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

There 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:

  • Aggressive schedule
  • Quality construction
  • 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 3rd quality on the list – competitive pricing.

We are fortunate that most of our clients are repeat customers or referrals from previous customers.  The common theme is that they want quality and they want a contractor they trust to do the project right.  However, Competitive pricing is a must for any project.  In some cases our customers need to be in budget for corporate or board approval.  In others cases it is simply to get the best value for the dollar.  In any case our job at Harman is ensuring that the numbers are right.

I believe the following points are key to making sure competitive pricing is delivered.

  • Finding the right subcontractors.  It takes a little extra time and effort to make sure the right team is in place but we work very hard to make sure we find and develop subs that are right sized to fit our customers needs.
  • Delivering good clear well written bid documents or clarifications.  When the bid package is sloppy or unclear then less bids will be received and higher contingencies will be included.
  • Adequate time is given for bid completion.  Time is needed to check for errors and inconsistencies.  It is also critical because if not enough time is given for the bid process then less bids will be received.  Less bids can likely mean higher overall numbers from subs.
  • The GC (General Contractor) needs to treat subs and suppliers fairly and pay them well.  We learned long ago that treating our sub team members with respect will help us in the long run.  If we are consistently difficult to work with and don’t pay our bills promptly, then we will not get the best pricing from our team members.
  • Efficient scheduling and operational strategic thinking.  General conditions can be very expensive.  We work hard to make sure that our operations team can provide input on how to layer a schedule to reduce time.  Also sequencing strategies that could reduce equipment or safety costs are very important.

At the end of the day it all comes down to planning well for success and finding the right team members to help us carry out the plan.  Companies that don’t plan, or uncover details, end up throwing extra cushion in their pricing for fear of missing something.

So, it is possible to have all three –  quality, schedule and pricing – But it doesn’t happen by accident.  It starts with picking the right team and taking the time to build a plan that works for success.

This business can be a lot of fun when team members are pulling in the same direction and the clients’ goals are met.   We look forward to helping many more of our customers as we ”Deliver all three” now and into the future.

Wayne Witmer

President & COO

Team Spotlight – Dustin Harper

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

Dustin Harper

This month the spotlight falls on Dustin Harper – Senior Project Manager 

Dustin came to Harman in June of 2015 and works as a Senior Project Manger, handling scheduling, budgeting, contract management, field coordination with job supervisors and working directly with the clients through the project experience.  Prior to his work at Harman he worked for a top three, national construction company that helped renovate homes for soldiers on various military bases around the United States.

What have been some of your favorite projects with Harman? Why?

One of the first big projects I worked on for Harman was the Plow & Hearth project.  It wasn’t your typical commercial build, but was a multi-use site with warehouse and office space and had some really cool industrial design features throughout.

What have you come to appreciate and value about working with the team at Harman?

I really appreciate the people at Harman.  Despite the typical stresses, deadlines and issues that come with any job the Harman team works well together to overcome the challenges that come.  I know that if I need to work through an issue or a problem I can go to the team and have a real conversation and work to come up with a solution.

What other life experience have you had that helps you in your job today?

From an early age I worked in my family’s business.  I learned a lot about working as a team and working with the customer.  I learned that relationship building is vital to fostering a good relationship with customers and co-workers alike and that it is key to working through problems.  I also learned the value of hard work and how to lead by example to those around me.

Outside your Harman work, what other things do you enjoy in your down-time?

I love spending time with my family, playing soccer at EMU with my son, time spent outdoors hiking and mountain biking.

To read Dustin Harper’s full bio or to contact him – Click Here

Team Spotlight – Wayne Witmer

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

Wayne Witmer

This month the spotlight falls on Wayne Witmer – President and COO –    Wayne Witmer has been with Harman Construction for the past 26 years.  He provides day to day support and leadership to the overall teams at Harman Construction as well providing needed resource so that each team has what they need to be effective for each and every client Harman serves.

What have been some of your favorite projects with Harman? Why?

One of my favorites would have to be the various projects for Eastern Mennonite University.  They are an excellent organization to work with from start to finish, which makes for a wonderful and solid partnership through each project we work on together.  Of particular interest for me was the building and completion of the University Commons.

Another project that I really enjoyed was the RMH Cancer Center and Medical Office Building in Harrisonburg.  Not only  was it a large project with an an aggressive schedule, but being able to work and support an organization that is doing so many great things in and for our community has been wonderful.

What have you come to appreciate and value about working with the team at Harman?

Each team member brings strengths to the table.  Those strengths help to balance out the team as a whole.  Here at Harman our people are a wonderful mix of visionaries, dreamers and detailed oriented personalities.  Mixing all those strengths really helps our teams bring the very best to the table for our clients day in and day out.  They are an outstanding group of folks that value team over personal goals and it shows in how well our teams work together here at Harman.

What other life experience have you had that helps you in your job today?

I come from a large family where we had to learn to work together and have a mutual give and take in our relationships, both in day to day life as well as in the family business that has spanned the last 75 years.  My dad is a wonderful role model, teaching us how to treat others, how to be strong in our faith and how to run a strong business together.

Outside your Harman work, what other things do you enjoy in your down-time?

I love being involved in my kids activities and in various roles and connections with my church family.  I also enjoy travel, golf, music, history and Cleveland sports teams.

To read Wayne Witmer’s full bio or to contact him – Click Here

Harman’s Commitment to Help Preserve the Chesapeake Bay

When driving by a Harman Construction site, you would not typically think about how work on that site impacts the Chesapeake Bay.  However, protection of the Bay and its tributaries is a huge part of every Harman Construction project.

The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act was enacted to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and other waters of the state through the effective use of land management and planning.  At Harman Construction, we are committed to maintaining the quality of our state waters.

On a construction site, the two primary factors impacting water quality are stormwater management and erosion/sediment control. Stormwater runoff from construction sites occurs as a result of precipitation events such as rain water and melted snow.  The goal of stormwater management is to prevent runoff from leaving a construction site and ultimately reaching the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Stormwater ManagementPoorly managed stormwater can cause erosion, flooding, and depositing excess nutrients, sediments, and other contaminates into rivers and streams.  Properly managed stormwater can recharge groundwater and protect adjacent lands from erosion, flooding, and pollutants.

Methods used on a typical Harman site to manage stormwater include erosion/silt fencing, storm drain inlet protection, wash racks at job site entrances, sediment ponds, water diversion dikes/ditches, and gravel construction roads.

Problems associated with construction activities like soil erosion, water pollution, flooding, stream channel damage, slope failures, and damage to adjacent downstream properties are minimized with the implementation of effective erosion/sediment control measures.

Harman’s project superintendent is responsible for the management of erosion and sediment control on each job site.  To ensure effective oversight of water quality measures, Harman’s site superintendent performs daily site inspections to monitor compliance with the project’s storm water management plan.

Healthy state and local economies and a healthy Chesapeake Bay are integrally related; balanced economic development and water quality protection are not mutually exclusive.  At Harman Construction we are committed to our role in the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and the quality of our water supply.

– Gary McBride

LEED AP BD+C, Director of Operations

Team Member Spotlight – John Bazan

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.

This month the spotlight falls on John Bazan – Safety Director at Harman Construction.  

John Bazan - Safety Director

John Bazan – Safety Director

How long have you been with Harman and what role do you serve?

I have been with Harman Construction for the last ten years and serve as the Safety Director.  My role is to make sure our men and sub-contractors are staying safe on all of our job sites.  I also manage a safety team that consists of our job superintendents.  They help me make sure we are staying safe and abiding by current OSHA rules and regulations.   

What have you come to appreciate/value about working on the team at Harman? 

I really appreciate how well the guys on the field work together.  They understand what it takes to get the job done and they really come together as a team.  Having team players who are open to one another’s ideas and to the ebb and flow of the job is important. They really mesh together well and it makes a huge difference on each job.

What other life experience have you had that helps you in your job today?

I think the missions trip I took to Haiti, leading a team and working with many different people helps me in my day to day work.  When you spend time working with people in a mission setting, you learn about teamwork and meshing together to complete a common task or goal.  I also think I’m a rather personable person and they say I can talk to anyone.  That comes in handy when working with our clients and Harman team members.

Why do you think potential clients should consider working with Harman? 

We work hard to give the best quality product and job to each of our customers.  The end result matters and it’s important that we arrive at the completion of a project safely for our staff and clients.

Outside of Harman, what other things do you enjoy in your down-time.

I love to spend time with my wife.  We enjoy camping together and I love to ride my motorcycle.  We also love spending time with our boys when they come into town.

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

The Association of General Contractors and Why We are Members

I have always told my children to be careful who you hang out with because your peers can be a good influence or a bad one.

This is good advice for all of us and we have followed that advice here at Harman.  Harman Construction Inc. has been a proud member of the Associated General Contractors of Virginia (AGCVA) for nearly 30 years.

The (AGC) is the leading association for the construction industry. AGC represents more than 26,000 firms, including over 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 9,000 specialty-contracting firms. More than 10,500 service providers and suppliers are also associated with AGC, all through a nationwide network of chapters.

Assosiated General Contractor logo

We believe the AGC makes us stronger in many ways:

  1. Networking – The ability to network with and learn from the best of the construction industry keeps us sharp and gives us a resource to bounce strategies and ideas off of.
  2. Training – Top rate instructional seminars and workshops are scheduled to keep our team up to date on trends in the industry and to give us tools to do our jobs better.
  3. Advocacy – together we can make our voice heard at the national and state level of government.  Laws are often made by well meaning (sometimes) politicians who simply do not understand the issues that we face in our industry.  It is critical that we do our part to support our industry and make our voice heard.
  4. Workforce development – Finding well qualified workers for the construction industry is likely the greatest challenge we face.  As our workforce has aged we have found that younger workers are often not choosing our industry.  The AGC is working tirelessly to get the word out and train our future workforce.  Often middle school and high school students are encouraged to go to college even when it may not be the right fit for the student.  There are many well-paying and rewarding careers in construction that require a college degree and many that do not.  Working with the AGC we can match these young people with a construction career that is right for them.
  5. Service – AGC members give back to their communities through charity and service projects.  The local Valley chapter has sponsored a blood drive in recent years that has contributed on average of 75-100 units of blood each year.

The friendships I have made in my years of serving the AGC in various roles have been fantastic and have made me a better person and professional.

I would encourage each of you to get engaged with and contribute to the associations and peer groups in your work place or areas of interest.  You will be part of making a difference in people lives and contributing to the building of better places to live and work.

~Wayne Witmer

President & COO – Harman Construction, Inc.

Team Member Spotlight – Nancy Bowers

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.

Nancy Bowers Harman

Nancy Bowers – Director of Finance

This month the spotlight falls on Nancy Bowers – Director of Finance at Harman Construction.  Prior to joining Harman in 1997, Nancy earned her accounting degree—cum laude—from Eastern Mennonite University. She also graduated from the U.S. Army Military Police Academy and from the Defense Language Institute with a focus on German.

Here are a couple questions we asked Nancy about her experience at Harman and why she believes Harman is a great place to work and a great company to do business with:

What is your role at Harman Construction and how does it relate to its employees and clients?

I have been with Harman for 18 years.  I am in charge of the accounting department, its staff and the overall ebb and flow of the department.  As an accounting staff we work diligently to make sure our reporting is clear and sound so that the Harman team, out on the field and those working with our clients, can do their jobs well.

What is the most favorite part of your job? 

I really enjoy the reporting aspect of my job.  I love the challenge of finding the most efficient way to accomplish a task and then putting it to work for Harman.  For example, We just implemented an accounts payable paperless routing system in the accounting office.  It is more efficient for the staff and provides a quicker turnaround of information to the Harman team.

What have you come to appreciate/value about working on the team at Harman?

I really appreciate and value the people at Harman.  I also appreciate that the owners of Harman stand firm in their Christian values which in turn create a great culture in which to work.  We have an excellent team that is talented and professional, not only in their roles at Harman, but out in the community as well.

What other life experience have you had that helps you in your job today?

My time in the military really helped me learn the importance of team work and that there are a lot of different ways to accomplish a task.  The time I spent traveling internationally with the military also allowed me to work with a variety of different cultures and people, which I believe helps me in my work today.

Outside of Harman, what other things do you enjoy in your down-time.

I love spending time with my family and with my grandchildren.  Being married to a Pastor Husband, we are both busy in the life of our church.  I also like to play the piano occasionally and work in my flower garden.

To read Nancy’s full bio or to contact her – Click Here.

Our Summer Vacation – An Inspiration for Green Building


Rainbow Falls – Gorges State Park

On our summer vacation with family this month, we spent time Southwest of Asheville, NC in an area of the mountains near the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

The Blue Ridge Escarpment is the steep transition area between the mountains and the Piedmont.  The severe elevations changes, combined with heavy rainfall in this region, qualify the area as a temperate rain forest featuring numerous waterfalls, river gorges, and rare plant and animal species.

20 plus years ago I was introduced to a specific region around the Horsepasture River by a very good friend while we both were attending school not far away in South Carolina.  My friend grew up in this part of North Carolina and knew the best places to go and visit.   The waterfalls along the Horsepasture are one of those places.

In college, we visited these waterfalls as frequently as our schedules allowed, especially in the milder months when we could swim or slide down one of the waterfalls.  Unfortunately, after graduating from college, I heard that you couldn’t access this area any longer.   I was very disappointed to hear that such a wonderful place was not open to the public, and that I wouldn’t be able to share this area with my son and daughter.  However, earlier this summer we were excited to find out that North Carolina had created a new State Park in 1999 featuring a trail that provides access to these same waterfalls.

As we planned our vacation, a visit to this new Gorges State Park, was high on the list of priorities.    The weather was beautiful during our vacation and so one morning we set out with our swimsuits, snacks, water, and cameras.  We arrived at the parks visitor center,  newly opened in 2012, purchased a map, secured additional directions from the park staff and promptly set out on a reasonable 1.5 mile hike down to waterfalls.   We passed the creek and spot where my friends and I used to camp, hiked past Rainbow Fall, and then onto Turtleback Falls.   It was an incredible experience sharing this area with my son and daughter.  Now, 14 and 16 years old, they were now old enough to enjoy sliding down Turtleback Falls.

During this incredible adventure in the outdoors, I was also reminded of the responsibility we have as building professionals to the world we have been given and the impact of what we design and build.


Visitor’s Center – Gorges State Park

When we arrived at the visitor’s center I discovered a thoughtfully designed site and building.   I was not surprised to find out that the Gorges State Park 7,100 square foot visitor’s center was designed to national green building standards and includes many sustainable building features.

In 2013 the project was awarded LEED Gold certification.   Like the park, the building and associated site development is special and includes elements in the design, such as a waterfall feature, which make it fit well into this special mountain setting.   Other site and building features include solar energy systems, geothermal systems, rainwater collection, water saving fixtures, local materials, and beautiful water efficient natural landscaping.  The building also has museum-quality exhibits, some which educate visitors on the green features of the building and site, in addition to letting visitors explore the natural and cultural history of the area.

After visiting Gorges State Park I can’t wait to go back!  If you are traveling in this region or if you are planning a trip, I highly recommend visiting this area and visiting Gorges State Park, DuPont State Forest and other surrounding natural areas that are breathtakingly beautiful and wonderfully unique.

If you are like me, you will be inspired by your visit.

Travis Layman

LEED AP, HCI Preconstruction Team Member

Travis Layman

Travis Layman

Team Member Spotlight – Zack Fletchall

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.

Zach Fletchall

This month the spotlight falls on our LEED AP, Project Executive – Zack Fletchall

Zack joined Harman in 2011 bringing his love and knowledge of building construction to our team.  After winning a Lego building contest at age four, it’s no surprise Zack grew up to complete a degree in building construction from Virginia Tech.  Active in the industry, Zack currently sits on the executive committee for the AGCVA Valley District and has previously served the USGBC’s SWVA chapter as both vice chair and chair.

Here are a couple questions we asked Zack 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?

One of my favorite projects has been Generations Park in Bridgewater.  As both an ice hockey fan and player, it’s exciting to be getting an ice surface here in the Valley.  It is also exciting what it will bring to the area community.

I also really enjoyed watching the project for Dick’s Sporting Goods in Harrisonburg take shape.  It was a fast paced project and really neat to see come together so quickly.

What have you come to appreciate/value about working on team at Harman?

There are several things I appreciate about working here – The people, Haman’s strong corporate values and the level of expertise are what continue to make it an enjoyable and rewarding place to work.

Outside your Harman work, what other things do you enjoy in your down-time.

Enjoying time my family, especially outdoors.  This summer we spent a lot of time at the pool, the park, bike riding and visits to the zoo.

What other life experience have you had that helps you in your job today?

Over the past 15 years I have worked on wide variety of projects with many different clients.  I would say that there are aspects from each of those experiences that are used on a daily basis.

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

Green Light on Green Building

Green Building LogoI’ll have to admit, I wasn’t always a fan of green building.  Early reviews of green systems and their associated payback periods weren’t adding up to substantial value for most clients.  For this reason Harman did not pursue green building much in the early years unless asked.

However, today technologies are improving and making things like solar panels, LED lighting and skylights a more viable and affordable option for some of our clients.

In the last few years HCI have undertaken a number of large solar panel projects and have been able to include “day-lighting” into some of our industrial projects through the use of skylights.  If you are in Harrisonburg, VA stop by and check out Weaver’s Flooring America.  We added onto their warehouse space in 2014 where we were able to incorporate skylights throughout.  As a result during the day when you walk through the warehouse it’s easy to believe the lights are on, when in reality they are not.

“Pretty cool” is what I often hear after showing the skylights off.  Through the use of prismatic skylights, the light is dispersed evenly and hot spots are eliminated.  We incorporated the same system up at Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative’s (SVEC) distribution center in Mt. Jackson, VA.  Over the years day-lighting has become more and more popular and a efficient means to saving on a company’s overhead cost.

Over the last six years, Harman Construction has ramped up our efforts toward green building and becoming a leader in sustainable construction.  We are excited to have been a part of eight Green projects with six of these projects being LEED Certified jobs.  These projects have ranged from a metal building warehouse/office for SVEC to dormitories for Eastern Mennonite University.  Our latest green project is for a six story Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Northern VA.

Green projects can demand much more attention in their planning and delivery, but with a seasoned team here at Harman we are more than willing to step up to the plate and deliver.  As part of our commitment to building green we currently have three certified LEED AP’s on staff here at Harman.

Technology advancements in the green building envelope and green building systems analysis are making it easier to find the best solutions for each project.  Today there are tools that can measure multiple systems quickly, which can help us make smart, informed decisions.

Each project is unique, so finding the best solution for one project is not always the best solution for the next.  Today’s tools can help us optimize efficiency and give owners the biggest bang for their buck.

Our team is excited about what the future holds for green building and we will continue to be on the leading edge of delivering smart solutions for our clients.  If you want to talk to someone about your next building project, please give us a call.  We’d love to hear from you!

-Ryan Strite

Business Development Manager