Part 2 - By Ron Pestone
Then there are the large Construction Manager firms who manage so much of the big work that is being built today. These firms come in two distinct camps, the team player camp and the adversary camp. I have worked for both camps. In the team player camp the Construction Manager rep is really the captain of the team. It is a pleasure to be on his team and more often than not when the job is over you have not only made some friends, but also the job actually made a profit. Their style is very much like the NYC School Construction Authority’s style and in some cases even better. If you are lucky enough to get one of their “A” teams and you work with them your company will do fine because these guys really know how to build.
Then there is the Adversary camp. They are a living hell. They care nothing for the contractor, in their eyes contractors, especially subcontractors are nothing but cannon fodder. Squeeze them all until they break. They simply do not live by the rules. If a project they are managing calls for a base line CPM schedule with monthly updates and they feel it is in their best interest never to give you an update, they don’t because without updates they can make any demands they want, reasonable or unreasonable and if the contractor refuses they issue a three day notice and throw him off the job. These guys have built graveyards of subcontractors. There is nothing they will not stoop to and the only thing that exceeds their lack of truthfulness is their incompetence. Let me give you a quick story to illustrate the point.
Years ago I met a sewer contractor, a big overweight guy whose pants sagged to the floor and who wore a painter’s hat with the beak sitting sideways on his head. How he had gotten a big plumbing job with a large well know Construction Manager firm in New York City for a new school I could never figure out. It must have been the price. The guy only knew sewer work and had no idea how to coordinate a multi floor project. As the project was going up the Construction Manager never said a word to him about getting his sleeve into the decks before they were poured. Once the decks were poured it was way too late for him. When he started running his pipe he had to get through the slabs so he could get his work in on all the floors. The only way to do that was to core bore. Unfortunately the electrician on the job was a seasoned guy and he had tons of conduit in the slabs so every time this sewer guy core bored he wound up hitting the electricians conduit. As a result the slab had to be opened up, the conduit repaired and the slab patched, all of which cost sizable time and money. The sewer guy was back charged for all of it, not only for the actual fixes but for the loss of time on the schedule. In addition he was charged for cleanup and in general everyone had a great time back charging this lost soul.
Soon the sewer guy started to fall behind with his work and then the Construction Manager started to cut his money supply off. The Construction Manager claimed he had no choice; the money that was being held was going to be needed to pay for all the back charges.
Then the Construction Manager started demanding the sewer guy double his manpower because he was delaying the project. The poor guy was frantic and had no idea what to do and like a deer caught in a car’s headlights he ultimately paid the price.
End of Part
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