August 2019 Te Contractor’s Advantage
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Growing Up Around the World
When I was a kid, both of my parents worked for the military. They worked in the American intelligence community as civilians. It was a relationship that took our family all around the world, to England, Germany, Japan, and many other countries. Growing up was an interesting experience, though not too dissimilar from kids who grow up with parents actually in the military. It was sometimes difficult to form long-term friendships, but at the same time, I was able to grow closer to my family. We would uproot our entire lives and move from place to place, but we still had each other. It was also a fantastic opportunity to really see the world and experience different cultures and ways of life and meet new, interesting people. On top of that, in each new location, I could explore and take it all in, really getting a sense of the place. In many ways, this gave me a cosmopolitan outlook on the world — it lets you really appreciate the world at large to a greater degree and gain some perspective. When we were in England, we lived in Yorkshire. If you’re not familiar, Yorkshire is a region in the northern part of England. It rains practically every day as the wind blows over the moors. Even to this day, Yorkshire sticks out in my mind in a very particular way, as living there had a profound impact on me. Every time it rains here at home, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for my time in Yorkshire. I had so many happy times there, and
sometimes I miss it. As much as it rained and seemed so bleak, it was so green and incredibly beautiful. While we were living in Japan, I had the chance to climb Mt. Fuji. Of course, I say climb, but there is an entire industry built around getting people to the summit. For many people, it’s a day-long hike that can get a little steep toward the end, but there are also other means of getting to the top. Many people in Japan follow the Shinto religion, which I understand reveres high places. People make pilgrimages to Mt. Fuji, and, because of this, there are many inns and cabins on the trails leading to the summit. Older folks can take their time ascending the mountain, while others can hike it in less than a day. I was in a group that hiked Mt. Fuji overnight. It was an eight- hour hike to see the sun rise over Japan. That morning, you could see the sun shimmering on the many
lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji. It was a breathtaking sight.
These are just a couple of my experiences from my youth. When I got older, I moved to the U.S. to go to college, and my days of living around the world came to an end. I’ll always appreciate the perspective and global education I gained during my childhood, and I’ll always be thankful for all of the experiences and adventures I had the privilege of undertaking.
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On May 15, 2019, more than 1 million students around the world skipped school to call attention to climate change. The effort included over 2,000 protests aimed at legislators in 25 countries, which is no small feat for a bunch of middle and high school students. For businesses, movements like these should be red flags because today’s students are tomorrow’s consumers and employees. Luckily, there are plenty of simple moves you can make to lower your business’s environmental impact. Just be sure to avoid “greenwashing” — a term for marketing initiatives that make companies look environmentally friendly, even when they’re making no effort. Here are some tips to better our planet and help your business attract today’s climate- conscious youth. GO PAPERLESS According to the EPA, the average office worker uses 10,000 pieces of paper per year. Multiply that by everyone in your company, and you have a whole forest in your building waiting to be saved. With advances in technology that provide replacements for products like punch cards and spreadsheets, why not ditch internal paper altogether? INVEST IN A DISHWASHER After China announced in 2018 that it would no longer accept the majority of U.S. plastics for recycling, single-use plastics like cling wrap, water cooler cups, and plasticware became impossible to recycle in most cities. As a result, more than 6 million tons of those plastics end up in local landfills and the oceans each year. Buying a dishwasher for the office kitchen and providing reusable silverware, cups, and plates will cut down on that waste. OFFER ALTERNATIVES TO THE TRASH CAN If your city provides recycling and composting services, this step can be as simple as making sure the bins in your office are visible and educating your employees on what should be tossed where. Barring a local compost program, you can start your own company compost pile for things like coffee grounds, lawn clippings, and lunch leftovers. If you don’t know what can be composted or recycled or are unsure if you are allowed to create your own compost pile, city officials and the internet are there to help. 3 Sustainable Moves Your Business Can Make Today GOING GREEN
WHAT INTERNS CAN OFFER These Young Minds Will Help Your Business Thrive Often utilized as file organizers, envelope lickers, and coffee fetchers, college interns are usually at the lowliest rung on the corporate ladder. But as some of the world’s most successful companies have proven, these young team members can be incredibly valuable to your business. If you haven’t considered offering internship positions before, the following benefits might just convince you. PROACTIVE RECRUITING In today’s competitive job market, recruiting a recent college graduate with relevant experience feels like finding a unicorn. But a coveted hire doesn’t have to be one in a million. An effective internship program can give you the opportunity to bring college interns on to your staff who could potentially become full-time employees. And luckily, unlike regular hires, you aren’t making a long- term, expensive commitment to your interns. During their internships, you can test whether or not they will be a great fit for your company before offering them a permanent position. And if an intern impresses you enough to hire them on after graduation, you can rest assured knowing they will already be familiar with their job by then. FRESH PERSPECTIVES There’s a reason top companies like Facebook and Chevron invest heavily in their internship programs. By bringing in young, innovative minds, you open up your business to fresh, unique solutions. Interns have spearheaded effective social media campaigns, modernized standard operating procedures, and even designed apps to help their businesses run smoother. In a world where remaining relevant is key to growth, businesses can’t afford to be out of touch with the next generation of consumers. So, while interns will likely do much of the grunt work at your business, don’t be afraid to hand them more responsibilities. Bring them into strategy meetings, ask for their thoughts, and treat them as valued parts of the team. Do this and you’ll be in step with some of the biggest players in the business world.
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5 Strategies to Protect Your Building
HAVE A Laugh According to the FBI, a burglary occurs every 20 seconds. We tend to focus on protecting our homes from invasion, but in 2016, over 460,000 nonresidential buildings were burglarized. And after one successful break-in, your building is more likely to be targeted again. Here are a few crucial strategies to improve the security of your building. SMILE FOR THE CAMERA. Let’s start with the basics: If you don’t already have CCTV surveillance, install a system right away. Position these cameras in common areas with good lighting, and make sure they’re visible. The sight of security cameras may deter criminals from making your building a target. Some property managers try to cut corners by using fake cameras to scare off criminals, but this can backfire in the event of a break-in. Use real cameras and service them regularly so you can review the tapes whenever you need to. DON’T NEGLECT YOUR LANDSCAPING. Never let overgrowth overtake your property. Criminals view unkempt trees, bushes, and grass as a sign that you’ve been neglecting your property. This implies you may be neglecting other areas, too — your security system, for example. LET THERE BE LIGHT. Unless you have Batman patrolling your city streets at night, nighttime is when criminals are most likely to strike.
Install motion detector floodlights in prime areas around your building, including entrances, exits, gates, garages, in your landscaping, and near ground-level windows. A sudden burst of light can scare off would-be intruders and potentially alert anyone nearby of trouble. INVEST IN PARKING SECURITY. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 11% of property crimes and more than 7% of violent attacks occur in parking facilities. If your building has a parking facility, make sure this area has ample security. DETERMINE WHO’S IN CHARGE. When reviewing building security, it’s important to determine who is responsible for keeping security up to date. Should the building owner or property manager maintain security, or does it fall to the tenants? Answer this question and make sure the person responsible is following all agreed-upon security protocols. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for security. Depending on the nature of a business or building, you will have specific security needs. You should periodically assess potential risks, make sure your building’s needs are met, and make repairs as needed.
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Jeremy Wyatt email@example.com www.HarrisonLawGroup.com (410) 832-0000
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Inside This Edition
A Global Perspective
Greening Up Your Business
What Interns Offer
Can You Trust Your Security System?
Have a Laugh
Your Ego Is Holding You Back
Level With Me: When to Call an Attorney
‘Ego Is the Enemy’ Get Over Yourself and Find Success Once in a while, a book comes along with a truly transcendent message. “Ego Is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday is one such work. This book is not just for business owners, athletes, or those trying to lose weight; it’s a guide for everyone. By digging into the root of the human condition, this instant bestseller examines the single greatest threat to our own success: ourselves. This ambitious premise shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’re familiar with the author. Dropping out of college at 19 to be mentored by business strategist Robert Greene, Holiday has become one of the most trusted advisors of our time, working with brands like Google, Taser, and Complex. His other bestseller, “The Obstacle Is the Way,” tackles the difficulties of the creative process and our natural tendency to avoid necessary steps toward our success. “Ego Is the Enemy” dives deeper into the latter concept, highlighting ways we sabotage or deceive ourselves. For Holiday, ego is defined loosely as our perception of self. Some may have a poorer outlook on themselves than others, but, as the book’s title suggests, ego hurts us regardless of which end of the spectrum we fall on. Holiday argues our self- perception can act as both a roadblock and a pitfall: Those
with low self-esteem get stopped by doubt, while those with inflated egos often trip over their own arrogance. Those who unshackle themselves from their own personal narratives, however, can find lasting success.
“Ego Is the Enemy” is rich with examples of this concept in action as it explores the lives and contributions of often overlooked historical figures like Katharine Graham and Howard Hughes. These powerful individuals remain relatively obscure thanks to their tendency to put their work before self- promotion, yet their impact on global events is undeniable. Pulling from history, literature, and the latest psychological findings, Holiday weaves an argument as engaging as it is thought-provoking. At times contemplative and other times combative, “Ego Is the Enemy” holds up a mirror to readers and asks them to challenge what they see. For those willing to attempt conquering themselves, this book is a worthy companion.
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Level With Me By JeremyWyatt
Times When Calling an Attorney Can Save Your Company a Lot of Money
Few construction contractors maintain an attorney on their staff. And many contractors with legal issues, perhaps wary of the cost, wait to call an outside attorney until their legal rights have deteriorated. So how do you know when to call an attorney? In my experience, it’s about knowing when an attorney can bring value to your business. I will be the first to admit that not every situation requires an attorney, but in the construction context, here are some situations in which you should pick up your phone to call an attorney: contract reviews, project changes, and payment disputes. Regardless of your company’s size or specialty, you’re going to need to review and sign contracts. I no longer keep track of how many contracts I have reviewed for clients, but I pay very close attention to what each contract I review means to a client. Here are three types of contracts where attorney involvement is progressively more important. The first category includes contracts that are either small for your company or are with an established customer. These are low-risk contracts where taking a loss on the project may not affect your bottom line much, or where there is already trust and a business relationship with the party on the other side. Nine times out of ten, these contracts don’t need attorney review. What may be helpful, however, is to have an attorney draft a form contract for your smaller projects that protects you and reduces your company’s risk. Contracts
The second category includes contracts that are right in your wheelhouse but are with a new customer, or where something seems “off.” Remember, you’re an expert in your field, and you should trust that little voice that sometimes tells you, “This doesn’t feel right.” For contracts in this category, it’s worth forwarding them to an attorney for a once-over. When I review a contract in this category, I hit the highlights for the client: What are the obligations regarding indemnity, payment disputes, change orders, delay damages, liquidated damages, etc.? If something problematic arises, we can always delve deeper as the client requires. The third category includes contracts that are unusually large for your company or are with a customer that you know to be litigious or generally problematic. These kind of contracts are worth a thorough risk review and revision by an attorney. More than a few talented contractors have gone out of business because they stretched out on a project that was supposed to bring the company to a new level but ended up crushing the company under a mountain of contract damages, bond claims, and project delays.
Most modern construction contracts require contractors to keep working on change order work regardless of whether the parties have agreed on a change order’s pricing. Given the back-and-forth nature of some change order price negotiations, it can be difficult
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to know when an attorney’s involvement is valuable. Here are two “red flags” that warrant a call to an attorney. First, if your proposed change in contract pricing is denied in total, you need to know right away what your next steps are in terms of getting paid. Does your contract permit you to resubmit the proposed change? Do you need to resort immediately to dispute resolution? Many contracts have very brief (meaning only a few days) timeframes for disputing the denial of a proposed change. Second, not every proposed change order is outright denied. Some just sit, and sit, and sit for months without any decision. This can be a red flag as well when the delay affects your cash flow on the project (or, perhaps, your company’s cash flow overall). Particularly for large change orders, it’s valuable to know promptly where the other side stands with respect to how much you are going to be paid for change order work. For both of these issues, an attorney familiar with construction contracts can determine quickly what your rights are and how to pursue them in an expeditious manner.
This issue is the simplest to my mind. On any project where your customer is refusing to pay you for your work, you should contact an attorney immediately. This is for one simple reason: your rights may be expiring as you read this! Do you know how to preserve your payment rights under your contract’s disputes clause? Did you do it? Did your project manager sign a lien release after this dispute arose? Did that lien release contain a legally sufficient carve-out for your payment dispute? Do you know whether you have time to file a mechanic’s lien or bond claim? An attorney can help answer all of those questions and more, as well as help you pursue your rights when negotiation fails.
If you want to learn more skills and tips about avoiding construction claim pitfalls, you can receive a free copy of my book, “The Subcontractor’s Roadmap to Getting Paid for Extra Work” by emailing me at email@example.com.
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