Business

Avoiding the Big Spend: Tracking and Caring for Rental Equipment

Sometimes, renting equipment makes perfect sense. In this still-tight credit environment, some lenders aren't willing to finance a large piece of equipment, or an outright purchase might not add up financially if the equipment is only needed for a short duration. For contractors on a budget, rental companies usually have the latest models in their inventories, a luxury that is out of reach for many smaller firms. Plus, renting equipment is convenient, with the duty of maintenance, set up and transportation being someone else's problem. 

Nevertheless, there are still ways contractors can end up paying more than they planned for that rented backhoe or core driller. The good news is that there are strategies to prevent that extra spend. 
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Qualifying for and Pursuing The R&D Tax Credit

When the topic of research and development (R&D) tax credits is discussed, chemists with lab beakers typically come to mind. In reality, it’s more accurate to envision construction superintendents and engineers in hardhats on a jobsite. More construction companies are taking advantage of the credit than ever before and are realizing substantial savings in the process. 

Recent changes in applicable law have allowed construction companies, engineering firms and architectural firms to reap the benefits of R&D incentives that come in the form of a federal tax credit to offset tax liabilities dollar for dollar. In addition to the federal credit, most states have R&D tax credits of their own. The combination of these incentives can provide major savings for qualifying companies.
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Reduce Lien Exposure With Anti-Assignment Clauses

Property owners, general contractors, subcontractors and materials providers must understand their rights and obligations with respect to construction liens in order to avoid delays in finalizing a project (from the perspective of the property owner) or to avoid forfeiting lien rights (from the perspective of the subcontractor).
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Find the Hidden Equity in Heavy Equipment

To have long-term success in the construction business, a company needs to ride the ups and the downs and navigate the surprises that present themselves on an all-too-regular basis. The business cycle can be “feast or famine,” and neither is good. So how does one stay financially prepared for every bump in the road? 
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Three Ways After-Sales Service Aids Construction Efficiency and Profitability

Time is money in the construction business. Any equipment downtime can be troublesome and costly. Plus, projects can take a serious hit for each day that a revenue-generating piece of machinery is out of service waiting for a replacement part. 

As such, construction equipment manufacturers must find new ways to optimize their businesses and avoid downtime, especially as competition grows from third-party parts vendors such as Amazon. After-sales service (i.e., the service delivered
after the initial sale of a new product) is often viewed as a margin and revenue opportunity, but having a well-oiled after-sales service operation—especially for heavy equipment manufacturers—can have a real impact on productivity and be a differentiator for brands and dealers in the space.
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Capital Infusion: How to Optimize Forthcoming Construction Lending

Many areas of the United States are seeing a resurgence in construction starts, but the question remains whether any restart of the economy will be sustainable. The lending industry has been heavily regulated since the Great Recession, and construction loans are not exempt from the regulation and oversight, which tends to chill enthusiasm for new lending. 

Although residential construction enjoys the relative availability of new construction funding, commercial and industrial lending is still hampered by an industry-wide fear of failure. 
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A Contractor’s State Tax Planning Checklist

Between federal laws, the taxing jurisdictions of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and countless local jurisdictions, contractors and construction companies face unique tax challenges. However, with minimal planning and a proactive approach, unwanted tax consequences can be avoided. 

Considering that tax reform was a priority of the new administration’s campaign, economists believe substantial changes will be made this year to corporate and personal income tax rates. Given the likelihood of reform, it is important to consider the potential tax changes in relation to the business’ legal formation (e.g., Corporation, LLC, etc.), which could yield benefits given the expected decreases to the corporate and individual tax rates. 
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Three Ways for Contractors to Mitigate Risk and Lower Insurance Premiums

Many business executives believe insurance brokers have control over the quotes they provide, but that’s not the case. Insurance carriers control the price, and they provide the best rates to companies that proactively manage their risk. The less risky a contractor appears, the fewer claims it’s likely to have and the “safer” the company looks. Therefore, the lower the premium they are likely to get.

Here are three ways general contractors can mitigate risk and make their companies more desirable to insurance carriers.
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Dissecting the House Tax Blueprint

In June 2016, as part of Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” initiative, the House Ways and Means Committee rolled out its “Blueprint” for tax reform. This broad overview outlined Republicans’ talking points for the campaign trail and the anticipated showdown with the Clinton White House, if not a Democratic Senate majority. 

After a false start with the ill-fated Camp Draft, expectations were tempered for legislative action. The topline items read as a veritable wish list of pro-growth provisions that were hailed by tax coalitions and trade groups alike. The tradeoffs were largely ignored, with any prospective pushback muted by dismal electoral expectations. After an initial burst of coverage, the Blueprint receded as Congress left town, leaving all eyes trained on an increasingly surreal presidential race. 
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Safety Leadership at All Levels

Nobody wants a jobsite incident to occur, but how a contractor responds to a worst case scenario is part of what separates it on the safety spectrum. 

Fisher Contracting Company, Midland, Mich., which performs civil infrastructure projects across Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, can attest. On a job last year, a scaffold wall bracket failed, causing an employee to fall to a lower level and suffer rib injuries. Upon review, Fisher Contracting determined the relatively new employee didn’t feel comfortable mentioning he was unsatisfied with the condition of the rented scaffold equipment.
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Five Reasons for Contractors to Consider Environmental Insurance

Construction companies rarely consider that they may end up in court for performing work that damaged the environment, but it happens more frequently than contractors may think.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that construction contractors have a significantly high potential for contributing to environmental damages. The agency considers general contractors, subcontractors, engineers and architects as suspect when it comes to environmental pollution and the resulting damages pollution causes. Yet, some contractors do not recognize the significant risk of environmental claims.
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Executive Insights

Nine experts offer advice on what contractors need to know about obtaining additional insured coverage, how to keep from overextending in the potential burst of construction activity under the Trump administration, insights on contractors purchasing surety bonds directly, trends in owner expectations for design-build projects and the benefits of the surety bonding prequalification process. 
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A Potential Gap in Indemnity Coverage

Commercial contracts in the construction industry generally contain indemnity provisions in which one party (the indemnitor) agrees to assume the liability of the other party (the indemnitee) as a result of personal injury or property damage. Historically, one party indemnifies the other regardless of fault—meaning the indemnitor assumes liability for all damage to its own property and people, regardless of who caused the damage. To the extent allowed under state law, this obligation also can include indemnity for damage caused by the sole negligence of the indemnitee.  
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2017 Insurance Market Forecast

The insurance industry’s surplus is currently at an all-time high—increasing nearly 50 percent in the last seven years—which means rates have begun to decline. Although most underwriters are trying to hold the line on rate, it is anticipated that pricing on preferred accounts will continue its modest downward trend. 
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Tracking Fuel to the Piece of Construction Equipment

Heavy highway construction is equipment intensive, and along with that comes the use of a lot of fuel. Considering fuel’s variable and high cost, it’s logical to track it closely, yet many heavy highway companies fail to do so. Is a specific loader using more fuel than it should? Is an employee filling up his personal car as he leaves the yard at the end of the day? Proper fuel tracking can answer these questions and many more. 
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Cutting Through the Complexity Of Strategic Risk Management

Considering its inherent complexity, enterprise-wide scope and financial significance, strategic risk is an executive-level issue at its core. It’s so vital that five of the world’s leading finance and accounting organizations developed a consortium to build an integrated framework for enterprise risk-related decision-making. 
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Capitalize on the Most Valuable Data from Fleet Telematics

Whether operating dump trucks or pickup trucks, most companies with a fleet of more than 25 vehicles have at least entertained the idea of installing telematics devices to help reduce operational costs and improve safety. However, many companies are not realizing the potential risk-reduction benefit because they are not focused on the appropriate measures to improve driver behaviors, especially hard braking.
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Beyond the Bank: Manage Cash Flow with Equipment Financing

Equipment is the backbone of business across industries—imagine a moving company without a truck, a bakery without an oven or a demolition contractor without a bulldozer—but purchasing equipment out of pocket is expensive. The significant upfront cost of a dump truck, HVAC or security system, or commercial refrigeration unit can have a severe, negative effect on cash flow, particularly for companies in early growth stages or those looking to expand. 
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Where the Heart Is

From the outside, the headquarters of hth companies, inc., Union, Mo., looks like a humble construction office—a two-story, tan-colored structure, set back a bit from a country road, with trucks parked outside, a side entrance for the warehouse, an awning bearing the company logo and a light dusting of snow on the front stoop.

But peek inside—where a warm welcome reveals the heart and soul of the company—and it’s evident why Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) selected this family-owned mechanical contracting firm at its 2016 Contractor of the Year. The award is about the employees and their sincere dedication to the betterment of the construction industry. 
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Survey Underscores Expected HVACR Business Growth

Eighty-six percent of 1,400 global HVACR manufacturers surveyed by ASHRAE Journal at AHR Expo expect their sales to grow in the coming year. When asked to rate 2017 business prospects, 98 percent indicated a positive outlook. Additionally, 86 percent of HVACR manufacturers said they expected their business to increase in 2017, and 57 percent indicated their sales had increased from 2015 to 2016.
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Building a Relationship-Based Career

When Brooke Wenger started at Triad Engineering, Inc., Hagerstown, Md., as a marketing coordinator nearly a decade ago, she was terrified of going to networking events. She let nerves and the fear of not knowing anyone get to her, not to mention the idea of having to talk in front of a crowd. 

Today, as Triad Engineering’s more seasoned director of business development, Wenger spends the vast majority of her time out of the office attending meetings and events, serving on committees, following up on project leads and building relationships with potential business partners.
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Study Reveals Less Volatility in Remodeling Market

In comparing new construction and commercial remodels during the course of the Great Recession, BuildFax found additions, remodels and alterations dipped 9.7 percent at their lowest point (versus pre-crisis levels), while new construction permits plunged 43 percent between 2008 and 2011.
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Report Examines DNA Of Construction Entrepreneurs

Sixty-two percent of construction small business owners have seen increases in revenue and 64 percent have seen profits increase, according to Hiscox’s eighth annual DNA of an Entrepreneur report.
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Merit Shop Scorecard Grades State Construction Policies

Louisiana, Virginia and North Carolina earned the top three rankings in Associated Builders and Contractors’ latest update to “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard."
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What’s One Thing Your Company Wants to Achieve or Do Differently This Year?

In 2017, we will focus on the development and strategic execution of these new efforts, as well as targeted and strategic marketing efforts based on our vertical markets and areas of expertise.
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It’s Time to Talk About Occupational Fraud

Safeguarding assets from fraud is an important objective for every company. It will take an all-hands-on-deck approach to be successful, and it starts at the top.  
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Working Backward From a Budget With Target Value Design

When construction firms help owners get the absolute most out of every dollar of their investment, they can not only win the work, but also earn a client for life. Rather than letting design drive the budget, which often results in the need to “value engineer” later in the process, target value design is an approach in which the budget drives design decisions, occurring very early in preconstruction. 
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Industry Game-Changers

Typically, disruption in the workplace is counterintuitive to productivity. But in terms of creating innovative ways to manage people, processes and technology, the concept of “disruption” isn’t such a bad thing for the construction industry. Change is stirring whether contractors are ready for it or not, and firms that have adopted new ways of managing scheduling and workflows are seeing stellar results—earning the accolades of repeat projects for key clients, as well as happy project partners.
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Five Tips for Getting the Business Intelligence Dashboard You Want

Select a business intelligence solution that acts like Switzerland: willing to work with any data source out of the box. 
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Internal Controls Prevent Construction Losses

Internal controls stem from the idea that no one individual should have complete control over a given transaction process and that there should be proper segregation of duties among individuals involved in every process. By spreading responsibilities among employees, companies can mitigate the risk of fraud. Practically speaking, this means separating the preparation, recording and approval of a transaction among multiple people.
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2017 Tech Predictions

When Star Trek™ debuted 50 years ago, who would have thought the technology employed on the Starship Enterprise would one day be used on construction jobsites. Crew members carried a communicator, which looked much like yesterday’s flip phones. The Combadge was a wearable communication device, and Lt. Uhura wore a wireless Bluetooth-like earpiece. When Captain Kirk asked a question or gave a command, the computer responded remarkably like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. The Replicator produced food, tools and other objects, much like today’s 3-D printers. The ship was a model of operational efficiency many construction firms strive to achieve.
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A Win-Win Vision

Today, Goodrich occupies the office of the president at Gaylor Electric, a position he has held since 2014. The office itself tells quite a story: It is covered floor to ceiling in pictures, plaques and memorabilia highlighting everything from Indiana sports teams to company and family achievements, past Republican presidents and a love for ABC. This year, his passion for merit shop construction is widening in scope as ABC’s national chairman. 
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Rigging Supplies: New Model Speeds Delivery and Selection

Frequently, purchasing rigging equipment is left to the last minute, either because it is an afterthought or because it is unclear what specifications the rigging requires for the job. To help make construction professionals more competitive, proactive rigging suppliers are offering a more responsive purchasing model. 

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Proposed Death Tax Increase Targets Family-Owned Businesses

The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued proposed regulations targeting the valuation practices of family-owned businesses that would lead to dramatically higher estate and gift taxes by eliminating the use of discounts currently permitted.
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Medical and Benefits Costs Are Top Concerns

Fifty-six percent of construction businesses surveyed for the 2016 Travelers Risk Index report they worry most about medical cost inflation and legal liability, followed by rising employee benefits costs and broad economic uncertainty. Rounding out the top eight construction business concerns are attracting and retaining talent, employee safety and workplace violence, legal and regulatory compliance, and cyber risk and data breaches.
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Preliminary Injunction Granted Against ‘Blacklisting’ Final Rule

On Oct. 24, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prevents the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council from implementing the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces final rule, commonly referred to as the blacklisting rule, which was scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 25.
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How Do the Employee Benefits You Offer Aid Retention and Curb Turnover?

We could have the best programs in place, but if our employees can’t navigate the plan, it hurts them and our bottom line. Our internal benefits team provides education, claim assistance and even billing negotiations. 
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Surety Bonds, LOCs and Parental Guarantees: What’s the Difference?

To address the security need, owners and contractors can be faced with a choice between traditional surety bonds and letters of credit (LOC). Additionally, parental guarantees are often included as a supplement or substitute for the security. These alternatives have unique implications that should be considered by contractors and owners when choosing the best path.
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Sureties Hungry for Business Across Market Sizes

Construction Executive surveyed top leaders in the surety bonding industry to create a big-picture view of the current state of the market. Overall, the news is positive for contractors. Experts say construction and surety market cycles have been strong, creating increased competition. 
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Preparing for the First Contractor-Surety Meeting

Successful contractors spend time and effort establishing their first surety company relationship. Contractors that want faster answers and the benefit of the doubt from their surety in a delicate situation will always welcome face-to-face visits with their professional agent and underwriter. 
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Inside the Mind of a Surety Bond Underwriter

It is truly amazing how much risk contractors take on a daily basis for a seemingly modest return. Likewise, for the surety underwriter—which is, in fact, guaranteeing the contractor’s work—a tremendous amount of trust is involved.
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Executive Insights

Eighteen surety experts offer advice on how contractors can take their bonding capacity to the next level, how character impacts bondability, the cash management techniques contractors should employ to be successful as the economy recovers, and the bonding implications as the government promotes joint ventures as a way for small businesses to participate in federal projects.


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The Impact of Succession Planning on the Surety Relationship

When evaluating a succession plan from the perspective of the surety, executives should focus on maintaining technical and operational excellence, surety relationships, projected cash flows and its strong financial position.
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Beyond the Basics: Three Overlooked Bonds to Keep Projects on Task and on Target

There are numerous types of bonds to consider depending on the size and scope of a project. Don't forget about wage and welfare bonds, transactional commercial surety bonds and subdivision/completion bonds.
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An Overly Soft Credit Environment Can Adversely Affect Small Contractors

Fast bond products or “quick issue” bonds have sped up the process of obtaining a bond for smaller projects. Quick turnaround and minimal underwriting—sometimes solely based on credit score—allow for speedy answers when time is of the essence. That’s the upside. The downside of this softer credit-based underwriting is that the relationship-building and counseling process can suffer. 
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Crafting a Strategy for Benefits Management

Construction leaders should evaluate the medical and non-medical benefits they offer and spend some quality time with their workforce to get clarity on desired benefits choices. Enrollment season is not far away, making it a great time to reassess the company’s benefits package, fill any benefits gaps, and educate the workforce to ultimately increase loyalty and commitment and create happy and productive employees. 
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Property Leasing Vs. Owning: What Makes Sense for Your Business?

Leasing versus buying is a choice that can significantly change a firm’s future cash flow, tax strategy and net equity on the balance sheet. Both approaches have pros and cons, and it is important to understand the potential impacts of each option before making a decision.
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Paving the Way for Female Leaders

There are key things male-dominated industries like construction can do to address the gender imbalance, provide advancement opportunities for female talent and drive a more diverse workforce. The need to do so is more critical than some realize. 
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New Overtime Rule Raises Exemption Threshold to $47,476

The Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (S. 2707/H.R. 4773) has been proposed to require the DOL to examine the impact on stakeholders, including the public sector, before implementing any changes to the exemptions. The employer community is expected to redouble its efforts in support of this legislation and other solutions. 
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No Bounds to Success

Women business leaders at ABC and throughout the industry will agree, there is no one path to the top. 
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How do you tap into employees’ most valuable talents and talk to them about career advancement?
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Bringing Health Care to Retail Centers
With hospital stays becoming more expensive, the federal government reducing...

Crowdsourcing a Charitable Beneficiary
In March, Faith Technologies, Menasha, Wis., gave $5,000 to the Boys & Girls...

Capital Infusion: How to Optimize Forthcoming Construction Lending
Many areas of the United States are seeing a resurgence in construction starts...

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