I am quite certain that I let out an audible gasp when they first caught my eye. Red plaid, patent leather, and high heeled: sophisticated and playful at the same time. Definitely love at first sight . . . and on sale! Then the practical side of me took over. I don’t wear a lot of high heels, and the size of heel was a little intimidating. Not only was the heel high, it had a bit of a platform to it. Could I walk in them without looking like a 6-year-old trying on her mom’s shoes? Would I be able to stand around for an hour or more at a reception without the balls of my feet screaming out in pain? I took them for a test-walk around the store and found that not only could I walk in them, they were actually pretty comfortable. I smiled for days after I purchased them. Several times I took them out of the closet just to admire them. When the day finally came for me to wear them, I was thrilled that they met
every need, want and desire I had. They looked great, fit well, and not only got me through a full day of meetings but also a two-hour reception at the end of the day. My relationship with these shoes had been solidified, and I loved them even more.
What does this have to do with our industry?
Companies in the construction industry are always looking for new pairs of shoes (construction team partners). Some are looking for shoes for an activity they’ve never done before; some need to replace shoes that were priced right but then required band-aids every time they were worn; some are looking for shoes to replace a favorite pair that the dog chewed; and some have no need for a new pair but when they stumble upon the “perfect” pair and they’re on sale, they have to have them. While you can get a short test-walk in for a pair of shoes by walking around the store, it’s not as easy to take a construction team partner for a test-walk.
There are a lot of factors that go into selecting a construction team partner: reputation, past-performance, availability, financial stability, the ability to perform under the conditions on the project/contract, and relationship/trust are a few. You wouldn’t walk into a shoe store blindfolded, buy the first box you get your hands on and then hope that when you open it the shoes will fit your need, be in your size, the color you like, and not fall apart the first time you wear them. Why would you select a construction team partner that same way?
Regardless of whether you are the client or vendor, associations are a great place to get information and build the relationships needed to assist in the selection process. Associations are the place that companies use and individuals go to develop the skills and get the education needed to be the best businesses in their industry. In addition to the education and networking that most construction associations offer, many have developed benchmark programs for members to show what level they are at in areas such as safety or skills training.
Those programs are important, but a program measuring HOW a company does business would be incredibly beneficial in the search for “new shoes.” Two such programs have been introduced by the American Subcontractors Association (ASA). At its annual Business Forum & Convention held in San Antonio, Texas last week, ASA presented 2011 Excellence in Ethics Certificates to seven construction subcontractors that achieved “the highest standards of internal and external integrity for a subcontracting firm” including two Houston subcontractors, Marek Brothers Systems and Holes Incorporated. ASA also presented the first-ever National Construction Best Practices Awards to five construction contractors that demonstrated an “extraordinary level of commitment to best industry practices in 2011”. The recipients were Alberici Constructors, St. Louis, Missouri; Bigane Paving Company, Chicago, Illinois; F.A. Rohrbach, Allentown, Pennsylvania; Ondra-Huyett Associates, Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Rives Construction, Irondale, Alabama.
Programs like these give the shopper the information needed to make an informed decision. These shoes look good AND you can walk in them.