Build bridges of trust on every project
Derek, project manager for a Northwest piping contractor, told Session 4B of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“In March 2012 our company had just been awarded the second portion of a $15 million dollar contract with Mortenson Construction. Mortenson is a $2.5 billion dollar a year company based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was their first major project in the Portland market and our first project with them. Submittals and procurement were almost complete and construction was well underway. One of our responsibilities was procuring and installing new clarifier mechanisms that were critical to the success of the project. These clarifier mechanisms had significant lead times as well as installation durations. As the project was being handed off from the suppliers sales team to the project management team I begin getting early ‘vibes’ that the supplier was not going to meet the lead times quoted. I had a bad gut feeling about their commitment to the project. It is my nature to just buckle down and deal with most situations on my own, but could see that I would need help on this one. I involved our senior management, as well as the Mortenson project management team. I clearly remember walking up the stairs to the Mortenson office to express my concerns, knowing that the whole thing may be a false alarm. Mortensons’ Senior PM and I discussed my ‘gut feeling’ and a path forward. After some digging we discovered that the mechanisms were not being fabricated in the USA, they were being built in China. Mortenson contacted a branch office in Shanghai who traveled to the fabricators facility for an inspection. It was obvious that the mechanisms were significantly behind schedule and there were quality concerns with the welding. We involved the engineer and together we put pressure on the supplier to expedite fabrication as well as shipping. When the clarifier mechanisms finally arrived we were
fully prepared for the quality deficiencies and repairs were quickly made. We also had additional crews and equipment onsite to receive and install the mechanisms concurrently. By being prepared with a revised plan the project was delivered on time, under budget, and without injuries!
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that trust built early on with a customer makes it easier for me to step out of my comfort zone and ask for the help needed on an issue that could have serious impacts on a project schedule.
“The action I call you to take is go back to your jobsite and take another look at your relationship with your customers. Make sure as you build the project, you are building trust. The benefit you will gain is you will find yourself doing repeat business with customers, and you will have the confidence to easily approach them for help on any potential problems.”
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