Four years ago, the Construction Leadership Network (CLN) was formed on the principles of bringing together top construction leaders and their key personnel to exchange ideas and share best practices to improve the industry, themselves and their organizations.
Our company is an inaugural member of CLN, which is an offshoot of the former Jack Miller Network. Over the years, we have developed a lot of friends and mentors within these two groups—people who have “been there, done that” and who are eager to share their successes, challenges and failures with other like-minded construction entrepreneurs. We become better contractors by learning from others and our peers become better contractors by learning from us. We all have something to bring to the table.
In addition to staying connected throughout the year, general contractors, developers, specialty contractors and construction industry professionals from North America meet every winter to share, learn and build together. In January, Brindley Construction President Ronnie Brindley and I traveled to J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson to participate in this year’s three-day CLN Conference.
The conference opened with a keynote from Jake Wood. Recipient of the Navy-Marine Commendation Medal, Wood returned from his service in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine scout sniper to become Co-Founder and CEO of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization that recruits, trains and deploys military veterans to disaster zones within the U.S. and abroad. Last July, Wood received the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2018 ESPY Awards for his work with Team Rubicon. Through his military and volunteer service, appearances and writing, Wood strives to answer the challenge that plagues so many companies in our industry, “The world is fast moving and full of uncertainty. How do we build teams that survive and thrive?” His view on leadership and service to others was a powerful message.
In addition to participating in roundtable and panel discussions, I had the pleasure of attending several two-hour focus groups that took deep dives into various aspects of our business. “Secrets to Management Success” was a valuable focus group that encouraged us to discuss how we promote people who are good at their roles but who often struggle to manage other people. We talked about the importance of time management, communication and expectations. Everyone who participated came away with tips on how to be more effective in our management positions and to mentor others.
I also attended “Project Management & Field Supervision,” an open discussion by contractors from across North America. We all shared the problems we experience and unique ways to solve them using technology, training and best practices. I think we all really helped one another. Sometimes it is just a matter of hearing how someone else has solved for a similar problem that gets me thinking about how we can apply that tactic toward solving our own issues.
Ronnie attended a focus group on strategic planning. “I was impressed by the professionalism of those attending. I returned with enthusiasm, and new ideas,” he noted. “I came away with really great ideas that will help us become a performance-based company that will set us apart from our competition.”
He also gained valuable insight from a focus group on succession planning. “How we usher in the next generation is very important. Our company is nearly 60 years old and we face daily challenges with generational differences, technology and time management. This focus group helped me identify a clear path to ensure the mission, vision and values my father instilled continue for at least another 60 years,” adds Ronnie.
Not only do we learn from our peers, but the CLN Conference attracts entrepreneurs from all industries. One of the most valuable sessions I attended was presented by Tracy Bullock who has 30 years of experience in business development at Procter & Gamble. I also came away understanding what differentiates our company from our competition. Creating an open discussion with clients and prospects about the value we bring as an experienced design-build contractor is key to their understanding we are a partner in their success as well as ours. It’s a win-win situation, and our membership in the Construction Leadership Network helps us ensure that.