Reset and Re-focus: Be Prepared Before Taking on New Opportunities

By Craig Carson

Those of us in the construction world are a curious lot. We build, and we dream of bigger, better, more challenging projects. It’s never boring and every day someone invents or reinvents glazing and building envelope systems that are more energy efficient, exciting and challenging for us to use. Think of the evolution of structural glass systems, which have gone from structural glass walls with support fins that were gravity loaded to those that are now “hung” from a beam. And how we’ve marveled at the tensioned cable reinforced walls. I’ve even seen some systems where the glass is clamped and resists tension, providing its own support for windloads and building movement. It’s remarkable, and I’m sure there are even more ideas that dreamers and engineers are developing. It’s a great time for us to work with manufacturers who can provide huge jumbo insulating units, and cold-formed curves in glass that were like science fiction only a few decades ago. Just look at the glass made for the Apple building headquarters as an example. I’m sure there are many more on the drawing boards we’ll be seeing soon.

Where are We Now?

Just before the end of the last year, I took some much needed time off to recharge the batteries. I stayed at home and did nothing but relax. It felt good. However, I’m one of those souls that needs to work. When I returned, I was hoping that the New Year would be brighter. You know the feeling; things slow down a bit, and at first it feels good. You get caught up a bit with those papers that need to be filed and the forms filled out. Then it strikes you. Things seem slow and you begin to worry. There aren’t enough new projects that we’re being asked to bid or provide assistance on design issues. Are there fears of a new Administration and whether those policies will have a negative effect on new construction?

It’s quiet for two weeks, then three. Then you realize that you have to be careful what you wish for, because we need projects to sell. But then bid requests start coming in quickly, and now you’re worried about how to get them all done.

Know Your Stuff

This is when you need to know who your company is, what it is that you do best and that your team can perform to its best. Is your company most comfortable with interior, remodels, retail, office buildings, apartments or healthcare projects? Know what you’re good at and don’t over commit.

I’m in favor of growth, and moving out of your market niche to bigger work. But you must be ready. I’ve seen companies that were excellent at retail storefronts, wanting to move up to the next level of projects (i.e., four- to five-story office buildings), only to fail miserably because they weren’t prepared. Maybe they didn’t realize how they had to transport materials to upper floors or the additional safety concerns that take up much of the project manager’s or safety manager’s time; maybe it was the mandatory morning stretch and bends conducted by the general contractor, or the third party in-place testing. This isn’t limited to just one group; it’s any company wanting to move up in the market. Be aware of the obstacles and prepare yourself.

I know we worry when we don’t have enough work and we worry when we have too much. The ebb and flow of construction has been like this for the entire time I’ve been involved. There are things out of our control, so control what you can, and expect that the unexpected will happen. Let’s all have a great 2021!

Craig Carson is the director of preconstruction for Alliance Glazing Technologies Inc. in Littleton, Colo.

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