Times Have Changed

The luxury of picking and choosing jobs has gone by the wayside. Basic job size has decreased and it takes more leads and eff ort to get a signed contract. At Mark IV Builders we’ve decided to look at our organization and our existing staff to develop a new structure to operate more eff iciently. This means making the smaller, available jobs more profitable. There was a time when we hired a subcontractor for everything; we still “sub” out major trades, but now we have to return to being more hands-on.

Mark IV has run on a “superintendent” system for many years with great success. Our experienced supers are best utilized on projects of $200K or more to make their time worthwhile and be profitable. If we’re sending a super to do $25K bathroom, it’s diff icult to be profitable. Since we know the bigger jobs that were our “sweet spot” aren’t as prevalent, developing a structure to be more eff icient with smaller jobs makes sense. Unlike with larger jobs, a small job has tighter margins and time frames. One mistake can cost you your profit.

We’re going to have to train or find carpenters to run these smaller projects. This person must be structured, organized, and have the ability to work independently. It’s just not profitable to micromanage smaller projects from the off ice. We have a few younger guys on staff who, although they might not have the experience to do all the little things the seasoned guys can, are more eager to take on these tasks because they’re still building their career.

All of us are learning to do more with less. We’re looking at a new structure and updated processes so we can accomplish our goals and make a profit without everyone getting burned out.

—Andy Hannan is production manager of Mark IV Builders, in Bethesda, Md.