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  1. The Season of Giving

    June 12, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    We are already in the second week of November and Thanksgiving is fast approaching. You may have heard me say before that this is one of my favorite holidays; there is nothing better than turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie for days on end.

    This season is less about food, however, and more about gratitude and the WPC family certainly has much to be thankful for this year. In addition to the improved economic conditions that have increased our workload, we are thankful for our many clients who continue to put their trust in WPC and select us to be a part of their construction teams. We are grateful for the hard work of our subcontractors and vendors across Florida and the rest of the country, as well as their participation in our many philanthropic endeavors that allow us to give back to our community.

    Our most recent event was Canstruction Orlando, a design-build competition using canned and packaged foods as the materials for building theme-based structures. At the end of the competition, all of the food is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Our design was the recreation of the Give Kids the World Village logo, a 70-acre non-profit fantasy resort in the Orlando area that provides weeklong cost-free vacations to children and their families suffering from life-threatening illness. Our design supported this year’s theme of Orlando Can Be Magical. It was so well received from our subcontractors and vendors that through our joint efforts we donated 2,500 canned and packaged foods, as well as donated $2,000 to Give Kids the World Village. We are pretty excited to have been able to support 2 non-profit organizations through one event.(We also took 2nd place for Structural Ingenuity and earned the Daily City’s Biggest Heart Award).

    WPC will continue to give back to our community throughout the holiday season and the rest of the year. We are blessed to be able to make an impact in lives of those in need and I am proud of those WPC staffers that volunteer their time towards these causes.

    On a personal note, I just completed my first half marathon at the Santa Barbara International Veterans Marathon in California.  It was a very cool accomplishment and one I hope to repeat many times in the future. This marathon falls on the weekend before Veterans Day and celebrates the many veterans around the world who have served our country.

  2. President’s Log: Stardate 07-13

    by Jeff Forrest

    June 27th – 8:02PM
    I am on board a 5-hour flight to Vegas for my monthly visit to our projects in the western part of the country. The team has been working hard on our Desert Club Resort renovation for Holiday Inn Club Vacations. The latest work should wrap up by mid-August and the Orlando based staff can come home for a much-earned rest in their own beds. Tower 5 at The Grandview at Las Vegas is now complete and our construction partner, Penta Building Group, did another fantastic job.

    June 29th – 10:00PM

    I’m at Tao Restaurant in Las Vegas. My son, who is a professional poker player, is playing in the World Series of Poker events for the 5th consecutive year. Although his 25th birthday is on July 1st, we decided to celebrate a couple days early with a few of our very close West Coast friends.

    June 30th – 5:38AM

    I’m eating breakfast with my son who decided we needed to see the sun come up before we went to sleep. Good thing he only turns 25 once.

    July 1st – 11:00AM
    I’m in a meeting on an exciting new project and will discuss that more in an upcoming blog.

    July 1st – 2:20PM
    I decided to drive to San Diego in lieu of flying. That won’t happen again. I’m meeting with a client based in San Diego who has some new and renovation projects in Florida and Nevada.

    July 4th – 11:40AM
    I’m in flight to Chicago and I notice a Marine in full dress. I figured it was appropriate attire for Independence Day. As it turns out, he is escorting a fallen Marine back home to his final resting place. It is a sad but honorable duty and one that all of us on board did not take for granted. We showed our respect as he exited the plane and it reminded all of us of the price of our freedom. Watch the movie Taking Chance if you want to learn more about the soldiers who volunteer to be escorts.

    July 8th – 8:32AM

    I’m back at my desk in Orlando finding it hard to believe that half the year is gone. Although the economy appears to be improving, we remain cautious and conservative. Our memories of the past 4 (challenging) years are still fresh and though we are busy, we are not busy enough and future work remains high on the priority list.

    Every month we build ourselves out of a job. The WPC team is challenged by the difficulties of a busy labor force, yet faces those challenges with the determination necessary to maintain our reputation. We have some exciting new projects on the horizon – with new clients that have yet to experience the WPC Way and with existing clients whose expectations are high, just as they should be.

    I could not be more proud of how hard everyone is working. The younger generation of assistant project managers and project managers like Curtis Husselman and Kevin Ivey, whose fathers worked for WPC, as well as newly appointed project manager, Ben Abernethy, are stepping up. John Russo and Sarah Makie of our pre-construction and estimating department are also rising stars. They have shown they deserve their titles and responsibilities. We’ve hired some great new talent both in the office and the field that will have opportunities to grow and learn, and our hope is this next generation of leaders will one day be running this company. The seasoned staffers are also working harder than ever and showing the newbies the ropes and helping them mesh with our culture.

    Watching my son turn 25, seeing the next generation mature, and realizing that time waits for no one can be a sobering experience.

  3. Stress Less

    June 4, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    We’re in the home stretch of 2013 with only one quarter left in the year. I’ve just returned from the NMHC Student Housing Conference in New Orleans and had a chance to catch up with some of our existing clients, as well as meet a few new ones. The outlook on the market remains optimistic which bodes well for WPC in the coming years. We’re also excited about the multifamily market as we continue to capture new projects in the urban infill, podium, wrap and garden style sectors.  As the market improves, so is the stress of managing the labor, schedule and cost escalation issues that come with everyone being busier. Projecting project costs has become increasingly challenging and imposes stress on developers, subcontractors and our staff as they manage the muddy waters of pre-construction and budgeting. It’s this kind of stress that our clients rely on us to deal with given our proven experience and solid relationships.

    Speaking of stress: in September’s blog I reported that my son, Jeffrey, decided to dive head first into a new career in construction at WPC. He took a few minutes to write a newsletter article about how he faced stress in his former career as a poker player and what it means to him now. Here is that article:

    Stress by Jeffrey Forrest

    As many of you know, I was a professional poker player for the last 5 years. I would spend 8 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week playing a strategic game of chance.  For a long time, I was able to sustain myself and remain independent with poker as my career. I entered tournaments all around the country thanks to sponsorship from other players and experienced a great deal of success.

    However, all the success came to a halt in early 2011.  On a day poker players know as Black Friday, the government shut down the three major internet poker casinos, freezing 100’s of millions in poker player funds and effectively ending my poker career (although I wouldn’t accept it at the time). What made poker fun and profitable for me was being able to play comfortably on the couch at home and control the environment around me, allowing me to focus completely on the game.  I was forced at this time to transition into a traveling player, paying for gas, flights, hotel rooms, food and other random expenses to compete at casinos around Florida and different parts of the country.

    This is when I was truly introduced to stress. Stress is a part of the game of poker, no matter how good you are it’s a mentally taxing game. For the first few years, playing almost completely online, I was able to handle all of my professional levels of stress. If I won or lost for days, weeks or months, I didn’t feel I was affected too much in my personal life. But once I turned into a strictly live casino gambler, my life became an emotional roller coaster. The new expenses and constant travel on top of the games existing stress plus a need to make a living was not a winning combination. My days as a winning professional poker player were over.

    The only way to escape the stress was to move on to something new.  When I was given the opportunity to come and work for WPC, I knew it would be a positive change for me. So far it’s been exactly what I needed, I still feel professional stress but it has more of a positive energy. It’s exciting to learn how to do my new job, to do it quickly and well, on top of proving that I’ll be an asset over the long run.

    I my overall point is that we can’t always tell how our mental state is and specifically how we are reacting to stress until we look back on it afterwards. I’m lucky to have learned a lot of lifelong lessons from my time as a poker player, but none more importantly then how I will let stress affect me on a daily basis. You may want to take some time and look up a Ted Talks video by Kelly McGonigal about how to recognize stress and make it your friend.

    That kid is pretty damn smart and a decent writer…must be in the genes.

    As we approach the end of the year, I’m sure the stress of the world won’t change much. From the political tensions both nationally and across the globe, to work challenges or personal battles, hopefully you’ll diffuse your stress in a positive way and avoid the pitfalls of letting it affect your health and success.

    On a final note, October is my birthday month. I suppose it is safer to say that 2013 has been my birthday year.  I turn 50 on the 25th and have enjoyed 43 birthday parties so far (7 more to go) celebrating all over the world…literally. From Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Chicago to New York, London to Belgium, I’ve experienced some amazing times with outstanding friends and family. There are a few parties left before the big Five-O and I’m sure they will be just as much fun. I am forever grateful to all those who have celebrated with me or sent your good wishes. Since I’m¬ halfway through with this life, I better figure out what I’m going to do for a living for the next 50 years. This construction thing is a young man’s game and we have some strong young leaders who will do an amazing job with our company in the years ahead.

  4. Remembering our Roots

    June 7, 2012 by Jeff Forrest

    Signs of a changing market have been apparent to us for several months. Within our respective communities, we see emerging developments breaking ground and we are experiencing our own uptake in new and potential projects. No doubt, it is a much better feeling than the economic tone of the last few years, however, the market is still a bit fragile and we continue to exercise caution in our business practices.

    Regardless the state of the economy, WPC will continue to strive to be the best general contractor in the industry. In order to do so, we are beginning a reinvigoration process with our staff to remind us of what built our reputation of excellence. This reputation was built by the multiple processes and procedures already in place that promote a safe work environment and efficiency in our daily tasks. This framework illustrates effective communication (upstream, downstream and laterally), elevated levels of customer service, optimal relationships, exceptional product quality, proper time management and sustained profitability. Though these principles seem simple in nature, it is these fine nuances that make WPC stand out in the business. Combined with our quest to constantly improve, this strategy will allow us to stay ahead of the game.

    Executing excellence is a simple strategy that speaks volumes about what we must do everyday in order to live up to our obligations to our clients, consultants, vendors, and fellow employees. For those of you who have experienced this level of excellence from WPC, you have seen how this makes us different.

    As 2012 comes to a close, the pulse of WPC is stronger than ever. We truly appreciate the trust our clients place in us by inviting us to be part of their construction teams. We do not take these opportunities lightly and we will work diligently to maintain your patronage by providing unwavering dedication and outstanding quality.

    I hope all of you will have time to be with family and friends during the holiday season.