Team Member Spotlight – Jim Ellinger

Here at Harman we are privileged to have such a great team of people working for our clients. Once a month we will be highlighting one of our team members so that you can get to know them a little bit better.

Jim Ellinger

This month the spotlight falls on our Design-Build Manager – Jim Ellinger

Jim joined Harman in 1988.  His past experience working for a civil engineer and a pre-cast factory gave him the groundwork and tools for working with Harman as a design-build manger.

Here are a couple questions we asked Jim about his own experience at Harman and what he believes makes Harman a great place to work and a great company to do business with:

What has been one of your favorite projects with Harman? Why?
  • I have been with Harman for 27 years so it’s a little hard to pinpoint just one project.  However, a couple of key projects stick out in my mind: Rockingham Eye Associates (My very first project), Valley Pediatrics in Verona, the churches we have worked with over the years and the industrial project with Merck.  Every one of these projects have had something unique about them and it has been exciting to work with the clients and see their dreams become reality through our work.
What have you come to appreciate/value about working on team at Harman? 
  • I appreciate the effort that each team member puts into each project that we do.  As a design-build team we work hard to listen to our clients and really become the client.  When we understand at that level, it makes bringing a project together successful.  While we may work as individual teams – from sales, to design-build, to estimating, to the crews on the ground – working together we can accomplish the goals of our clients.
  • I also appreciate the strong work ethic our teams display and the Christian atmosphere here at Harman.  No matter how stressful the job may get we know we can rely on our team members to support us and even pray with us if we have that need.
Outside your Harman work, what other things do you enjoy in your down-time.
  • My wife and I love to camp.  We love to take the weekend, load up our two rescue dogs and head out.  We spend time walking and just sharing life together.  Other than camping, anyone that knows me knows that I love to bowl.  I’ve been bowling for 46 years, been all over the US for tournaments – sometimes on a team but also as an individual competitor on the Amateur Bowling Circuit.  My dad introduced me to the game at 16 and I’ve been bowling ever since.  I have one friend who has been bowling with me for 40 years, same day, same time every week.  I love to bowl.
What other life experience have you had that helps you in your job today?
  • Before I came to Harman I went to work for a Civil Engineer.  It was my first job out of college.  I didn’t know anything about civil engineering, but over the course of my 10 years there I learned a wealth of knowledge that has contributed to my success at Harman as a design-build manager.  I also spent 1 1/2 years working at a pre-cast factory in Waynesboro prior to Harman.  Both jobs helped to build my skills, especially in reading site plans, which is a critical part of my job today.

To read Jim’s full bio or to contact him – Click Here.

Client Spotlight: W. O. Grubb Crane Rental

Spotlight Grubb Crane 2
Recently Wayne Witmer and Brian Mininger had the opportunity to return to Grubb Crane Rental in Winchester to take a look at the finished facility that Harman built a few years ago for this growing company.  It was a great oppourtunity to learn more about the work of Grubb Crane Rental and find out just what had drawn them to Harman Construction when they were deciding to build their new facility.

Before taking a tour of the facility Wayne and Brian sat down with Scott McDougle – Vice President of Sales – Business Development – and talked about the history of Grubb, it’s ongoing values and priorities and their experience working with Harman in their most recent build.

Here is a transcript of that conversation.

Tell us about the history of Grubb Crane Rental?

WO Grubb Crane Rental was started in 1962 by Willy Grubb.  The company grew over a long period of time through the perseverance and dedication of the Grubb family.  In 1984, Willy’s son Bill purchased the business from his father with a dream and vision to grow the company even bigger than it’s than 15 cranes.  That vision has become a reality with the company growing from 1 branch, with 15 cranes, to now running 8 branches with 200 cranes.

What values are important to Grubb Crane Rental?

People are the heartbeat of our business.  Everyone from our team members to our clients are important.  Safety is also a high priority here at Grubb.  We want to create a safe culture for our employees and our clients.  By valuing people and valuing safety we feel our team members are invested in Grubb Crane Rental because they know we care.

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What was happening in business that you decided to expand to Winchester, Virginia?

Our goal is to get into areas that can use our services and be impacted in a greater way by them.  With the expansion of the power companies, expanding to Winchester would allow us to be available to the power companies and the wind farms going up in the area.  We were also able to hire good people with great talent to help get this branch off the ground and up and running successfully. Honestly, it always comes back to the people and we have some great ones working for us.

Top Priorities for Grubb when looking for a contractor?

Without a shadow of a doubt, Communication was the #1 priority to us.  We needed a company that would, and could, communicate well from beginning to end.  We saw that quality in Harman, which helped in our decision making process.  In fact, Harman went above and beyond in communicating with us, which adds incredible value to the ongoing relationship.

Why Harman?

Besides communication, relationship is really important to us too.  We already had a good relationship with Harman from the past and we appreciated the fact that relationship is also important to Harman.  Harman really takes a partnership approach, displays a great level of professionalism and gives great attention to detail.

Grubb 2 collage w logo

What was your experience with the Design/Build Process?

The design/build process was important to us because it allowed us to sit down and really see the project from start to finish, from the layout to the aesthetics, before we even broke ground.  We could see the process laid out in front of us through the 3D renderings and make changes without having to bring in an expensive architect.  Because of the design/build process we only had a few areas that needed tweaking, which allowed the project to move forward without getting hung up over and over again.

Why is the look of the building so important to Grubb?

Image is important and it helps convey who we are.  We are proud of what this company has become and we feel it’s important to present ourselves well to our clients.   We also feel it instills a sense that we value our customers.  If we take such great care with our facility and our equipment it sends the message to our customers that we value them and we will give the same attention to detail and care that we give to our own staff and facility.

Our motto has always been “We always want to be invited back.”  Taking time to care about the details, about our customers and their projects, hopefully conveys that message.  Honestly, we want to be the best in class.

To see photos of the project check out the Grubb album Here.

 

Construction & Technology: A Symbiotic Relationship

construction & technology harman inc

Construction and technology have not always had a symbiotic relationship.

Many people picture construction workers using old out dated technology, one step above a chisel and stone tablet, to deliver homes and commercial buildings.  Here at Harman we strongly believe that using the latest technology will help mitigate risk and improve the overall customer experience for our clients.

We do this from the design phase into the construction process through the use of 3D modeling capabilities and mobile construction management technology.

 What is 3D building model rendering?  

3D building model rendering is a 3D rendering process for the planning, design and construction of a building.

3D rendering is useful to owners, architects and contractors by allowing for virtual tours, fewer RFIs (request for information)  and an overall reduction in field changes.

Clients who are not familiar with reading standard construction blueprints can have difficulty visualizing the final look of their building.  3D Rendering allows clients to take a virtual tour of the building, improving the customers experience while helping to solidify pre-design decisions.

From conception to completion, 3D rendering reduces risk and ambiguity in the design phase. This means that revisions can be made prior to putting a shovel in the ground. This equates to savings, more efficient work time and a high quality product at the tail end of the construction project.

Implementation of technology in the construction field is another key to a successful project.

Submittals, drawings, RFIs, emails and invoices can be maddening on any sized project.  It is through the management of these documents that we are able to minimize mistakes and maximize efficiency.

How many times has the phrases been uttered, “you didn’t send me that”, “wasn’t that changed?” or “I don’t have the latest drawings”.  These all lead to negative results.  Lost documents, incorrect finishes, costly mistakes and delays are the project’s demise.

At Harman we are working toward mitigating that risk with the utilization of tablet technology and construction software in the office and field.  Now there is an effortless update with the click of a button. Revised submittals, RFIs and drawings are available in real time to managers and subcontractors on the job site.

Mobile technology is the future of the construction industry and at Harman we are taking the necessary steps to have that competitive edge.

A good customer experience is paramount to the success and growth of our company.  In a world with sprained thumbs and buzzing phones, we understand the importance to adopting the latest technology and see the value it provides to our team and our clients.

 

Dustin Harper-Dustin Harper

Harman Senior Project Manager

Harman Team-Building Day

IMG_0141Do you ever find yourself so busy with the day to day of work that you can’t catch your breath?  Sometimes it takes putting something on the schedule to break the routine and allow us to experience something different.

On May 21st we scheduled a day just like that.  We put down the blueprints, cell phones, and computers and traded them for coffee cups and climbing harnesses.

We broke the routine and in the process found wonderful benefits.  We got to know each other better, grew stronger as a team and accomplished things we didn’t think we could do.

In the morning we heard Wayne Witmer share the company vision, listened to a panel of clients share about their Harman experience, and was inspired as Matt Lohr spoke to us about “A Lasting Legacy.”

IMG_0153After a delicious lunch we headed out into the drizzly weather to tackle the ropes course.  Many of us were pushed beyond our comfort zones, learned to work as a team and cheered each other on.

It was a wonderful day and we are thankful to John Hall and the staff of Camp Horizons for serving us so well.

Here are what some of the members of the Harman Team had to say about the team-building day.


“It was a good opportunity to come together and connect with other employees.  Learn a bit more about them, strengths areas of improvement and learn how to help each other be successful. It was challenging to let your guard down and share things in a group that you wouldn’t normally do.”  – Zack Fletchall


“Great day! We are busy most of the time and don’t get a chance to pause and spend time together and learn about the advantages of teamwork and communication.  I was reminded of the critical items of team-building and working together.” -Travis Layman


“Great day together with the whole staff outside of the office in a relaxed setting and, getting to hang out with people that you don’t see every day.  It was challenging to share strengths and weaknesses.” – Ryan Strite


“I am the newest office employee and it has been wonderful to get to know people that I haven’t met yet, specifically some of the guys that work in the field. The most difficult thing was walking blindfolded through the woods.” – Tammy McKibben


“I learned things about people that I didn’t know.  It was hard to share some personal things, but it broke the ice to our working relationships.” – Nancy Bowers


“It was neat to get to know people that I hadn’t met in 2 years since working at Harman. Once people know each other they work together better. Since I am scared of heights, I am glad I got this opportunity to go across the cable and accomplish that.  It felt great.” – Sandy Rohrbaugh


“I think it helped people understand each other better than they did before, and broke down some our assumptions.” – Wayne Witmer


“We are all in this together, I want us to continue to be a good team working together.  Teamwork is each person on the team helping solve the other person’s problems.  If we do that, we will be strong and the chain won’t be broken.” – Carl Harman


Aggressive Schedule, Quality Construction & Competitive Pricing… How to Get All 3! (Part 1)

Harman Construction Get All 3There is an old saying in our industry that you can deliver a construction project with one or two of the following qualities but not all three:

  1. Aggressive schedule
  2. Quality construction
  3. Competitive pricing

At Harman Construction we think it is possible to do all three, but not without careful planning and a project that is set up for success right from the start. In this blog post I will address the first one on the list – schedule.

Often we have clients that are clear from the start that schedule is not important and they want the necessary time taken to plan and build without feeling rushed. While that is a great way to build, it is not the norm. In the current economic environment we find ourselves in, and the global competition that many of our clients face, schedule is very important. Some of the most common factors in the need for an aggressive schedule include the following:

  • The client needs space to capitalize on a new opportunity quickly.
  • The approval process for financing or site plan approval takes so long that the construction schedule gets squeezed.
  • The corporate, board or committee process for approval takes a long time.

So how do we get the most out of the schedule without sacrificing price and quality? I believe the answer is collaborative, design build construction. When a team of professionals are joined together with common goals and values, amazing things can happen.

What are the ingredients needed for a successful collaborative project? I would suggest the following:

  • A design build contractor with a reputation for integrity and delivering results, to lead the team .
  • The client ready to participate with prompt supply of information and resources.
  • Design consultants with experience in the project type including (if applicable) architectural, structural, civil, mechanical and electrical.
  • Project kick off meeting that defines expectation and produces a master schedule for all design, budget, permit approval and construction activities.
  • When final pricing is completed, utilizing subcontractors that have a proven track record for meeting expectations.

When the team is in place and the expectations have been set, the key to fast track scheduling is concurrent scheduling of activities.  As schematic design is established, Civil engineering activities will proceed while construction documents and project budgets are being established.

It is key that the design build GC update the project budget early enough in the process to allow for revisions to design and value engineering to happen. This is critical so we can hit the target in regards to price while still moving the project forward.

Regular team coordination meetings are held to make sure design entities are well coordinated. Local building officials are consulted early to make sure we have buy in to the process and don’t catch them by surprise.

Once the project has broken ground, the project is kicked off with a detailed schedule that was presented to the team of subcontractors early in the process for accountability.

Regular coordination meetings are critical for establishing short and long term schedule goals. Often foundation and structural work is started while finishes are still being established in some cases. This makes the design build contractor even more critical since the responsibility for design and construction is their responsibility.

It is truly exciting to be a part of a project team that has energy created by team members pulling their weight and the satisfaction that comes from delivering results for our client. The most important factor in delivering these results is clear communication and expedited responses to questions that arise during the process.

Does your project have aggressive schedule requirements? Call us. We are ready to deliver “all three” and we can’t wait to get started.

-Wayne Witmer