S&S also acts as a team member with its customers to review plans and specifications. Somero says their ideal situation is when a GC or owner brings them in during the planning stages of a project. “We can review the plans and recommend different ways of doing things,” he says. “Then we look for design or specification problems up front and get them fixed before we start building so we don’t have to deal with them in the middle of a project.”
Staying productive to maximize efficiency also comes with taking the right jobs. S&S looks for jobs that are a good fit for the company — industrial and commercial facilities and warehouses and superflat and other specialty floors. “Those are the kinds of jobs we are best set up to do. We have the equipment and personnel to do that type of work,” Somero explains.
Training and safety
Specialty work like that performed by S&S Concrete Floors requires a staff of well-trained and experienced concrete craftsmen. Job training and safety training are often integrated at S&S, stressing the importance of the company’s safety culture. When a new employees join the company, they go through drug screening and safety training. Once they get out in the field, S&S pairs new employees with experienced workers. They go through hands-on field training and have the opportunity to work their way up from laborer to other positions if they choose to. The company also has certified ACI Flatwork Finishers on staff.
“We invest a lot into safety training. We run our own safety program, our safety manual is based on the ASCC Safety Manual and we bring in outside consultants for education programs. We are currently implementing an internal, online safety training program, so when employees aren’t needed in the field, for example if there is a rain day, they can work on safety education without having to schedule an instructor, which is one of the biggest challenges in construction training,” Somero explains.
Staying ahead of the curve in your industry means more than staying current on new equipment and techniques. It also means being proactive and educated on changes that will affect the business side of your company. Somero tracks current issues, but is still unclear on how they will affect his business: health care reform, changes to workers’ compensation insurance and taxes.
“Regulations don’t seem to be getting easier to deal with either. With environmental restrictions and equipment emissions rules, the cost of building is going up. The associated paperwork and training costs money. Ultimately, you have to pass these costs on to your customers if you are going to stay in business,” he adds.
Another trend Somero has seen grow in recent years is the issue of risk mitigation. “GCs and owners are pushing more risk down to subcontractors. We see a lot of clauses in contracts that we don’t like, and we’ve had little success getting those changed. Our clients tell us to bid accordingly, but it’s challenging because our competitors may not have noticed those clauses or understood the ramifications of them, and their prices will come in lower than ours,” he explains. “It’s hard to argue that point during the bid process, and there were a lot of times when we thought we might have lost a job because of that.”
Despite the challenges that come with competition and doing business, S&S continues to win jobs and strengthen its reputation. Its goal to stay ahead of the curve helps the company form partnerships with their customers that result in quality building projects and strong relationships.