A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

Houston based Linbeck Group, LLC won an Associated General Contractors (AGC) Aon Build America Award for the 2010 best building under $10 million for the Mary Wright Admission Center on the campus of Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth.  The AGC awarded Aon awards to 20 firms from around the country.  According to a recent press release:“The Mary Wright Admission Center, which won for best new building project under $10 million, is a 13,000 square foot facility that serves as an undergraduate recruiting center.  The project was completed 23 days early, despite record-breaking heat and rain and mid-project changes to the design.  
Jim Kollaer's picture
May 11, 2011
Build a Better Texas is a collaborative effort of honest construction businesses, faith leaders, and advocates of fairness and safety who want to improve the construction industry in Texas through research and through the development of ideas which will “reward good business practices, invest in workforce development, and level the playing field in the industry” for honest contractors and subs.  Their website posts reports and videos highlighting the issues faced by the industry which employs around 600,000 workers, making construction one of the top ten industries in Texas.One of the handicaps which honest contractors face is having to bid for jobs against dishonest employers who misclassify their employees
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
May 10, 2011
Editor’s note:  In our final post relating to the workforce development meeting held at Marek Brothers Systems in Houston this year, Jim Kollaer writes about the process he used as facilitator of the meeting.My approach to this session was based on these premises:Do no harm – I know that it is corny, but it is important to the work that I do to make the sessions as productive as possible.Positive actionable results – The session is not an end into itself.  It was designed to leverage their current state and help them develop a direction towards the future state.It’s their company – The key reason to bring in an outside facilitator to lead these sessions is that we can ask the hard questions, drill down on the uncomfortable areas, put the owners or leaders on the spot without worrying about our jobs, poke the box and generally get it done. 
Jim Kollaer's picture
May 10, 2011
The use of the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) process is growing a slow rate around the country, possibly because of the requirement for shared risks and rewards and the form of contracting and insuring those teams.  However, owners are beginning to push for new forms of delivery and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently surveyed their members to see what the current status of IPD is within the profession.  As the use of IPD within the industry expands, architectural firms will be a likely signpost of that expansion.Here is that survey as reported in GreenSource magazine, a collaboration of Architectural Record, McGraw-Hill Construction, and BuildingGreen, LLC.  
Jim Kollaer's picture
May 04, 2011
Texas based commercial contractor SpawGlass is not only changing CEOs at the end of this year, but according to Mobile Enterprise, the firm has deployed Motion Computing’s Motion F5v Tablet PCs into the field as part of their Building Information Modeling (BIM) efforts.  One of the first projects where the tablets are being used is at the construction site of the new University of Texas Student Activities /Liberal Arts Building at the UT campus in Austin.According to Chris Tisdel, BIM technologist at SpawGlass, “Our goal is to create a tight connection between design intent and field activities, and then provide the owners with the same level of coordination and visibility throughout the lifecycle of a structure.”Motion Computing is an Austin, Texas designer of tablet computers for industry including healthcare, government and field personnel.  Their website offers a 13-minute webinar which explains how Tablet PCs in Construction can improve job site productivity, as well as some information about specific tablet PCs used in construction (free registration required).  
Jim Kollaer's picture
May 03, 2011
The pomp and circumstance surrounding the royal wedding last week were magnified by the scale and construction of Westminster Abbey, a building that has stood for over 700 years at a location which has been a Christian worship site for over 1000 years.My first visit, over 25 years ago, seared into my mind the import of the building, the flying buttresses and the lightness of the structure created by the three Master Masons who designed and built it.Even though I had studied Westminster as a student in architecture school, I was hardly prepared for my first visit.  The height of the nave was a number to me until I craned my neck to look up at how high it really was – 102 feet, the height of a 10 story modern building.  I was awestruck, probably more so by the fact that I had flown overnight on my first overseas trip from Houston.  I was on my way to Saudi Arabia to work on the master plan for the University of Petroleum and Minerals (Now the King Abdul Aziz University in Dhahran), and had stopped for the day to see the Abbey and several other sites in London.  Today, after numerous visits, I still stand in awe of the Kings, Queens and Abbots who brought the Master Masons to the site to build
Jim Kollaer's picture
May 02, 2011
In a continuation of our series about a workforce development strategy meeting held at Marek Brothers Systems earlier this year, we bring you some interviews taken following the session.We spoke with Authur Ehmling, the training coordinator who has been with Marek for 30 years.  He explained that his job is to raise the level of the current workforce and to ensure that new hires fit the standard so that the Marek workforce is better than any other.  One of the techniques for achieving this higher standard is the use of workforce “coaches”.  Every worker that comes into the company is partnered with someone who has been trained so that the new worker is trained to the standards expected of him or her.  Ehmling stated that during the first year, each person receives 600 hours of training as well as 1400 hours of actual
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
April 28, 2011
The good news for owners who are bidding their work is that there are more companies bidding for that work.  One example of that is shown in a news video posted yesterday by...
Jim Kollaer's picture
April 26, 2011
Houston ABC news affiliate KTRK reported this afternoon about a new program which will be offered in the fall at San Jacinto College North Campus in northeast Houston.  The school already has a large, successful program in welding technology, but now plans to add “art welding” to the program.In the following video, reporter Deborah Wrigley visits the welding lab on campus to learn more.  She talks with Carol Scheier who is training for her third career after formerly working as a medical sales representative and as a remodeler. 
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
April 25, 2011
According to a story last week in Syracuse.com, the online connection to The Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, New York, “The owners of a Pennsylvania construction company face...
Jim Kollaer's picture
April 21, 2011