Contracting Roundtable Discussion | Thursday, February 15, 2018 | PNC Place boardroom, 8:30 am
DC Government, Greer Gillis, Jiyoung Park DGS, Kristi Whitfield, Jenny Cruz DSLBD. Charlie Partridge PEPCO, Crystal Canja WMAA, Stephen Courtien CHOICE
Wes Stith Clark Construction, Adam Grunley, Greg McHugh Grunley Construction, Carolyn Ellison Turner Construction, Chris Kern, Evelyn Ross, Shannon Johnson-El Fort Myer Construction, Sonia Torres Gilbane Construction, Andrew Gillis Whiting TurnerConstruction.
Metro DC Hispanic Contractors Association network:
Carlos Perdomo Keystone Plus Construction, Jody Beasley Winmar Construction, Pedro Alfonso DCI. Jose Sueiro SM&A.
Workforce Development programs:
Tom Brown Training Grounds, Raul Medrano Rosario School.
Small Sub-Contractor (CBE) representatives:
Sybil Caldwell LED Partners, Jesus Anton JAP Construction.
Greater Washington Chamber of Commerce:
Nicole Quiroga, CEO
Maronel Stewart, Administrative Assist.
This event gathered various parties -Construction Project Owners, General Contractors, Workforce Training Programs and Sub-Contractors- involved in commercial contracting in the construction industry of Washington DC and environs. It was brought together to discuss how to better fulfill first source and local content requirements in the industry and recommendations on how to better qualify Certified Business Enterprises (CBE's) and other small construction sub-contractors in the process of bidding and obtaining commercial construction contracts. The discussion also included topics related to workforce development and trade skills training.
The session began with an evaluation by Wes Stith, Clark Construction of some of the requirements necessary for sub-contractors to prepare for bidding to large GC's on major projects. A sample of needed capacities are:
* Ability to read & evaluate construction contracts.
* Understand specific skill sets requested by GC's for projects.
* How to estimate construction work.
* How to work to schedule.
* Compliance with Insurance requirements.
* Required Bonding and Financial capabilities.
Wes also brought up the concept of 'Tier Agreements/Partnerships' where smaller firms would be mentored through mid-sized companies. He suggested providing incentives to GC primes who work with CBE's to generate/increase skills and capacity building.
Dept. of Small and Local Business Development Director Kristi Whitfield took the floor early since she had a prior engagement. Among the points that were discussed w/her are the following:
For CBE Certification... and more:
* Education needs to start prior to becoming a CBE.
* To become a CBE you should be required to attend a course that is more than a 20 minute session.
* Make sure that new CBE's have a strategy & set realistic goals
* Companies buy expertise (expertise vs. jack-of-all trades). CBE's need to specialize, especially in the heavier, more sophisticated areas of construction such as specialized Mechanical, Electric & Plumbing firms...
* Increase real apprentice opportunities.
* Mentoring opportunities (w/meaningful outcomes)
* Reward large GC's who invest in CBE's (higher points for contractors who bring something to CBE's) "Stop selling unqualified CBE's to large GC's"
* Self perform, 'stop the mirage'
* Make diversity certifications more meaningful
Kris Kerns of Fort Myer Construction remarked that Fort Myer invested early on in properties now used as staging areas and storage yards. He suggested having these spaces for construction CBE's would make it easier and less expensive for them to establish themselves and compete in the District. Mr. Kerns also spoke out about the perceived deficiencies at the Dept. of Employment Services and the need for better trade skills training across the board in DC. This led to a discussion among all of the GC's about improving quality and accountability in general in DC government.
DGS Director Greer Gillis then took the floor to explain that first source and local content requirements are the law in the District and gave a brief explanation of how the system is supposed to work. She defended the work being done by the Bowser administration regarding improved, more efficient services. She introduced Jiyoung Park, the compliance officer at DGS who discussed waiver procedures and other aspects of the CBE program.
Crystal Canja from WMAA described the extensive outreach efforts they now provide to identify qualified sub-contractors and diversify their suppliers and work force. Ms. Canja detailed their partnership w/Project 500 and Turner Construction.
All of the GC's made mention of implementing Tiered Agreements/Partnerships where 'selling' of CBE services goes through major subs instead of the large GC's and the importance of improving mentoring programs with real/substantial outcomes.
It was in this conversation that the idea of a 'Construction Clearinghouse' was brought up. A place where young companies & CBE's could be vetted and counseled and large project managers could forward their needs so that these small firms could be channeled into the system.
Some suggested improvements:
Charlie Partridge from PEPCO spoke of the Infrastructure Academy currently being created together w/DC Government and how this would educate/improve the work force pool and the quality of local sub-contractors.
Jose Sueiro presented the project of a 'vertical' City-Wide, Multi-Cultural Construction Academy The Construction Alliance coalition is working on now that would include construction trades skills training, site safety programs and the Turner School of Construction Management.
Tom Brown introduced Training Grounds a workforce development program he manages with a successful history and track record and a focus on Wards 7 & 8 (Ward 15 as he described it). He argued that there were enough trained DC residents to fill the needs in construction, a claim that was highly disputed by the GC's. Nevertheless, Tom's discussion raised great interest among all parties involved.
Raul Medrano described the small business program at the Carlos Rosario and the 'Construye DC' commitments of the Adult Education Charter School to help develop workers and small firms for success in the field.
Establish "Intentional talent development" and a pipeline of talent from High School into the industry.
Provide a 'Contractor's Clearinghouse' that can centralize and coordinate information about local companies and workforce development programs so that corporations who need local sub-contractors or workers can locate them simply and directly.
Task Force of Contractors (current players, CBE's across the board). Create a working group from the construction industry who can look into and research the state of the industry and make recommendations