The Contractor’s Best Friend /07-04-2013/ Reconstructing…Washington D.C.?

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No, this isn’t a politically slanted column about the state of our politicians. While that is a tempting topic to explore for sure, I’ve got another purpose in mind for this July 4th.

The National Mall, the Lincoln Reflecting Pool, and a side project near the World War II Memorial all are being restored and improved. This construction effort, while perhaps preventing a few thousand people from celebrating the Fourth of July in Washington D.C., is nonetheless needed due to an interesting yet little known fact.

It seems that much of our national capital, as beautiful as it is, is located on a…landfill. That’s right, a landfill and this landfill is evidently beginning to sink, causing the Lincoln Reflecting Pool to leak about 500,000 gallons of water a week.

While most of the reconstruction efforts will be completed later this summer and early fall, there will be some fencing and barricades put up around the sites to protect celebrating and touring people arriving to our nation’s capital for all of the traditional Fourth of July festivities.

How about that: Some of the most iconic structures in our national capital were built on a landfill! Fortunately most of these opportunities are fixable, while many of our politicians are not. (Sorry, I said I wouldn’t go there. Ha!)

With the recent collapse of bridges, rain-induced sinkholes, and even the carnage left behind from tornados (my home was less than four miles from one in Texas that left six citizens dead and more than 60 homes wiped out), our nation’s capital is not the only location in need of construction experts.

In light of some of the observations presented earlier, let this 4th of July remind you to:

A. Realize Construction Opportunities Needing Your Expertise

This isn’t about being a construction version of the “ambulance chaser,” but it does realize that many parts of our country’s infrastructure are in great need of repair, if not total reconstruction. While much of this is government -funded opportunity, there are still many other construction projects that may have private funding available that we can and should be pursuing.

B. Look for Iconic Construction Opportunities…Like the National Monuments

When you are looking for new constructing opportunities consider those areas in your market that are especially visible to the public. Often the more visible -- especially the more recognized or revered locations -- can become good potential construction projects. So call on such opportunities.

C. Increase Your Company’s Safety Net with Iconic Construction Opportunities

A contractor friend of mine just completed an incredible reconstruction of a city park that required placing a huge amount of rock, huge blocks of granite and concrete walls, paving new jogging and bike trails, and some of the most beautiful landscaping that I’ve ever seen. The location was well known for having “soft dirt” as they called it there. The possibility for sinkholes was always on my friend’s mind as his crews did a masterful job of new installation and replacement construction…all in an overly safe process.

To put it briefly, my friend admitted that he had never had so many “safety agents” looking over his shoulder during the entire construction process. “I should have slept great every night with all the extra sets of eyeballs watching our every move, but I just couldn’t relax until the very last employee was safely off the grounds and heading home from the last day of work.”

D. Lead and Raise the Level of Pride When Completing Projects of Great Importance & Iconic Reputation!

You think the contractors performing work on three of our national monuments will experience a bit more energy, focus, maybe even patriotism? They have too!

It’s the same sort of effort and attitude that needs to be in place whenever your folks are engaged with working on sites, buildings and high-visibility locations that represent the pride perhaps for many in the area. While we want to believe that every job our workers perform is filled with great energy, pride and enthusiasm, the truth is that there is another gear we need to find when working on building and construction projects that are just a little bit more visible and important to the public.

E. Be Sure to Clean Up Your Trucks, Equipment and Break Out the New Uniforms

Whenever your team is working on very visible and important projects, take the extra effort to make sure that everything and everyone that represents your company is cleaned up, shiny and presenting a positive image of your company and our great industry. Talk about the need to be a bit patriotic about construction, working on very iconic-like projects should bring out the very best in each of us…and then some!

F. Practice the Good Ol’ Red, White, and Blue Spirit

You don’t have to be in Washington D.C., working on the Lincoln Reflection Pool, the National Mall, or the World War II Memorial to feel a sense of patriotic pride, although that would certainly be a clincher for me. The 4th of July is our time of reflection; of what a great country we live in, what a great privilege to own companies and lead people, and to be part of the best industry in the world.

On this Fourth of July, stop and reflect on all of the things that make you proud to be a contractor, a construction leader, and member of the greatest industry around. Maybe, just maybe you will then be able to transfer that great emotion to your followers, encouraging them to be the best that they can be while working in the greatest country in the world!

Here’s to Reconstructing…Your Market Opportunities!

Brad Humphrey  

© 2013 Brad Humphrey, Pinnacle Development Group/The Contractor’s Best Friend™