Business

How Technology-enabled Collaboration Will Streamline Engineering Economics

Fueled by the adoption of the cloud and new advancements in information management, machine learning and big data, fabricators and manufacturers will become more agile, gaining more control and predictability of their supply chain.
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Survey Gives Insight on Architecture and Engineering Firms’ HR Practices

Forty-two percent of all responding firms did not have a full-time HR department, and 81 percent of respondents said that the person in charge of HR functions participates in the firm’s annual business planning process. 
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Who’s someone you look up to, and how do you model him or her in your leadership?

"We strive to exemplify the values my grandfather modeled in our dealings with clients, subcontractors and with each other. They guide us in our partnerships and recruitment efforts and are part of every job description."
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Profiles in Leadership

With the help of recognition from their colleagues, peers, local media and business organizations, Construction Executive identified the following eight people as outstanding leaders who are making notable contributions within their companies, communities and the industry at large. 
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Think Like a Millennial: Build a More Mission-Driven, Diverse Culture

Organizations with inclusive, diverse cultures are six times more likely to be innovative, six times more likely to anticipate change and respond effectively, and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets. 

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The Quiet Progress of Career Education

To truly give all Americans access to flexible, safe and high-quality career education programs like those offered by ABC’s chapters, member companies and training partners, lawmakers and construction advocates must make meaningful progress to address the skills gap and build the workforce of tomorrow. 
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Tire Tech: Look Past the Price Tag to the Total Cost of Ownership

Because tires are critical to operation performance, construction executives should take the long view when making purchasing decisions. Rather than focusing on the price tag, consider the factors that contribute to the total cost of ownership: application, innovation and functionality. 
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Gender Diversity in Architecture Shows Improvement

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) recorded an increase in gender diversity of licensure candidates and newly licensed architects for the first time since it began collecting demographic data. In 2016, women made up 36 percent of newly licensed architects, versus 34 percent in 2015.
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Be Proactive About Crafting a Company Drone Policy

Construction firms should expect the drone compliance topic to develop rapidly, as other agencies may provide supplementary rules to address the impact of unmanned aircraft on the areas they regulate. It is important for contractors and their attorneys to stay up to speed on current developments to ensure that they are managing their risks effectively. 
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Three Reasons Contractors Should Finance Software Investments

Software investments can (and should) be financed, just like heavy equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, trenchers and dump trucks. Even if a firm can afford to purchase its software systems upfront, financing is the smart choice for three main reasons. 
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Retiring? Consider an Employee Stock Ownership Plan

While employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) function to reward employees with an ownership stake in the business they helped build, they can also offer tax advantages as an ownership-transition vehicle. Yet only about 11 percent of construction companies had ESOPs in 2016, according to research by the National Center for Employee Ownership. Further research shows that companies that set up an ESOP tend to increase annual sales, employment and productivity an average of 2.5 percent.
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Reduce the Stress of Implementing ASC 606

There is no time to waste in beginning the implementation process for the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) new revenue recognition standard, Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 606. Companies will find differences in some of the methods of recognizing revenue in the future, so taking a proactive approach to ASC 606 can help reduce the stress of implementation.
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Exploring Self-funded Health Care Plans

While it’s important to keep up with the news surrounding legislation to repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act, many contractors would be well served to consider another insurance strategy right now: partially self-funded health insurance plans. The bottom line is that the company is going to pay for a lot of employees’ medical care, so it’s important for staff to be mindful of costs because they drive premiums. This conversation alone—that employers and employees shoulder the cost of care together, and that both must be better stewards of those assets—can be a major driver of reduced costs. Aligning the interests of employees and their employers is critical in all aspects of profitability and success. 
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Achieve a Well-oiled Machine With Modern Materials Management

Construction projects are often compared to manufacturing assembly line operations—insomuch that they are nothing alike. The typical construction project has so many moving pieces being assembled in unique ways and in varied locations, making no two projects exactly the same.
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The Why and How of Computing POC

The percentage of completion (POC) calculation has traditionally been considered the best recognition of progress toward completion of a contract. The POC can be computed with factors other than costs, such as labor hours or labor costs or machine hours. Also, the costs can be total contract costs or a specific limited type of costs, such as direct costs only. 
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Executive Insights

"Contractors must up their game when it comes to cybersecurity’s role in protecting them from financial fraud. Ransomware became the tool of choice for a $1 billion crime with the recent attack through WannaCry/ WannaCrypt. This exploitation impacted more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries. Additionally, with the proliferation of the internet of things, cloud storage and electronic banking, the risks of wire fraud and cyber breach continue to rise."
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Before Employees Leave, Protect Your Assets

Construction companies that cater to the demands unique to each type of employee will find an edge in the employment marketplace. 
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Survey Finds Growing Appetite for P3 Projects

In the next three years, 85 percent of public sector respondents to Husch Blackwell’s third annual Public-Private Partnership (P3) Conference Survey stated they are planning for multiple P3 projects. On the private side, 93 percent of respondents from AEC and financial firms affirmed the same.
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Majority of Florida Contractors Plan to Hire in 2017

Eighty-eight percent of Florida construction firms plan to increase hiring during the next six months and 84 percent anticipate experiencing more difficulty finding appropriately skilled labor, according to a report released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Florida. The inaugural Florida Contractor Confidence Index (CCI) showed a statewide reading of 81 for improving sales, indicating the typical Florida contractor expects to be much busier in 2017.
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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. 
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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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Three Contract Options for Differing Site Conditions
The only limit the parties have in drafting a site conditions provision contract...

Stay Ahead of the Contractual Curve
Construction is a risky business and so is predicting the future. Looking forward...

Construction’s Cybersecurity Challenge
In today’s evolving information technology world, addressing security risks...

A Small Team With a Big Heart for Service
“While it may not be large amounts of monetary donations, we are often called...

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