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Emerging contractor program

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A few years ago, during a national strategic planning process, ABC identified the need for a publication that would capture critical information, concepts and practices for operating successful construction contracting businesses. Such a publication would help build strong companies for a large number of ABC members who manage their own relatively small contracting firms. The term used to describe these members and this project became "emerging contractor." Defining an emerging contractor is a difficult task, and certainly not an exact science. People have different notions of what an emerging contractor looks like. Some have tried to define them as small contractors, with no more than a defined number of years in business, less than a certain annual sales volume or no more than a certain number of employees. Just about any specific definition has exceptions because there are so many different types of contracting businesses with a wide variety of owner experiences and multiple measures of success. A general description seems more universally applicable such as the following:

You have made that all-important life-changing decision to start your own construction company. Maybe you've previously been a skilled craftsman, or even a manager for a construction company. Your peers and your competition recognize your personal reputation for quality, ability and customer service. You likely got most of your business training through the school of hard knocks. So with a couple of friendly customers, perhaps a few startup projects in hand, and minimal overhead expenses you established a startup plan and set out to grow a business. You managed to make a decent wage for yourself, hire and pay a few employees, pay your suppliers and produce a profit. Now comes the next stage in your contracting career. Times start to change and the competitive reality of the construction industry is kicking in. Those friendly customers that gave you some startup work are now telling you that they were happy with your performance and they would be happy to continue having your firm do their work in the future ... as long as your price is lower than your competitors. Meanwhile as your company has grown you have developed some operating expenses (e.g., office rent, utilities, tools and equipment, a computer, an administrative assistant, insurance, contributions, associations dues, etc.) All these items to manage and still be competitive. Congratulations! You're an emerging contractor!

ABC has created a useful and resourceful tool to help emerging contractors. Called the "Emerging Contractor Reference Manual," this comprehensive collection of best practices was designed to help contractors move more quickly through the startup phase to "emerge" as more mature businesses ready to face the competition. Now in its fourth year of production, the manual: * Outlines and explains best practices for your company. * Provides contact information and sources for additional information. * Focuses your thinking. * Spurs you to action. * Pushes your company performance. * Enables you to help your company succeed.

This publication was developed as a self-study reference manual. A book that every contractor (and senior executives working for construction firms) can keep close at hand and reference when confronted with a new challenge or perhaps for new insight into old business challenges. It was not written to be read cover-to-cover nor memorized, but to help build new companies into better contracting firms. For information on how to obtain an "Emerging Contractor Reference Manual," call Joni Brubaker at the San Diego chapter, (858) 513-4700.

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