How does that saying go again? Time is…money! As an owner, you know that time truly is money and when you are thinking about beginning a construction project, you want to make certain that your project is going to be completed on time. In a world where everything around us seems to be delayed or experiencing shortages, this can become an even greater worry.
At Lakewood, we know time is a valuable resource that should be respected. That is why we have trusted and tested processes in place to ensure that when we give you a project completion date, we are able to uphold that date. It is no small feat to make sure that a project is completed on time in the current market conditions, so let’s talk through the 5 things that we have put in place to demonstrate that we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk as well.
1. Design-Build Integration
We provide a turnkey construction process through offering quality in-house design|build services. Whether you are using our architectural services, or you have already found your architectural partner, the architecture and construction components of your project will be combined as one well-oiled and collaborative team. Design|build adds an inherent efficiency and effectiveness to the process and greatly diminishes the chances of something being overlooked or getting lost in translation. When the two teams are combined as a single point of accountability, it keeps schedules and budgets on track and produces higher-quality results in less time.
2. Prioritize Early Planning
The most crucial part of every project is the pre-construction phase. In this phase, we invest time to understand everything from your operational wants, needs and goals, all the way to your current frustrations and your future growth goals. Throughout this phase we also analyze any risks or challenges that may come up in your project. By being pro-active we are able to mitigate those risks and avoid delays and costly changes later on in the project.
The truth about construction is that there are going to be unknown challenges that come up during a project, it is the nature of the industry. We work to anticipate the challenges before they happen and then innovate and manage through them when they do arise. We own the mindset of viewing these potential challenges as opportunities to innovate and create an excellent experience for our clients.
When supply chain shortages plagued the industry amidst a pandemic, our team worked diligently to get ahead of the shortages. We did not want to be faced with a project that couldn’t progress because we were waiting on a shipment. To combat that we contacted suppliers directly to find alternate products of the same quality and design to ensure our projects remained on schedule. If the delays were unavoidable, we worked closely with our own team and trade contractors to see where there were opportunities to accelerate or re-sequence the projects schedule. These pivots made up for any potential lost time, so we were still able to meet the desired end date. We innovated and put in the extra work to exceed clients’ expectations, even amidst challenges.
4. Strong Relationships
At Lakewood, we value strong relationships and work hard to create and maintain them with those we work with. These relationships are critical resources that ensure the success and timeliness of your project.
Our trade contractors are an essential part of any job, and we couldn’t do what we do without them. We continuously look to them as trusted partners in the industry and value their strong knowledge of their given trade. It is through these relationships that we can collaborate and problem-solve together to create the best solutions for our clients.
5. Prioritize Communication
Communication is key! Every commercial construction project has a long list of moving parts; lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and disagreements between those parts. We eliminate potential misunderstandings by providing transparent communication on a weekly basis, ensuring everyone is on the same page from start to finish.
We are open and honest with our communication to clients, which means we may not always tell you the things you want to hear, but you can trust that we will always tell you what you need to hear.
Through intentionally integrating the above five things into our culture and day-to-day, we successfully collaborate to create an extremely accurate schedule and timeline for your build. For us, respecting your time is shown by delivering on what we say we are going to and continuing to build that foundation of trust with our clients. We want to ensure we are always walking the walk and exceeding your expectations at every turn.
If you are starting to think about a new build or capital project and want to discuss your options further, please give us a call at 616.392.6923, we would love the opportunity to work together!
In today’s fast paced and crowded business world, your company’s brand can be the differentiating factor between you and your competition. Brand can communicate everything about your company from trust to culture and more. Now, the question as a business owner is how do you take your company’s brand and translate that through your space…and why does it matter?
Let’s dive into a few of the reasons why intentionally conveying your company’s brand through your built space can be instrumental in business success.
1. Attract New Talent
The last two years or so have impacted our economy in more ways than one. Yes, I am talking about our “post-COVID world”. More specifically, the hiring crisis that is plaguing our workforce, also known as the “Great Resignation”. Your company now needs to focus on not only selling your brand to potential clients, but also potential employees, as they are coming at a premium.
As an employer you should utilize any and every selling point you can to help with recruitment and retention, one of those being your space. Even if your business is still incorporating working from home into the work week, it is somewhat rare that an employee would never come to the office, even if just a few times a month or throughout the year. The space in which those in-person interactions take place matters, especially when striving to attract top talent to your company.
Potential employees can tell what they need to know about your company’s culture, how you value your employees, employee benefits, and if your company is the right fit for them just by touring the office. For example, what kind of amenities are available in the space? Is there a coffee bar available to employees? What type of workstations do you provide? Are there dedicated workstations or is the footprint geared towards free address? These types of features will communicate to a potential candidate whether employees will have autonomy when picking where to work or meet with others when at the office. Everything that the eye can see sends a message about your company’s brand.
2. Show What Your Company Stands For
Utilizing brand through imagery and color in a built environment is a great way to show clients, not just tell them, what your company stands for. Think about it like walking the walk not just talking talk. Is your brand fun, serious, professional, to be trusted, welcoming, and so on – whatever it is you want a client to know about your company can likely be seen or felt in a space.
You may use a bright palette of colors that helps the space feel bright and energetic. Maybe there are several sizes of conference spaces that are not only enclosed, but maybe open, with various furniture applications because you want to convey that your company is collaborative and adaptable. These elements will communicate to a customer that you have a collaborative and up-and-coming workforce that is attracting new and talented employees to your team.
If your company is looking for a more traditional and serious atmosphere, then wood, darker colors, and more enclosed spaces to meet can help create that for you. If you are a professional services company that wants to convey trust, strength, and longevity, these elements could be just what you need. Just like with a home speaks to the people who live there, the color palette, or finishing materials you select will say a lot about your company.
3. Make Everyone Feel Welcome
If you are a company that will have clients visiting your spaces, you want to make sure everyone feels welcome in the space. No matter what your brand is, or what style your space may be, feeling welcome in a space is important. If a space has some of the elements mentioned in points one and two, you are well on your way to achieving that welcoming feeling.
Don’t just stop there though, think about the other details, details that make a space feel lived in. Think about a space that has plants throughout, artwork on the walls, books on shelves, pillows on sofas, task lighting, inviting conversation levels, and so on. Doesn’t that feel more like a space you would want to visit and stay a while? Now, think about spaces you have visited or seen online that felt empty, sterile, or even unfinished. Why did those spaces feel that way? It is likely that feeling was due to the absence of intentional details.
This level of design is often an afterthought, but these details can go a long way in making your space convey a welcoming feeling to those who work in or visit the space.
There are countless ways to show potential clients and employees what you want your brand to communicate, and the built space is a great way to do that. These spaces are some of the biggest investments that a company will make, so why not make that investment work for you and impact everyone who comes through your doors.
Every year, the commercial construction industry looks a little bit different. From trends to forecasts to things completely disappearing, each year changes – and it is our job to stay on top of those changes. That is why most recently Lakewood Construction President, Nick Nykerk, attended the ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) annual conference and our Vice President, Kyle Engbers, attended the annual CECO conference.
Each year – contractors meet to learn about the exact things listed above at various conferences and events. We want to share the most important things with you that our team learned so that you can be informed and decide the best decision for you and your business.
Here are the top 3 takeaways that you need to know.
1. Jump in Raw Material prices
If you are part of the building process, have been involved in a building project over the last two years, or have walked through your local lumberyard, you have seen the steady increase in steel and the uncertainty of wood prices. While the initial prediction was that steel would peak in 2021 and flatten out in 2022, the conflict in Ukraine and the strong building forecast in the United States has provided yet another curve ball for steel prices.
The Commodities Research Unit (CRU) has created an index that they utilize to track steel prices. In March of 2022, the CRU steel index had its largest single week jump of the last two years. The combination of an increase in steel prices, trucking shortages across the country, and high oil prices, brings another wild road ahead when it comes to raw material.
Lakewood’s Thoughts: If building now allows for business growth, do it. With no forecast of steel prices flattening and an extremely low inventory on the market, you may find yourself stuck on space if you wait for correction. While the lead times are manageable, upfront planning and early orders are key to getting ahead of price increases and staying on schedule.
2. Industrial Space is Low
We know how many of you are currently feeling this pain point. Your company is growing, and you need to expand, but where can you do that? Because of the supply chain issues over the last two years, work is coming back to the United States in an effort to fill in those gaps. This means industrial companies are continuing to grow and space is continuing to dwindle.
Lakewood’s Thoughts: The Quarter 1 update from Advantage Real Estate showed an extremely low current inventory of buildings on the market in the Grand Rapids area and projections show that trend continuing. Because of this, we have seen a large increase over the past two years in expansions of existing facilities. Clients are building additional warehousing so that they have the ability to order material in advance and store on-site.
3. Labor Shortage to Continue
While we have seen this coming for a few years, reports this year confirmed that roughly 50% of the trades work force is planning to retire in the next 10-15 years. This is going to cause an obvious impact on the construction industry as a whole.
Lakewood’s Thoughts: We are very excited for the recently opened West Michigan Construction Institute (WMCI). We know they will do great things for this pain point in the construction industry and bring in a great new talent pool of workers to all of our trades. Learn more about the West Michigan Construction Institute here.
We would love the opportunity to help you navigate this wild market and lay out solutions that work best for you and your business. Early conversations and planning lead to the best results – ready to get started?
Every team member in a construction project is essential to a great outcome, but your Architect is where it all begins. They are the key to making sure your space feels the way you want it to and functions the way you need it to. No matter the size of your project, your Architect has a big impact on your project success.
Your success is our success, so we put together our top 5 steps to selecting the right Architect for you.
Step 1: Consider your project needs and wants.
Maybe you know exactly what you need and maybe you only have a rough outline. Either way, thinking through some of the basics will help you have a better understanding of what you are looking for in both a new space and in an Architect. This will also help the Architect have an understanding of where you are starting.
Some questions to consider:
What are your budget requirements? Are you looking for additional programming? Do you need more space? Are you focusing on employee retention/attraction? Have you gotten any feedback from employees? When do you need your project completed by?
Step 2: Determine if they will bring value.
Hiring an Architect goes far beyond whether or not they can design a space. You want to hire an Architect that will design a beautiful space and bring value to that space. Sometimes this may mean that they challenge you on what you think you want or need – but that is exactly what you want.
Some questions to consider:
What are your project priorities when designing a space? When is a time you have avoided risk due to your ideas and planning? What are some examples of you bringing value to a project?
Step 3: Ask the right questions.
Whether you are meeting with one firm or three firms, knowing the right questions to ask will give you insight into working with them. It will also give you the chance to get to know them a little bit and establish a baseline trust. You want to be able to trust your Architect…and you want other people that trust your Architect.
Some questions to consider:
Do you have a good relationship with local contractors (bonus points for references)? What are your company values? What is your favorite project you have designed and why? How did you handle a situation where you knew what a client was asking for was not the best path?
Step 4: Reach out to past clients.
The best way to know what you can expect from working with an Architect? Pick up the phone and give their past clients a call. If you can, cold call. Be open and ask for honest feedback on their experience. They have first-hand knowledge about a very important decision for your project so listen well and ask questions.
Step 5: Is there Chemistry?
While this one may sound unusual (we aren’t saying you have to be best friends), you want to have good chemistry with your Architect. You are going to have many conversations with that person over the course of your project and you want to make sure that they are willing to get to know you and answer your questions as well.
Whether you are thinking about a project in 5 months or 5 years, finding the right Architect is essential to your project’s success. It’s never too early to start looking. Our Architecture team would love the opportunity to answer any questions or talk through any future plans. Reach out today to start a conversation!
Last month, a few of us at Lakeshore Advantage commented on all the local construction in progress and recently completed. Ottawa County was recently named the fastest growing county in the state, so it’s no surprise to see the tangible growth all around us. Expanding, or growing your company’s physical footprint, is both an exciting and time-intensive process. With so many moving pieces, it can be easy to hit a roadblock.
We heard the challenges our investor community was facing in this area and decided to host an event where their questions could be asked and answered by industry experts. Last week we hosted our So You Think You’re Expanding event at Haworth. We brought together construction, real estate, and public sector partners, who provided key insights in how to expand your business. Below are the top three takeaways you should know before you begin an expansion project.
1. Get started early
I cannot emphasize this enough. Before you put a plan in action, engage a construction company or real estate partner, and us at Lakeshore Advantage as soon as possible. Some of the common challenges I see companies face are issues that come up in due diligence process. Let us help you with resources and partners so the construction process goes smoothly for you and your team.
2. There may be tools available to support your growth
These tools range from grants, workforce training dollars, and/or tax savings at both state and local levels. These incentives could help cut costs. Can your company capitalize on this opportunity? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see if there are tools available to support your project.
3. Material shortages and an influx of projects at the local level are real and causing significant delay
I’ve heard from many companies facing extreme sticker shock on building costs, construction timelines that are delayed due to material shortages, as well as delay in project review, site plans, and permits from local units of government. So again, start the planning process early and consult with the experts. Lakeshore Advantage engages amazing partners, like Lakewood Construction, that we recommend as you look to expand.
For a more in-depth look into our conversation at our event last week, view our recorded panel discussion HERE.
Lakeshore Advantage serves as an extended member of your team, and we would love to help you! Reach out to us at email@example.com today.
If you are in the process of starting your commercial construction project, you likely don’t want to be thinking about the obstacles your project may face. But what are the consequences to not thinking about the potential obstacles?
You don’t want to find out, and neither do we.
That is why we work closely with you from day one to work through all of the details and ensure that there is no room for any surprises. No stone left unturned.
So what are some of those common obstacles that we help you avoid?
Whether it is working through design decisions or lead times on materials, things always take longer than you think. That is why we are transparent from the very start to ensure that you know exactly what needs to happen when. We begin with the end in mind so that we can work to ensure your desired timeline is met. In addition, our team will guide you through every step and every decision to make sure that we are hitting those deadlines while also creating a space that you can be proud of for many years to come.
With many moving parts of any given commercial construction project, lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and disagreements. We eliminate that problem by having bi-weekly project team meetings, at minimum. We also ensure that our clients are informed early and often of any potential changes. This results in a project team that is on the same page every day and a more enjoyable project experience overall.
Delays aren’t fun for anyone. Which is why utilize our strong relationships in the commercial construction industry to stay on top of news, what is coming, and what effects that may have on our project materials. While we do our best to know about longer lead times ahead of project starts, sometimes there are unforeseen situations (like a global pandemic) that don’t allow us to do so. In the case that unknown delays happen, we work closely with our own team and our subcontractors to see where we have opportunities to accelerate or re-sequence the schedule in order to make up for lost time and still meet the desired end date.
We know how important your project is to you, which is why we do all we can to anticipate any unknown challenges. Things happen. And when they do, we have the right processes and people in place from the start of your project to minimize any impact to the project.
With the right partners in our community and the right expertise in our building, we are ready to turn potential challenges into lasting results. When great minds work together to solve complex construction challenges, the sky’s the limit.
For many years, skilled trade positions have been seen as a plan b or c career. However, while working in the office may be the right path for some, it certainly isn’t for everyone. So why are so many people pushed toward the narrative that if they don’t go to college, they somehow won’t do as well in life?
Somewhere out there, there is a great plumber or electrician sitting in an office at a job they don’t enjoy because they thought that is what they had to do to be successful. What if those same people were given the opportunity to understand their career options beyond the classroom? This is the reason I have attended many high school career days over the years. Students have the chance to select a profession and learn more about what that may look like. But so often, I end up with sessions that have only 2-3 students (and many with zero) that want to hear about the trades industry. I wish I could shout from a mountain top what makes this industry great so that more students could excel in a career that they truly enjoy.
Here is what I wish they knew:
- Many trade contractors in the area (including DHE) offer great benefits packages. This includes family health insurance, yearly bonuses, and an employer 401K match.
- Just like any office job, our tradesmen receive paid training and paid vacation. We understand the importance of work-life balance and ensuring everyone is continuously learning.
- Variety! No day is the same on a jobsite. From new schools to breweries to skyscrapers, tradesmen get to experience working on a long list of spaces that all need their specialized skills.
- Want to travel? We have completed the Penguin Exhibit at the Turtleback Zoo, the Jelly fish exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium and even a mangrove exhibit in Dubai. YES, that is plumbing!
Just like every other industry, we need highly talented people. While the path may look different than what is expected, we know you can have a successful life-long career in a skilled trades position.
The destination is always the same: successful delivery of a high-quality, high-performing building on time, on budget that meets the end-user’s needs and vision.
The path to completion depends on multiple factors, including design and system complexity, budget, conditions and more.
The path an owner chooses to bring together the team of trade contractors, construction manager, architects and engineers does affect the building’s destination. And while bringing trade contractors into the mix during the design phase might be assumed to increase construction costs, the opposite is the reality.
Trade contractors — professionals with years of experience who ultimately will physically construct the desired building — play an important role in its design. Their early involvement allows for more cohesive communication, preventing potential design conflicts, redundancy and confusion of responsibilities. They also have the ability to create a preliminary schedule to prevent scheduling conflicts and identify opportunities for prefabrication, early product procurement and more.
Town & Country Group’s reputation of providing Service Second to None never varies, regardless of client or delivery method. But being involved in the design process early allows us to be better stewards of our clients’ money and needs. Our experts know first-hand how to efficiently meet the building’s needs, eliminating unneeded materials and offering practical and lasting products.
Designers and non-trade-specific engineers are not afforded the experience of piping eight sub-panels in a room the size of a postage stamp. But a journeyman-electrician-turned-estimator can quickly foresee and explain why more space is required and how the cost will be reduced. RFI’s, Addendums and Bulletins, which can lead to change orders and extra costs, also are avoided.
Town & Country Group recently won the bid for a multi-phase renovation project for a long-time healthcare client. We were brought in at the start of construction and quickly discovered conflicts with electrical panels. The panels designed and scheduled to be installed in later phases were actually needed in the first phase. By looking at the project as a whole from the very beginning, we were able to prevent change orders during the later phases.
Instead of installing the electrical panels in Phase 3 as designed, we installed them in Phase 2. As a result, we only needed short power shutdowns to rework the electrical panels in Phase 2 instead of a long shutdown that would have negatively affected the hospital’s daily procedures.
Examples of positive impacts on bringing trade contractors into the design process are endless, and by no means trade specific. All trade professionals, from electricians to glass suppliers, have stories of poor installations that could have been prevented had they been consulted.
Over the years, significant growth has led to the evolution of certain trade contractors. Professional trade contractors are now staffed with engineers and architects fully capable of delivering a warehouse through the design-build delivery method. And today, we have the design-assist delivery method, with the same professional trade contractors partnering with the design expertise of architects and engineers to deliver high-design and highly coordinated projects, such as hospitals, schools, aquatic centers and more.
The Holland Community Aquatic Center, Lakewood Construction, Town & Country Group and other trade contractors are currently teaming using the design-assist delivery method. As a professional trade contactor, we were brought on early after the conceptual phases. Together, we ensured the design meets the owners’ needs and can be constructed without finger-pointing. Together, we have ensured all of the needs are met while maintaining the budget.
The destination of a high-quality, high-performing building for the coming decades of the Holland Community is progressing, swimmingly.
If you’ve gone through the building process before, chances are you have heard of Procore. Procore is a widely used construction software that provides several benefits to all parties involved. At Lakewood Construction, we use it on all of our projects, bringing the power of technology to better your results.
So, what is it?
Procore is a cloud-based platform that allows us to house all of our project documents, manage the bid process, track correspondence, and much more.
More importantly, how does it benefit you?
- Increased Transparency – Because Procore is online, each of the different team members have access to real-time project information. This results in everyone being on the same page from the first meeting through project completion and provides open access at any time.
- Better Teamwork – When your contractor, architect, and subcontractors, all have the project documents at their fingertips, you can expect a project team that goes above and beyond. For you, that means an enjoyable process with the best possible outcome.
- Regular Updates – Part of our Procore process includes regular photo updates from our Project Supervisors. This means you can check in on the project anytime, anywhere, and see what is happening on a day-to-day basis.
We are committed to making sure that we have the tools to provide a best-in-class construction process for every one of our clients and Procore is one piece of that. Whether you want to be involved as much or as little as possible, you have the freedom to decide.
Are you thinking about building? We would love to talk. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 616-392-6923.
The difference between outright failure, or a project that at best simply ‘gets done’, and a project that advances your mission is a powerful partnership between your design and construction teams. AMDG has found great joy in building a strong partnership with Lakewood Construction throughout our growing history of highly successful projects together. What are the secrets to building a strong partnership? Trust, humility, respect for each team members expertise, and clear communication.
Understanding the “why”
Before even starting the design work, AMDG and Lakewood meet with you to clearly understand your project goals, concerns, and mission. Both teams work to understand the “why” behind your project. In this early stage, design principles are defined for the project. Very high-level budget parameters, programmatic needs as well as project timelines are also outlined. This early discovery stage provides the basis to inform decisions and successfully guide the team through project completion.
With well-defined design principles and a deep understanding of your goals, AMDG and Lakewood work with a shared purpose throughout the design and construction process. Communicating early and often, regular checks and balances are in place between AMDG and Lakewood as we balance design, cost and schedule. This healthy tension found in our partnership uniquely positions you as the client to both understand and influence the design and cost decisions throughout the project.
Carrying out Your Project
Whether navigating complex code or permitting issues, anticipating your operational logistical needs, or dealing with thorny construction challenges, AMDG and Lakewood are dedicated – to you, your project, and to one another. This mutual respect and humility catalyzes true teaming and creative problem solving throughout the project for your best interest.
With strong partnership and deep trust, extraordinary results are inevitable. Always keeping your needs at the forefront, Lakewood and AMDG, as committed and respected partners, can successfully advance your mission through your next building project.