Springfield, MO

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Greater Ozarks Building Systems Association

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by Mel Brooks

Building construction in southwest Missouri has been extremely active in 1998. The economic growth has rushed many projects, challenging contractors to use new, lower-cost materials while incorporating new technology to reduce the ever-increasing labor demands.

Every component used on a structure must be evaluated to be compatible, provide the owner with the proper functional use for the facility, and also provide perpetual low maintenance.

The design consultants and construction contractors are pleased with this building growth and are meeting the challenges to complete projects faster and at lower costs to the owner.

Added competition is also encouraging us to actively seek less expensive construction systems. Heavy competition also prevents including any funds for unknowns, or shall we say, very possible additional contingencies. Too often, this competition leads to cutting ourselves short for services rendered, just to "sell" the project.

The "sell at any cost" philosophy has done more harm to the industry than any other single factor. Too often, materials of lesser costs are chosen and construction shortcuts are implemented, more often than admitted, overlooking our own financial health.

The result of this approach is it develops poor community respect and lack of trust.

Lack of adequate return on funds and time invested have resulted in many bankruptcies among today's businesses. Adding additional injury, should an owner not be completely satisfied with the final project, surely a lawsuit will follow. Both of these problems are a reflection of selling ourselves short.

Overhead expenses for today's properly managed business firms have increased greatly due to increased liability and government regulations.

Almost every commercial contractor has had first-hand experience with OSHA citations and is now aware of our high liability exposure.

To meet and implement corrective measures to fulfill the many regulations often demands additional administrative expenses, as well as other financial burdens upon our operating costs.

Every design consultant and construction contractor must recognize the need to expect an adequate return for overhead and profit to remain a financially healthy operation.

This is the only way to ensure that we will be successful contributers to our industry's future growth.

(Mel Brooks, of Brooks Plastering, is 1998 president of the Greater Ozarks Building Systems Association.)


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