May 18, 2017

Customer Experience

Customer Experience isn’t just a saying around Cambridge, it’s how we live and breathe.  One of our goals is to “make our customers’ lives easy”.  What this means to us is that we always look for ways to provide solutions, reporting and all interactions as quick, easy and informative as possible.  Our clients are all very busy people and they all have responsibilities outside of the design and construction projects that Cambridge is hired to work on with them.  The last thing we want them worrying about is whether or not we can fulfill our obligations or do as we promised.  We work very hard to hold our people accountable in order to ensure that, at all times, our customers and partners are getting the best service possible in their opinion.  Why do I say, “in their opinion”?  That’s because we customize our experience to our customer’s needs and wants.   There is a wide array of people that we deal with, so we work hard to understand what it is they would like to see from us.  Some are more hands on and some are “need to know” only.  Some like detailed reporting, some just want a summary; others would like weekly calls, while still others are happy with bi-weekly or periodic participation in calls.  These are just some of the ways that we adapt to our clients’ needs in order to help improve their overall experience. 

The Cambridge staff takes our clients experience very seriously because we appreciate the fact that there are many choices out there.  In order to set ourselves apart, we also try to offer various services our clients have shown us they need.  The Cambridge process starts with feasibility studies and design development to full architectural and design services all the way through construction and the warranty period.  There are many steps and touch points along the way and we work hard to constantly improve each and every one of them.   We aren’t perfect, no one is.  So if we encounter of a hiccup in the road, we work hard to repair it and eliminate it going forward.   Life is all about finding ways to make yourself a better person, better company, better business partner and we strive to do that both for ourselves and our customers.

There is a phrase that we have built into our internal marketing for our employees to see on a daily basis.  It is, “People do business with people because they choose to, not because they have to.  We can always find others doing the same thing or selling the same product.  It’s the personal connection that makes the difference.”  This says a lot to us at Cambridge because we don’t want this to merely be a business transaction.  We want to help our customer from today until forever.  In order to do this, we take the time to learn your business operations, which then helps us design facilities that will help you improve your operations and create a safe, durable and efficient facility that will suit your needs for a long time.  Much like a tailor has to learn your body to build you the right suit that fits you perfectly, we also want to tailor your facility and your experience to meet your needs as they are today and as they will be in the future.

This is what Customer Experience means to all of the associates at Cambridge.  If there is anything we can help you with, please let us know.  We would be thrilled at the opportunity!

View the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilize from initial contact regarding a project from potential and existing clients.   You can also check out more on our website dedicated to the waste industry to see all the services that we have to offer!

Jeff Eriks – Vice President, Business Development & Marketing

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm based in Northwest Indiana specializing in solid waste facilities and a lot of experience with commercial projects.  Click here to see current projects and our portfolio of commercial and solid waste projects nationwide such as transfer stations and hauling companies.  We also offer a variety of architectural and design services to facilitate your project from conceptual design through the use of the facility.

www.cambridgecoinc.com

(219) 972-1155

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April 18, 2017

Construction Teams Early Involvement Leads to More Successful Projects

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm where the construction team’s involvement begins very early in the design phase. During the initial phase of design, a construction project manager (PM) begins attending design meetings with the client to provide a construction perspective to the design of the facility.  This helps to maintain constructability in the design and to help ensure budget goals are met. The goal here is to foresee any issues that may occur during construction and to preemptively solve those prior to completing the drawings. These initial meetings are the most crucial part of any project where a PM reviews the basis of design, project documents, tentative permit and construction schedule. As a Design-Build firm, Cambridge works as a team with the design, estimating and construction departments to ensure drawing accuracy. At every drawing milestone (i.e. 30%, 60%, 90%), the Cambridge team provides comments on every single drawing sheet to ensure we limit design discrepancies when these drawings are submitted for permitting review and for subcontractor bidding. After each internal review, we setup a meeting with the client to get their comments, incorporate those changes and then move on to the next stage of design development. By the time we are at the 90% drawing review stage, we are confident that these drawings can be used to start the bid-permit process.

Cambridge takes great pride in its transparency at every stage of the project with our clients. We include our customers in every subcontractor interview, prior to awarding contracts. These interviews are usually attended by the estimating and construction departments from Cambridge. To explain subcontractor solicitation in brief, Cambridge usually collects a minimum of 4-6 qualified bids for every subcontractor and supplier and interviews at least 3 different vendors per trade before making a selection. The estimating department follows a detailed process to complete the subcontractor selection (see our February blog for more information on the estimating process). The reason I touched on this process is to give an idea regarding the construction team’s involvement at various stages of the project. Ultimately, the construction team is the one who will deal with the vendor so why not bring them on early in the game. This process has proved a great benefit to the company and projects in the past and I am sure it will prove to be helpful for future projects as well.

After receiving permits from the governing authorities, Cambridge conducts an onsite kick-off meeting. This meeting is mandatory for all selected subcontractors.  The full construction team, including the Superintendent, Assistant Project Manager (APM), and Project Manager, attend these meetings to ensure we provide as much information to subs beforehand as possible.  Subject matter of this meeting includes safety requirements, method of communication, monthly invoicing process, submittals, RFIs, project team introductions & roles, etc. which helps to provide for a smooth transition into the construction process. We conduct a minimum of three weekly meetings for the entire project duration; 1) Foreman’s meeting for coordination with subs, 2) WIM – weekly internal meeting for Cambridge team coordination, and 3) owner’s meeting to update the owner team on weekly project progress. These meetings help us track open items throughout the construction phase. We have a proven track record of client satisfaction with these weekly owner meetings and our weekly owner report. The consistent communication and reporting gives the client assurance that Cambridge is tracking the schedule and budget week by week to finish the project on time and within budget.

As an Assistant Project Manager, I work with most of the “behind the curtain” processes. I have constantly seen improvement in various processes such as RFIs, Submittals, Drawing review, Change Requests, Close-out documentation, etc. in past years.  The APM tracks and brings up all the pending items in our internal meetings where we talk about current issues and solutions. As a team, we understand that one pending item can create potential delays to the entire project and so we work hard to avoid that.  The entire construction team attends these meetings in addition to one member each from our design and estimating teams. These project based weekly meetings have proven successful to achieve our defined goals.

Cambridge has a very stringent process of accurate record keeping.

  1. Field superintendents are required to keep track of every activity that occurred on a job site and document in a daily report no later than end of each workday.

  2. There are strict guidelines of photo documentation that need to be recorded for every job site activity and all construction progress.

  3. Detailed daily reports and photo records help us track and monitoring the progress.

  4. Construction team works hard to identify any potential changes by the owner to avoid any delays to schedule.  Any changes that do arise, are quickly entered into a change order process.

  5. The owner is constantly updated on the current state of the budget and they are provided an updated copy on a monthly basis.  Everything Cambridge does is open book, so there are no secrets or hidden fees.

Cambridge believes in finishing the project before deadline, even if it takes working weekends or holidays to catch up on any lost days due to weather. I have not seen any superintendent in my tenure with Cambridge who would run past the deadline. We work as a team to keep our promise of “on time and on budget”.

View the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilizes from initial contact regarding a project from potential and existing clients.   You can also check out more on our website dedicated to the waste industry to see all the services that we have to offer!

Aman Agrawal – Assistant Project Manager

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm based in Northwest Indiana specializing in solid waste facilities and a lot of experience with commercial projects.  Click here to see current projects and our portfolio of commercial and solid waste projects nationwide such as transfer stations and hauling companies.  We also offer a variety of architectural and design services to facilitate your project from conceptual design through the use of the facility.

www.cambridgecoinc.com

(219) 972-1155

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March 17, 2016

Designed to Build a Solid Foundation

Cambridge Companies strives to provide well-thought out, durable, long standing structures that are code compliant and meet expectations. To provide such a quality structure, the design and permitting process is crucial for each project’s specific requirements. Today, I would like to briefly discuss the Design and Permitting process that has proven time and again Cambridge creates a reputable, high quality structure.

Cambridge Companies strives to provide well-thought out, durable, operationally efficient and long standing structures that are code compliant and meet expectations. To provide such a quality structure, the design team uses a 3-step process.  The initial phase is the feasibility or “scoping” phase.  The second phase is design development and the third and last phase is the development of the construction drawings.  Upon completion of the construction drawings, the permitting process begins, unless we have to do preliminary work for zoning or other civil related requirements.  I would like to briefly discuss the overall Design and Permitting process that has proven time and again that the Cambridge process produces an affordable, durable and high quality structure that will serve your operation for years to come.

Prior to our design team working their magic to prepare the construction drawings, essential information needs to be collected.   This is where the feasibility or “scoping” phase comes in.  The Cambridge Design Team works with clients to determine and clearly compile their wants and needs and the exact usage of the structure.  Along with this, a program or “basis of design” is a comprehensive document which pulls together all the project information into one document which will be referenced throughout the next two phases.  This phase will end with a few deliverables.  The basis of design, a conceptual budget, site plan, floor plans and a conceptual project timeline.

Assuming the project is approved to move forward, we move into the design development phase.  This is where you take the information gathered in the feasibility phase and you dial it in and add more specifics.  This is the last phase to make design changes without incurring additional design costs.  You will also develop interior program documents, the final floor plan, the site plan and you churn out a tighter budget with less assumptions included as well as a more detailed project schedule. There will also be additional information gathered regarding the permit and zoning requirements, code research and the design sub consultants identified.  We also encourage the owner to do some additional investigation during this phase such as soil borings, existing building testing (if required), and other items in order to reduce the risk of the project early on.

After the design development phase, you move into the construction drawing phase.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  The design team puts together the bid, permit and construction documents based on the owner requirements gathered in the previous two phases.  We then set milestones for the design stage to be reviewed throughout the project to ensure accuracy and owner acceptance. Typically these milestone dates are targets for the 30%, 60% and 90% of the drawings completion. We also hold weekly or bi-weekly review meetings to ensure unity in communication between the client’s expectations and our design team.

Once these crucial steps are completed, we move to the permitting phase prior to breaking ground at a site.  As the drawings are being reviewed and produced, the design team also works to ensure drawings will meet the city’s permitting requirements.  Once the client has approved the drawings for the project, permit applications and drawings are submitted to the local municipality for review. The review process timeline requirements can vary from city to city. Clear communication is needed between the City, Cambridge and the client as to the anticipated permit release dates.  This will ensure no misunderstanding takes place as to when construction can actually begin once the construction permit is released.

Cambridge takes great pride in crossing its “T’s” and dotting its “I’s” in creating a professional, accurate and complete design documents.  Following a proven process allows Cambridge’s design team to keep clients informed and create good relationships with the municipalities we work with.  The Cambridge Design Department is comprised of a professional team of educated, knowledgeable team members dedicating their all to getting the job done with complete satisfaction.

View the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilizes from initial contact regarding a project from potential and existing clients.   You can also check out more on our website dedicated to the waste industry to see all the services that we have to offer!

Suzanne Lawrence – Design Project Manager

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm based in Northwest Indiana specializing in solid waste facilities and a lot of experience with commercial projects.  Click here to see current projects and our portfolio of commercial and solid waste projects nationwide such as transfer stations and hauling companies.  We also offer a variety of architectural and design services to facilitate your project from conceptual design through the use of the facility.

www.cambridgecoinc.com

(219) 972-1155

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February 17, 2016

Controlling Costs Throughout the Design/Build Process 

At Cambridge Companies, we have a companywide belief that a thorough Estimating/Procurement process is vital to laying a solid foundation for the success of any construction project.  Successful E/P processes are not as simple as sending out RFP’s, receiving proposals, selecting vendors and commencing with construction.   The E/P process Cambridge utilizes has additional steps to ensure we are offering clients projects that are affordable.  Today, I would like to briefly discuss two steps in our process that have proven very successful in ensuring a cost controlled construction process.

To begin, a strong set of bid documents is crucial in order to establish proper costs on the front end and reduce the opportunity for subcontractor and vendor change orders during construction.  Our in-house process starts early to ensure that a quality set of bidding documents are developed and issued to potential subs and vendors.  We request that our Design Sub-Consultants provide 30%, 60% and 90% review sets that provide two main benefits.  First, it allows our Design Team to review progress sets with the Client to ensure their needs and desires are being met in regards to layouts, finishes, etc.  Second, this allows the Estimating Department multiple opportunities to review the documents and provide redline comments to ensure that the drawings are as complete and detailed as possible once the ‘For Bid and Permit’ sets are ready to launch.   Ensuring that a strong ‘For Bid and Permit’ set exists provides a greater chance at successful cost control during the course of the construction project.  A strong set of bidding documents typically results in more competitive and complete proposals received from potential vendors and subcontractors.

The second point I would like to touch on is proper subcontractor selection.  Proper subcontractor selection is also vital in order to control costs and ensure the project has
the best potential of being completed on time.  Once an RFP period has ended and all proposals are received from potential subs and vendors, the Estimating Department performs an in-depth review of all proposals received.  In order to ensure proper vendor selection, a group of 2-3 shortlisted subcontractors/vendors for each trade are identified. Cambridge then meets with each of the potential sub/vendor individually to discuss pricing, scope, schedule, safety, etc.   This additional step has proven to be vital to the success of sub/vendor selection and has many benefits including:

  • Walking through each required scope item
    • Ensures that upon final review, each vendor will have a complete proposal with all required costs included.
  • Discussing safety and insurance
    • Obtaining confirmation the potential subcontractor has a clean safety record and all required insurance limits in order to step foot on the project site
  • Requesting best and final pricing
    • Allows for the most qualified/cost competitive subcontractors are selected for each required trade, etc.

After this process is complete, the subcontractor/vendor that will provide us with the greatest odds for success during the construction process is easily identified while also making sure the costs are as competitive and complete as possible prior to subcontract issuance.

Cambridge Companies invests time and effort on the steps above, in addition to other ‘Proven Processes’, to differentiate us from the competition.  It is a core value of all Cambridge Companies’ employees to ensure that we all work to do whatever it takes.

View the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process Cambridge utilizes from initial contact regarding a project from potential and existing clients.   You can also check out more on our website dedicated to the waste industry to see all the services that we have to offer!

Lenny Zelms – Estimator 

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm based in Northwest Indiana specializing in solid waste facilities and a lot of experience with commercial projects.  Click here to see current projects and our portfolio of commercial and solid waste projects nationwide such as transfer stations and hauling companies.  We also offer a variety of architectural and design services to facilitate your project from conceptual design through the use of the facility.

www.cambridgecoinc.com

(219) 972-1155

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January 17, 2016

Do We Share the Same Core Values? 

Times are changing in the world today.  It’s important to find companies to work with that share your values which lead to a great working relationship.

Cambridge has been implementing a process known as EOS (Entrepreneur Operating System) for about 2 years now.  And while it is a work in process, like any business, we are making steady progress.   As part of this mindset, we established a core focus for our business, core values and four uniques that set us apart from others.

Cambridge works to be the steady hand in the design build process that can help guide our clients and partners every step of the way.  Our company’s passion is “Simplifying Clients Lives One Project at a Time”.   We believe that if we can handle all the details for the client, pull it together for them and create a seamless process from beginning to end, that our clients will continue to come back to us in the future.  Most of our clients have busy lives, most often at work and at home.  Handling the design and construction process isn’t what they want to focus on.  This is where Cambridge comes in.  By having architects on staff, we are able to fully handle the design process for our client and drive sub consultants to design within the specifications we require and the budget that is set with the client before design starts.  We hire people that share this passion and we ensure the entire team is focused on it.  This carries into construction as well.  We communicate as much as the owner wants and also send out weekly reports to the client that provide them with a status of the project progress, budget, schedule and some photos.  IT’s a great way for the owner to have a good idea of the status.  It’s all about making it easy for them to stay involved and abreast of where the project is at on a weekly basis without having to make site visits.

Cambridge also utilizes 5 core values: Team Player, Whatever it Takes, Life-Long Learner, H.A.R.D. Working and Do the Right Thing.  Most of these are pretty self-explanatory.  The only one I will expound on a little further is H.A.R.D Working.  We turned this into an acronym for “Helpful, Accommodating, Responsible and Dedicated.”  We focus on holding our people to these standards and it shows in our dealings with our customers.

The four uniques that we use to set ourselves apart are:  Make client’s lives easy, Cambridge’s unique expertise in the solid waste industry, standing by what we build and the Cambridge owners are directly involved in your projects.  These uniques create a way we do business which is all focused on our client’s success.  One project at a time.  You need to stay focused in order to be successful.

If these philosophies and values resonate with you, reach out to the Cambridge team and let’s talk about your upcoming projects.

Check out our website dedicated to the waste industry to see all the services that we have to offer!   There is also an abbreviated list of testimonials you can review as well as a project experience list.

Please feel free to contact us at info@cambridgecoinc.com for suggestions on future blogs or through the Contact Us page here on our website.

Jeff Eriks – Vice President, Business Development and Marketing 

Cambridge Companies is a design-build firm based in Northwest Indiana specializing in solid waste facilities and a lot of experience with commercial projects.  Click here to see current projects and our portfolio of commercial and solid waste projects nationwide such as transfer stations and hauling companies.  We also offer a variety of architectural and design services to facilitate your project from conceptual design through the use of the facility.

www.cambridgecoinc.com

(219) 972-1155

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