Life as a Contractor
By: CEO Doug Hall
This morning I am sitting here at my desk in our Scottsdale, Arizona office enjoying the warm soothing breeze blowing off the Sonoran Desert and thinking about life in frigid Kansas City.
For years we have gone to various trade shows around the country and have found myself being a bit jealous of friends in California, Arizona and Florida that have such nice weather that they can do construction work year around. It must be nice!
Actually, it is not nice at all. The volume of construction work is dictated by money, not weather. Our friends in warmer climates spread their revenue across a twelve month calendar, those of us in more hostile climates must cram our work into a nine or ten month season. This is not bad. Our friends have the same boring schedule every day. We, on the other hand, get to take a deep breath and reload during the frigid months of mid December through mid February.
So, what do we do all winter?
Judy and I head for Arizona where we can recharge our batteries and not have to deal with Kansas City winters.
Other folks that stay behind in our Kansas City, St. Louis and Wichita offices are busy sharpening their axes so we can be better at chopping wood in the spring.
Training is always a big thing for us and winter is a perfect time to do it. Our field people are involved in first aid training, safety training, excavation training and scores of other topics that are crucial to our industry. This winter we are spending extra time working on the new federal silica exposure standards and the strict new rules dealing with Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) that are now mandated for our DOT certified drivers. Our special emphasis this year is on identifying and locating underground utilities before we dig or trench. THIS IS A BIG DEAL!
Several of the folks in our railroad group attended the meeting of the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) convention in Los Angeles in January. There is lots to be learned there.
Near the end of January a host of our people flew to Las Vegas for the World of Concrete meeting. The WOC is a great place to get a first hand look at new machinery and construction techniques and attend valuable seminars about concrete construction. We also picked up a couple awards for excellence in architectural concrete construction.
Back in the office we are busy cleaning up the remnants of fiscal 2017, completing our FY 2017 audit and setting up new files for the 2018 season.
The guys in the shop can catch a breather and try to get caught up on deferred maintenance and repairs while the field operation is mostly shut down. They also are busy equipping newly acquired trucks and machines with M&H decals, tool racks, storage bins and fuel tanks.
Several of our workers are spending their winter renovating our architectural concrete showroom in downtown Kansas City at 2518 Holmes. This wonderful space, which is already very cool to visit, is on its way to becoming a super awesome extremely cool place to visit. Concrete never looked so good!
In early January our St. Louis office moved into our newly renovated space in Fenton, Missouri. After a few months working out of double wide trailers, they are enjoying their comfortable and brightly lighted new offices.
Finally, we are moving in to our new facility in our Wichita location. Mark Barrus and his team there are enjoying having a place to call home.
Happily our workload is diverse enough that, unless the weather is just awful (as it was during most of January), many of our field people are able to keep working either on work that can be done in cold weather outside or, better yet, work indoors. We love pouring concrete indoors while it snows outside.
Our winter break ends about February 15 when the weather warms up and we can go back to work. February 15 is also about the time that the bidding season begins and our estimating and project management teams get back to full speed.