June 5, 2024

👑 The ENR Top 400's secret sauce, Buildr goes to the beach

Where's Waldo, but it's Voldemort

So the Buildr team recently held their quarterly offsite, which included the prerequisite all-company competition. If you’re a SLAB regular, you may know that these quarterly competitions tend to get—for a lack of a better term—competitive.

For the second time in as many years, the competition consisted of a points-based series of Survivor-style beach games affectionately known as “BeachGate.” This moniker was an allusion to last year’s still-argued-about beach games where a last second rule change occurred. 

After a back and forth with the referees, the final gauntlet was suddenly worth triple (or was it quadruple?) the points, meaning every team had a chance to win the whole thing. As you’d expect, this led to a champion that every team had a gripe with except, believe it or not, the team that won.

This year was all about redemption, pride, and firmly fixed point allocations for each game. The Buildr crew was split into four teams:

Average Joe's

Bae, Watch Us Win

Dream Come Blue

Summertime Slytherin

After several rounds of games, a winner still hadn’t been decided as two teams were tied up in total points—Average Joe’s and Dream Come Blue.

This was historically unprecedented, as even the head referee noted, “I’ve never seen a tie in the one year I’ve done this.” 

It’s worth noting that Summertime Slytherin came in dead last, adhering to Slytherin never winning anything throughout the Harry Potter series. Great job sticking to the bit, guys. 400 points to Summertime Slyth—oh right, the points are immutable this year.

The deciding final game was a unique twist on dodgeball. Each team would take turns standing in the center of the court, surrounded by the other players positioned around the perimeter. When the whistle blew, those on the outskirts would attempt to hit the team in the middle with dodgeballs until they were all out. The team that managed to stay "alive" in the center for the longest time would take the crown (more literally, a belt that had a big “B” on it). 

In what turned out to be an iconic moment in sports history, the final Dream Come Blue player was unhittable for what felt like hours. Buildr Gracie’s erratic movements were made even more unpredictable by spasms caused by her own giggling the longer that time went on. 

Like a snake writhing in the sun (she would’ve fit in just fine on Summertime Slytherin), Buildr Gracie baffled the rest of her coworkers around the outskirts of the court. She seemed to barely even be paying attention to the dodgeballs whipping past her—a woman possessed.

Average Joe’s ultimately couldn’t match Buildr Gracie’s heroics. Dream Come Blue were named the champs of BeachGate 2024.

Dreams really do come blue

SPECS

👑 Turner takes home the ENR crown yet again as top GCs hone in on preconstruction...

Per ENR, Turner Construction Co. has now four-peated as the top contractor in ENR's annual Top 400 rankings. The rankings, determined by annual construction volume, had minor changes from last year including Kiewit overtaking Bechtel for second place and Clark Group falling from 9 to 16.

Some other notable takeaways:

  • There are two newcomers to the top 10, McDermott International and PCL Construction. McDermott didn't even crack last year's top 400, and filed for bankruptcy in 2020. What a comeback.

  • For the second straight year, top 400 revenue has increased by double-digit percentage (+13.9%) and median revenue up 10.9%.

  • For the 48-page PDF that breaks down the list and goes through market data, here you go.

Across the board, the top contractors report priorities and improvements to safety, inclusion, diversity, internal staff development, company culture, and investing in technology that helps their processes be more collaborative and less siloed.

In the report, Suffolk CEO John Fish said construction is the only industry that's become less productive in the last 50 years, noting that the Empire State Building took 14 months to build but would take 4 years to build today: "Our industry is so fragmented and siloed because contractors are less willing to innovate or change the way it has always been done. We must innovate," he said.

🔨 Here's the Thing

The GCs in the top 400 matter to everyone else because they provide templates for forward-thinking and success-driven strategies that can be emulated by the smaller, agiler firms that are lean enough to adjust their processes.

A whopping 77.3% of firms reported increases in revenue. That's in spite of inflation, supply issues, and stingy banks that have been plaguing the industry since COVID. The top 400's primary strategy to sidestep these issues? Honing in on preconstruction, as the main headline of ENR's report reveals: "Firms Feel Pinch for Profitability—Contractor revenue rises, but firms say higher risks and longer lead times are driving more investment in preconstruction."

The Fed rose interest rates (that still frustratingly haven't dropped) to battle inflation. This has caused project delays, project rescopes (and outright cancellations), and all-time high construction costs. This hasn't affected revenues for the top firms because of an industry-wide emphasis on precon, reports ENR.

💬 Contractor Quote

“One significant challenge is assisting owners in achieving their project goals within budgetary constraints. We’ve implemented a proactive approach by offering our expertise and involvement earlier in the project lifecycle. By engaging with owners from the outset, we can better understand their needs, preferences and budget limitations, allowing us to develop realistic and achievable project plans in partnership.”

—Rick Davenport, President and COO of Samet Corp.

“We work hard to overcome [increased speed of project development and subsequent need for urgent pricing support] by leveraging historical data and relevant software tools to ensure we respond to requests like this quickly and with a high level of confidence in our estimates.”

—Micah Vainikka, Director of Preconstruction of Knutson Construction

⚡️ Punch List

Buildr: Advancing Preconstruction Conference session; winning the preconstruction game—strategies to create a thriving backlog (precon)

Buildr: The 7 essential features of preconstruction software (precon)

Buildr: Redefining preconstruction excellence—Strategies to unlock your business potential (on-demand webinar)

For Construction Pros: Tech-savvy workers needed to solve construction workforce shortage (company culture)

Construction Dive: Top construction events for the second half of 2024 (conferences)

The Preconstruction Podcast: Preconstruction Manager Stacie Ramos from KCI on how to juggle BD, estimating, preconstruction services and workforce development (precon)

The B1M: Inside LA's new $2b NBA arena (megaprojects)

CONSUMABLES

Buildr Gracie during dodgeball

Noah's bark: Scientists are using AI to decode dog language models. soon you'll be able to know if your dog's bark meant "Take me outside right now, oh my god, there's something small and terrible out there, did you hear that? Let me out!!" or "Hey, can you please, please, please, play with me, please, won't you, oh my god please, I love you!" (AI)

Pic of the litter: 25 photographs that have captured and changed the world since 1955. Fewer photos of people pinching the sun in the background than you'd think. (photography)

Nvidia games: Due to its investment in AI chips, Nvidia is now valued at $3.01 trillion (that's $102mm per employee) which passes Apple at a measly $3 trillion, meaning it's officially the second most valuable company in the world. If you had put $1,000 into Nvidia 10 years ago, you'd have [does some quick calculations] a butt-ton of money. (stocks)

Doncic & Chong: The Ringer has 4 lingering questions before the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Mavericks kick off tonight and one of them is not "Should Dallas change their logo to Tom Cruise's face and their name to the Top Gun: Mavericks?" (sports)

Microsoft skills: If you like reading non-fiction, want to learn how to better connect with others, and value the literary opinions of really rich people, Bill Gates has just the book recommendation for you. (books)

Age of Adz: Instagram is about to get a bit more lucrative with unskippable ads on the horizon. Dubbed "ad breaks" because apparently we need a break from scrolling our feed full of ads so we can sit back, relax, and watch an ad. (tech)

MrBeastmode: MrBeast just passed 269 million subscribers making him the most subscribed YouTube content creator alive. But don't sleep on user BrightonFordMi that made the important video "How to Refill Windshield Wiper Fluid" 11 years ago who's at 1,310 subscribers and climbing. (tech)

Donut even tell me: Tomorrow's National Donut Day so be sure to stop by Dunkin' and Krispy Kreme to grab free donuts. (food)

Where the AI things are: In a mixture of "awww" and terrifying piece of news, a company Naria lets children and parents co-publish children's books using AI with characters being placed on the page and storylines tweaked throughout. (AI)

Trailer park: House of the Dragon season 2Rings of Power season 2 and a Dune spinoff show are looming on the horizon if excessively high-budget fantasy prequels are your thing. (TV)

Job Site

We need new job submissions! Catch wind of an open preconstruction role? Fill out our job post submission form for a chance for the posting to be featured in a future edition of The SLAB.

Until next time,

The SLAB

PS: With BeachGate 2024, Furiosa, and Dune Part 2, sand is absolutely in this year.

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