E-news for the Construction Division April 2009

NSPE's Green Issues/Sustainability Series

Click here for registration information. 

April 28, 2009  12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EDT

Don’t Let Green Design Cause Red Ink (1.0 PDH)

Speaker: Nahom Gebre, P.E., Risk Management Attorney, Victor O. Schinnerer & Co.

Description: Engineers must respond to society's need for projects that meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. But with increasing public emphasis on green design, engineers face significant exposures that challenge their professionalism and profitability. This session focuses on a realistic appraisal of emerging risks and discusses skills to manage them. Quiz provided at the end.

May 13, 2009  1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EDT

A Sustainable Approach to Planning and Design (1.0 PDH)

Speakers: Michael Simpson, P.E., Senior Engineer, City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works; Paul Horton, Director of Sustainability, David Evans and Associates Inc.

Description: Have you been wondering how to make your projects more sustainable? Have your clients been asking for more sustainable planning and design? Paul Horton will provide an overview of the critical elements necessary in order to achieve a higher level of sustainability in projects. While we won't be able to make every project super green, we should nonetheless have a clear strategy (or approach) and a set of tools to allow us to make meaningful sustainable advances or improvements based on the specific situation and the current client conditions. Michael Simpson will discuss how the Los Angeles Unified School District practices integrating sustainability into new school construction. This presentation outlines a logical, sequential "approach" to integrating sustainability into projects. Quiz provided at the end.



Top 12 Steps Your Firm Should Take After Staff Reductions

Herbert M. Cannon, President of AEC Management Solutions Inc.

1. Reassure the Staff
The remaining staff is understandably upset and angry that their coworkers have been let go. Of course, they are also relieved that it didn't happen to them. What they need right now is some reassurance that the reductions were not made with malice but with an eye toward preserving jobs and the company for the long-term. Younger staff who have experienced nothing but good times will need special attention.

2. Ask Employees for Cost-Saving Ideas
When business is good, overhead expenses tend to grow and fly under the radar of accountability. Your staff knows where the money is being wasted, so ask for their help. You might be surprised at their ideas and the sacrifices they are willing to make.

3. Change the Voice Mail
Make sure to immediately change the voice mail password of all terminated employees. On more than one occasion, I have connected to voice mails that said something along the lines of "I can't take your call because I have been laid-off." Sometimes the voice mail was not that polite. Don't let this happen to you.

4. Cancel the Cell Phone
If your employees have company cell phones, be sure to get them returned and cancel the plan. Even if there is a termination fee, you will generally save money in the long run by canceling.

5. Sell/Donate or Recycle
I am not sure if there is a market for used smart phones, but if there is, you can try to sell them. In the alternative, they can be donated to a worthy cause or at least recycled. Don't let them sit there gathering dust.

6. Handle the Paperwork
Be sure to handle all of the paperwork immediately. Whether it is responding to an unemployment insurance claim or coordinating COBRA insurance, do it quickly and accurately. The departing employees have enough stress dealing being out of work. Do your best to make the transition as easy as possible.

7. Sell the Computers
Now that you have less staff, you are left with the question of what to do with all of the unused computer equipment. All too often, the computers stay where they are gathering dust or are relegated to the storage area only to be discarded several years later when they have no useful value. If there is no market to sell them, donate them to a worthy cause and take a tax deduction. Whether you sell or donate them, don't forget to reformat the hard drive and remove all of the software applications.

8. Change the Passwords
It seems obvious that employee computer passwords need to be changed, but it is too important not too state it here. I know of several firms who did not handle this promptly and paid the price of missing files and other problems.

9. Reduce your Telephone Landlines
If your 50-person firm had 25 landlines and your staff has been reduced to 35, do you really need 25 landlines? Probably not—but it can be one of those hidden costs that is easily overlooked. Some firms can go on for years paying for lines that are not needed and never used.

10. Change the Locks and Alarm Codes
Once again, it seems obvious, but make sure you get it done. In the age of electronics, locks codes can be changed every day if need be. Key cards can be activated and deactivated at will.

11. Reduce your Software Subscriptions
Are your paying an annual subscription fee based in the number of licenses or employees? Many software firms have switched to this model in recent years. Now that you have fewer employees, you may be entitled to a reduced rate or need fewer licenses.

12. Reconfigure your Office and Sublease Space
During the boom years, many firms tried to squeeze 10 pounds of talent into 5 pounds of space. This overcrowding led to less a less than optimum working environment for many employees. Now that the layoffs have taken place, this is a great opportunity to reconfigure your seating assignments and provide a more pleasant and productive working environment for your remaining employees. You can also make desk space available for rental to freelancers and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Herbert M. Cannon, president of AEC Management Solutions Inc. and publisher of AEC Managing Partner newsletter, is a management consultant, seminar provider, and speaker exclusive to the A/E industry. He is available to speak at company meetings and conferences. For more information, contact Herb via e-mail or visit his Web site. [ return to top ]


EJCDC Documents Recorded Web Seminar Free for Members for a Limited-Time Only

Justin L. Weisberg, attorney at law, Arnstein & Lehr LLP, explains the standard form agreements for the popular EJCDC contract documents used in design and construction. Attendees will learn about the engineering and construction documents and review the traditional design–bid–build process relating to the engineering agreement, as well as the construction contract. Also discussed is the usefulness of these documents over other contract documents in the market places and some of the current uses of these documents in government and private practice.

Download the seminar.

PEC Members will receive an addition 10% discount on EJCDC documents through April 30.  Use the discount code 0409PEMG.

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Tactics for Uncertain Times

In an economic downturn, you must know what levers to pull to maintain revenues and profits.  Recently, some companies have drastically cut payroll while others have scrapped thier long-range strategic plans, citing future uncertainty as the driver.  While these tactics may be suitable responses to the changing landscape, there are three short-term tactics to manage the conversion cycle that can be implemented immediately.

1) Manage projects to increase operating efficiency. A project executed well improves the efficiency of your operations. For a design firm, if procedures are being followed, it is likely that there will be fewer drawing iterations. Or from a construction perspective, if the constructability review is adhered to, proactive solutions are identified early in the project so that resources can be planned for.

2) Manage sales to improve asset utilization. Focus on the sales process to boost asset utilization.  Small teams drive accountability and motivate each other by having weekly huddles that are short and tactical.

3) Manage cash to increase financial leverage. Manage account receivables on a daily basis. One innovative approach is to have a front receptionist make calls during the lunch hour when traffic from clients in the office is low.  A program where clients who pay quickly are offered 1%-2% discounts can also incentivize the behavior you desire.

For the full article, read the April 2009 issue of PE magazine. [ return to top ]


Deadline to Apply for George B. Hightower, P.E., Fellowship Extended to May 1

The George B. Hightower, P.E., Fellowship is awarded annually to an engineering graduate student who is currently enrolled in or a graduate from an ABET-accredited engineering program. NSPE's Professional Engineers in Construction (PEC) Interest Group established the George B. Hightower, P.E., Fellowship in recognition of the contributions that Hightower made to the construction engineering profession. Hightower’s dedication to professionalism, ethics, and construction engineering resulted in him serving as a founding member and the first national chairman of PEC.

Visit the NSPE Web site for an application. [ return to top ]


2008-09 PEC Executive Board

James Goedert, Ph.D., P.E.
University of Nebraska 
Omaha, NE

Immediate Past Chair
Arthur DeWit, P.E., F.NSPE
Baete Forseth HVAC 
Lake Havasu, AZ

David Hunley, P.E.
Connico Inc. 
Burlington, KY

Paul Bakken, P.E.
Utility Engineering Corp. 
Centennial, CO
Northeast Region Vice Chair
Jon Drosendahl, P.E.
Glenshaw, PA
North Central Region Vice Chair
Paul Harmon, P.E.
University of Nebraska 
Lincoln, NE
Southeast Region Vice Chair
James Harper, P.E.
Hillsborough County PWD 
Tampa, FL
Southwest Region Vice Chair
Thomas L. Paxson, P.E., F.NSPE 
Pax-Sun, Inc. 
Lufkin, TX

Central Region Vice Chair
Carl Meglan, P.E.
Meglan Company Inc.
Columbus, OH

Western & Pacific Region Vice Chair
David Shields, Ph.D., P.E.
University of Nebraska 
Henderson, NV

PEC Staff Liaison:
Erin Reyes

PEC Homepage 

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PEC would like to thank all of our 2009 PEC Sustaining Firms for supporting our programs and services.  Visit the PEC Web site for a full listing of PEC Sustaining Firms and/or to download a registration form.

Richard W Rauseo PE Consulting Engineers

George Harms Construction Co

Glynn Geotechnical Engineering

BEC Engineering Inc

Zetlin & DeChiara LLP

Owen Ames Kimball Company

Paric Corporation

Bates Engineers Contractors

Paul J Gallo Contracting Inc

Judy Construction Company

James D Moore Jr PE

Frederick Derr & Company Inc

Stephen A Estrin & Co Inc

EVCO Construction Co Inc

Snyder Electric Co Inc

Harper Industries, Inc

Suberroc Systems SUBSYST

Vratsinas Construction Company

Abriola Co

Metromont Prestress Co

Tamrio Inc

Riverso Assoc Inc

Code Consultants Inc

S Seltzer Construction Corp

Lundy Construction Co Inc

CRD & Associates Inc

J Fletcher Creamer & Son Inc

Statewide Aquastore New England Tank Inc


Capital Project Management Inc

Fred Weber Inc

Project Development Services Inc

Frank Gurney Inc

John N Puder Inc

Brown Construction Services

Calvi Electric Company

Drury South Inc

ABC Paving Co Inc

Veitia Padron Inc

Facchina Construction

Mayberry Electric Inc

The Rubicon Group

LidCo Electrical Contractors Inc

Construction Management Services

Lecon Inc

Construction Industry Advancement Program of NJ (CIAP)


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