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The National Convention: Celebration, Education, Anticipation

The following article originally appeared in the April newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

The recent National AGC Annual Convention in San Antonio was both convenient and compelling.  It provided an ideal venue for gaining perspective; for learning; for reconnecting with many friends, and this particular year for celebrating the leadership of two fellow Houstonians.  Chuck Greco, Chairman of Linbeck, ended his highly productive year as President of National AGC, only the second Houstonian to hold that office.  (Warren Bellows did it in 1948.)  Then Jerry Nevlud, CEO of Houston AGC, passed the gavel to his successor at the Executive Leadership Council, the national group for Chief Staff Executives.  Peer respect for the job each had done was earned and evident.

The new streamlined convention format places an emphasis on education and exhibits, as opposed to laborious committee meetings.  Because of this, younger people, still fully engaged in their businesses, are there.  These ascending leaders add both energy and future focus to topics and discussions.  I attended two educational sessions, both valuable.  The first was, How Do Owners Define Value in Their Construction Projects?  A Lean Perspective.  The second was Creating a true Seller-Doer Model.  Business Development Best Practices.  Both are now available on the national website; both are worth reviewing.

The first session discussed a survey which, on the basis of a very preliminary 32-project sample, concluded that there is a major disconnect between owners perceiving that they received value and contractors believing or knowing that they delivered it.  Price, Schedule and Quality/Safety were the metrics measured.  The presenters seek at least 70 more projects before they publish.  I suspect the historic collaboration and communication between all project parties in the Houston area would not align with these early conclusions.

The exhibits were almost exclusively technology related – astoundingly so.  The entire ballroom and most of the registration area had rows of attractive, articulate, younger people demonstrating applications relative to every area of a construction company’s functions.  The booths appeared to be busy with curious contractors.  Clearly, contractors need to anticipate that this persistent march toward technology will continue and accelerate.  It appears inevitable that talented people adept at proven technology applications will be the strategic differentiators for their companies, moving forward.