How The Douglas Company’s proactive approach keeps projects on schedule

In today's construction world, more and more time and resources are spent on scheduling, and with good reason, too. With the high cost of construction loans and general conditions, contractors and developers alike can agree that the sooner we hand over a building the better for all those involved. Project milestones, proper sequencing, and task and crew logic are all scheduling terms that are thrown around on a weekly basis when discussing how we get the job done as soon as possible.

But what if I told you there was something else besides scheduling that can hold up progress on your project just as much as a missing drywall crew or bad schedule logic? Wouldn’t that be something we need to be cognizant of?

I am talking about inspections, of course. Inspections are a necessary step in the construction process to provide a third-party audit that the work meets all code requirements...

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The Douglas Company Elevates Two Long-Standing Partners to Vice President

The Douglas Company, General Contractor, announced the promotion of two of its partners to Vice Presidents. Mr. Bruce Douglas has been promoted to Vice President of Preconstruction, and Mr. Pete Zimmerman has been promoted to Vice President of Estimating. Both will be serving as members of The Douglas Company’s Executive Committee, establishing company policies, and participating in developing company strategies and objectives.

Pete Zimmerman, P.E.

Vice President of Estimating

Mr. Zimmerman began his career with The Douglas Company in 2003 after graduating from the University of Toledo College of Engineering with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He demonstrates a full understanding of construction, cost control, the bid process, project documentation, project management, and time management with subcontractors and suppliers.  

As Vice President of Estimating, Pete will work closely with clients, architects, and subcontractors, during the estimating stage,...

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The Goose and The Golden Egg of Business

This past weekend I was listening to a presentation on a book many of you have heard and read, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey; I was drawn towards a reference to an old fable by Aesop, The Goose & The Golden Egg.

The story goes like this for those who aren't familiar: A poor farmer discovers that his prized goose has begun to lay golden eggs each day. Excitedly, the farmer takes the eggs to the market and begins to get rich. With his newfound success, the farmer starts growing impatient by only receiving one egg a day from his goose and isn't getting rich fast enough. One day after counting his money, he realizes that he could get all the golden eggs at once if he kills the goose and cuts...

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Material Procurement Challenges

As we continue to navigate through the daily challenges surrounding us with the COVID-19 virus, it is important to understand the impacts it is having on our industry. Most notably there has been volatility with pricing, most well-known with the lumber markets, labor shortages, and extended material procurement. The material procurement issue much like the labor shortages is not a new issue upon us in the construction industry, but lead times have certainly changed from previously known and reliable durations during this pandemic. Some examples of extended material procurement issues that we are experiencing across our projects include:

  • Lumber
  • Siding
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Shingles
  • PVC pipe and pre-molded showers

This is something that will most likely continue until a vaccination is developed, as manufacturers work through social distancing, sanitizing efforts, and infected personnel which all have an impact on productivity and their ability to fill orders timely. It’s important to stay in close contact with Subcontractors and Suppliers...

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Quality control in today’s construction environment continues to be a daily challenge in our industry. Several factors that are contributing to this are lack of skilled labor, lack of subcontractor supervision, and incomplete construction documents. Quality is essential in the success of a project; when managed properly, it results in timely completion of our projects, reduced punch lists, lack of rework, all of which leads to satisfied clients. Over the years, The Douglas Company has put in place several processes and standards to help minimize rework and provide our clients with a quality end product. These processes include:

  • Conduct pre-construction meetings with subs to review the plans and installation instructions and sort out any discrepancies before work being put in place.
  • Mockups which allow for a clear expectation of what the end product is to be amongst the project team (Owner, Architect, and Contractor).
  • Quality inspections are filled out by our project teams...

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High Performance

The key that is often overlooked as to why certain construction company’s projects succeed more frequently and sustain long term success, is the proper alignment of each project team on a daily basis.

To help with team alignment, at The Douglas Company internal daily huddles are conducted throughout all levels of the organization to help foster shared goals, a common purpose, facilitate clear communication, resolve conflicts, and align behaviors.

These daily huddles ultimately enhance performance, get everyone working together, and playing from the same playbook of contributing to each team’s success. It’s what keeps the business running and employees productive and empowered. Holding a daily huddle is perhaps the most important tactic a business can employ to help their company leaders and associates stay focused.  

Each morning at The Douglas Company our huddles confirm and give updates on daily projects and priorities. This meeting rhythm makes us accountable to each other, to...

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I just came home from a peer group.  It was a great experience, but it made me ask myself what a peer really is.  Everyone in this industry who succeeds is competitive and committed to excellence.  Excellence requires learning, which is at the core of the purpose of a peer group.  A peer is defined as “a person who is equal to another in abilities, qualifications, age, background and social status.”  By this definition, it seems impossible to truly be a peer. All of the people and the businesses in the peer group are different.  We build different types of projects for different types of clients.  We take different risks and have different business models.  We have different org structures and strengths and weaknesses.  But this is inherent and necessary to value in a “peer” group.  We complement each other and learn from each other and get better by spending time...

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Core values are Part of a Company’s DNA

At our recent client event at the Dante Next Door restaurant in Cleveland, I was surprised at how similar seemingly dissimilar businesses can be.  Dante, who looks like Bruce Springsteen, is one of the top-rated chefs in the world and deserves to be.  He regaled us with stories of movie stars (he was Robert De Niro’s personal chef for a time) and rock stars, and his travels around the world, which shows what a formerly young man from upstate New York can accomplish.  He has a burgeoning business in Cleveland, with multiple venues of different types, all of which are well regarded and successful. A little talent of course helps, but Dante worked really hard, focused on learning to be the best that he could be, and stayed humble through all of it.  It’s a lot like our business in those regards, and like for Dante, the opportunities and successes have...

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What Does Continuous Improvement Mean In Construction?

It recently occurred to me how important continuous improvement is in ours or any business.  We hear about continuous improvement, but probably not frequently enough.  Continuous improvement is an attitude that must be ingrained in each of us, and in every company, in order to compete and succeed for our clients. Continuous improvement is always striving to do better.  It’s always looking for a better solution for clients.  And it’s always looking to learn and improve for the benefit of our clients, our teammates, and ourselves.  It’s always pushing the envelope-not settling for the tried-and-true, but not taking undue risks for clients, either. It’s a Core Value of ours.  Our clients want optimized solutions.  Their projects are significant, and we only get one chance to optimize each project, which is why continuous learning is and must continue to be an ingrained attitude at The Douglas Company. Peter Douglas, P.E. President The Douglas Company Read More >

Financial Stability – Providing You Peace of Mind

As an owner of a construction project, imagine receiving a call from your contractor telling you that they have run out of money and can’t pay for the labor or material to keep your project on schedule.  What options do you have?  The answer is, “there is no good option!” So if not having it is bad, what are the benefits of being financially stable?  It starts with making your project financing approvals quicker and easier.  Lenders want financially stable construction companies used on projects they lend on, as it helps reduce risk.  In situations where surety bonds are needed, financially stable contractors have a surety relationship that can provide for these needs without delay. Financial stability ensures during construction; the project owner is not bothered by untimely requests for money to meet cash flow needs caused by a problem on your project or worse, someone else’s project.  A financially stable contractor can...

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How Core Values Help Senior Living Developers

Core Values is another concept coined by Jim Collins to be a key to a company being “Built to Last” as outlined in his book of that title.  The Douglas Company has 4 Core Values, as follows: ·         Great client relationships with high customer loyalty ·         Integrity and professionalism in all we do ·         Keeping our commitments through proactive attention to detail and execution ·         Growth of our Associates and Business through learning, teamwork, and leadership Great Client Relationships with High Customer Loyalty Why It’s A Core Value We genuinely like, appreciate, and value our clients.  They do so many great things in society and do so much for us.  They trust us with their important projects, and we need to be worthy of that trust.  Because of all this, we value the relationship with them and want them to continue doing business with us. What It Means For Our Clients For our clients, this means that all of...

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Contributing to the success of our Clients and Associates

Core Purpose and Values concept was coined by Jim Collins in his book “Built to Last.”  In his research, he found that all of the great companies that had lasted a long time successfully had a Core Purpose and Core Values.  Since we aspire to last a long time, successfully, we developed our own. Core Purpose is your purpose for being.  But more practically, it’s what one gets excited to get up in the morning to do.  Our Core Purpose is “Contribute to the success of our Clients and Associates.” There are two parts to this - Clients and Associates. Our clients put their trust in us when they hire us, and they hire us to contribute to their success.  We must honor their trust by doing this, and we do, through building quickly & reliably, with quality, adding value, and controlling risk.  From a selfish standpoint, it’s intrinsically rewarding to be...

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Process in Senior Living Construction

Our new brochure is coming out and it talks about “The Power of Process”.  I believe in the process.  When service providers tell us they have processes they follow that have proven to be effective for their clients, I am more likely to buy from them.  The process gives reliability.  The process of a proven system greatly enhances the probability of success.  Great people are necessary and important, but without a proven process, can be unreliable. Some people complain about the process being a straitjacket that impedes their ability to succeed, and they are passionate about this.  I don’t believe it.  Those are the people who generally don’t succeed.  I was pleased to see and to read an article about Bill Campbell, former Chairman of the Board of Intuit and involved in many tech companies of significance.  He talked about the rigors of process and their ability to help people succeed. ...

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The Importance of Cultural Fit

The Douglas Company’s Core Purpose is “To contribute to the success of our Clients and Associates.”  To consistently achieve our Core Purpose, our Associates must be committed to consistently live our Core Values:  “Great client relationships with high customer loyalty” are accomplished through genuine care and concern for our clients.  “Integrity and professionalism in all we do” requires a high level of personal pride and willingness to do the right things the right way.  “Keeping our commitments through proactive attention to detail and execution” is achieved through perseverance and hard work to accomplish our goals.  “Growth of our Associates and Business through learning, teamwork, and leadership” is demonstrated through our genuine care and respect for each other. Our Associates do not live our Core Values because they are “directed to,” but rather because they are motivated from within.  It is in their DNA to focus on our Clients, to plan and execute well, and to take care of each other. ...

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