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June, 2012

  1. Are some companies taking a step back?

    June 15, 2012 by Jeff Forrest

    We are half way through the year and summer is in full effect. Traveling between Orlando and Las Vegas during this time of year puts me in extreme climates: hot and humid, and hot and dry, though it is hard to complain about having work in either of these vibrant cities.

    One thing is for sure: the competitive landscape remains as tight as ever. However, there is an uneasy trend developing and it should concern all of us. We are finding more and more general contractors and subcontractors cutting corners in order to compete. Whether this is with less manpower to supervise the work, alternative materials of lesser quality or paying less attention to important details that will become critical in the long term, it appears that some companies are taking a step back in order to survive. In the end, it will come back to haunt them and, without question, the clients and end user are getting less value. It is scary that some clients are okay with getting less because it is the only way they can make the “numbers” work.

    We at WPC ask ourselves this question: how do we compete when we’re not willing to do less? The answer remains complicated, but one thing is for sure – we will not compromise our values in order to capture work. We have been very fortunate to work with clients that appreciate the value we provide at a competitive price and are not looking for the cheapest price. They appreciate that we don’t move faster than quality will allow and trust that we will live up to our reputation. I tell clients my job isn’t to make money, but to figure out a way to keep it. In order to do that, we need to stick with what we know is right and work hard to provide our clients with a product of which we both can be proud.

    On a side note, and in an attempt to satisfy both my readers who like when I go on a rant and my own desire to keep it real, I thought I would complain a little about some people who need to be called out. I was going to write an entire blog about this entitled “Choosing Between Right and Wrong,” but I’ll keep it short and sweet (okay…maybe not so sweet). I was told that writing this piece was a bad choice, but it will damn sure make me feel better.

    That potential blog title comes from something I heard when I was younger from a much smarter and wiser man that I will ever be. He told me that knowing what is right and wrong is usually not the problem. Making the choice to do what’s right or wrong is what people seem to struggle with. People who know me very well know that I am no saint. I’ve made plenty of bad choices and decisions in my day. Suffice it to say that I won’t be running for any public office. I recently rediscovered a quote from Augusten Burroughs that fits me quite well,

    “I myself am made up entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

    There is a difference between being a decent human being who makes some bad choices from time to time and someone who is altogether a bad person. I seem to be crossing paths with the latter more often lately and it has become quite discouraging. By the way, I was advised to not mention the names and locations of the “bad guys” in order to avoid any possible backlash. I would usually ignore that advice, but I’ll use a little judgment in this case. I’ll be happy to fill you in should you choose to contact me.

    Let’s start with the crooks in New Orleans. Let me first state that I am not saying that everyone in NOLA is a crook – just half the people I’ve come across have been. I was jokingly told that the other half hasn’t been caught yet but I’m sure there are some very good people there. For some stupid reason, we decided to team up with another general contractor in this town known for its good music, good food, endless partying and mass corruption. The owner of this other firm and some of his employees turned out to be some seriously bad people. Lesson learned – don’t be enticed by a town that has good music, good food, endless partying and is known for mass corruption. I know what you’re thinking; I work in Vegas, which is known for all of these things as well. I don’t have good answer for you but I can say that I’ve been working there for more than 10 years and so far everyone I’ve come across have been good people.

    Next up, the mental midget – err, plumbing subcontractor who shook hands with me over a two-year deal and yet, three years later, decided to disregard the entire agreement even after I fulfilled my end of the bargain. Apparently, integrity and honor is not a valued part of his business practice. Lesson here? Never take someone’s word if they have a history of idiotic tendencies.

    Speaking of integrity, or lack thereof, my last rant is dedicated to the pseudo bar owner/restaurateur who was given our time, effort and intellectual capital, and in return used a different, unqualified general contractor at an extraordinarily cheaper price. Of course, we were assured payment for our services, but I will wager you have figured out that he did not get paid. The final lesson – never take someone’s word if they have a history of idiotic tendencies. Wait. I should already know this.

    Let me come full circle and bring this back to where I started. People are making decision today that they wouldn’t necessarily make if the economy were like it was pre-2008. Some of those decisions involve lack of quality, some involve lack of integrity and even worse, some involve criminal acts. We all have choices to make and we all must live with them. In each one of the cases I’ve mentioned, someone is going to jail, someone will no longer work for us and someone will have to live with the loss of a friend. I find comfort in knowing what goes around comes around. I’ve learned that lesson a number of times in my day.

    More importantly, I find comfort in knowing that the people at WPC that I work with everyday continue to pursue excellence in their work and in their decisions. We are not perfect but when we are faced with the choice to do what’s right or what’s wrong, we follow the path that allows us to sleep at night and be proud of who were are.

    So, I digressed a bit. Okay, a lot. But, I feel better and perhaps I’ve challenged you to think. Stay tuned for less rants (maybe) and good news in July.