1Call2Build—Our Blog

Here are some thoughts and insight on our business and the construction industry in general. We update our blog regularly to keep you informed and entertained.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter; just click the icons in the upper right corner of our site.

November 1, 2018

Five Reasons to Choose a Design-Build Contractor

Design-Build construction continues to grow in popularity as Owners turn to this streamlined project delivery system to save time, money, promote teamwork, and create more transparency throughout all stages of the building process.

The emergence of Design-Build comes in large part from the Owners’ growing preference for a single point of contact for their construction projects. In this method, accountability for accelerated completion schedules, price guarantees, and a positive partnering approach to the project lies squarely with the Design-Build contractor. No longer does the Owner have to deal individually with architects, engineers, and the contractor and other vendors.

According to a Construction Industry Institute/Penn State University study, Design-Build can result in up to 33.5% faster delivery and more than 6% lower costs than the traditional “design-bid-build” approach.

Here are five distinct benefits of choosing a Design-Build contractor:

Single Source Responsibility
With Design-Build, Owners benefit by having a single point of responsibility for quality, cost, and scheduling. The Design-Builder is accountable to fulfill Owner objectives regarding feasibility, design, budget, and schedule. This allows the Owner to focus on scope, needs, and timely decision-making. Just as important, it keeps the Owner’s budget and schedule in the forefront while eliminating potential finger pointing between the architect, engineer, and contractor.

Built In Quality
90% of project’s success is determined in the first 10% of the timeline when the Owners’ requirements are detailed. The Design-Builder brings architecture, engineering, cost estimating, scheduling, and construction expertise to the Owner’s team at the earliest stages of a project, charting the course for success. If the Design-Builder’s plans or specifications are deficient, it does not create a change order for the Owner—the Design-Builder maintains full responsibility. That responsibility is powerful motivation to manage the process carefully and deliver accurately against the Owners’ requirements.

Faster Project Completion
With Design-Build, the design and construction processes overlap. As a result, competitive bidding can be phased, redesigns are eliminated, materials with long lead times can be purchased earlier, and work can begin before construction documents are finalized. All without risk to the Owner. Design-Build allows construction time to be optimized and these time savings often translate into lower costs and earlier building availability.

Early Knowledge of Firm Costs
Cost information is developed in parallel with the preliminary design, and once the costs are established, the project team guides the design within the budget constraints. As a result, it does not require a significant up-front investment by the Owner to receive a firm cost structure.

You should expect your new facility to change your business world for the better. Having one firm handle design and construction gives Owners and their team of business leaders, departmental heads, and facility managers the ideal opportunity to collaborate on the construction project. The Design-Build team absorbs and values these perspectives and leverages them to deliver outstanding project results.


October 12, 2018

Part 1: Insider Tips for Using Integrated Design and Construction to Boost Facility Efficiency

By Jeremy Walker, Food and Beverage Market Leader

The thought of starting a new construction project for your manufacturing business can feel daunting. Initially, the questions are likely to come fast and furious:

“How much will this project cost?”
“How long will the project take?”
“How will this effort impact productivity?”
“How do we stay on budget?”

Never fear! It’s common to feel a bit overwhelmed at first, however, knowing a few valuable insider tips before beginning your venture will help you understand how and where you can identify cost savings and efficiencies—both during and after construction—and facilitate a more collaborative building process.

Tip 1: Begin with the End in MindAssemble the Right Team Up Front
If you are considering a new construction or expansion for your facility, strategically pick partners that grasp your operation, culture, and values. Referrals are excellent, but due diligence on your part is required to assemble the right team for you. Only through shared vision will you achieve an efficient and modern facility where the environment, process, and products are a reflection of your brand.

Tip 2: Integrate Process Design and Layout with Overall Building Design
Ninety percent of project success is determined during the planning phase, when the scope and layout of your facility are determined. A natural first thought is to get a process engineer on board to propose a plant layout, then follow up with an architect to work out the design details and then get a builder to construct the property. This approach can lend itself to inefficiencies and duplicated efforts. You’ll spend time and resources with an engineer to help with your plant processes. You’ll spend more time and resources with your architect. Then, you must communicate both plans to the builder.

Value the combined effect of the team and consider putting your designer, builder, and process engineer side-by-side. By doing so, you not only create the most effective process to maximize square footage and ensure efficient manufacturing, but also allow for a more cost-effective floor plan and likely a shorter timeline from concept to completion.

The number one goal is to systematically design a building footprint to maximize your product output and deliver the most return on investment. The smaller the footprint, the lower the cost of construction. Pulling in the appropriate talent early on to determine an efficient layout will yield total cost savings throughout the entire design activity—and long after construction is complete.

Jeremy Walker has more than 20 years of experience in design-build construction with Consolidated Construction, including the past 13 years as the strategic account manager servicing the food and beverage and manufacturing markets.

Jeremy Walker has more than 20 years of experience in design-build construction with Consolidated Construction, including the past 13 years as the strategic account manager servicing the food and beverage and manufacturing markets.


Tip 3: Get your Architect and Builder Working Together Early
Getting your architect and builder collaborating from the start, and developing and adjusting the budget in tandem with the design, will help manage costs and expectations.

A good architect will start with a space needs analysis, then design the building using the results of the analysis to lay out your facility in the most cost-effective way possible. The builder’s knowledge of current material costs and utilization keeps the architectural design relevant, focused, and efficient. Together, the architect and builder develop a realistic and functional building product without the sticker shock.

Next Blog: Your up-front planning is in place. Now it’s time to execute the perfect building project for your company. We’ve got three tips to help you do just that.

October 12, 2018

Part 2: Insider Tips for Using Integrated Design and Construction to Boost Facility Efficiency

By Jeremy Walker, Food and Beverage Market Leader

In the initial blog in this series, we looked at the first three things to do to set the stage for a successful manufacturing construction project, whether you are looking to build a new facility or add on to an existing property:

  • Tip 1: Begin with the End in Mind—Assemble the Right Team Up Front
  • Tip 2: Integrate Process Design and Layout with Overall Building Design
  • Tip 3: Get your Architect and Builder Working Together Early

Now, it’s time to get building! In this installment, we look at the three critical steps to ensure your up-front planning results in the building project that best suits your company’s needs for today and tomorrow.

Tip 4: Use Design-Build to Maximize Collaboration and Streamline Construction
Using the traditional process of “design-bid-build,” the project owner completes a design plan prior to bidding out the construction project. Conversely, using the “design-build,” method, owners work collaboratively with one contractor responsible for both the design and construction. Design-build contracting offers the following benefits:

  • Scope and budget that meet the operating pro forma
  • Integrated process equipment design and layout
  • Compliance with safety regulations
  • Strong subcontractor relationships in key divisions, like fire protection, plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, and electrical
  • Fewer project risks
  • Better overall quality
  • A faster construction schedule

Research from the Design-Build Institute of America indicates design-build projects are constructed 33.5% faster and cost six percent less than design-bid-build projects. Whether you’re looking at an expansion to your existing plant or an entirely new facility, these efficiencies can add up to substantial savings.

It’s key to remember that with a single point of contact where the design-builder is responsible for ensuring quality, cost, safety, and scheduling meet predetermined benchmarks, the likelihood of vendor miscommunication, budget overages, and site condition oversights are greatly reduced.

Tip 5: Be Aware of Industry Regulations
When it comes to a new facility build, following state and federal safety guidelines begins with the design details and ends with proper construction execution. As the plant manager or project owner, knowing these regulations from the start will help this topic stay top-of-mind throughout. Hiring experienced partners who understand these regulations and properly execute construction methods that meet or exceed regulations is critical to pass safety inspections prior to your production startup.

Jeremy Walker has more than 20 years of experience in design-build construction with Consolidated Construction, including the past 13 years as the strategic account manager servicing the food and beverage and manufacturing markets.

Jeremy Walker has more than 20 years of experience in design-build construction with Consolidated Construction, including the past 13 years as the strategic account manager servicing the food and beverage and manufacturing markets.

Tip 6: Design for the Future
Understandably, your priority will be to navigate the design and construction process for the greatest return today. Challenge yourself, however, to consider some forward-thinking questions prior to initiating a new build:

“What happens if your business grows again?”
“What would you do if you doubled your lines in five years? Ten years?”
“Have you master planned your process and the building design together?”

Discussing the future early on can be critical if expansions are ever necessary. Consider this scenario: Your business continues to grow and you need to expand again, but your roof isn’t sloping in the right direction to allow for an addition? Something as simple as this can derail future accommodations for your facility or add unnecessary costs. Early conversations about potential future needs with experience design-build experts encourage consideration of all aspects of your facility and will assist in designing a project that can accommodate your growth.

January 15, 2018

What Are Some Important Features in Senior Living Today? – Locate in an Active Area

Ask A Pro_Active Community

Hotel experts know how to attract guests, operate smarter and deliver a great resident experience. So, it’s no accident that the senior living providers offering excellent healthcare in an environment that’s inspiring and cost effective to operate have the highest census and far outperform other communities.

As one of the Midwest’s leading hotel design-builders, Consolidated Construction has had the privilege working with many of these world-class hoteliers. Here’s a lesson learned you may
want to consider when building, expanding or renovating your next senior community:

Locate in an Active Area. In today’s climate, seniors do not see moving into a senior living facility as a decision to drop out of life. They want to continue their lives and interests well into their 80s and 90s. Instead of locating your facility in a residential neighborhood or quiet street, consider locating near downtown, a college campus, YMCA or popular coffee house.

Keep this in mind when planning your next facility. If you feel like you’re living in a resort hotel,
then life is pretty darn good.

Rinn_croppedTim Rinn has more than 20 years of design‐build healthcare and senior living experience, and has assisted clients throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. Consolidated Construction’s Assisted Living Team is ready to help you plan, fund, design, build or renovate your next senior living community.

November 9, 2017

9 Milestones of A Successful Transition


Mark’s three-part succession planning series will examine why a succession plan is important, questions business owners must ask themselves before planning, and elements of a succession plan.

Succession plans are not “one size fits all”. In fact, there are many different types of succession plans depending on the objectives of buyer and seller. Like establishing your values and culture, setting the course of your succession plan is a deeply personal process that should reflect your history, leadership and vision for the future.

It takes time to transfer your business – even to family members or other insiders. Successful transitions span 3 to 8 years on average to prepare, plan and execute. Moreover, when the transition involves the transfer of cash over an extended period of time, that fiscal plan will require significant due diligence. Without careful forecasting and financial analysis, payouts to the exiting leader (typically a combination of investor cash and company profitability) may hinder cash flow and debilitate the business. Successful transitions gain stakeholder consensus early, with a mutually beneficial and financially viable plan. Working together without conflicting motivations, outgoing and incoming leaders have more time and energy to focus on a smooth operational transition and future continuity.

Good succession plans are distinctive to each company, but the milestones within the process are fairly similar:

1.  Define your financial objectives to create clarity. This requires some personal soul searching, but is essential to establishing financial security for the company as well as yourself. Owners should quantify a timeline for exit, a sale price based on appropriate valuation, and rewards for key employees.

2.  Get a business valuation done by a professional business valuator. Only a seasoned professional is qualified to objectively apply a variety of valuation methods to determine a fair price for the business. Using a third-party expert will eliminate bias and keep buyer and seller motivations in sync.

3.  Develop solid, credible financial models which could include any combination of individual funding, bank debt funding, company cash flow funding and share transfers. Develop multiple scenarios for the planned payout schedule. In short, determine how and when to pay out the exiting stakeholders.

4. Develop a strategy to assess the new leadership’s professional and emotional growth opportunities. Understanding the current cultural, operational, and emotional drivers within the company helps identify any possible voids that could become apparent when key leaders exit the organization. A clear strategy which identifies what roles and responsibilities will be assumed by whom needs to be established. Follow with a corresponding transition and training plan to address these gaps and ensure smooth continuity.

5. Determine a plan to minimize transactional taxes. Organizations and individuals can get double-taxed when the transfer of a business takes place. Different types of corporations have different tax implications, and it is important to work with the company’s accounting firm to determine the smartest way to transfer shareholders.

6. Establish succession protocol within the Business Continuity Plan (BCP). Similar to managing risk in times of emergency or disaster, the BCP should allow exiting leaders to react and engage if company performance falters during the transition. It should identify what happens in the event of an untimely death, disability or departure of key leaders, and also define voting and/or decision-making control. The BCP ensures that business can continue and management maintains functionality, credibility and vision during this potentially traumatic time. As the essential company playbook, the BCP will drive communication to all interested parties, identify threats, define areas of responsibility and outline recovery measures.

7. Institute post-sale agreements on employment, consulting and competition. For group clarity, these agreements are a must and will define the roles of all stakeholders after the sale. Those remaining within the organization after the transition should execute employment agreements covering a defined term in order to secure the company’s stability and success. While exiting stakeholders should also have a plan for continued services, these arrangements generally take the form of consulting agreements or board assignments. Real business knowledge has likely never been written down. Learning from, and retaining their strengths is essential in managing risk while new leadership is established.

Non-compete agreements may seem unnecessary in many circumstances. However quite often, former business owners long to return a few years down the road. Should they decide to re-enter the market, a non-compete agreement establishes the boundaries and limitations of using proprietary knowledge.

8. Clearly communicate the plan to employees, your trusted advisors (bankers, attorneys, accountants), and key clients. Corporate transitions can initiate fear and uncertainty in the minds of customers and vendors. Draft sample communications for each of the possible audiences that outlines the details and vision that the successor has for the company. Addressing the change proactively via clear communication strategy dispels most rumors and assumptions.

9. Monitor the plan at least quarterly and institute course corrections as needed. Just as companies aren’t static, neither should the succession plan be. Objectives, goals and roadblocks are constantly changing and shifting. When these changes happen, the succession plan should be updated to assure that the team works together fluidly and in sync.

Mark Schwei is an equity partner and member of Consolidated Construction’s executive team, which designed and implemented its own succession plan strategy. He is an engineering graduate of Marquette University and imparts his love of details, practicality and ingenuity on matters related to company leadership. Mark continued his executive education through the University of Wisconsin on the subjects of Business Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Sales and Marketing Management, and received specific training in the area of succession planning from national experts. Mark is a leadership mentor and business coach to chief executives as current Chairperson at The Executive Connection (TEC).