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St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station Progresses Toward Construction Finish in Late 2019

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

What holds more than one million gallons of water, spans 120,000 square feet and promises to educate and fascinate all ages?

The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station in downtown St. Louis, on schedule to open in late 2019.

Part of an overall $187 million family entertainment complex, the massive project is being developed by Union Station owner Lodging Hospitality Management, designed by PGAV Destinations, built by McCarthy Building Companies and operated by zoOceanarium Group, the aquarium is creating 500 construction jobs. The St. Louis Aquarium Foundation will provide education, conservation and volunteer programs for visitors.

“The Shark Tank alone will hold 250,000 gallons of saltwater,” said Shawn Brinker, project manager for McCarthy. “Visitors will walk through a switchback tunnel designed with radiused, deep-water acrylic panels – some as large as 16 feet by 18 feet – that will enable them to get an up-close look at aquatic creatures for an exciting, virtual-immersive experience.”

Extensive demolition of what had been Union Station’s food court and mall to make way for the aquarium proved to be a steep challenge when work began November 2017. Brinker said working off as-built drawings dating back to the late 1800s made existing condition coordination, work sequencing and planning essential. “Subsurface conditions associated with the design and construction of three miles of piping systems also made the work extremely challenging,” he said, noting that complex piping up and above standard mechanical-electrical-plumbing infrastructure was necessary to support the more than 250 species of aquatic life. LSS (life support system) piping was a major portion of the work.

The aquarium is zoOceanarium’s first project located in the U.S.

Midas Hospitality Receives Prestigious Awards from Marriott International

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St. Louis hotelier’s Residence Inn portfolio is nation’s only recipient of guest satisfaction award 

Marriott International recently honored Midas Hospitality – a premier hotel development, management and investment firm – with the distinguished Partnership Circle Award, which is the highest honor that Marriott presents for hospitality excellence.

In addition to the Partnership Circle Award, Midas also received the Guest Satisfaction Excellence Award for Marriott’s Residence Inn brand.  Marriott only presents one award per hotel brand, and Midas’ Residence Inn portfolio – which includes two hotels in Charlotte, N.C. and two in St. Louis, Mo. – was selected as the top ranked group in the country.

The Partnership Circle Award honors companies that live by Marriott’s vision, share a mutual long-term commitment, fully embrace Marriott’s brand initiatives, focus on employees to create a well-managed and engaged workforce, invest in hotel product, and provide outstanding customer service. According to Marriott, being awarded the Partnership Circle Award is a testament to Midas’ dedication to its guests, associates and to upholding the distinguished values that were created by J.W. Marriott many years ago.

“The Partnership Circle Award represents all that we as an organization strive to achieve in terms of excellent customer service and brand distinction,” said David Robert, Midas Hospitality’s CEO and Managing Member.  “We graciously accept this recognition on behalf of our entire team, which is truly responsible for the award and all that it represents to us.”  Robert added that the Residence Inn award “is yet another win for our company and our continuous quest to guarantee the finest experience at each and every property we manage.”

Photo Above: Pictured from left to right are Midas Hospitality’s CEO and Managing Member David Robert and VP Development and Construction Chris Shinkle.

Founded in 2006, Midas Hospitality specializes in the development, management and investment of award-winning hotel properties across the U.S.  The firm focuses on select-service and extended-stay experiences for global brands including Hilton, Marriott, and IHG.  Midas’ headquarters are located at 1804 Borman Circle Dr. in Maryland Heights, Mo.  For more information, call (314) 692-0100 or visit http://www.midashospitality.com.

 

Habitat For Humanity Saint Louis & Saint Louis University Partner To Build Housing Near Campus

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With funding secured through the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis has announced it will move forward with plans to build five new homes near Saint Louis University (SLU) in 2019.

The $1.1 million dollar investment will transform long-vacant land in the Gate District West neighborhood just adjacent to the university’s Medical Campus into for-sale affordable single-family housing. Community leaders gave unanimous approval to the plan last year.

St. Louis Midtown Development Corporation, created in partnership with SLU and SSM Health, is playing a lead role in spearheading redevelopment in this area. In March of 2017, the entity was ratified by the City of St. Louis as an Urban Redevelopment Corporation to oversee and administer a redevelopment plan to draw new investment to an area comprised of close to 400 acres in the heart of the city.

With nearly $1 billion in new construction already underway in Midtown, SLU sees the Habitat Saint Louis project as an opportunity to maintain workforce housing for families who want to live near jobs, transit and good schools — amenities that already exist.

“Saint Louis University is committed to working together with the St. Louis community to reimagine, revitalize and transform our city,” said SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. “This partnership with Habitat fits squarely into that commitment.”

This build is the first major project in which Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis and SLU have joined forces to create affordable home-ownership opportunities for homebuyers. The plan calls for two-story, fully accessible homes with brick façades to complement the existing streetscapes. According to Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis Executive Director Kimberly McKinney, quality affordable housing is in high demand throughout the St. Louis region, and especially in the central corridor.

“As private investment continues to come to places like Midtown, we know that the cost of housing is rising, and so is the demand for affordable housing opportunities for working families,” said McKinney. “We’re excited to be able to move forward with plans for development in the Gate District West and have hundreds of waitlist applicants who will be equally as excited.”

The Affordable Housing Trust Fund was established by city voters to stabilize neighborhoods through the preservation and production of affordable housing and support services for those in need. Under the leadership of April Ford Griffin and with the support of elected officials, the Affordable Housing Commission made available $5,175,424 in grants and loans in their 2018 funding round. Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis was one of 45 grants and 3 development projects funded.

“The Affordable Housing Trust Fund was created to support important projects like this,” says the Affordable Housing Commission’s April Ford Griffin.  “Aside from creating affordable home ownership for five families, the new, Zero Energy Ready homes will be accessible, highly energy-efficient, and near Midtown’s transit and high opportunities, which are critical building blocks for improving life and building economic mobility.”

Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis is a not-for-profit, ecumenical housing ministry working in partnership with individuals, corporate partners and communities of all faiths to improve housing conditions and provide safe, decent and affordable housing in St. Louis City and County. For more information, visit: www.habitatstl.org

ASA Midwest Council Meet the General Contractors Expo on January 30, 2019

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The American Subcontractors Association (ASA) – Midwest Council will host its annual Meet the General Contractors Expo on January 30, 2019 at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, MO. The yearly event gives area subcontractors and construction professionals the opportunity for valuable face-to-face time with some of St. Louis’ top general contractors.

The expo provides an ideal opportunity for construction industry professionals to network with general contractors, all in one place and in a relaxed setting. The expo is specifically designed for networking and building relationships with multiple representatives from the area general contractors.  There are 34 GC exhibitors participating in 2019.

  • 2019 General Contractor Exhibitors:
     ALBERICI CONSTRUCTORS, INC.
  •  ARCO CONSTRUCTION COMPANY
  •  BEX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES
  •  BRINKMANN CONSTRUCTORS
  •  BSI CONSTRUCTORS INC.
  •  CLAYCO
  •  CONTEGRA CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, LLC
  •  CONWAY CONTRACTING INC.
  •  CRB
  •  ECHELON CONSTRUCTORS
  •  HBD CONSTRUCTION, INC.
  •  HOLLAND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC.
  •  IMPACT STRATEGIES
  •  INTERFACE CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION
  •  KAI DESIGN-BUILD
  •  KADEAN CONSTRUCTION
  •  KCI CONSTRUCTION
  •  THE KORTE COMPANY
  •  KOZENY-WAGNER, INC.
  1. KEELEY CONSTRUCTION CO.
  •  LANDCO CONSTRUCTION
  •  LAWRENCE GROUP PROJECTS
  •  McCARTHY BUILDING COMPANIES
  •  McGRATH & ASSOCIATES, INC.
  •  PARIC CORPORATION
  •  PINNACLE CONTRACTING, INC.
  •  POETTKER CONSTRUCTION
  •  RHODEY CONSTRUCTION
    RIVER CITY CONSTRUCTION
  • S. M. WILSON & CO.
  •  SITELINES, INC.
  •  TARLTON CORP.
  •  UNITED CONSTRUCTION ENT. CO. OF ST. LOUIS

Last year’s event drew more than 1200 attendees. ASA will also have a booth at the expo with information about the St. Louis chapter, and details of upcoming industry events for 2019.  The event is open to ASA Members only from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., and then open to all registered attendees from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Advance Expo Registration is $65 for ASA Members and $95 for Non-Members. Registration includes hosted bar and appetizers. Register online at www.asamidwest.com by January 23rd. After the 23rd there is a $30 surcharge on late registration, so register early.  Advance Registration is required, and space is filling up very quickly!

The American Subcontractors Association (ASA) Midwest Council is a construction trade association made up of quality specialty subcontractors and suppliers serving the construction industry and the community in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area and southern Illinois. For more information about the ASA Midwest Council, visit www.asamidwest.com or contact Executive Director, Susan Winkelmann at 314-845-0855. ASA Midwest Council – Building. Community. 

AGCMO Winter/Spring 2019 Classes, AGC of Missouri Curriculum

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Location: Construction Training School, 6301 Knox Industrial Dr., St. Louis, MO 63139

Jobsite Communications for Foremen and Entry Level Superintendents is the first in AGC of Missouri’s Construction Industry Business Basics, a feedback-driven professional development series tailored to the training needs expressed by the AGCMO community of member companies. This introductory, facilitator-led, 4-hour seminar features individual sessions on electronic communication, nonverbal communication, compliance/legal issues, and crisis management communication. In a highly interactive learning environment, including group discussions and role play, participants engage in situational case studies designed to enhance communication effectiveness and efficiency.

Facilitator: Rita Kiry began her collegiate teaching career in 1996, teaching Business and General Education classes.  Prior to teaching, Ms. Kiry had a successful career in Marketing. Along with her husband, Ms. Kiry owns home remodeling and rental businesses. She earned her M.B.A. (International Business) and B.S. (Marketing) at Saint Louis University.

AGCMO Winter/Spring 2019 Classes, AGC of America Curriculum 
Location: Construction Training School, 6301 Knox Industrial Dr., St. Louis, MO 63139

STP Unit 4  Contract Documents. Instructor, Marvin Woods, CCP FAACE, Principal, Project Controls Group, Inc. *

STP Unit 6   Risk Management & Problem Solving. Instructor:  David Lowell, Sr. Project Manager, Kozeny-Wagner Inc. *

PMDP Module 5   Leadership. Instructors:  Angie Lovatto, Director of Human Resources, Tarlton Corporation & Brian Gibson, General Manager-Concrete, Tarlton Corporation *

BIM Unit 1   An Introduction to Building Information Modeling. Instructors: Adam Lega, CM-BIM, BIM Coordinator, Apogee Consulting Group & Chris Link, BIM Coordinator, CRB

BIM Unit 2  BIM Technology. Instructors: Corey Bell, CM-BIM, General Manager, BuildingPoint Mid-America & Scott Green, PE, CM-BIM, CM-LEAN, LEED AP, Director of Construction Technology, Tarlton Corporation

BIM Unit 3  BIM Project Execution Planning. Instructors: Scott Green, PE, CM-BIM, CM-LEAN, LEED AP, Director of Construction Technology, Tarlton Corporation & Chris Link, BIM Coordinator, CRB

BIM Unit 4  BIM Adoption, Implementation and ROI. Instructors: Corey Bell, CM-BIM, General Manager, BuildingPoint Mid-America & Adam Lega, CM-BIM, BIM Coordinator, Apogee Consulting Group

USACE CQMC (Construction Quality Management for Contractor) classes.
These classes are scheduled by the United States Corps of Engineers St. Louis District Office. To be placed on the email notification list when these classes are offered, send an email to Sarah Wright.

* Remote learning locations are available for this course. Please contact Sarah Wright about becoming a remote learning location.

Government Shutdown, and Subsequent Lack of Federal Funding, Causing Public Transit Providers to Reduce Services

in Associations/News

The ripple effect of the government shutdown has made its way to Missouri’s roadways. Rural transit providers throughout the state are currently operating without FTA Section 5311 and 5310 funding, leaving agencies to rely on other funding sources or reserves to continue to provide critical transit services to residents.

OATS Transit, for example, which provides service in 87 Missouri counties and is the largest rural transit provider in the country, announced that it may be forced to temporarily suspend or reduce some of its services due to the shutdown. If the shutdown – which began on Dec. 21 – continues, service reductions of 10 to 15 percent could begin as early as next week for OATS, increasing to 25 percent by the first week in February.

Several other rural transit providers, including Southeast Missouri Transportation Service (SMTS) and SERVE Transportation, which operates out of Callaway County/Fulton, Mo., have also reported similar concerns.

“Missouri state transit funding of $0.17 per capita is one of the lowest in the U.S.’” said Kim Cella, Executive Director of the Missouri Public Transit Association, which represents transit providers – both rural and urban – across Missouri. “Without federal funds, Missouri transit providers have little to no alternatives for funding. The current shutdown is a clear indication that more state funding is needed to better diversify funding sources for these critical services.”

For more information or to stay up to date on how the government shutdown might impact transit service in communities across Missouri, visit mopublictransit.org.

Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) was established in 1980 as a Missouri non-profit corporation. It was formed to provide a unified voice for public and specialized transportation providers in Missouri and to work toward elevating the status of public transit as a national priority.

Kadean Building Second Underground Proton Therapy Vault at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis

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$32 million Siteman project focuses on proton therapy to attack tumors in sensitive areas

Kadean Construction has begun building a 48,000 cubic foot, underground concrete vault to house a 120 ton cyclotron for Siteman Cancer Center’s second proton treatment facility in St. Louis, it was announced today.

The vault is being built beneath a parking garage on the Washington University Medical Campus, which also includes Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, in the city’s Central West End.

When completed in mid-to-late 2019, the 40-foot deep vault will house the massive cyclotron, which will produce a focused beam of isolated protons for “pencil-beam scanning,” an advanced form of radiation therapy for patients treated at the S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center at Siteman.

In this type of radiation therapy, a single, narrow proton beam is aimed with great precision directly at a cancerous tumor and adjusted for intensity. Its precision helps to spare surrounding healthy tissues and organs and reduce the risk of treatment-related complications, according to experts.

The total cost of the project, which is scheduled to completed in mid-to-late 2019, is $32 million, including $17 million for the cyclotron and related infrastructure provided by Mevion Medical Systems.

The underground proton vault will be 30 feet wide, 40 feet long, and 40 feet tall, and made mostly of high-density concrete with walls that are four feet thick, said Matt Breeze, vice-president of Kadean Construction, based in Fenton, a suburb of St. Louis.

Upon completion, the finished patient treatment room will actually be located in the middle of what is now a cavernous, three-story area. The massive cyclotron and its infrastructure will encompass the treatment room, although it will never be seen by patients or the doctors.

“This is a very complex project,” Breeze said. “We had to dig all the way to bedrock, and then we had to excavate and remove three-to-six feet of bedrock, which serves as the foundation for the concrete floor and the walls of the vault.”

This will be the second proton therapy vault constructed by Kadean at Siteman Cancer Center. In 2011, Kadean finished constructing Siteman’s first proton vault, which, at the time, was the first of its kind in the world. Siteman began treating patients with the first system in 2013. The second vault is immediately adjacent to the first one, which provides some logistical challenges because the construction site has very limited space in which to work or free access for heavy construction equipment.

The first vault, which also houses a Mevion cyclotron, is slightly smaller, Breeze said. And, like the second vault, its walls are four-feet thick and made with high density concrete.

“We learned a lot when we built the first vault,” Breeze said. “The site traffic and logistics are fairly complicated because we had to tackle our work without interrupting the constant flow of patients and hospital deliveries, just as we always do in all medical construction.”

He added that other proton vaults have been built with 14 foot-thick walls for radiation containment.

“Because of the confined area we had to work with when we built the first vault, however, our walls could only be four feet thick,” he said. “The design team solved the problem by using Hematite, a heavy, iron ore aggregate mined in Brazil and shipped to St. Louis.”

Breeze said the high density concrete used for both vaults weighs 250 pounds per cubic foot dry density, whereas regular concrete is about 150 pounds per cubic foot.

Breeze said work on the second vault will involve 25-30 St. Louis-area subcontractors and their crews.

The new proton therapy system will complement the first one, and will be among an array of radiation therapy options available for adult patients at Siteman Cancer Center and pediatric patients through Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Pencil-beam scanning delivers a radiation treatment through a single, narrow proton beam aimed directly at the tumor and adjusted for intensity. Then, the beam paints the radiation dose on the tumor. Alternatively, Siteman’s first proton therapy system precisely targets the tumor using magnets that scatter the proton beam across the tumor.

Today, there are 29 proton therapy facilities throughout the United States, according to the National Association for Proton Therapy, and 75 worldwide, according to the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group (PTCOG). Both are independent, non-profit organizations that track the industry and promote the benefits of proton and particle therapy.

Siteman Cancer Center treats adults from throughout the region and beyond, as well as pediatric cancer patients from St. Louis Children’s Hospital. It is ranked among the top cancer treatment centers by U.S. News & World Report and is one of only a few cancer centers to receive the National Cancer Institute’s highest rating of “exceptional.”

Founded in 1963, Kadean Construction, one of the fastest growing construction companies in the Midwest, specializes in pre-construction, design-build, construction management, and general contracting services in the medical, senior living, retail, commercial, and industrial sectors.

In addition to undertaking major construction projects in recent years for BJC HealthCare at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Siteman Cancer Center, and other major medical facilities, Kadean also has built ambulatory surgical centers in Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and high quality independent and assisted senior living and memory care facilities in the St. Louis and Kansas City regions.

Kadean also has a Kansas City, MO office to better serve customers in Western and Mid-Missouri, Eastern Kansas, and other Midwest locations.

For more information, contact Tom Pagano, 314-602-7549, for Kadean Construction

Nearly 80 Percent of U.S. Construction Firms Plan to Hire in 2019 if They Can Find Workers

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS & REVIEW MAGAZINE

Seventy-nine percent of construction firms nationwide plan to expand their payrolls in 2019 but nearly as many construction industry employers worry they may not be able to grow operations because they won’t be able to secure enough qualified workers.

This percentage comes from the results of an annual survey, “The 2019 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report,” published by the Associated General Contractors Survey of America and Sage Construction and Real Estate.

AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr said contractors are optimistic about the industry’s market health in the new year, but they’re extremely concerned that they won’t be able to recruit, train and retain enough bodies to fulfill their project-specific workforce requirements.

“Construction executives appear to remain confident about their market prospects for 2019,” said Sandherr, “and they plan to add headcount to cope with the added workload. But although they are confident about the demand for their products and services, contractors are definitely concerned about finding enough qualified workers to execute projects.”

The survey, given annually by the AGC and Sage, asks respondents as to which of 13 project categories and market segments they anticipate seeing expansion over the next 12 months. Construction market segments identified in the survey are: public building, highway, K-12 school, hospital, federal government, retail/warehouse/lodging, water and sewer, transportation facility, private office, manufacturing, higher education, power, and multifamily residential.

Public building construction scored the highest net positive reading, 17 percent, by survey respondents. Three other segments – highway, K-12 school and hospital – indicated a 16 percent net positive. Four categories – private office, manufacturing, higher education and power – netted a 12 percent increase as compared to 2018 survey results. Multifamily residential scored the lowest of all 13 categories with regard to respondents’ anticipation of market expansion throughout 2019.

“Labor shortages are having an impact on construction costs and project schedules, based upon what our latest survey’s respondents are telling us,” Sandherr said. “One-third of respondents report that staffing challenges drove costs higher than anticipated.”

Helicopter Lift Facilitates IFS HVAC Renovation for the Pattonville School District

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Work is underway on an extensive $3.1 million upgrade of heating, ventilating and air conditioning HVAC systems at four schools in the Pattonville School District in St. Louis County, with Integrated Facility Services (IFS) as the mechanical contractor. The design/build project will replace outdated equipment with new HVAC systems designed to increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs at Pattonville High School, Pattonville Heights Middle School, Parkwood Elementary and Rose Acres Elementary. Kansas City-based Navitas is the construction manager.

During Pattonville High School’s winter break, the IFS team airlifted 70 tons (lbs) of equipment by air crane helicopter to replace the school’s HVAC rooftop units. The two-and-a-half-hour project involved 70 helicopter lifts to remove 32 existing, hard-to-reach HVAC units and replace them with 38 new HVAC units and cooling coils. 16 IFS employees were on-site along with employees of Midwest Helicopter Airways Inc., the air crane operator, and Navitas, the energy performance contractor.

The IFS project and safety management team conducted an extensive inspection prior to the helicopter lift to ensure complete safety. An area within 200’ of the helicopter lift was cleared of all loose debris, trashcans, benches, and other materials that could become flying debris hazards in the 70 MPH downwash created by the helicopter rotors. A 150’ “sterile” area was established and maintained throughout the flight activity, and only workers essential to the project were allowed on-site. The team monitored weather conditions during the week leading up to the helicopter lift, since strong, sustained winds over 35 mph would delay or cancel the project. IFS executed this lift safely and in record time.

The IFS project is part of a $10 million upgrade to improve HVAC systems; add efficiencies to kitchen, lighting and water systems; replace windows and roofs; improve weatherization; upgrade Building Automation Systems (BAS); and provide advanced data analytics. The initiative is funded through performance contracts and is scheduled to complete next August before the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Integrated Facility Services (IFS) is a full-service HVAC, plumbing, piping, fire protection and building automation firm with more than 250 professional and trade employees. For more information, call (636) 680-2100 or (573) 442-6100 and visit www.intfs.com.

How New Technology Can Help Construction Finance Professionals

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Submitted by: Jason Krankota is VP of Construction Sales, West Region at Nvoicepay

Historically, the construction industry has been one of the slowest to adopt new technology, lagging only behind agriculture in digitalization. But that’s changing as software entrepreneurs turn their attention to the needs of the deskless workforce.

The ubiquity of mobile devices, cheap and powerful cloud computing, 5G, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all making it possible to put robust technology into the hands of deskless staff, including construction workers. The venture capital industry has taken notice—funding for construction technology has seen a steady uptick since 2013.

CFOs should partner with their IT teams to modernize their back-office systems, and prepare to handle a flood of data from the field as paper processes become digital. They should also figure out exactly what field data they want, what tools work best to get it, and how to integrate that data into their financial software. Deployed strategically, new tools can help construction finance teams resolve many challenges, including:

Business continuity planning

Family-owned businesses are common in the construction industry, and many thriving mid-market and even large companies are still majority-owned by founding families. Finance leaders need to create business continuity plans, whether that’s figuring out how to transfer company ownership to the next generation, establishing an ESOP (Employee Stock Option Plan), or selling or merging the company. There’s a lot of work involved in valuating the business, figuring out the best planning scenario, and helping negotiate relevant deals. Industry-specific ERPs (such as Viewpoint’s Vista) and cloud procurement platforms (such as Concur) can give finance professionals a better view into their numbers, help with planning scenarios, and standardize the purchasing process across acquired or merged companies. (Full disclosure: both companies are Nvoicepay partners).

Changing accounting standards

Revenue recognition is always top of mind in the industry. For the past several years, the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) has sought to ensure that the new Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules around revenue recognition are favorable—or at least not punitive—towards the construction industry. As these new rules are implemented, CFOs seek to refine their strategies for how to bill against contracts, and tie revenue to either a percentage of completion or work-in-progress schedules. Mobile technologies that expedite communication between the office and the field can also help speed the flow of information.

Risk management

Construction carries more risk, especially out on the job site, than many other industries—and insurance costs are rising. Some companies are investigating captive insurance programs, in which multiple companies pool their assets and fund their own risk by placing money under management so they don’t have to pay such exorbitant premiums.

Insurance companies have responded with more flexible products to try to help companies control their costs. CFOs need to evaluate their options—and if they want to participate in a captive insurance program, every participant needs to undergo a thorough assessment of their financial stability.

While a modern ERP system can facilitate most of that process, the assessment would also look at safety and security practices. There’s a lot of technology that can help reduce jobsite risk. Drones can monitor job sites for safety and security. Sensor-equipped wearables can alert workers to smoke or toxic chemical exposure, and geo-fencing can provide alerts when they’re entering a hazard zone. Firms can also use autonomous equipment to do work in environments that are too hazardous for human workers.

In the office, payment automation software such as Nvoicepay can mitigate payment fraud as part of an overall risk-management program.

Attracting and retaining talent

Lots of companies face growth opportunities while lacking enough employees to do the work. With unemployment at new lows, it’s been difficult to hire and keep good employees.

CFOs are working with HR—and, occasionally, external strategists—to refine their hiring, retention, and benefit strategies. Mobile training technology can help onboard unskilled workers faster, allowing companies to draw from a larger talent pool. Virtual reality technologies also offer promise for quicker training.

Improving job-cost accounting

Tablets and handheld phones let field staff capture data and send it back to their offices electronically. GPS-enabled time cards can record employee work hours and location on a mobile phone. IoT devices can measure equipment run time.

Cash management strategies

Cash management is probably the biggest challenge at any construction company, and effective work-in-progress (WIP) schedule management is critical. Key to the challenge is coordinating between the subcontractor confirming that a job is complete, project managers verifying that completion, and the accounting department billing the owner and syncing everything with the WIP schedule. This is also an area where drones and mobile apps can increase the speed and accuracy of data delivery to finance.

Finance also needs visibility, flexibility, and precision control over making and timing payments. With cloud-based payment-automation software, a project manager sitting in a truck can review a payment file, prioritize subcontractor payment schedules, and approve payments immediately, without having to return to the office to sign a stack of checks and backup documentation. Subs get paid faster and the job keeps moving.

With all the new purpose-built technology coming down the pipe, we’ll finally start to see some real movement towards digitizing the construction industry. Finance teams should prepare by enabling themselves with modern cloud systems for accounting, spend management, and payments. They need to enable the field with tools that communicate data back to the office in near real-time. Most importantly, they need to work out how to coordinate it all towards productivity gains and growth, and join the ranks of data-driven CFOs who have done the same in other industries.

Jason Krankota is VP of Construction Sales, West Region at Nvoicepay. His expertise in construction business technology spans 20 years, with 10+ years focused on corporate payments, accounts payable, and expense management solutions.

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