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‘The WPC Way’ Category

  1. Time to Stop Bitching (I Mean Whining) About the Past

    January 12, 2012 by Jeff Forrest

    When I sat down to write this blog, I had two titles for it…“Time to Move Forward” or “Time to Stop Bitching About the Past.” I like the second one, but some people have told me to be politically correct. I’ve never been real keen on political correctness, but I’ll give it a try; and consider this a warning not to read further if you’re easily offended as my “PC” efforts may fall short.

    I’m getting a bit tired of talking about the past and how the economy has changed our world. The idea that breaking even is a good thing, kind of sucks stinks. Ok, so we have more money in the bank today than we did in January of 2010. That’s pretty damn darn good and very few construction companies can boast about that. In reality, and contrary to rumors that one local GC tried to spread about WPC, we’re stronger financially now than at anytime in the past three years. If that GC would like to compare balance sheets, please give me a call.

    We can’t change what has happened but we can focus on what we’re going to do. Knowing what we know, we can stop bitching whining about the economy and go out and capture profitable work.

    WPC provides superior quality and service and there are clients–both new and existing–that appreciate that, and are willing to pay for it. Those clients who are just looking for the absolute lowest price and are willing to treat contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers like a second tier society; and push them to the brink of insolvency so they can get a better deal and put more money in their pockets, aren’t the ones we want to do business with.

    Now that’s not saying that we aren’t competitive, because we are, and our repeat clients know that. What I’m saying is that we provide a greater value for the dollar and we provide an experience that exceeds our clients expectations. Very few GC’s provide “it” these days because of two things: 1) They aren’t any good at “it”, and that’s unfortunately a majority of our industry; or 2) They are forced to drive their prices so low that they have to change the way they do business, which in turn, changes the value provided. The good news is that there are some GC’s that are good at “it” and aren’t willing to sacrifice their core values to scramble for breadcrumbs. Those are the ones we want to compete against, because that’s who we are.

    So it’s time to stop bitching whining and get back to working hard. Working hard for those clients that are fair, loyal, perhaps need a little help to make their project viable; and are looking for quality, customer service, a guaranteed good experience, and value. We’re doing business with lots of them right now and 2012 and beyond will be built on those relationships and the way in which we cultivate them.

    Thank you to those clients who have (or will) put their trust in us and appreciate what we do.

    Alright… time for me to stop whining bitching and get to work making 2012 a darn damn good year.

  2. 2011 Comes to a Close

    December 7, 2011 by Jeff Forrest

    As I write this month’s blog, I am at 37,000 feet flying from Hong Kong to Manila. Ultimately, I will end up on Boracay Island in the Philippines for the wedding of two of my best friends, Angela & Eric. That’s probably more information than you need to know, but for me it is the culmination of a roller coaster ride of a year and one that ends on a high note – both literally and figuratively.

    The year began with hopes of a steady economic recovery and hopeful growth in our markets that include multifamily, student housing, senior housing, military housing and hospitality. At one time or another in 2011, we had new construction or renovation projects in every one of these market segments and were fortunate to be busy…perhaps busier than most. We started the University House Central Florida student housing project near UCF, the Serenades by Sonata memory care facility in Longwood, Florida; the Lost Creek Apartments project in Manatee County, Florida; and Heroes Village military housing at Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina. In addition, we were already working with Vacation Villas at Fantasy World on their new water park and administration building as well as remodeling timeshare units for our long time client, Orange Lake Country Club.

    The outlook was very positive, especially compared to 2010. Our pre-construction and estimating department was busier than ever working on both certain and potential projects. Many of these projects, however, were stymied mid-year by the uncertainty of the US financial situation. The inability of our politicians to work towards a solution that was in the best interest of our country frightened many. This made decision making difficult as related to financing and development. The hesitancy continued for the remainder of the year with not only political bickering between parties, but the onset of next year’s election and the candidates sparring for position. Continued financial unrest both domestically and abroad did nothing to help the situation. Thus, uncertainty continued.

    In addition to all this, the financial strength of many subcontractors and suppliers was being tested as result of lower margins and tighter competition. Some of these venders, many seasoned with a history of fiscal responsibility, fell by the wayside effecting the schedules and economics of projects. This was not a recipe for success and, unfortunately, we have not seen the end of these failures.

    In spite of all the challenges we faced, we were fortunate to continue to capture work. We negotiated the second phase of the Heroes Village project, began pre-construction on the next Serenades at Sonata to be built in Winter Garden, Florida and started a renovation project in Las Vegas with our teaming partner, Penta Building Group. Penta and WPC are also preparing to break ground on the next tower of The Grandview at Las Vegas. In addition, we were selected to provide pre-construction services for two downtown Orlando multifamily projects and have been working with a new client on multifamily deals in Tampa and South Florida.

    The old adage that people do business with those who they know, like and trust is very true for WPC. The opportunities continue to be there as we build on lasting relationships and cultivate new ones. Those developers that value what we provide over our competitors, who want exceptional rather than acceptable, will be who we work hard for and will be the ones that help us survive in these continually troubled times. Building Beyond the Blueprint is more than just a saying; it is the culture of WPC and our efforts will always be to strive to distinguish ourselves through something more than being treated as a commodity.

    As I prepare to land in Manila, I also prepare to arrive at gate 2012. WPC remains cautious about the future regardless of what we are faced with. We will always follow the words of my father; wake up everyday and work hard. Although I won’t share with you the shenanigans that will no doubt occur at this wedding, trust me when I say that it will be memorable. These are the kinds of memories I hope all of you had for 2011 and will have in 2012. I wish all of you safe and happy holidays and may hard work and the pursuit of excellence lead to much success in the coming year.

  3. Competing Against Acceptable

    November 10, 2011 by Jeff Forrest

    Why is it that acceptable is…well, acceptable? Whether it is quality work or good service, why are we surprised when we see it or receive it? More often than not, we accept acceptable because it is more the norm than exceptional work or service. Perhaps it comes down to price. People are willing to pay less as long as they get an acceptable return. We see it everyday in the construction industry and for the WPC team, acceptable is not…acceptable.

    When we think of companies like Apple, Ritz Carlton, Disney and others that provide exceptional products or service, we realize that what people really are seeking is quality. People pay more for an Apple product, a room at the Ritz or a ticket to go see Mickey but they expect their experience to be excellent. That’s how we want WPC to be thought of. When people see our logo or talk about our work, we want it to be synonymous with amazing customer service and outstanding quality. We want them to feel good about the value they receive for the price they pay.

    Competing against acceptable is not easy because cost is such a driving factor in the decisions that our clients make. Estimating and pre-construction’s job is to show our clients what the “real” price is for quality work and to show them the value in every number we give them. This includes costs for proper water intrusion details, higher quality windows, exterior paints and other quality materials that are critical to achieving exceptional. Using prices from subcontractors that will not only start the job but will finish it is part of the exceptional formula. Operation’s job is to provide enough experienced supervision to make sure all these things come together and that we execute with excellence. That is what WPC does and that is why people tell us over and over again that our work is the best they’ve ever seen. Why is that not normal? I suppose it’s better for us that it isn’t.

    It takes every member of the WPC team to provide quality work and exceptional customer service. It takes every member of the WPC team to Build Beyond the Blueprint. Whether answering the phone, paying subs and suppliers, interacting with architects and consultants, preparing status reports or on the front lines at a job, everything will be remembered. It’s how WPC is remembered that is the distinguishing factor. We continue to surprise our clients with exceptional and have them never want acceptable again.

  4. Gratitude Built On Remembrance

    September 8, 2011 by Jeff Forrest

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an increasing number of documentaries and TV shows on September 11, 2001 (9/11). As we approach the 10th anniversary of that life-changing day, I found myself contemplating the past 10 years and how that day changed our lives. I wont go into where I was or what I was doing on that day. We all have our own personal stories. But, as I reflect I realize that as a company, perhaps 9/11 made us more patriotic. Not too long after 9/11 we added an 800 square foot American flag on the front of our corporate office. In addition, as you walk into our lobby you’ll find a plaque memorializing the events of 9/11. It’s unfortunate that it takes something of such a catastrophic nature to open our eyes to what we take for granted everyday; the freedom that is provided to us by so many men and woman protecting us both on our own soil and abroad.

    What has become very apparent to me in the past decade are the choices we’ve made and the added meaning behind some of our charitable activities. Specifically, charities related to wounded veterans that hit a special cord in our sentiments.  Perhaps they have more meaning because so many young men and woman are fighting wars that were motivated by 9/11. And, as a result, more and more of them are being permanently injured or killed.

    We were approached a few years back by the Johnny Damon foundation to sponsor his events. The idea that Johnny was the national spokesperson for the Wounded Warrior Project and that a portion of the proceeds from his events goes to the WWP made us far more willing to provide support. And when WPC was asked to participate in the Home at Last projects, a unique effort to honor combat-wounded veterans of the present military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan by providing them with mortgage-free homes, we jumped at the opportunity. We’ve proudly participated in the construction of three of those homes and, without hesitation, have signed up for the fourth. WPC will continue to support these efforts and others with honor and patriotic commitment.

    A considerable number of lives were affected far more personally than I was as a result of the events on 9/11. Yet seeing how our charitable actions affect these wounded vets adds a special sense of pride. It is merely one way we honor those who were lost and those who are still sacrificing so much for our freedom today.

  5. Building Beyond the Blueprint

    July 27, 2011 by Jeff Forrest

    Building Beyond the Blueprint

    Throughout our 37 years, many people have tried to define the “WPC Way”. Is it a culture or an attitude? Is it what we do or how we do it? If you ask anyone who has been a part of this company, chances are you’ll get a multitude of answers. But, I suppose, we should ask why we do the things that we do in the first place. Now that’s a good question.

    One very good reason is the fact that, at last count, there were more than 80,000 commercial general contractors in the U.S. alone. Not to mention some bad apples that have given our industry’s reputation a few bruises. That’s a lot of competition and predisposition to overcome. To stand out in a sea of GCs and capture our fair share of work requires us to be special…to be different.

    A lot of contractors can build good projects at a competitive price. Frankly, following plans, specifications, and codes, and listening to your client should be cost of entry for any good contractor. We also do those things, but that’s not what makes us different. It’s all the other things we do that result in building beyond the blueprint.

    The short answer to why WPC builds beyond the blueprint is that, if we didn’t, someone else would fill the vacuum. If we don’t stay ahead of the competition, if we don’t constantly look for ways to improve, we’ll end up stagnant or out of business. Why is it that companies like Apple, Facebook, Wal-Mart, Target, and Google continue to thrive and others like MySpace, Kmart, and AOL do not? The former have core values and fundamentals that they execute at the highest levels. They don’t rest on what they’ve done and strive to always keep improving.

    Building beyond the blueprint means more than I can describe in this article. At WPC we live it every day and execute it at the highest level. We must fight to keep our spot among the elite general contractors and not become a commodity. We must constantly change in order to remain competitive and we must reinvent ourselves whenever necessary to keep up with the demands of an ever-changing economy.

    I’d love to hear from you about your definition of the WPC Way, so please email me your thoughts.