Rapidly growing companies often need to create new positions -- and figuring out what position will help the most is key to success. A little more than a year ago, Bartelt/Filo, Menomonee Falls, Wis., made the decision to hire a contracts administrator. The idea, says co-owner Rick Bartelt, was to alleviate the frustrations both clients and carpenters were experiencing.

A few years ago, when Bartelt/Filo's roughly 20 jobs a year averaged between $5,000 and $50,000, the company had a simple, straightforward system for moving from sales to design to production. But growth -- Bartelt/Filo will do $10 million this year -- brought larger, more complex projects. The system was overwhelmed.

"Jobs were starting without the proper planning," Bartelt recalls. "We weren't getting the client to make selections before production began. Net profits and company morale were affected. Something had to change and change quickly."

The contracts administrator works with sales, design, and production to ensure that projects start on time, that the selection process is under way, and that jobs are completed within budget. Among other responsibilities, the contract administrator also performs the following:

* Awards contracts to subcontractors and/or vendors

* Generates change orders based on customer selections, related to allowances in the contract

* Conducts a project overview meeting with the lead carpenter, project manager, interior designer, and sales associate, as well as a preconstruction conference

* Ensures invoices are within budget

* Attends production meetings twice a month

Bartelt says the position requires a detail-oriented person with excellent people skills. Bartelt/Filo's current contracts administrator, Terri Inhof, was recruited from a local home building company.

The position took a lot of the burden off management's shoulders and made the company more professional. "We know where we are financially on projects," Bartelt says. "Our carpenters and subcontractors go in armed with the information they need, and our clients are receiving the communication and care they're paying for and deserve."