Patches Are Not Solutions

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Patches are not solutions. As I drive from home to anywhere I run over numerous patches. In fact, it’s difficult to find a stretch of road around her that isn’t paved with patches. Don’t get me wrong; there has been a lot of road construction this summer and 3-mile stretch of a heavily traveled road has been, once again, resurfaced hiding, but not fixing the patches. Right now the surface is smooth, relatively speaking, but by next spring it will require new patches.

The pavement patches are one thing; the highway bill patch another. It is in keeping with our political philosophy – why do today what can be put off until tomorrow. When the last highway bill was passed everyone knew it would be up for renewal. Years before it expired industry groups and coalitions started hammering Congress to get busy developing a new long-term bill that would address our transportation infrastructure needs.

The result?

Another patch on top of another patch on top of yet another patch, just like the unsafe roads we’re forced to travel. The bill was pushed back because there’s an election and the politicians, oh yes, I forgot, “our representatives” promulgate a piece of legislation that might raise taxes, create user fees or influence us to not re-elect them.

The attitude seems to be, To hell with the roads, your safety, the damage to your family cars, the increased cost freight transportation…

You will spend more money on car repairs that are a direct result of being forced to drive on patched pavements than you would pay in an increased gas tax!

I apologize for climbing up on my soapbox again; got carried away because after my last editorial I was accused of being a spokesperson for asphalt pavements. I love concert pavements as much as asphalt.

Here are some concrete facts:

Concrete pavements have been a mainstay of America’s transportation infrastructure for more than 50 years. The country’s first concrete street, built in Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 1891, is still in service today. Concrete pavements are not confined to one region of North America, nor to a specific type of environment or climate. Concrete can handle the freezing winters of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the scorching heat of the Southwest.

Regardless of the type of roadway or current pavement conditions, there can be a concrete solution. It can be used for new pavements, reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration or rehabilitation. Concrete pavements generally provide long life, low maintenance and low life-cycle cost.

Concrete pavements Typically remain in service on highways and roadways after 30, 40, or 50 years.

Rigid concrete pavements hold their shape, resist potholes, and offer excellent skid-resistance for vehicles.

Concrete pavements are recyclable. Concrete is one of the most recycled construction material in the world. For example, recycled concrete can be used to create base materials for new roadways or as ‘rip-rap,’ large pieces of concrete used for erosion control and flood prevention.

Asphalt or concrete, concrete or asphalt, it doesn’t matter. There are professional highway engineers who can and do design roads for the geographic regions in which they are laid with the materials that will provide the best service over the longest period of time. But like everything else in life there is a price tag attached. And like everything else in life, there are mitigating factors that influence the longevity of our roads: traffic volume; type of traffic – autos or trucks; climatic conditions; freeze-thaw cycles; temperatures below zero; roadbed base; base materials; pavement thickness; etc. The list is long and detailed. Building a road is not simple. The best roads require constant maintenance, regular repair, scheduled upgrades and a commitment to preserve their integrity and safety for continuous future use.

Our roads are a precious national resource – asphalt or concrete. It is our responsibility to protect the investment in them. Repairing today’s damaged roads tomorrow will be too late, especially for the people who suffer and die because of this neglect.

Greg Sitek

Note: This editorial appeared in the September 2014 issues of the ACP magazines.

A Walk On The Great Wall: China’s Changing Economic Trends By Matt Wisla

China’s Changing Economic Trends China’s Changing Economic Trends2

The Powerful American Brand…Lessons for Branding Your Business

by Brian M. Fraley

The 4th of July holiday is associated with family vacations, parades, barbecues, and fireworks, but the true significance of the holiday is to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of America as a free nation. It is also meant to recognize the men and women of our armed forces that have sacrificed so much to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy today.

10921420So how did the American brand come to be the most revered, timeless, and widely recognized brand in the world and how can you use those lessons to enhance the brand of your business. The American brand evokes strong emotions; no other brand can bring tears to the eyes of its believers. The concept of America is intrinsically wired into the American brand. The loyalty to the brand originated with the immigrants that arrived on our shores and carried though to future generations.

While a country and a business have many differences, they bear many similarities. The core principles defining the formation of a strong brand are consistent and there is much to be learned by trying to emulate the unrivaled American brand.

Consistent Use of a Powerful Symbol

Every strong brand requires a symbol that is used consistently over time. It would be difficult to identify a more globally recognized symbol than the American Flag. It is known in even the most isolated civilizations across the globe. While variations of the flag have been used, the red, white, and blue color scheme is associated with America around the world. In business, we use a logo and a certain color combination that best reflects the firm. In addition to creating a logo that properly reflects your company’s history, culture, and expertise, you must use the logo consistently over time in order to brand yourself in the marketplace. Repetition is key. The way you use your logo in print and digital formats must be sacred. If it will not reproduce properly in a certain application, don’t use it.

Effective Slogans Strengthen the Brand

There have been several slogans associated with America including “America the Beautiful,” “In God We Trust,” “E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One),” and “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.” All of the above define the culture of the country and are used by our citizenry to rally around the American brand. In corporate America, we use a slogan or tagline, which is a brief statement that defines your business, or product or service offering. It should be relevant, brief, and memorable. And it should be one that your employees are proud to represent. While a slogan is not essential, the proper combination of words can bring added strength to a brand.

Who are Your Brand Patriots?

The term “Patriot” originated during the American Revolution and included rebels from a diverse array of social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds that were committed to escaping British control. Perhaps the most famous Patriot associated with the American Revolution was Paul Revere who rode across Massachusetts on horseback and literally went door to door to warn his fellow citizens that the British troops were coming. Paul Revere accepted the danger of his mission and was ultimately captured by the British.

Who are your Brand Patriots? They can be employees or satisfied clients. These Brand Patriots build your brand through their actions and positive word of mouth because they believe in your mission. They are the lynchpin that holds your business together. Ask yourself continually whether you are still earning their loyalty. Are they still waving your flag and feeling “Patriotic” about your brand?

Sacred Documents

The Declaration of Independence adds to the mystique and provides a historical link to the value of the American brand. This document commemorated the escape from British rule and the birth of the United States as a free nation. This document was a reflection of the passionate speeches, fierce debates, and bloody battles. Much effort has gone to promote this as a sacred document in museums and historic venues across the U.S. Not to mention, there has been extensive literature published to educate generations of Americans on the significance of the Declaration of Independence and the events surrounding it.

While the story of your company and its history is not as compelling as the freedom of a nation, there is a story that must be told properly to elevate the power of your brand. There are some great legacies behind many firms in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry. What makes your firm unique? Now take that aspect and use it to add value to your brand. This aspect should be incorporated into your Marketing materials, your media publicity, and all outgoing materials on your firm. Use it internally as well. Give your employees a concept to rally around. Was your founder an immigrant with an empty wallet and a dream, or a member of a minority group? Was your company founded during a difficult economy? Most people appreciate stories of perseverance in the face of adversity and it has a way of creating unity. In the case of the American Revolution, citizens united against foreign occupation.

Develop Meaningful Traditions and Customs

The American brand is also built on the use of deeply rooted customs and traditions. We wear red, white, and blue, fly the American flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and sing the National Anthem just to name a few. Most of these traditions celebrate historical events and milestones and create unity and pride among the American people.

Strengthening the brand of your business can also be accomplished through customs and traditions. The repetition of traditions can build comradery and morale among your employees, while increasing the standing of your brand in the eyes of your employees. One effective method is to host an off-site team building retreat. You might also consider a strategic planning process that allows your employees to work in teams to address the various aspects of your business. The Strategic Planning process should be employed annually; it’s not necessarily a once and done process. Other ideas include hosting an open house to commemorate a significant anniversary, new location, or new product line. Look for opportunities to bring your team together and they will be converted into Brand Patriots.

Fortify and Understand Your Brand

No business-related brand will ever rival the American brand. The extensive history, passion, and mass appeal of a nation like the United States is impossible to replicate. The core principles described above, however, can build and fortify your brand if properly implemented.

Take advantage of this 4th of July holiday to reflect on the true meaning of the American brand and the men and women that have sacrificed their lives to preserve it. Then take a moment to reflect on the state of your own firm’s brand. How strong is your brand? Who are your Brand Patriots? If you can answer affirmatively to these questions, be thankful, but never grow complacent when it comes to your brand.

Brian Fraley

http://www.site-kconstructionzone.com/?s=Brian+Fraley

Fraley AEC Solutions, LLC has been launched to provide Marketing and Public Relations services to the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry in Pennsylvania and the surrounding region. The firm was founded by Brian M. Fraley, who has been providing Marketing and Business Development solutions within the AEC sector for more than 20 years. Starting his career in a construction and industrial advertising firm, he served as editor of a regional Highway/Heavy Construction trade publication, Marketing Director for a statewide transportation construction association, and Director of Marketing and Business Development for a civil engineering firm.

“There are many firms that provide Marketing and Public Relations services, but they lack the in-depth knowledge of the AEC sector,” says Fraley. “This is an industry with a unique language, history, personality, and way of conducting business. Fraley AEC Solutions was formed to cater to this underserved and often misunderstood marketplace.”

No stranger to the start-up environment, Fraley started his career with a small family-owned construction advertising agency in Bucks County, Pa. “One thing that has not changed in 20 years is that firms in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction sector must differentiate themselves with effective Marketing practices,” Fraley explained. “That need has been exacerbated due to a number of paradigm shifts that are currently underway from the technology revolution to the emergence of the next generation of management. Fraley AEC Solutions has the historical knowledge of the industry, which will be necessary to help our clients to adapt to current and future industry shifts.”

Was, Is And Will Be Your Best Investment

RMG1aWas, Is And Will Be Your Best Investment

By Greg Sitek

Maintenance.

No matter what equipment, vehicles or tools you own or use, it will perform better, longer, more profitably when maintained.

There are things you buy and write off as a business expense. Tools, vehicles and equipment should never be included in this mix.

Say maintenance and almost immediately you think of the “equipment,” the “machines,” the stuff that drinks gallons of fuel hourly and is critical to the continuation of your operation.

When you hear maintenance do you think about the portable generators, light towers, pumps, welders, and all the other “back-savers” you haul around in the bed of the pickup?

For that matter, what about the pickup? Do you think pickup when you hear or read maintenance?

While we’re at it, do you think about the impact wrenches, grinders, drills, hammers, drill bits, chisels, ratchets and all the other tools that go with you to the job site.

The big stuff is hared to ignore because it’s so obvious. You schedule the routine maintenance for engines, transmissions, drives and all the electric and hydraulic systems; suspension, tires or track/undercarriage and other major systems and/or components. But, do you include the work tools the machine uses — the bucket teeth? the cutting edges? – for example? You know that dull, blunt and worn ground engaging tools may not effectively dig into the material you’re trying to remove but they very effectively cut away your productivity and raise havoc with fuel consumption.

What can be more frustrating than trying to start a compressor on a remote jobsite and discovering that it won’t start because the fuel filter is really dirty or the air filter hasn’t been cleaned since the unit was acquired? Or suppose it’s a welder. Or any other portable piece of equipment.

Doesn’t it make sense to think that if “I needed it enough to buy it it should be important enough to make certain that it is always ready to do what it was designed to do?”

Every piece of equipment, every work tool or attachment, every vehicle, every portable tool, every hand tool, virtually every thing that’s made comes with some kind of manual or instructional document that tells you at least two things:

1. HOW TO USE IT

2. HOW TO MAINTAIN IT

There may also be some warranty information and of course an endless listing of all the bad things that can happen to you as a result of using this “whateveritis” thing.

The point is that there are literally thousands upon thousands of people who spend their workday writing this information; these instructions. I know. Many years ago (before the advent of the Selectric typewriter, fax machine, computer, cell phone – you get the idea) that’s what I did; write shop and service manuals for the auto industry.

The reason, everything man-made demands man-care. It’s that simple.

Your investment in the maintenance of what you use to do your work will result in greater productivity, longer machine/equipment life, lower fuel consumption and improved profitability.

If it was important enough to buy it is important enough to protect. The dollars you invest in maintaining your equipment, machines, attachments and tools you use to do your work will give you a greater ROI than and other investment plan available.

National editorial appeared in the June issues of the 13 ACP magazines.

Winter is Dead, Long Live Summer May 2014 Editorial

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

I, for one, am glad winter is finally over. It took long enough to let spring finally emerge because in Michigan we had a couple of inches of snow in mid-April setting a record for number-of-inches in many areas of the state. This winter almost everyone in the country was a victim at one time or another.

Resulting road and infrastructure damage will be measured in the billions of dollars. Individuals will have racked up excessive auto repair costs, lost work days and higher-than-normal home-heating and electrical costs. The economic pain doesn’t stop here.

Virtually all construction suffered due to the cold and snow and the pain won’t dissipate with higher temperatures. Materials costs will increase due to shortages resulting from the cold.

It was a bad winter but it should be offset by an exceptional spring, summer and fall over the next seven or eight months. Or, will it…

According to Wells Fargo Economics Group:

Weather Effect has Largely Faded

Housing starts posted a second monthly gain in March, increasing 2.8 percent to a 946,000-unit pace. This report shows that while the housing recovery hit a snag in December and January due to weather, it is still on track. Although today’s gain is welcome, the reading was below consensus estimates. Moreover, permits fell 2.4 percent, but the decline was concentrated in
multifamily.

Single-Family Starts Rebound

Single-family starts increased 6.0 percent in March to a 635,000-unit pace, the second-straight monthly gain. The consecutive gains in single-family starts and increase in purchase applications should alleviate fears that the housing recovery has lost its luster. Wells Fargo expects single-family starts to increase 19 percent in 2014 and 18 percent in 2015. Multifamily starts fell 3.1 percent on the month to a 311,000 unit pace.

New Sales Plummet in March

New home sales dropped a more-than-expected, 14.5 percent in March, while forecasts were looking for a small pickup on the month. Weak builder sentiment and still-tight credit conditions continue to suggest sales activity will be challenged during home buying season. One bright spot was the jump in inventories, which reached its highest level since late 2010. Median home prices also rose more than 11 percent year to year.

Builder Confidence Remains Low

One tell-tale sign of the slower pace in new home sales activity is builder confidence. Sentiment has been stuck in a narrow band over the past three months, but remains below the key threshold of 50 where more builders see conditions as “good” rather than “poor.” Moreover, prospective buyer traffic also remained at a low level. We suspect weather is still playing a role in the tepid pace of sales activity, but reports in April and May will confirm.

According to American Road & Transportation Builders Association, (ARTBA) “Data from a new government report shows that if all the structurally deficient bridges in the United States were placed end-to-end, it would take you 25 hours driving 60 miles per hour to cross them. That’s like driving the 1,500 miles between Boston and Miami. And it’s a problem that’s close to home.

ARTBA will announce the list of the top 250 structurally deficient U.S. bridges, state rankings based on the number of deficient bridges and estimates to repair them, and a list of each state’s top 10 deficient bridges.”

This and other related information will be released after this issue goes to press. We will post the results online at site-kconstructionzone.com as soon as it is available and include it in next month’s issues.

Winter may be over but winter woes will probably be with us for some time to come. If the road situation was bad last year, it is considerably worse this year. And, don’t forget, the current Highway Bill is in the hands of Congress.