Business

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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Cyber-Phishing With New Lures

If the wire transfer has been initiated by an approved company employee, there is not much chance of recovering the funds. The bank is not held liable as long as it follows the proper protocols. Once the fraud is discovered, contact the bank’s fraud department immediately and direct it to stop the payment and freeze the recipient account. Typically, the funds are cleared out within hours of the transfer, so acting fast is imperative.

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Capitalizing on Market Intelligence

In construction, contractors build their strategy on market data that illustrates trends, shifts and projections. This intelligence can lead to tactics for taking advantage of a certain market using the flexibilities of being open shop, plus utilizing technology onsite to ensure profitability and success. 
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What Type of Leadership Is Needed to Sustain a Family-Owned Business Through Economic Changes and Generational Differences?

As leadership in successful companies is passed from generation to generation, the foundational principles that made the company great must be maintained. However, it is critical that those who may have been a part of the early establishment be willing to yield to strengths and innovative insights brought by new talent.  Read More >

Embrace the Future Through Succession Planning

When preparing a business and its employees for the transition to new ownership, consider the future in a positive light and leave the company in a spot in which it can continue to prosper.  Read More >

Court Blocks DOL’s Final Persuader Rule

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing the final persuader rule, keeping it from taking effect July 1. 
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Succession Planning and Ownership Transfer: Do It Right the First Time

Many U.S. construction industry leaders are approaching the age of 60 and above, with a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers concluding that 33 percent of all construction firms will be transitioned during the next five years. While construction firm owners have vast knowledge in their trade niche, most have limited experience in the sale and divestiture of their own business interests. 
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Spending Stabilizes at Elevated Level; Supply Constraints Become More Apparent

While nonresidential construction spending growth struggles to maintain momentum, the balance of 2016 should prove a rewarding period for many construction companies. America’s consumer-led economic recovery remains in place, and construction backlog remains at elevated levels.  Read More >

Intelligent Machines

Construction equipment manufacturers are at the ready with a fleet of technology-rich machines that will revolutionize how contractors work.  Read More >

Executive Insights

Financial, legal and technology experts explain ACA requirements, the benefits and security of cloud-based accounting systems, the pros and cons of ESOPs, and the benefits of requiring funds control. Read More >

All Contractors Will Be Affected by the New Lease Standard

All construction contractors’ assets and liabilities will be affected by the new guidance to some degree, depending on the company’s circumstances. Contractors that have significant fleet leasing activity are likely to feel the change more than contractors with less leasing activity.  Read More >

Come in Ahead of Schedule: It’s Time to Think About ASC 606

Companies tackling ASC 606  head on will gently glide into the implementation phase in a few years. Those that don’t likely will experience varying degrees of turbulence.  Read More >

The Value of an Annual Partnering Meeting

The results of the partnering meeting, as it becomes an annual tradition, will prove to be valuable throughout the year, and help to provide a big-picture view of the construction business that otherwise would not be possible.  Read More >

Three Financial Red Flags to Monitor

A steadfast financial management process fosters teamwork, accountability, communication among departments, and continual learning and improvement so the same mistakes aren’t duplicated.  Read More >

Four Questions to Ask to Identify Accounting Inaccuracies in a Contract Schedule

Construction business leaders should ask four questions when reviewing a contract schedule for accuracy.  Read More >

Tackling Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in the Construction Industry

Historically, the construction industry has been characterized by a stoic, tough-guy culture. After generations of this old school mentality, the times are changing as progressive contractors weave mental health and suicide prevention into a dominant “new school” culture.  Read More >

Winning Strategies in the War for Talent

Companies can use several strategies to help retain current employees and attract new ones: evaluation and feedback, mentoring and training, succession planning, competitive wages and benefits, and alternative scheduling. Read More >

A Prescription for Reducing Workers’ Comp Costs

The epidemic of prescription painkiller addiction is correlated to the uptick in workers’ compensation claims, with the greatest amount coming from the construction industry.  Read More >

Safety: A Near-Perfect Alignment Between Doing the Right Thing and Enhancing Profitability

Firms with better safety records are less exposed to lawsuits and claims for workers’ compensation. Trained workers are more likely to stay on the job. Better safety means fewer expenses to repair damaged equipment and reputation. And, safe companies eliminate the costs of investigation, potential workplace interruptions and impacts on morale.  
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Building a Positive Cash Flow Floorplan

Building a cash flow system from the ground up starts by following a management floorplan. The biggest challenge is not aligning the core principals, but rather keeping up with these recommendations over time. Setting up a strong system will benefit the business in the long and short term.
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The Best Kept Secret for Financing Construction Projects

Most companies face the question of how to best meet the need for long-term financing for capital projects. As it turns out, owners—often along with their contractor partners—can utilize bond financing for land acquisition, construction and even equipping a wide range of improvements.
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Protecting and Preserving Payment Rights Can Lead to a Healthier Bottom Line

Experience tells the prudent contractor that certain processes can increase the likelihood of protecting and preserving payment rights. Payment issues and concerns typically arise during three construction phases: pre-, during and post-performance. 
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Put More Muscle in Your RFPs

The goal of any RFP is to provide contractors and consultants with the necessary parameters to understand the scope of the project, such as square footage, cost and estimated number of components, but flexible enough to give contractors some latitude to differentiate themselves from their competitors. 
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Exceeding Expectations

In any industry or company, the poor actions of a few can overshadow the good work of the majority. To combat this in the construction industry requires consistency, dedication and a commitment to getting the job done right the first time. Just take it from McGann Construction and Trunnell Electric, two contractors that have built a reputation for consistently producing high-quality work. 
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How to Comply With Federal Employment Discrimination Regulations

In legal terms, Executive Order 11246 expressly prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors that conduct more than $10,000 in government business in one year from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. The executive order also requires government contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment.
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Four Factors Influencing the Equipment Rental Market

In the near term, several factors are influencing contractors’ and equipment distributors’ levels of confidence for the year ahead: federal highway funding, bonus depreciation, rising interest rates and Tier IV equipment. Read More >

Built to Last

Some companies—like some building materials—stand the test of time. David Allen Company, Raleigh, N.C., is one those companies, and it’s fitting that the company masterfully installs some of the construction industry’s most durable and appealing materials around: granite, marble, tile and terrazzo.
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How Do You Use Benchmarking to Improve Company Performance?

Our focus has always been on profitability, not revenue. Benchmarking against our peers drives us to be a leaner, more efficient organization. 
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On the ‘PATH’ to Better Tax Policy

With the passage of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, Congress has significantly curtailed business tax uncertainty while putting “extenders” on a path to extinction.  Read More >

Price Increases Ahead for Drywall, Painting and Landscape Services

The price of plastering and drywall services is forecast to jump 7.7 percent in 2016. Additionally, prices for painting services are anticipated to increase 5.9 percent, and prices for landscape architecture and design services are expected to escalate 3.4 percent. 
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Disaster Preparedness: Protections Every Contractor Should Have in Place

There is no one-size-fits-all plan for disasters, but that doesn’t mean contractors shouldn’t have a basic strategy. Realistically, contractors require specialized plans for different situations. Developing a plan isn’t difficult, but too many contractors neglect to carry through and take the steps necessary to continue improving their plans.  Read More >

Best Practices for Evaluating Insurance Investments

Making a higher spend at the beginning by investing in the cost of quality and minimized risk can often result in much greater savings at the end.  Read More >

Techniques to Maximize SDI Coverage and Streamline the Claim Process

SDI policies are viable risk transfer options that offer many benefits. Many of the drawbacks related to the claim process can be eliminated through advanced policy language negotiation, especially for larger policy purchasers, which will be perceived by the carrier as repeat customers. Drawbacks that cannot be negotiated can be minimized by employing preparation, organization and diligence, as well as competent legal counsel. 
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2016 Insurance Market Forecast

While it’s important to understand the economics of the insurance industry, there is nothing a business can do to positively affect it. In the long run, the only way to reduce the cost of risk is to reduce the frequency and severity of claims that drive the cost. An effective risk control program and a partnership with the right broker who can thoughtfully present a company’s program to the insurance marketplace is the key to lowering costs.  Read More >
 

Mitigate Risk by Managing Information
Modern building and infrastructure projects generate a lot of data, and it’s...

Rethinking Health Care Construction
Outpatient and walk-in urgent care facilities are far less costly for organizations...

Pave It Forward
In September, The PHILLIPS School in Annandale, Va., debuted $150,000 worth...

2017 Construction Outlook
For now, it’s tempting to maintain a somewhat pessimistic outlook. A combination...

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