Project Supervision Program upgrades format for 2024

In the construction, project supervisors play a pivotal role in ensuring successful project execution. As the industry continues to evolve, the need for skilled and knowledgeable leaders becomes increasingly apparent. To address this demand, ABC of Wisconsin offers the comprehensive Project Supervision education program tailored specifically for current and future project supervisors and project managers in construction.

The upcoming program, which is part of Construction U, has several upgrades, including a new session dedicated to managing costs on a jobsite and another on communicating with the construction team. OSHA 30 is no longer part of the program, allowing for the new added curriculum and fewer days in the program (9 instead of 12). OSHA 30 education, however, is a required prerequisite for attending the Project Supervision Program. ABC of Wisconsin is offering an OSHA 30 series in time for the Project Supervision Program. Many of the sessions also have new instructors.

Image of Brandi Davis.

Brandi Davis

“The purpose of Construction U programming is to provide the education our members’ employees need,” said Brandi Davis, Director of Education at ABC of Wisconsin. “We are able to keep the Project Supervision Program relevant by working closely with our contractor members who help us identify the content that will provide maximum benefit,” she said. “Many of our attendees have already completed OSHA 30 education, so this will make the program more efficient for these individuals.”

The program is designed to equip project supervisors with the essential skills, knowledge, and tools needed to navigate the complexities of construction projects successfully. From project initiation to completion, participants will gain insights into project management, best practices in cost maintenance, communication strategies, construction documents and contract law.

Sessions include:

  • Project Delivery: The Big Picture
  • Cost Control
  • Construction Plans & Specifications (Parts 1 and 2)
  • Contract Law
  • Communication Fundamentals
  • Strategic Thinking & Problem Solving

Each attendee will also be registered to attend ABC’s largest conference education event at SuperCon in February 2024 in Wisconsin Dells.

By enrolling in this revised and improved program, participants will receive valuable professional development for enhanced operations at their respective companies.

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Leadership behaviors to improve retention and company culture

Trent Cummings photo.

Trent Cummings

By Trent Cummings, LAK

Your turnover numbers are through the roof. You and your fellow leaders are consistently trying to find leaks and stop them – Being forced to be more reactive than proactive. There aren’t any overly negative feedback surveys, and everyone looks content when you walk by. What could possibly be the problem?

If this thought process sounds familiar, your business is likely in need of an alignment of leadership, rebuilding of trust, and company culture renovation. Many companies in the corporate and small business worlds struggle with culture issues and toxic work environments. Why? Because things these days change faster than they ever have before – It’s hard to keep up without a trusted game plan in place.

Full transparency: There is no immediate, overnight solution to fixing this. However, companies are now making it a main priority to better their employees’ quality of life, and in return, their retention & team satisfaction is growing – And it starts with Leadership.

Fostering an environment where employees can succeed is comfortable, while fostering an environment where they can fail is courageous. No one ever evolved following a mirrored path to their predecessors.

One of the core ingredients in the positive company culture recipe is active, attentive listening to employees. You cannot crave innovative, groundbreaking solutions in one breath then disapprove of new ideas the next. Fostering an environment where employees can succeed is comfortable, while fostering an environment where they can fail is courageous. No one ever evolved following a mirrored path to their predecessors. If leaders can encourage room to grow, conversations will begin to flow. Mistakes will inevitably be made, but learning will occur. Confrontation is more beneficial to progress than complacency. It’s true, you won’t always like what you hear, but responding versus reacting to honest employee feedback develops trust, improves employee experiences, and creates a positive work culture.

Accepting constructive criticism from employees is necessary, but what you actually do with that feedback is vital.

Companies often offer employer evaluations to personnel only to overlook the results as soon as they’re collected. Disregarding this data diminishes trust and protests typically advertised company values. Reiterating feedback to the associate(s) and collaboratively exploring resolution is a great way to demonstrate your dedication to the employee experience.

Finally, recognition of an employee’s success is just as important as their failure. Despite what AI and ChatGPT are leading us to believe, organizations are only as strong as the people they employ. If the only time you acknowledge an employee’s work is when you’re passing through with a metaphorical fire extinguisher, you’re setting a disappointing precedent. Trust is a two-way street between the leaders and the employees. Establishing this trust with appropriate recognition or acknowledgment structures will boost company morale and personnel’s passion toward organizational values.

Company culture is a critical aspect of any organization’s talent retention and team effectiveness. Most employees measure respect in the workplace by how they are listened to by colleagues and supervisors alike. A pattern of defiance will have a drastic, negative impact on the culture of an organization, so finding balance in leadership is a critical component.

Attentive listening, encouraging constructive criticism from employees, and recognizing your workforce’s human advantage are integral aspects of putting your company’s culture on the map.

Take a second and ask: How might this post help you make your organization, family, and self even better than you were yesterday?

If you need to hear this, here it is. YOU CAN DO THIS!

Trent Cummings is Director, Customer Solutions with ABC member LAK. For the last 40 years, LAK has been an industry leader in providing exceptional leadership development programs, executive coaching, and career transition services. Whether you’ve been a leader for 30+ years, or are getting promoted next week, LAK can help prepare for the difficult path ahead.

Their philosophy is:

  • Leaders provide experiences for their crew.
  • Those experiences create beliefs.
  • Beliefs dictate behavior.
  • And behavior drives results.
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ABC staff member recognized as rising young professional

MILWAUKEE, OCT. 19, 2023 — ABC of Wisconsin Apprenticeship Manager Olivia Schulte was recognized as a rising young professional at the Newsmakers of the Year event in Milwaukee on Oct. 19, 2023. The event, which is held by The Daily Reporter, honored 50 newsmakers from around the state in 20 different categories.

The honorees have demonstrated leadership, contributed to their community and successfully achieved positive outcomes early in their careers.

Schulte, who manages roughly 350 apprentices in plumbing, electrical and HVAC trades, enjoys helping individuals all the way through their apprenticeship programs, from start to finish.

ABC staff member recognized as rising young professional
Olivia Schulte with her Rising Young Professional Award.

“I think that everyone who doesn’t have a background in the trades, when they enter the trades for the first time, they have only a surface-level understanding,” Schulte, said. “But once a person becomes immersed, they come to fully appreciate the high level of skill required to be successful in the field.”

Schulte said watching apprentices grow into their skilled trades is the most rewarding part of her job.

“Watching them complete the program and celebrate graduation, and knowing you took part in that, there’s nothing that compares.”

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Ensuring adequate insurance coverage for downstream contractors and suppliers

Photo of Brandan Bush.

Brendan Bush

By Brendan Bush, M3 Insurance

As the construction industry continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly important for construction companies to safeguard themselves against potential risks and liabilities. One crucial aspect of risk management is ensuring that downstream contractors and suppliers have adequate insurance coverage.

This article outlines steps construction companies should take to ensure proper insurance coverage for their downstream partners and discusses the significance of certificates of insurance, the limitations they pose, and the importance of various policy endorsements.

About certificates of insurance
Certificates of insurance are documents that provide evidence of insurance coverage. In the construction industry, certificates of insurance play a vital role in verifying insurance coverage for downstream subcontractors and suppliers. They are typically issued by an insurance company or broker on behalf of an insured party, such as a subcontractor or supplier, to demonstrate that they have active insurance policies, and adequate coverages and limits in place. These certificates contain important information, including the type of coverage, policy limits, policy effective dates, and the name of the insurance carrier.

It is important to require certificates of insurance. Requiring certificates of insurance from all downstream subcontractors and suppliers is a crucial step for construction companies. Certificates of insurance serve as a verification tool that a subcontractor or supplier has insurance coverage at a given point in time. They provide assurance to clients, contractors, and other parties involved in construction projects that the subcontractor or supplier has taken steps to manage potential risks and liabilities and comply with the insurance requirements of the construction contract.

By requiring certificates of insurance, construction companies can mitigate potential risks associated with working with uninsured or underinsured subcontractors and suppliers. Insurance coverage helps protect against financial losses resulting from accidents, property damage, or other liability claims that may arise during the course of a construction project.

By requiring certificates of insurance, construction companies can mitigate potential risks associated with working with uninsured or underinsured subcontractors and suppliers.

Limitations of certificates of insurance
Despite their importance, it is essential to recognize the limitations of certificates of insurance.

Their information is limited — Certificates of insurance provide a snapshot of coverage at the time of issuance. They may not include all pertinent details, such as policy exclusions or specific endorsements that could impact coverage for certain types of claims. Consequently, as outlined below, it is crucial to request and review various policy endorsements to fully understand the scope and limitations of your downstream partners’ coverage.

They need verification — In some cases, certificates of insurance can be subject to fraud or misrepresentation. It is essential for construction companies to verify the authenticity and accuracy of the certificates, ensuring that the coverage is still in force and aligns with the project requirements.

Policies can be canceled, modified, or non-renewed without immediate notification to the certificate holder — Certificates of insurance do not guarantee continuous coverage throughout the duration of a project. It is essential to establish mechanisms for ongoing monitoring and verification of insurance coverage to address any policy changes or lapses.

Many construction companies are beginning to leverage AI-powered platforms for automating certificate of insurance compliance. These platforms can help businesses of all sizes manage certificate of insurance compliance more efficiently and effectively, reducing the risk of underinsurance and compliance violations.

Request and review crucial policy endorsements
Given the inherent limitations of certificates of insurance, construction companies should request and review crucial policy endorsements to fully understand the scope and limitations of their downstream partners’ insurance coverage – including the additional insured, waiver of subrogation, and primary and non-contributory endorsements.

Request additional insured endorsements — Requesting additional insured endorsements is a critical step to extend coverage from the subcontractor’s or supplier’s policy to the upstream construction company and owner. This endorsement ensures that the construction company is protected against claims arising from the actions or negligence of the downstream party. It provides an extra layer of security and helps allocate responsibility appropriately.

Include a waiver of subrogation — A waiver of subrogation endorsement is essential for construction companies – it prevents the downstream subcontractor or supplier’s insurance company from seeking reimbursement from the construction company in case of a covered loss. It helps streamline the claims process and avoids potential disputes between insurance carriers.

Request primary and non-contributory endorsements — Requesting primary and non-contributory endorsements is vital to protect the construction company’s insurance coverage. This endorsement ensures that the subcontractor’s or supplier’s insurance policy is primary and will respond first in the event of a claim. It also guarantees that the subcontractor’s or supplier’s policy will not seek contribution from the construction company’s policy, thereby safeguarding the construction company’s coverage.

Conclusion: Minimize financial risk
In the construction industry, ensuring that downstream subcontractors and suppliers have adequate insurance coverage is crucial for risk management. While certificates of insurance provide initial information, they have limitations that can leave construction companies exposed to potential liabilities. By requesting additional insured, waiver of subrogation, and primary and non-contributory endorsements, construction companies can bolster their protection and minimize financial risks.

Brendan Bush is an account executive with M3 Insurance. He specializes in counseling construction companies, real estate companies, design professionals, and environmental firms on property and casualty insurance and overall commercial risk management needs.

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Words of Wisdom from Women in Construction

ABC of Wisconsin is proud to offer the second series of Words of Wisdom from Women in Construction. The last series offered June through July 2023 was a huge success with nearly 70 ABC members participating across 10 ABC chapters. The presenters in the November/December series will be offering advice and insights on topics that directly impact the day-to-day operations of any construction company such as forecasting job costs, conflict resolution, and establishing a cohesive and engaging workplace culture that attracts and retains talent.

The first session on November 2 offers insights on forecasting job costs that keep you in control of maintaining the profitability of a construction job and the company’s profits.

Conflicts on the construction site are a common occurrence. On November 16, participants will learn the steps to resolve conflict by addressing the issues early, how to manage your emotions, and use your active listening skills to strengthen relationships that lead to successful projects.

The final session on December 7 will share how one successful organization builds a culture that promotes a sense of belonging and community. Learn how to create this culture by encouraging feedback, establishing check-ins, and providing opportunities that support and foster a team environment.

This web series is designed for anyone in construction interested in expanding their knowledge base from people who have unique experiences in the industry. Expert leaders share knowledge across a variety of topics based on years of work in construction. This is an education series not just for women but for all those who want to make change within the industry environment to support the current workers, and recruit and retain the next generation.

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Inflation drags Wisconsin construction; pivots and smart management are key

By John Wallen, HUB International

Wisconsin’s construction industry is struggling with a host of business roadblocks that can be laid at inflation’s door.

Customer demand is still there but stifled by high interest rates intended to cap inflation. Residential construction has been particularly hit, but commercial developers are deterred by rates combined with lack of clarity over market needs in an era of remote work. Labor and supplies are another point of pain, as inflation keeps those input costs up, requiring multiple “re-do” bidding.

No surprise. Costs of projects are exceeding budgets. Milwaukee’s convention center, for one, is now expected to exceed its initial $420 million budget.

Inflation escalates supply chain risks  

Inflationary pressure has shrunk profit margins as it intensifies the vise on the supply chain that has been tightening since the pandemic. Bottlenecks and shortages are affecting every aspect of a building project.

Among the biggest supply chain hurdles:

  • Manufacturers have stopped guaranteeing prices and pre-selling materials is a thing of the past.
  • Essential build materials – think aluminum, copper and nickel – continue to escalate. Transformer shortages have caused project completion delays and driven prices up by as much as 50% since 2020.
  • Labor shortages are a continuing drag, with 650,000 workers currently needed to meet demand.
  • Costs of diesel fuel to run equipment have relented from 2022 levels, but are still high. Costs of equipment itself may be a bigger pain, with little difference in pricing between new and used. That causes disparities in valuations between the purchase price and the insurable value.

John Wallen

Inflationary pressure has shrunk profit margins as it intensifies the vise on the supply chain that has been tightening since the pandemic. Bottlenecks and shortages are affecting every aspect of a building project.

Another hurdle: being underinsured

The ongoing pressures of inflation have led to a tightening of the industry’s margins. Conditions also have contributed to higher insurance costs – aggravated by extreme weather events across the U.S. that have resulted in catastrophic property losses.

Builder’s risk insurance rates have risen as much as 30% in the past two years and availability and pricing for frame construction has created further cost challenges. Liability insurance costs have almost quadrupled. Large-scale projects in some riskier markets have seen insurance costs jump to 8% of a project’s total cost – versus 2% previously. Compounding the problem is the risk of diminished capacity as insurers are reluctant to take on the sole risk of a single, large project.

It’s leaving some projects underinsured, even as owners and project managers are stymied by supply chain aggravations. Carriers are reluctant to provide a buffer for the purpose of a claim, and the 10% escalation clause that once helped hedge against inflation is no longer common.

Pivoting and planning to come out ahead

Increasingly, builders are evaluating next steps on pending projects given high costs, the impact on returns and an uncertain market. Despite the difficulties of the current environment, many now find an opportune time to explore new technologies and methodologies that stand to transform the business.

Even without inflationary and supply side pressures, prefabricated construction overall – from roof and floor construction to interior room modules – had been growing in popularity due to a simpler supply chain and cost-effectiveness (among other advantages). The market is expected to grow at a 6.85% rate through 2030 from 2022’s $145.85 billion.

Construction that is 3D printed is also taking off, with interest growing on its strength as a process that simplifies conventional building and minimizes materials and labor use. The global market is expected to hit a nearly 200% growth rate through 2026. Similarly, companies doing prefabricated concrete buildings have never been busier, as they know their costs going in and their timelines are shorter.

Next steps

Yesterday’s management playbook may not be quite as relevant for today’s conditions. Emerging ahead takes a sharpened focus on a best-in-class positioning. That equates to being a good risk, that’s a first choice among clients, and also wins the best insurance rates. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that when capacity is limited, underwriters are more choosy on where they deploy it; best-in-class players are at the front of the line.

Here’s what also makes a difference:

  • Sharpen those valuations, not just for projects themselves, but also for equipment. It’s tough to grapple with rising inflation, supply chain delays and conversion rates. Closely read all contracts and share them with brokers to ensure valuations — and the associated insurance coverages — are accurate.
  • Your workforce – your future. Consider benefits that are both cost-effective and also help attract and retain workers. Pay is always important, but health plans and financial wellness programs have considerable appeal for millennial and Generation Z workers.
  • Find a good partner. Work with a broker who understands your needs and can help you design a risk mitigation strategy that secures the best coverage and reduces your total cost of risk.

John Wallen is Vice President and Wisconsin Construction Practice Leader for global insurance brokerage Hub International, with more than 30 years of experience providing risk management consulting, effective insurance solutions and innovative risk and cost reduction strategies for the construction industry.

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