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You could use some work, and this job is big and right in your area of expertise–but you don’t like the GC. Do you bid or not? Why?

If we only did work for who we like, we’d go out of business.


Depends on why you don’t like him. A payment issue or multiple issues would be cause for me not to bid to him.

No, go with your first instinct. There’s a reason you do not like them and unless they have changed, do not expect different results.

If he pays at the end of the job, why not? If you gotta wait 30 days or more to get paid, see ya!!!!!!!

If I’ve had previous problems with a GC then more than likely I’ll make a decision not to bid on the project unless, of course, we’re out on the curb panhandling for our meals. For our company not wanting to bid work for a GC, they had to screw us one way or another and it’s usually out of our pay.

Depends on why I don’t like the GC. If their contract terms are unacceptable and they do not negotiate on said terms, I likely will not bid to them.

—Scott Deering, President,

Absolute Caulking & Waterproofing Inc.,

Wheat Ridge, CO

Bid everything—you never know when an opportunity will present itself. I bid several jobs over the past year with contractors we haven’t had much business with and as it turns out, I was the only bidder! Jobs went smooth, had decent profits—opened doors for future work!

Why do you not like the GC is the question to be answered before deciding whether to pursue/not pursue the work. You may learn that the issue is one that can be managed through personnel. Calculate the risk and weigh it based on your business plan. Make it an objective decision. Attempt to negotiate those “deal breaker” terms/conditions that are sending up the red flags. This will indicate how the GC regards the relationship. A yes or no answer is not possible as there are variables that each business must consider before a decision is made.

—Debra L Miller, Executive Director,

American Subcontractors Association of Colorado,

Englewood, CO

Depends on the reason I don’t like the GC. If it’s personality, then yes, I’d bid it. If it’s a past history of slow pay, dishonest dealings, etc., then no, I would not bid the job. Integrity is everything.

Yes. Whether you like him or not, you still bid and then negotiate terms and conditions along with final contract amount.

—Rich Ostrom,

RAM Acoustical Corporation

If we don’t like a GC, we don’t bid. Losing money, not being paid, GCs who don’t back their subs—none of these are worth it. In these tough economic times, it’s tough to say no. But we’ve learned from 20+ years of experience, no work is better than working with a bad GC.

I would think this is a real simple one. If there is a GC asking me to bid something, then I like him—unless he will not (or can not) pay me. If he was slow to pay his bill during the good times, how will he pay me now? It’s not personal, it’s business.

Maybe. If I have worked with the owner or the architect before and they know my company, then I would sign the contract. If I am going in cold, I will walk.

If the issues with the GC cannot be addressed through the contract or pre-bid meetings, then you should not bid. Each project has its own set of issues that will arise beyond our controls. Going to a project with a defensive or negative attitude will only hurt everyone. If you don’t want to work for the GC, your employees won’t either.

—Ruben Lara, PM,

Fire Wize, LLC,

Lyons, IL

Why don’t you like the GC? If it’s he doesn’t pay on time or runs a bad job—bid accordingly. If he cheats on his wife or goes to a church you don’t agree with, not your business. Bid anyway.

—Tom Blood,

Long Beach Acoustics

Depends on the reason you dislike the GC. If his reputation is for slow play and always using delay tactics to string out money, then no. If it’s for being a low-number shopper–type GC, then no. Personally NO because it’s difficult enough as it is without all those added reasons you don’t like the GC in the first place.

Yes. There is ways going to be someone you don’t like. As long as you bid according to specs and perform the work needed, and bid the price that you know you are comfortable with. If you’re a sub, you always have a boss.

—Robert D. Phillips

I do not bid. From my experience, if you don’t like a GC it’s usually because of past negative experiences, such as poor management that cost you money, or the GC has no appreciation for the long hours being put in to help meet his unrealistic schedule. So I would not bid because frustrating jobs bring more frustration. I would not want to dedicate the equipment and men as usually another job comes along that I would rather commit to.

Yes, hoping that it’s a government funded project so the GC can’t cheat us out of our money. Also, we would normally be high.

It’s a no-brainer. If the project is in your area of expertise (big or small), then it should show up on your radar as a hot target. Whether you like or dislike the GC is irrelevant. The question should be, “Does this GC run a project that will allow my firm to be successful?”

—Timothy J. Finke, Vice President,

Gypsum Systems Interiors, Ltd.

Yes, you should bid. A GC you don’t like will cost you more money. The GCs that have bad reputations should be bid accordingly. Let the marketplace run them out. If the subs would raise prices against the “bad” GCs, they would be forced to change or be forced out. And who knows? Maybe the good GC will end up with that project.

You need to bid on the project. If you don’t you are inviting out-of-town contractors to come into your area.

If the reason for the dislike is personal, you should put your feeling aside and go after the work. If the reason is professional, I would see if there is a way I can get the playing field even and bid the job at what it is worth to me to do the work. The amount of effort and resources are a definite factor in any decision of this sort.

Yes, by all means, bid the job. We don’t always like who we work for, but we need to pay the bills.

No. Success is not one-sided. Service will not be at potential for someone you dislike.

It depends on your reason for not liking him. Is it because he didn’t pay you in the past, or is it just because he’s an ass? Obviously if he didn’t pay or even slow paid, then the answer is no. If he’s unpleasant, then get over it and do the job. If it’s of some concern, make sure to address it with him up front before you start, or put it in a contract. He’s nothing more than one of those clients you don’t click with but still keeps calling you for work.

—Craig Favors, Owner,

Inside Expressions,

Dallas, TX

Yes, you bid. You just have to add a “BS factor” into your price. So, for an additional $30K, I can put up with this GC, but for that other GC I would have to add an additional $100K. Everything has its price!

I like this question. It hits at the heart of good business practice … and good sense.

The question really answers itself. “You don’t like the GC.” There is a reason for that. Either he cannot manage the job well or plays with your money and dings you in the end or whatever makes you not like him.

We’ve quit bidding to one large GC three times in 35 years and were too stupid to listen to our guts and got burned again and again. And they’re known as “sub busters.”

Part of the reason we’re still in business is that we’ve avoided the pitfalls—including GCs we “don’t like.”

More than once I’ve said that a job “was the best job we never got,” once it was complete and saw the fallout for those who did pursue it.

Maybe we have to dig a little deeper or work longer hours to fill the schedule, but we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that to this point.

—Robert Aird, Robert A. Aird, Inc.,

Frederick, MD

If they pay timely, I may consider it. If they have the reputation for letting people wait for their money, I will not bid. Oftentimes those who hold the money too long are spending it on other personal items and spoiling themselves at the expense of their subs.

I was once told by a customer, “If I like your work, I will have plenty more for you.” I thought as they said it, “If I like how you pay, I’ll consider doing more.” After a court battle, and two years’ time, I got my money, plus 11% court mandated interest.

Listen, guys: We can lose money staying at home. We don’t need to go to work for that. Bid it like you want the money, not the work. Then do a top-notch job and feel good about all that money you made. If you do it right, they’ll call you back. If they take too long to pay, we’ll assign them the silent ring tone.

—Barry Barbas, Glass Restoration Inc.,

Sarasota, FL

The only GCs I don’t like are the ones who don’t pay or can’t run a job—those guys aren’t worth bidding to at any price. It doesn’t matter what your margin is if you have to go to court, and getting stuck on a screwed-up project will keep you off three others you could be making money on.

—Bill Tracy, JBL Construction,

Oakland Park, FL

Is it just a personality problem but they know what they’re doing and pay on time? Then yes, we bid. Is it a personality problem, they don’t have a knowledgeable site super and they don’t pay on time? Then forget it. We will try to find out who else is bidding as GC and, following the guidelines above, submit a bid accordingly.

I believe you should always go where you’re respected. If we don’t get along with a certain company, why would we even try to complete a project together? That’s just asking for problems, so we don’t even waste our time and instead utilize our time properly and go after projects that I know are safe.

—Extreme Drywall Concepts, LLC,

Glendale, AZ

If you need work, you would probably bid to anyone, including GCs that you don’t like. After two years of struggle, we would temper our price based on the GC’s past performance, probably not performing for the same price as an ethical GC who actually pays his bills in a timely fashion and runs a clean project.

If any of your readers are aware of such a GC, I would appreciate knowing who they are …

The dance of dealing with the bad GCs is like having your mother-in-law over for the day: You may not look forward to it but you deal with it as best as possible, try to avoid conflict, plan for the inevitable confrontations and focus on assuring that all sharp objects are not within easy reach.

—Howard Bernstein, Penn Installations, Inc.

If it’s like some of the GCs we have in our area already, you bid the job … but have an add factor for dealing with them. If you are going to do work for them and put up with special contract stipulations, pain in the a** field personnel, notorious slow pay, etc., you want to be paid for the headaches you’re going to get.—Greg, San Antonio

It depends on why you don’t like the GC. Does he shop your bid? Does he use your number to get the job because he knows you won’t miss something and then put it out to other subs hoping to get a lower bid? Both have happened to me from the same GC.

I say no, it is a waste of time. They are out to get the job at your expense or to force the lowest bidder to complete a job they know the sub under bid.

—Steve, Custom Drywall

No, did not bid due to the perceived future issues and constant stress related to dealing with a GC that “has 30+ years of experience” yet not open minded to current trends, safety issues, trade-offs and value adds.

Price the job normally. Estimate a “problem GC” premium. Double that number, add it to your original price and bid the job. A win if you get it, and a win if you don’t.

—Jamie Donovan, H&H Fireproofing,

Salt Lake City, UT

Yes, you do the bid. After all, you need the work. So I say suck it up. You have other people to think about.

—Mike Zielisko, President/Owner,

Done-Rite Drywall, Inc.,

Westminster, CO

If it’s a personality dislike, get over it. You run a business, act like it. If the GC can’t run the subs on the project and keeps adding work with a shorter completion date and no compensation, chances are he bid it too low in order to get the job. Walk away! After all is said and done you will be lucky to make payroll.

It would depend on why you do not like the GC. In these current conditions as long as you feel you will be paid whether you like the GC or not you should probably go for it and bid the job.

—Buck Duncan President, Buck Duncan Construction Inc.,

Albuquerque, NM

No, or I send a high price.

The fact that you’re even asking this question is a pretty good indicator of how the wall and ceiling contractor feels about GCs in 2012.I’ve been in business 30 years and at this point don’t like any of them. They are the construction industry’s 1% while the subcontractor is the 99%.

Oh hell to the damn no. If the GC and you don’t get along at the start of the job, ain’t no way this has a happy ending. Sit at home searching for jobs that you have a better feeling about instead of getting in bed with a GC who is going to take you straight to divorce court … or bankruptcy court.

No, do not bid. There is a reason you don’t like the GC and that reason will appear during this or any job you do for this company.

Yes. In times like these 10% is better than nothing

Only if you have time in your estimating department. There could be many reasons you don’t like the GC—slow payer, only buys mistakes, runs a bad job, etc., but I find it is good marketing to keep yourself on the top of everyone’s mind. Never bid to someone who even occasionally self-performs because they are only using you as a check number and would never give you a job unless you made a big mistake.

When things were good, no way. The way things are now, yes. If we only worked for people we like, we would starve to death.

—R. D. Souza Inc.,

Opa Locka, FL (Stucco, Plaster, Lath and EIFS)

Yes, if we agree on faster payment and different project manager.

If “don’t like” means they are more costly to work for because of the extra management, re-dos and delays due to their poor practices, then bid but add in the extra cost of servicing this GC.

If it means they don’t pay, or don’t pay timely, make a business decision. Can you add for the money cost and contract loss and headache? Add in the cost. Just be aware that someone will probably under-bid you. So, how much time do you want to invest in the process?

Finally, you can’t out-bid Stupid or Crooks. Don’t bother.

Yes. Profit is profit, and your good workers can’t stay on vacation forever.

And help him land the job so he can peddle it later? No!!! Does the expression, “Caste not thy pearls before the swine” mean anything? I view my craft skills as valuable and there is a justifiable reason I don’t like this GC: He’s an idiot who doesn’t have the future in mind for anyone but himself.

The state of the economy shows the folly of that type of thinking. I have standards and he doesn’t qualify, so why lower them and trash my industry! Don’t bid him, he will eventually not be able to get anyone else to bid him, and he will go away or change if he’s going to succeed. It’s a basic premise: “It takes a village.”

You bid it and make sure that the contract is very clear, and do your job with high quality. Should be no problems.
—Randy Cowin, Owner,

R.C. Painting & Sons

No. If he has proven to be a hassle in the past, why go looking for trouble? Chances are he doesn’t like you either. He will never be happy, and things will go south anyway.

—Kevin, KL Drywall LLC

Some GCs just aren’t worth the trouble. That’s why they always get the higher number, to compensate us for the hassle …

—John Carroll, Estimator/PM

(Light Ga. Metal Framing, Drywall, Stucco & EIFS)

Well! If you can’t get along with the GC, then you’re in the wrong business. We as contractors should be able to get along with our subs and GC. That means you’re a competent contractor, so you should bid.

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