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Industry

Why Veterans Make Great Construction Employees

posted on 11.14.2022

There's no way around it; the construction industry NEEDS more workers. Earlier this year, Associated Builders and Contractors determined the industry will need to hire 650,000 more workers than the typical place of hiring to meet the demand for labor in 2022. 

The United States veteran population offers a prime candidate pool from which to hire from to fill these employment gaps. There are around 19 million veterans in the U.S., with an estimated 200,000 Americans transitioning from the military each year. Some of Skanska's leaders are veterans, so the company is familiar with the professional skills ingrained through military service and has experienced firsthand how those skills tranfer to the construction industry quite easily/ 

As companies large and small grapple with how to address the workforce shortage, here are three of the many benefits veterans offer the industry and open construction jobs:

 

ADAPTABILITY
An adaptable nature is vital in an industry as variable as construction. It is not simply that veterans are used to picking up and moving to different work locations. A central adaptability allows veterans to quickly and easily comprehend a variety of circumstances. Former service members are fast learners and adept multi-taskers, tackling new assignments with poise and determination.

Veterans’ adaptabilty skills also come extremely in handy when facing crucial situations calling for  flexibility. Sometimes, projects do not move forward as planned. Former service members will have a self-awareness about them to regroup and pivot in a new direction, a skill needed for field-level decisions to figure out a new path forward. 

 

LEADERSHIP
Strong leadership is critically important to construction crews, but not every applicant comes to the table with that experience, and even fewer are able to implement it well. The leadership experience provided through military service enables veterans to effectively manage new and stressful situations in the construction industry.

Former service members are uniquely equipped to make decisions under pressure, safely and successfully instruct their crew through even the most demanding days. That expert demonstration of leadership cultivates a deeper sense of trust between manager and crew, advancing a stronger bond across project teams.

 

DISCIPLINE
Discipline is an incredibly valuable quality within the construction industry. When a manager brings on a veteran, they can essentially guarantee their employee will not only show up, but arrive on time and ready to work.

Veterans are process-oriented and recognize the importance of following the proper steps of an operation and project --- a very important part of operating on an active (and often dangerous) construction site. Veterans have also honed their attention to detail, a key factor that keeps construction projects on track and helps prevent accidents on the job. Jobsites managed by veterans also tend to be very clean and carefully looked after.

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While technical skills can easily be taught, the adaptability, leadership, and discipline developed through military service are much more difficult to come by. Try engaging with service members prior to their transition out of the military and back into civilian life. As our industry faces a drastic shortage of workers, there are ways our businesses can reach this incredible population of potential employees, and concentrated engagement is key.

Industry

7 Tips to Increase Construction Productivity

posted on 11.01.2022

We all want to say we're "done" with COVID-19, but the latest stats show that we're not out of the woods yet. Experts are calling this upcoming winter a tri-demic, a superstorm of three major illnesses expected to surge once temperatures dip (COVID-19, RSV, and the flu). And the construction industry isn't immune the headaches this could potentially cause for upcoming projects.

The industry has seen project delays, supply chain disruptions, and labor shortages. In short, the industry is still reeling, and the smallest firms have been hit the hardest, losing construction productivity on jobs they've won and seeing a huge decrease in profitability. While we need to keep a positive outlook (and there's plenty to feel good about), many contractors are struggling to remain profitable. That's why we've put together this short list of tips to help improve construction productivity, which hopefully in the long run will increase revenue and improve profitability in the coming months.

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TIP 1 - Learn how to track and manage nine key numbers in your business to increase your overall construction profit margins. These numbers include profits, equity, overhead, sales, job costs, contracts, receivables, liability, and cashflow. The more you understand these numbers and track them, the better you'll be in increasing your overall profitability.

TIP 2 - Be more resourceful in terms of finding jobs to bid on by leveraging bidding sites for jobs in your region and subcontractor networks to help source your teams once you do win the bid. MBEX's Online Plan Room, as well as its networking opportunities that come with membership, can help immensely with both pinpointing jobs in your region (especially if your work is in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, or South Dakota) and connecting with subcontractors.

TIP 3 - Set up a CRM. CRM is short for Customer Relationship Management, but it's really a tool to help you track sales, manage sales pipelines, and leverage customer insights to increase sales and grow revenue. A few to try, especially if you are a smaller business, would be Hubspot, ActiveCampaign, or BenchmarkOne.

TIP 4 - Increase social media marketing on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, especially Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. Use smart jobsite technology to upload jobsite photos into a shared album to increase your firm's reach and engagement. Social media is a primary way to find new business, so if you're not currently investing in social media, you should start now.

TIP 5 - Leverage global freelancing platforms like Upwork to hire freelancers or agencies to automate your admin support, finance, lead generation, and basic sales and marketing tasks. With Upwork, you can leverage freelancers for small jobs or discover agencies that can partner with you for long term projects so you can scale your business at a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time employees.

TIP 6 - Set up Slack, GSuite Communities, or Microsoft Teams to improve communication across the company (instead of replying only on email). By improving communication, you'll increase productivity and reduce costly errors that hurt your business's bottom line.

TIP 7 - Developing a detailed and accurate construction estimate or quantity takeoff can help your business win more bids, effectively increasing your revenue, and also save you money by ensuring your project won't incur cost overruns. If needed, consider outsourcing construction estimates to construction estimating services.

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Contractors, especially smaller firms, are seeing project delays, losing resources and funding, and experiencing project losses and decreased profit margins. We hope these 7 tips can help your business not just survive but thrive as we head into winter and beyond.

Member News

Meet MBEX’s Newest Members

posted on 10.24.2022

Join us in welcoming our newest members to the MBEX construction community after joining throughout the month of September. Discover who they are, where they’re located, and what their construction specialties are below.

These companies joined the exchange throughout September:

Grove Company LLC - Located in Foreston, Minn., and startedin 1996, Grove Company is a landscaping and irrigation service company. With over 20 years of experience, Grove Company knows how to tackle even the toughest landscaping projects. They're eager to get started on your new lawn. They're known for their excellent customer service and commitment to quality, making their customer's needs their top priority. Grove Company offers free estimates and free phone consultations.

O'Neill Electric Inc - Located in Stillwater, Minn., and started in 2016, O'Neill Electric is an electrical contractor licensed, bonded, and insured in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. With over 17 years experience in the Electrical Construction industry and an award-winning team of team of Leadership, Electricians, Project Managers, Estimators and Office Staff, O’Neill Electric continues to grow and remain one of the most trusted and knowledgeable in the industry. Their mission and company vision is carried out every day in all they do from the office out to the field. 

STEPHeat - Located in Minneapolis, Minn., and started in 2018, StepHEAT is building the future of warmth, safety, and wellness. Their vision is a world where living and natural systems are in alignment, optimizing quality of life for all. StepHEAT radiant heating systems are versatile for use in homes, buildings, boats, RVs, tiny homes, and a range of other applications. STEP stands for the Self-Regulating Technology of Electro Plastics, developed by Stephan Irgens in 1981 as a method of heating automobile seats. The product evolved and in 1994 Stephan and Monica Irgens introduced StepHEAT to the U.S. and built its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. StepHEAT has since evolved its product line and capabilities as the proven radiant heating choice of architects, specifiers, designers, and progressive homeowners.

Waterproofing Inc - Located in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., and started in 1970, Wateringproofing Inc. is the metro area's moisture protection experts in residential and commercial waterproofing and drain tile systems. With 42 years in business and over 15 million square feet waterproofed in the surrounding Twin Cities area, their team has the solution and applications to meet their customer's waterproofing needs. They are a premier installer of Tremco Barrier Solutions® products, adn the company was selected as the first contractor to install Tuff-n-Dri® foundation waterproofing in 1983.

Schmidt Industries Inc - Located in Clear Lake, Minn., and started in 1996, Schmidt Industries Inc. is a family framing construction company. They take pride in making sure their name is associated with high-quality, timely framing construction. From single-family homes to townhomes and apartments, Schmidt Industies has the experience and relationships needed to get the job done right and get it done on time or early. All-in-all, they have framed more than 3,000 homes and buildings the company was founded.

Ericksons Plumbing & Heating - Located in Alexandria, Minn., and started in 1955, Ericksons Plumbing and Heating started as a small family business and has recently expanded to the Alexandria area. While the world has changed dramatically over the decades, Erickson’s unwavering commitment to their customers has always stayed the same. Now under new leadership, the Ericksons team is comprised of neighbors helping neighbors in the Alexandria and Willmar communities.

Industry

Contributing to a More Respectful Workplace

posted on 10.20.2022

Day 4 of Construction Inclusion Week: Workplace Culture

We've reached Day 4 of Construction Inclusion Week 2022, and today's theme is Workplace Culture.

Establishing and maintaining a positive workplace culture means that everyone gets to experience a workplace that is inclusive and respectful. We also know that a good culture leads to increased safety  and more productivity, providing higher value to our clients and allowing each and every worker to perform their best work.

Everyone must actively care for each other and ensure that everyone feels both physically and psychologically safe. Our work homes are where we spend our days, and they are where we gather the emotions, attitudes, and behaviors that we bring home to our families. We should expect to get a high level of respect and standard of care where we work. We must create workplaces which are equitable and meet the needs of all employees, industry-wide. We need to ensure workplaces are free of bias and harassment; where all are treated with respect; sites where our professional opinions are heard and valued and all have a seat at the table.  Additionally, our clients appreciate and have come to expect a diverse and respectful workplace. This is not diversity on paper only, we need to foster collaborative and inclusive teams where everyone can do their best work and deliver for our clients.

How Employees Can Contribute to a More Respectful Workplace:
- Follow the "Platinum Rule," which is to treat people the way that "they" want to be treated.
- Do not participate or engage in activist/discussions etc. that offend, humiliate, or embarass people.
- Speak up! If you witness disrespectful behavior, talk to the individuals involved or your superior.
- Offer support to an individual who was targeted. Encourage them to talk to the person(s) involved, or their supervisor.
- Be kind and polite.
- Recognize the work of your fellow coworkers.
- Deal with conflict in a respectful manner.
- Listen to what others have to say, before expressing your own viewpoint.

How Supervisors Can Contribute to a More Respectful Workplace:
- Lead by positive example.
- Listen to understand.
- Recognize individual strengths, weaknesses, and opinions.
- Acknowledge employee's accomplishments.
- Investigate complaints promptly.
- Encourages employees to resolve conflict in a respectful manner.
- Be inclusive and treat all employees fairly.
- Provide regular feedback to employees.

Simply said: When it comes to workplace culture, it has to be practiced and lived daily. Everyone has to be about it and not just talk about it.

 

5 HELPFUL LINKS:
1.) VIDEO: Workplace Culture Animated Short via Construction Inclusion Week
2.) Construction Culture: Why It Matters and How to Build It via Autodesk Construction Cloud
3.) Culture Under Construction: Why the Work is Never Truly Done When it Comes to Company Culture via Forbes
4.) 15 Tips for Building a More Inclusive Workplace in 2022 via WorkTango
5.) Inspiring Examples of Inclusive Workplace Cultures via Together

 

Learn more and find additional resources at www.constructioninclusionweek.com.

Industry

5 Ways to Build a More Diverse Supply Chain

posted on 10.19.2022

Welcome to Day 3 of Construction Inclusion Week, where the daily theme is Supplier Diversity.

Supplier diversity is a business practice that refers to the inclusion of businesses owned by diverse individuals or groups in the procurement of goods and services. A diverse supplier is generally defined as a business that's at least 51% owned and operated by an individual that's part of a traditionally underrepresented or undersered group. Common classifications are minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs), woman-owned business enterprises (WBEs), and small-business enterprises (SBEs). Businesses owned by other minority groups, such as LGBTQ+, veterans, and persons with disabilities, may also be considered diverse suppliers.

Many companies now recognize that a diverse vendor pool can bring business benefits such as greater competition between suppliers, new procurement channels and innovation --- and contribute to the local economy. As your company deepens its commitment to diversifying its supply chain, being a true ally to, mentor of, and partner with diverse business will be essential.

Some things to consider as you expand your supplier diversity program to include concepts related to allyship, mentorship, and partnership include:

1.) Benchmark where you stand relative to industry peers. Utilize resources such as DiversityInc, the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and others to set targets. Locally, the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) would also be a helpful organization to work with as they have local chapters in Minnesota (Minneapolis) and Wisconsin (Milwaukee).

2.) As you work toward your goals, reach out to regional and national business councils, municipal agencies, chambers of commerce, and diverse trade organizations to let them know you're seeking such relationships.

3.) Host your own open house, matchmaking, or networking session to identify small and diverse businesses that your organization can support as an ally, mentor or partner.

4.) Beyond providing advice and technical support, you can depend your relationship with suppliers by sharing opportunities to create new solutions for your company.

5.) Access to capital is a key component to sustainability and ensuring that diverse businesses can continue to thrive. Consider rethinking your payment and retainage procedures to ensure that small and diverse businesses have the cash flow to respond to your needs and build their capacity and infrastructure.

Being a real ally means not only providing access to opportunities, but also includes offering advice on how to build capacity, sharing technical knowledge, helping mitigate risks, and providing prompt payments to stregthen a small/diverse business' financial position.

Allyship, mentoriship, and partnership will improve the success of your supplier diversity program and help you expand your pipeline of firms that can meet your needs and grow with you.

 

5 HELPFUL LINKS
1.) VIDEO: Mutual Oppoertunities - A Conversation Between a National Prime Firm and Diverse Supplier via Construction Inclusion Week
2.) Key Terms Used in the Supplier Diversity Area via Construction Inclusion Week (the included definitions are provided as a reference and also a starting point for acquainting oneself with supplier diversity.)
3.) 15 Black-Owned Small Business Directories via US Chamber
4.) How to Get Certified as a Minority-Owned Business in Minnesota via Minnesota Unified Certification Program (MNUCP)
5.) The 'Why' and 'How' of Diverse Suppliers in Construction via Construction Executive 

 

Learn more and find additional resources at www.constructioninclusionweek.com.

Industry

Construction Inclusion Week: Belonging

posted on 10.18.2022

INCLUSION - WHAT IS IT?
What does inclusion mean? Inclusion is a feeling of belonging, and an inclusive workplace exists when employees are valued, respected, accepted and encouraged to fully participate in their organization. People who feel included perform better and have fewer accidents, creating a more productive and safer workplace for everybody. This could be called a Culture of CARE.

How does Culture of CARE create an inclusive workplace? Culture of CARE simply lays the foundation for what is and is not acceptable behavior on a jobsite. It is up to each of us to acknowledge that everyone on site adds value, deserves respect and has an opportunity to contribute to the work. Creating a Culture of CARE helps everyone feel more comfortable and confident speaking up, sharing new odeas, and working to stop harassment, hazing, bullying, threats and intimidation.

What are ways you can contribute to a Culture of CARE? Welcome ideas that are different from your own. Treat people how THEY wish to be treated rather than how YOU wish to be treated. Get to know your coworkers; ask them about their family, values or hobbies. Understand the diversity your personally bring to the organization. If you routinely go to the same people for ideas, you aren't necessarily being open to the diversity of thought others provide and may be unintentionally exclusing some of your coworkers.

 

MICROAGGRESSIONS - PAYING ATTENTION
Microaggressions are every day slights, insults and indignities usually directed to marginalized groups sometimes by well-intentioned people. Microaggressions clearly expose ingrained prejudices: racism, sexism, ageism, and/or classism embedded into our every day societal structures.

There are three forms of microaggressions:
1.) Micro-Assault: conscious and deliberate actions meant to deman a person through deliverate and overt racial deiscrimination, which can be verbal or non-verbal. Example - preventing one's son/daughter from dating a person of color.
2.) Micro-Insults: behaiors or actions that deamn a person's racial heritage or identity by signaling that the person of color is considered inferior or less intelligent whan a white counterpart. Example - asking a co-worker of color how they got their job, implying affirmative action or a quota system.
3.) Micro Invalidations: actions that negate or invalidate the feelings and experiences of people of color. This is often unconscious. Example - a white people asking a Latinx person where they were born, sending the message that they are perpetual foreigners.

Why building belonging? Belonging has been a basic human need from our tribal histories to modern-day. As humans, we all have the need to be an accepted member of a group. It's easier to create a sense of belonging when everyone is similar. Yet, as we create and benefit from diversity in our team, we must consiously broaden our perspectives to ensure everyone is part of the group.

 

CHALLENGING OUR ASSUMPTIONS
Our brains are wired to make assumptions, which can sometimes be off base. We think it's an honest mistake; science calls its a blind spot. Our unconsiouc mind makes 90% of our decisions without us even knowing it. Our brains are overloaded with 11 million pieces of information every second, yet we can only process about 40 of them. So, we are wired to make cognitive shortcuts using our past experiences to make assumptions.

Our unconscious mind can put us on autopilot. Determind where we sit, who we lunch with, who we turn to afvice and who we choose to offer a helping hand. Living our lives with blind spots can put us in a tunnel. Same point of view. Same decisions. Same outcomes. We can find ourselves trapped in a world of snap jugements and misconceptions. We've all been on both the giving and receiving end of blind spots.

Think about it. Who's talented? Who's able? Who can I trust? Who belongs? We've all been there. Blind spots are part of the human condition. Our choices have consequences, for us, and the people we interact with. By accepting that blind spots exist, we can stop. Imagine what possibilities exist if we could do it all over again? We all have blind spots. Once you accept that you have them, you can choose to do something about it.

Different perspectives, inclusive relationships, diverse networks, better outcomes, seeing people for who they really are --- people, like you, with unlimited potential.

 

FIVE HELPFUL LINKS:
1.)  VIDEO: A Lesson in Helping Everyone Feel a Sense of Belonging featuring Miss Marianna
2.)  How Any Business Can Care a Culture of Belonging in the Workplace via Forbes
3.)  20 Activities to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace via Vantage Circle
4.)  Culture of CARE 
5.)  How to Fight Back Against Male Bias, According to a Woman in Construction via Career Contessa

 

Learn more and find additional resources at www.constructioninclusionweek.com.

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