted completion date. The term “liquidated” is used to signify the agreed amount of damages an owner will recover in the event of a delay, and eliminates what can be a lengthy and expensive process of proving the actual damages.

However, the inclusion of a liquidated damages clause does not always mean that provision is enforceable. Although competent parties generally have the right to make their own bargains, this right is not unlimited.

The enforceability of a liquidated damages clause depends on multiple factors

Generally, a liquidated damages clause will be be upheld if it was created by the parties in an attempt to estimate, in advance, the actual damages that would be suffered in the event of a material breach. However, if the only rationale for enforcement of the clause is that the project was not completed on time, the Court will likely view the clause as a penalty and unenforceable if it is challenged, absent some other evidence that late completion caused actual damages.

In evaluating whether a liquidated damages clause is enforceable, Texas courts have generally looked to the following factors:

  • Whether the amount stipulated in the contract was a reasonable forecast, at the time the parties contracted, of just compensation for the harm that is caused by the breach;
  • Whether the harm that was caused by the breach is one that is incapable or very difficult of accurately estimating;
  • Whether the amount of liquidated damages to be assessed was disproportionate to the amount of actual damages incurred;
  • Whether the liquidated damage provision applies equally to both material and minor breaches; and
  • Whether the liquidated damage provision was not intended to provide fair compensation for the breach but instead to secure timely performance of the contract.

Drafting considerations

Owners may attempt to address these factors by specifically drafting the liquidated damage clause to state that it is not intended to be a penalty. If the clause was negotiated by the parties, as opposed to boilerplate language inserted by the owner, this language can help the owner prove the parties’ intent.

If an owner uses the same amount for liquidated damages in all of its contracts, courts will often find that the provision was intended as a penalty and, therefore, unenforceable. The liquidated damage provision therefore should be tailored to the particular contract.  Similarly, if the same amount of liquidated damages will be triggered by either a material or minor breach, courts have held that the liquidated damage provision is unenforceable even if there has been a material breach.

A party who is seeking to craft a liquidated damage provision that would be upheld by the Texas courts should consider a pre-contract analysis as to what the potential damages could be if the work were not completed on time, and should  document it in the file.

Provisions should be crafted so that they do not apply equally to both a minor and material breach. A liquidated damage provision that applies equally to “the failure to perform any obligation required by the contract” should be avoided.

As noted above, the inclusion of liquidated damages clauses is commonplace in construction contracts. Knowing what is required for those clauses to be enforced is useful information for either party to a construction contract, whether attempting to enforce a liquidated damages clause or trying to defeat its enforcement.

Sarita Smithee is an associate with The Beckham Group in Dallas, Texas.  The Beckham Group has extensive experience with, and specializes in, business litigation both as a Plaintiff and a Defendant.  The firm drafts and prosecutes/defends civil cases involving numerous types of contracts, and has just about seen it all.

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insights specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


How to Reduce Marketing Costs While Still Increasing Business Growth

How to Reduce Marketing Costs While Still Increasing Business Growth

5 Ways to immediately reduce your costs

By Christina Martinez

Many so-called traditional marketing methods such as advertising, trade shows and print literature are huge cost-drivers in any marketing budget. The good news is that it is possible to reduce these marketing costs and still be highly effective. Here are 5 ideas to immediately reduce your costs while still maximizing marketing results.

  1. Know the Customer. Marketing is expensive, and mistakes can crush a marketing budget. Avoid mistakes by getting acquainted with the customer. Know the segments, needs, decision makers and more by collecting and using data. House all of your customer data in a database or by using marketing automation software that can be updated easily.

Conduct research. One of the easiest ways to do this is by regularly surveying your customers and their needs. Surveys are inexpensive, and they will give you valuable information that can be used as a foundation for guiding marketing decisions. If you have trouble getting your customers to take your surveys, then provide incentives.

  1. Establish On-line Presence. Advertising is often the most costly component of any marketing budget. Gear your budget to invest more into search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing through blogging and social media.

Your website ranking can also make or break your marketing efforts. Chikita, an ad network, has continuously monitored search results to find that the top result on Google sees a 32.5% click-through rate, with continuous drop-offs from there (91.5% of clicks occur on the first page). So what exactly does this mean? Unless your website is ranked in the top few search result positions, all of the advertising in the world will not help you. Establish a quality website that is comparable to your leading competitors. And don’t forget to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly.

  1. Print Brochures are so 2005. Print may not be dead, but it could use some help. Whether seeing decreasing success in direct mail or increasing costs in brochure printing, it may be time to put more resources towards digital branding. Actively provide PDF versions of your advertising, and reduce print runs. You can always keep brochures ready to be printed on a single-run, as opposed to wasting the money and space to store thousands of brochures. Furthermore, you can upload all of your PDF’s to a cloud storage provider like Dropbox, allowing potential customers to view your material more easily!
  1. Shape your Brand with Publicity. A saying that you need to take to heart: “Advertising and marketing is about saying how great you are. PR is getting others to do it for you.” PR or publicity placements are free by definition, with awareness building that rivals advertising! One such way to utilize publicity is through the issuances of new worthy press releases.

A few examples of how you can use PR to your advantage:

  • Release Products using Free or Paid PR Wire Services
  • Free: Check out this list of Free PR Submission Sites
  • Paid: Great sites include PRWeb, BusinessWire, and PRNewswire
  • Build Relationships with Reporters and Journalists
  • Find Public Speaking Opportunities

A few good ideas for what to share:

  • Participating in a philanthropic event
  • New, significant customer
  • Receiving an award
  • Partnership and strategic relationships
  • Names of significant new hires and/or promotions

Become familiar with the many facets of PR and make it a fundamental piece to your integrated marketing communications strategy.

  1. Repurpose Your Content. Content is king, but it doesn’t have to take up a huge portion of your marketing budget. Create content that will interest your current and potential customers, suppliers and subcontractors. Use the same content in different formats. Blog about your projects, post about the projects on social media, create a corresponding video, introduce yourself to customers and prospects via email, develop surveys, host a webcast or podcast and much more.

In addition to this, generating evergreen content will allow you to stretch your money. Evergreen content is quality, useful content that is relevant to readers over a long period of time. The fundamental key with evergreen content is that it is relevant to readers whenever they may run across it. It has (virtually) no expiration date and ideally will retain its value over the long-term.

Reducing marketing expenses for your business can be simple. Just be sure that you have a plan and follow through. It’s worth the savings!

Christina Martinez is Triune’s Director of Marketing and Business Development.  Christina brings over 10 years of high level marketing experience to Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor founded in 1997. Triune is headquartered in Dallas, TX –

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


How to Improve Your Odds of Winning

How to Improve Your Odds of Winning

Increasing your bid-hit ratio

By Ed Krum

Competition in business is often fierce. In order for a company to thrive, it must achieve reasonable growth by means such as increasing profitability, jobs and sales volume. With contracting businesses, one of the primary means to obtaining jobs is through bidding.

The bid-hit ratio shows the percentage of jobs bid on in relation to jobs/contracts secured. A ratio of 5-to-1 would indicate that a company is averaging one contract for every five jobs being bid upon. In a perfect world, a low bid-hit ratio, like 2-to-1, would be ideal. A company that typically negotiates their jobs creates a false bid-hit ratio because they count all work under contract vs. work that they actually bid. Contractors that get most of their jobs from bidding public works or from bidding against a long list of competitors have a higher bid-hit ratio.

Once a contractor has identified the specific customer types that he wants to pursue, there are some simple strategies for increasing the bid-hit ratio and maybe improving overall profit margins.

  1. Limit the Competition. Typically all contractors want to bid on projects that have only 3 or 4 contractors selected to bid. Look for opportunities where the owner procures work through a short list of bidders. Pursue potential customers where you can compete on value and qualifications. Find those owners who recognize that the services that you offer are not simply commodities meant for the lowest bidder.  Such opportunities exist, but you will have to cultivate them. This strategy will definitely increase your chance of a greater bid-hit chance. Obviously, less competition equates to a higher probability for success.
  1. Try Something Different. Getting stuck in chasing after the same types of projects and customers over and over hurts your bid-hit ratio greatly and reduces the efficiency of your estimating staff. Be more selective, eliminate jobs with long bidder lists and pursue only the jobs where you have some type of competitive advantage. Having a strong relationship with someone on the selection committee is one example. Making this a top priority and working hard to get pre-qualified for the targeted projects greatly increases your bid-hit ratio.
  1. Let yourself be Known. Try not to bid projects without first getting a chance to meet the decision maker. Your goal should be to find owners that are concerned with more than just price. When you meet the decision maker, ask questions such as:  a) How many are bidding? b) Who are they? c) Who won your last project? d) How will the bids be opened and evaluated? e) What is the most important factor in selection of the contractor? f) Will they negotiate?
  1. Limit your Affinities to Others. As a subcontractor, why not send your proposal to every contractor bidding on that project? Oftentimes trades have an affinity to one or a few general contractors and will bid only to them.  While loyalty is important, you should not utilize this practice if it negatively affects your bid-hit ratio and, ultimately, your business.

In closing, these simple guidelines may prove to substantially help your company win bids, stay competitive and increase profitability, and, in an ever-increasing market, not much could be more valuable.

Ed Krum, Senior Estimator for Triune, is a highly-accomplished, multi-talented project manager with over 25 years of commercial construction experience.  He is skillful and highly regarded in value-engineered, conceptual, competitive, negotiated and design-build estimates.

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


The Legacy of Minorities in the Construction Industry

The Legacy of Minorities in the Construction Industry

How the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) paved the way

By Vince Fudzie

As we close out this abbreviated month designated to the accomplishments of African Americans, I cannot help but ponder the contributions made to the construction industry, not only by African Americans but by other minorities as well. However, I can assure you that there has been no greater contribution than that of the founding members of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC).

Here is my story and my experience with the NAMC, a fantastic organization and resource to minorities in our industry:  Several months ago a friend asked me to get involved in the start-up of a local chapter of the organization. My first inclination was to waste no time with another ineffective, self-serving advocacy organization. To this point, I had been cynical toward the seeming lack of progress of minority contractors and the organizations that advocate for them, as construction dollars for minorities have been so low that it is a wonder minority contractors exist at all. My friend’s persistence ultimately peeked my curiosity, and I took it upon myself to research the group. And, wow, was I blown away by its almost 50 years of accomplishments on behalf of minority contractors (i.e. African, Asian and Mexican-American). In reality, social-political organizations such as NAMC have, since the sixties, fought courageous battles to achieve equity and fairness in all areas of life in America. Unfortunately, many of these victories have been diluted over the past thirty years or so.

As a child growing up in Oakland, California, in the sixties, I was immersed in the coverage of groups such as the Black Panthers and the Mexican farm workers led by Caesar Chavez.  Little did I realize that along with the fight being waged for social justice, there were luminaries such as Congressmen Parren Mitchell and Ronald Dellums, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Assemblyman Willie Brown, Jr. and Mayor Maynard Jackson who were also waging a war on an economic front. It is from this social-political backdrop that Ray Dones and Joe Debro co-founded NAMC. The following is a brief history of the evolution of minorities in construction that you should know and be encouraged by:

1964 The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public. It is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the Civil Rights Movement.

Pre-1966 – Minority contractors were receiving less than .001% of the total publicly funded construction dollars in the country. In addition, many states were unionized, and it was virtually impossible for most minorities to get in. Add to this the lack of bonding, financing and insurance options, and it was downright tough being a minority contractor.

1966 – Ray Dones and Joe Debro, recognizing that they both had mutual interest in the success and development of minority contractors, began discussions with other contractors in the Oakland Bay Area to formulate a strategy to improve their mutual plight. Through these discussions, they decided to create an educational association, the General & Specialty Contractors Association, which would educate and train its members to excel in light of the changing social and political atmosphere. This would ultimately be the genesis of NAMC.

1968 – Realizing that minority contractors around the country were experiencing similar issues, such as lack of access to financing, bonding and projects, Ray Dones believed that the formulation of a national organization to advocate at the federal level would provide the greatest impetus for change. In 1969, the first conference of the National Association of Minority Contractors was held in San Francisco, in which Ray Dones was elected President and Joe Debro, Executive Director.

1970 – As a result of the pressures brought on by NAMC and other advocacy groups to level the playing field for minority contractors during the 70’s, tremendous gains in opportunities were achieved. What was once a paltry one-tenth of 1% of publicly funded construction projects grew to more than 1.5% of construction dollars going to minorities during this period. These gains were bolstered by such programs as loan guarantees, federal and state set-asides, training programs, bonding assistance and the perpetually besieged 8(A) business development program.

1980 – Unfortunately during this decade, 1.5% of publicly funded work going to minority contractors was too much for some to handle. As a result, numerous opposing entities began to challenge the constitutionality of various minority programs. The landmark 1989 Supreme Court decision, City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Company, would forever change the effectiveness of affirmative action as a whole. In this decision, the Court ruled that city ordinances requiring 30% participation by minority contractors on all city contracts were unconstitutional. Subsequently, numerous other challenges to affirmative action related programs were initiated, and, still today, mandatory set-asides are virtually non-existent in all fifty states.

2016Although NAMC and others continue to fight, it looks like minority contractors have almost come full circle in the quest for equity, once again being relegated to receiving less than 1% of all publicly financed construction dollars and even less of private spending. However, we will not be deterred, as we are now better trained, have greater resources and information, and have the same spirit of those who came before us. We CAN, we Must turn things around.

So as we close another Black History Month, let us not forget those who paved the way for us and our responsibility to carry the same determination and inspiration, so that those who come behind will have every opportunity afforded them. In my years, I have personally witnessed the ebbs and flows of minority inequality in all areas, and I take it upon myself to do everything in my power to see workplace equality in its fullness. Partnering with the NAMC has given me a foundation to make a difference.

Vince Fudzie, MBA, CPA, CIRA, is the Managing Member of Triune. Founded in 1997 with headquarters in Dallas, Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor in the Southwest region of the country.

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insights specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


Sunny With a Chance of Rain

Sunny With a Chance of Rain

Understanding the Federal Government Weather Clauses

By Kay Kendall

You have probably seen the clause in your government contract discussing time extensions for unusually severe weather.  The clause specifies the procedure for determining time extensions for unusually severe weather in accordance with the Default Clause for Fixed-Price Construction.

In order to qualify for a time extension under this clause, the weather experienced at the project site during the contract period must be found to be unusually severe and it must actually cause a delay to the completion of the project.

Schedule of Anticipated Adverse Weather Delays

Many government contracts include a schedule of monthly anticipated adverse weather delay days.  It is important to read the clause carefully.  Normally the monthly anticipated adverse weather delays are based on a five-day work week.  If the Monthly Anticipated Adverse Weather Schedule shows five days of anticipated bad weather for January, and the contractor experienced (10) workdays of delay as a result of bad weather, then the contractor experienced (5) working days of delay more than was anticipated.  This means the weather in January was “Unusually Severe”.  If the (5) days of unusually severe weather impacted the contractor’s contract-completion date, then the contractor is entitled to a non-compensable time extension.  Government contract durations are based on calendar days, not working days.  Therefore, the time extension for the (5) unusually severe weather delays should be converted to calendar days.  This is done by merely dividing the 5 unusually severe weather delay days by five working days per week, then multiplying by seven calendar days per week.

(5) unusually severe days/(5) working days per week = (1) x (7) calendar days per week  = (7) calendar days.

The time extension to the contract should be (7) calendar days in this example.

Be sure to check the contract specifications for any additional criteria that may entitle the contractor to a time extension for unusually severe weather.

Weather Documentation

The contractor is required to record the weather on a daily basis on the Contractor’s Quality Control Reports and discuss if any adverse weather prevented work on critical activities for 50% or more of the contractor’s scheduled workday.

The government will normally send the contractor a letter each month advising that they have performed an analysis of the weather conditions for the month and whether their analysis shows that contract work was affected or delayed by unusually severe weather beyond what was expected for the time period.  If the contractor does not agree with their findings, written notification should be provided with information to support the contractor’s position.  This notification should be provided within seven days of the government’s letter.

If the contractor is performing earthwork and experiences a “mud” day after a day of rain, and both days impact critical path work by 50% or more, then the contractor should note that in the Contractor’s Quality Control Report and include it in their own analysis of anticipated adverse weather delays.

Time extensions issued under the Default clause for weather delays are non-compensable.   

Kay Kendall is currently president of Kendall-Dinielli Consulting, providing consulting services to government and commercial clients.  She has extensive experience in preparing requests for equitable adjustment proposals and claims for government construction contractors.  She has also consulted Contractors with DCAA audits and resolving audit disputes. You can visit Kendall-Dinielli Consulting at

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insights specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune).  Any and all rights reserved.