Traits of a Winner

Nancy Brinkerhoff / August 2019

Hello all,

I am excited to provide you with a monthly update. As I start my term as the AWCI president, the association is in the interview process for a new CEO/executive director. These interviews take place in late July and early August in Falls Church, Va., where the AWCI is headquartered.
    
The plan is to have a new CEO on board by the time we all meet again at our annual mid-year conference in late September in Honolulu. I encourage you all to join us on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu for that conference which is centered on new, innovative committees and networking.
    
On another topic, there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, right? General contractors love to see us compete with each other, and we as subcontractors are constantly trying to find a way to set ourselves apart and be the best choice for our clients.
    
I often ask myself: What are the characteristics of a company that make it superior to the competition?
    
At my company, we try and put ourselves in the client’s shoes. What do our clients want from us that will make an average project turn into an outstanding project? Most of the time we find consistency from the project manager and superintendent are key; the same people on site from start to finish makes a huge difference. While this is the ideal situation, it’s not always attainable because of the many curve balls construction and life can throw you. When life happens, you need Plan B. Our Plan B is laid out from the beginning of the project. We plan our backup team, we have a hand-off process, and we keep electronic files accessible to all.
    
For many contractors, that competitive edge comes with new innovative technology and a pre-manufacturing process to speed production. For some of them, it impacts their bottom line and provides competitive pricing to the client.
    
Another strategy is to target projects that require “set aside” certifications such as veteran-owned or woman-owned entities. While you still face competition in these fields, the pool of competitors is usually slightly narrower in this market.
    
A qualified workforce is also huge in setting your company apart from others. Trained, well-versed people who put a priority on safety are paramount in today’s market.
    
So there you go: just a few ideas that come to mind when I think about a company I would like to work with.

In addition to being 2019–2020 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Nancy Brinkerhoff is CEO and president of Ironwood Commercial Builders in Northern California.