Business

Surety and Technology: Cybersecurity Best Practices

“It won’t happen to us, and companies in our industry are not a hacker’s target.”  

That’s an outdated notion in an age when, according to security experts, 4,000 ransomware attacks take place per day. In 2017 alone, the costs to companies will exceed $5 billion, and that’s accounting for just one of many types of cybersecurity threats.   

Construction and surety companies can minimize the threat of cyber-attacks by implementing the following preventive measures. 
Read More >

The Building Blocks of a People-driven Tech Culture

The value technology brings to the equipment industry can’t be overlooked—from proven systems such as telematics tracking and total stations to newer wearables and virtual reality headsets. Considering the technology adoption rate in the last five years is the industry’s highest ever, it appears there’s more to come, and the companies that embrace these trends have a strong competitive advantage over the ones that don’t. 

Yet, challenges come with implementing technology. Many company leaders would love to adopt more technology, whether BIM software or drones, but most don’t feel they have enough people or time for successful implementation. 
Read More >

What Contractors Should Consider Before Taking on Hurricane Rebuilding Projects

This fall presented the most devastating hurricane season in recent memory, with four storms registering as a Category 3 or higher. After the fact, the rebuilding process presents unique challenges, particularly for those doing the actual reconstruction and restoration work.
Read More >

The Inside Scoop on Developing In-house Apps

With hundreds of apps available for Apple and Android devices that assist contractors with everything from bidding and estimating to project management and closeout, why would anyone develop an in-house app?

Several reasons drove four contractors to spend months developing company-specific apps, including a dislike of paperwork, a drive toward efficiency and a lack of off-the-shelf solutions that cater to construction operations.
Read More >

Make a Great Impression With Best-in-class Marketing Strategies

Many contractors find marketing to be daunting or frustrating, but the heart of marketing is simply understanding and managing how businesses make first impressions. A properly managed marketing program can give contractors more control over managing first impressions than ever before. By incorporating the following tips into their marketing efforts, any contractor can easily improve the impressions they make. 
Read More >

Bonding as an Empowerment Tool

It’s a fact: Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. And surety bonding is the lifeblood of any successful contractor, regardless of size.  

Another fact: Construction is risky business. Contractors often face a myriad of challenges during the life cycle of a construction project. 
Read More >

The Power of Partnership: Choosing the Best Surety Agent for the Job

Thanks to several years of favorable industry-wide results, there is plenty of capacity in the surety marketplace. Carriers and agents are aggressively competing for contractors’ business. Most companies have probably received numerous solicitations from agents and brokers near and far, via the internet, promising larger programs, better terms and lower rates. 

In today’s soft market environment, practically any licensed insurance agent can help a firm obtain bonding. It is a buyer’s market right now and a great opportunity for contractors to establish their first bond line or reevaluate their current situation.
Read More >

How to Handle Higher Project Volume Without Overextending the Business

Higher project volume—whether it’s more projects of the same size or the same number of projects at an increased size—can place stress on any contractor. The starting point for handling that stress is the business plan, which should be prepared and continually updated. Accordingly, contractors that decide to increase project volume should only consider doing so after careful planning.

Keep in mind, the business plan for well-run organizations incorporates the five Ms: money, machine, material, manpower and methodology. 
Read More >

Filling the Surety Industry's Generation Gap

Word of the construction industry’s labor shortage is being heard loud and clear: Two-thirds of U.S. contractors are having a hard time finding qualified workers and possess a virtually nonexistent backfill of young talent entering the industry. But what about the surety professionals working behind the scenes? Are they facing the same challenges?
Read More >

Construction Companies Cannot Afford to Overlook Digital Marketing

Whether a business is selling a construction-related product or a specialty construction service, it needs to reach its target audience online by embracing digital marketing. This includes any marketing efforts done online: blogging, social media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), website development and more. It’s expected that digital will account for more than 75 percent of marketing budgets in the next five years. 
Read More >

Aging Infrastructure Projects Call for Surety Bonding Protections

At a time when local, state and federal government budgets are under mounting pressure, allocating the resources to refurbish America’s aging infrastructure—the roads, bridges, railways, airports, water systems, pipelines and other components upon which our economy depends—is an increasingly difficult challenge.

However, the deplorable state of much of the nation’s vital infrastructure, which earned a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), can no longer be ignored. It is becoming an increasing drag on business productivity, as well as negatively affecting the convenience and safety of individual Americans.
Read More >

Market Overview: Creating Sustainable Growth With Surety Bonds

Changes in the surety market have created opportunities for construction companies across the nation to achieve controlled and sustainable growth. 

A construction company must establish a strong network with legal and accounting professionals in order to be successful, but building a relationship with a surety bonding company places a contractor in a caliber of its own. Bonding capacity and prequalification transform businesses and help them prosper. 
Read More >

Millennials Spend Less on Business Travel Than Older Employees

Average dining, hotel and entertainment expenses for employees between the ages of 36 and 65 totaled $8,596 over two years compared to $5,188 for employees between the ages of 22 and 35, according to a global report from Concur, a business travel management firm. The biggest difference was in the dining and entertainment category: $52 per transaction for employees over age 36 versus $33 per transaction for those under age 25. Meanwhile, millennials spent slightly more on hotels: $114 versus $111.
Read More >

Four Common Paths to Transitioning Ownership

Throughout the next decade, numerous baby boomers who own construction businesses will retire and exit the marketplace. For many, a good portion of their personal wealth is tied up in the business. To maximize financial gain upon retirement, owners will benefit from a well-planned transition strategy.
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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."
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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. 

Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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."
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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).
Read More >

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? 
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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.
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.  
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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. 
Read More >

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.
Read More >
 

Bringing Balance Back to the NLRB
Although its purpose is to interpret the National Labor Relations Act in a fair...

2018 Regional Construction Outlook
Starting in 2012, the construction sector generally has turned in stronger growth...

The DNA of Giving Back
This month marks 89 years in business for Vogel Bros. Building Co., a fifth...

View this month's Digital Edition
Construction Executive
Print magazine published 10 times per year covering news, market developments and business issues impacting the construction industry 

eNewsletters:
Managing Your Business
Biweekly eNewsletter covering management and financial best practices

Tech Trends
Biweekly eNewsletter covering the latest construction technology trends and products

Risk Management
Biweekly eNewsletter covering surety bonding, insurance, safety and compliance.