December 15, 2017

A Brief 2017 Recap and SMART Goals for 2018!  

With 2017 coming to a close, it’s always good to reflect on the year in the rearview mirror.  Like most years, there were good times and bad.  Overall it was a pretty good year.  Cambridge successfully completed several projects as well as added half-a-dozen or so new teammates that all have fantastic traits and bring a lot of experience to our team.  Always good to bring in new talent that helps to fill voids and that have skills that raise the level of the entire company. Along with that, we opened our new office in Scottsdale, AZ, which is our second location!

The economy had a good year.  The DOW is up over 4,000 points (20%), the NASDAQ is up over 1,500 points (30%) and the S&P gained almost 400 points (19%).  Hopefully, we can see that momentum continue into 2018!

The downside to the year was the extensive list of natural disasters.  It was a bad year for flooding, hurricanes, and fires.  While it didn’t directly affect anyone at Cambridge, we all know someone who was affected by it in one way, shape or form.  Our hearts definitely go out to all those who were impacted. Hopefully, 2018 isn’t as eventful as 2017.  Here’s to a speedy recovery for all those still displaced or otherwise impacted!

As we head into 2018, forget New Year’s resolutions because they just don’t work. Instead, set goals using the SMART method.  SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based.  If you follow this method for setting your 2018 goals, you’re going to be way more effective than just making random statements such as, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get that promotion”.  Those kinds of phrases just lead to failure.  Instead, your goal should go through the SMART test so you can better hold yourself accountable.  As an example, for those who want to lose weight, you do something like this:

  • Specific (what will you achieve?): I want to lose 20 pounds over the next 3 months by working out at the gym 3x per week and not eating fast food for lunch at all until April 1.
  • Measurable (how will I measure completion?): Today I weigh X, so if I lose 20 pounds, I will weigh x-20.
  • Achievable (is it achievable?): I need to lose 7 pounds per month or 2 pounds per week. Yes, that’s achievable.
  • Relevant (how is it relevant to my goals?): I want to feel better about myself, so it is relevant to my personal goals.
  • Time-Framed (what are the key dates?): I want to start Jan. 1 and end on April 1.

This is an example of how you can set goals that you can hold yourself accountable for.  Each week you can monitor your progress in several ways…did I lose 2 pounds, did I eat fast food, and did I go to the gym 3x.  All reasonable ways to check on yourself because if you don’t do those things you likely won’t achieve your goal.  This method can be applied to any goal you want to set.

We at Cambridge would like to thank everyone for a great 2017 and are looking forward to an even better 2018!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone at Cambridge!

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at a few other blogs from this year that focus on Cambridge’s core values, controlling costs, designing to build a solid foundation, construction departments’ early involvement, the customer experience at Cambridge, standing by what we build, the introduction of our Arizona office, leadership, integrated project delivery, technology in construction, and the trend to DB-OPV delivery methods.  You can also view the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilize from initial contact with 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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November 16, 2017

The Trend to DB-OFV Delivery Methods

Not well researched is the trend for Owner’s to introduce Owner Furnished Vendors (OFV) into the DB process to push even faster times to market, lower cost and higher quality products.

Source: The Design-Build Institute of America

The DB-OFV projects, especially in the manufacturing and high-tech industries, have operations and safety departments that require high-quality products, so the outcome meets their criteria expectations.  One of the most effective ways to achieve the Owners expectations is for the Owner to specify known products and/or vendors to be procured, installed or both by the DB Contractor.  Why should they rely on others to determine what to specify when they know what works?  Owners with a large campus are interested in maintaining common brands for ease of replacement and inventory and will require their preferred Vendors and manufacturers be delivered.  There are many industries in the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) who use Owner Furnished Vendors including Manufacturing, Education, Waste Management, Transportation, Health Care and Food Services industries.

The question becomes how to integrate the OFV’s into the DB delivery process.  Cambridge resolves this integration in the first two steps of our process:

1) The Scoping Process has detailed initial scope of work with detailed parameters including the overall budget, schedule deadline and Owner reviews and approvals.

2) The Design Process includes the Architect and consultants who integrate Owner Furnished Vendors and products into the Specifications and Construction Documents.  Many Owners have their internal Standard Specifications Manual under differing titles such as Design Control Document, Master Design Document, etc.

Prior to starting the Construction Documents and prior to the final GMP price, the Design-Build Contractor should prepare a Responsibility Matrix to ensure who will be responsible for which system as an exhibit in the Agreement.   The matrix will change with each Owner and might look like this:

To be successful, the Owner representative must be knowledgeable and capable of making decisions quickly.  Without a decisive and responsive representative, the Design-Build process may stall and diminish the time benefits of a DB-OFV delivery process.  With a DB-OFV delivery approach, the Owner’s objective of getting to market faster is improved.  In 2012, the Design-Build Institute of America reported on a study based on CII/Penn State research comprising 351 projects ranging from 5,000 to 2.5 million square feet, in which one of the key Metrics measured was Delivery Speed.  The research showed Design-Build Project Delivery Speed was 23.5% faster than CMAR and 33.5% faster than the traditional Design-Bid-Build.

The goal of faster project delivery has been proven by the Design-Build delivery method and can improve the speed and quality of product using the Owner Furnished Vendor (OFV) technique.  Smooth, efficient project delivery is a Team effort and is realistic when all Team members contribute to accurate and responsive communication, cooperation and trust.

Take a look at a few other blogs from this year that focus on Cambridge’s core values, controlling costs, designing to build a solid foundation, construction departments’ early involvement, the customer experience at Cambridge, standing by what we build, the introduction of our Arizona office, leadership, integrated project delivery and technology in construction.  You can also view the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilize from initial contact 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!

Jerry Atwood – Senior Design-Build 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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October 20, 2017

Technology and the Challenge of Communication

We didn’t have punch card computers in the first days of the construction technology revolution, we had a fax machine.  Briefly, and sometimes jokingly, we reminisce on faxing the punch list or waiting for the phone lines to clear.  All this so we could do one very important thing:  Communicate.  How we choose to communicate with our peers in construction has evolved, but this entry into our blog is not to talk about communication evolution but to rather speak of how we use communication today and how it is trending.

In the construction industry, we are a global institution and operate with the communication platform of our choice, via email, shared files, cloud based storage, or All-in-One management software systems.  When teams communicate, it needs to be the right information, quickly, including posting files to a cloud based system and having a way to retrieve them on the other end.  This is the fastest and most current communication model used across every industry, not just construction.  The large number of files that are required at a job site could break the will of a field team if there is no sense of order.  The trend has changed from four file cabinets, to one 4-drawer file cabinet, to one small cabinet in each site office, to 4 binders and now are down to the bare minimum of paperwork on site.  Files are stored to tell a story of the project, to confirm selections made by individuals, recall calculations needed later and sometimes to satisfy local inspectors (and lawyers!).  The comfort of a full file cabinet was a project manager’s security blanket.  If the cabinet was full, then all data was easily accessible to maintain order, process quality control, and disseminate copies to various trade partners for conformance and compatibility.  Record storage is the proof you did your job correctly.

Trending now is the capability of using your email as a filing system that records conversations and stores them in a group by project.  Cambridge recently initiated Office 365 by Microsoft throughout the company.  SharePoint, an app within Office 365, can be the least expensive means of tracking these.  This system can conform to a construction company’s needs with little tailoring.  It stores mass amounts of data in the cloud, which is accessible via phone, tablet, and any laptop or desktop computer.  The ability to not lose a conversation or leave someone important out of a conversation is critical.

Since 2000, web-based All-in-One platforms came onto the market.  Older server-based systems required maintenance on a local machine by an on-site professional or remotely.  Previous systems got a facelift, but they were still clunky and not “new and fresh.”  To compete with the speed of the internet and not rely on a VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel, companies had to advance.  The new systems do present challenges: a learning curve (training), investment of new technology (how are we going pay for this new venture?), eviction of the old technology (how often do we need to upgrade our equipment?), and trust in security (how do we control proprietary or confidential documents?).

When making the decision to upgrade or implement new software, the cost and amount of time if will take to train your staff should be considered.  Investment in training is rarely factored into the “cost” and won’t be completely represented in the software company’s sales pitch.  If this is a huge change for your company, you will need to develop a plan as to how to train staff and communicate to them the importance of full participation.  There are many different ways you can train people.  A few include:

  • Classroom training; classroom time should be accounted for or a construction firm may institute a “do-or-die” training policy.

  • Independent study; Training on the fly and at the expense of the jobsites you are running can cause more problems than it is solving.

  • Peer-to-Peer; Peer-to-peer training is better than the latter, but takes more time or

  • Bringing in an expert; Bringing in an expert to train people can be a financial challenge, especially for smaller companies.

Points to take away in deciding on communication systems:

  • Define ALL your processes in writing from beginning to end. Choose a system that fits into your processes, not a system that you need to create brand new processes for.

  • Determine your “true cost” of a communication system including training, maintenance, replacement cost, human capitol hardware compatibility, speed and cost to rectify errors, and edge against your competition.

The inability to get new employees to join a firm due to an antiquated system or old communication techniques may be the downfall of an organization.  The next generation of the best and brightest are taught to communicate in ways some of us don’t use every day.  If the current communication processes are a step back in time for them, you won’t be as likely to retain them as employees.

Matt McClay – Senior 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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September 19, 2017

Integrated Project Delivery

As a design-build firm, Cambridge strives to create and deliver an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach to ensuring the highest quality and experience.  This is a well-established approach that is gaining acceptance within the construction field for being able to deliver high-quality projects, with multiple stakeholders, by eliminating individual silos and helping build a team-win mindset.   At the core, an IPD approach employs productive, collaborative, and integrated teams of project stakeholders.  These team members are grouped together under principles which include shared risk and reward, value-based decision making, effective collaboration, trust, transparent processes, and use of the best integration technologies available. The result is an opportunity for the project to operate as effective and efficiently as possible. This approach requires all project participants internalize and deliver on these nine IPD principles.

1. Mutual Benefit and Reward  

Participants in the IPD team must all realize some sort of meaningful benefit or reward from the process.  This can range from decreased change orders to an owner through more collaborative involvement in the project development, to shortened timeframes for the construction team from streamlined design coordination processes.  Regardless, for IPD to be a success, all the participants should realize a tangible benefit.

2. Early Involvement of Key Participants

In an IPD project, it is essential to involve all stakeholders from as early in the project as possible. Cambridge uses scoping documents, best-practices, lessons learned, input from their internal staff, and owner input to ensure early involvement from key project participants in included.

3. Mutual Respect and Trust

The IPD requires all project participants, including owner(s), the general contractor, the design team, and the sub-contractors are all dedicated to the team approach and all value the contributions of the other team members.  This is the foundation that the IPD approach relies on.

4. Early Goal Definition

Setting the project goals early are essential to ensuring the project stays on track.  To that end, Cambridge often starts all projects with a scoping phase to help set project parameters, from programmatic needs, to preliminary plans, pricing, and schedules.

5. Open Communication

It is essential that open and honest communication is pursued as the ideal.  The focus of this approach on team performance relies on direct, open, and honest communication among all the team members. There must be a focus on a no-blame culture with a focus on identifying issues and resolving them.  Less focus should be directed toward blame and liability.  Disagreements and disputes should be noted as they occur and be dealt with quickly to maintain forward momentum.

6. Intensified Planning

The goal with IPD is to expend an increased effort on the design approach to help minimize the more expensive construction effort.  The thrust should not necessarily be to reduce design effort, but to minimize added cost(s) to construction field changes.

7. Organizational Leadership

Each project has a specific team created to deliver it, and within it, specific responsibilities are assigned based on the individual’s roles and competencies.  At Cambridge, as a part of the project kick-off meeting we set up a project responsibility table. This sets out who the critical team members are, and more importantly, what their responsibilities are.  Within Cambridge, the Project Manager delegates responsibility for many tasks to the owner, design sub-consultants, etc. Their over-arching responsibility to the project schedule and budget keep tabs on these tasks, while ensuring they are not creating artificial barriers that chill open communication.

8. Appropriate Technology

IPD requires a high level of coordination, which extends to how information, data, and work product is compiled and shared. To that end, Cambridge uses Sage Project center to centralize the project database including project billing, all construction paperwork, meeting minutes, as well as formal correspondence. On the design side, we prefer to use BIM compliant programs, such as Autodesk’s Revit which allows for increased collaboration and coordination between the design and construction sub-contractors.  

9. Collaborative Innovation and Decision Making

In any Cambridge project, we value innovative ideas that will deliver a better project for the end-user, regardless of their role in the project.  These key decisions should be made by the entire project team, and where possible, unanimous agreement should be the goal.  Care is taken to listen to all ideas and give them due consideration.  Even if they prove unworkable or not preferred by the end-user, the very exercise of taking in a new idea, vetting it, and determining whether or not it will work has value.

The more traditional project delivery systems will continue to rely on their silos while always having inefficiencies when there are hand-offs between those silos.  The IPD approach attempts to strategically realign the team members and their roles and involvement to utilize their competencies and skills at the appropriate stages in the project.

No project delivery approach is without risks. The goal of IPD is to best minimize those risks by involving as many stakeholders in the process in a meaningful way.  By taking a collaborative Integrated Project Delivery approach to conceptualizing, designing, and constructing projects, Cambridge strives to empower all the project team members to make their most impactful and effective contribution to the project.

Take a look at a few other blogs from this year that focus on Cambridge’s core values, controlling costs, designing to build a solid foundation, construction departments’ early involvement, the customer experience at Cambridge, standing by what we build and the introduction of our Arizona office.  You can also 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!

Evan Williams – 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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August 18, 2017

Leadership

Leadership is subjective and can be defined in many ways.  In a March 29, 2017 Business News Daily blog post titled ’11 Ways to Define Leadership’, Jennifer Post spoke to various leaders in the construction industry to help define leadership and came up with the following interpretations:

  1. The pursuit of bettering your environment;
  2. Knowing your team and yourself well;
  3. Giving people the tools to succeed;
  4. Open, authentic and positive influence;
  5. Clarity, confidence and courage;
  6. Building consensus and common goals;
  7. Being the solution to problems;
  8. Helping others achieve the impossible;
  9. Building the next generation of leaders;
  10. Building followership; and
  11. Actively listening.

The Senior Leadership Team at Cambridge Companies; Jeff Eriks, Linda Eriks and Ray Eriks; have always embraced the interpretations laid out above as well as many other aspects relating to leadership.  I would like to specifically focus on the definition of ‘building the next generation of leaders’ and how the Eriks have specifically influenced my career path.

I was recruited from Purdue University and began my career at Cambridge in January 2007.  Immediately after joining the Cambridge team, the Eriks began to plant seeds of leadership.  Throughout the early years of my career at Cambridge, the Eriks’ invested in my future, challenged me, brought out the best in me and fostered an environment of inclusion, respect and civility.  As a result of the focus and skill strengthening provided, I was able to quickly grow into a leadership role of my own.  In order to continue to grow my leadership skills (as well as those of other employees), Cambridge encourages continuous learning and sends myself and other interested team members to a two day long Leadership Summit where leaders from across various industries provide practical skills to bring the best out of ourselves and our employees.

As a result of the nurturing and leadership skills provided by Cambridge Companies, I was recently assigned to the role of Senior Manager of Pre-Construction Services.  In this role, I will be able to lead our design and procurement departments and further service our client to meet their needs during the scoping, design and procurement phases of a project life cycle.

No matter what research you perform or which book on business management you read, it is indisputable that good leadership plays a major role in achieving success in a business venture. An expert in leadership Warren Bennis said, “A business short on capital can borrow money and one with poor location can move, but a business short on leadership has little chance of survival”.   The Eriks have a long track record of focusing on strong leadership through training and development of the next leaders at Cambridge.  This will ensure that Cambridge continues to strengthen their ability to meet the ever changing needs of our Clients.

Take a look at a few other blogs from this year that focus on Cambridge’s core values, controlling costs, designing to build a solid foundation, construction departments’ early involvement, the customer experience at Cambridge, standing by what we build and the introduction of our Arizona office.  You can also 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!

Lenny Zelms – Senior Manager of Pre-Construction Services

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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July 19, 2017

Our New Arizona Office & Benefits to Clients

Cambridge is excited to announce the expansion of our company with an office in Scottsdale, Arizona.  As mentioned in a previous blog, we are focused on creating a customer experience that is customized to each client and offers an enhanced experience from initial concept all the way through close out of a project.  The expansion of our company to Arizona allows:

  • Better service to our customers within the Phoenix metro area as well as the Mountain and Pacific Time zones.
  • Allows for easier travel to the western half of the United States.
  • Easier scheduling of on-line conference calls and other correspondence within a standard nine-hour window rather than the limited window from the Chicago office.
  • Helps to keep costs down for travel in the western United States.

We are committed to continually looking at ways to keep our costs affordable while also providing excellent service for all of our clients.

Cambridge is adding additional resources in the Scottsdale office immediately.  We have hired an experienced Architect and a seasoned Construction Project Manager in the Scottsdale office and will soon be adding additional employees to fill out the team.  By having our team in Arizona, they can interact seamlessly in-house and our clients can be comforted to know they will have the ability to work with the same team for any of their projects within the western states.  This is an advantage as it allows our team to learn our customers and our customers to learn our team, building rapport between them, and systems in place that are consistent from project to project.  Also, the Cambridge team is able to take lessons learned from previous projects and apply them to future projects.  Carrying that knowledge forward is one of our ways of doing business that sets us apart from others.  We strive to constantly learn better ways to design and more efficient ways to construct and evolve our design and construction projects with our clients evolving needs.

This is the first step in a continuous journey to making our customer experience the best in the industry.  Like any customer experience, it is a constant work in process and we are committed to learning from our mistakes and improving that journey every day.

Read the press release, published June 30, 2017, on the addition of our new office in Arizona.

Take a look at a few other blogs from this year that focus on Cambridge’s core values, controlling costs, designing to build a solid foundation, construction departments’ early involvement, the customer experience at Cambridge, and standing by what we build.  You can also 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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June 16, 2017

A Unique Approach: Standing by what we Build

Cambridge Companies has five uniques that we use for rating the company on projects and in regards to our client relationships.  These uniques focus on goals we intend to meet whenever we set foot out the door to interact with our clients or walk onto a job site.  The one I am going to focus on in this blog is “stand by what we build”.

Everyone knows that construction projects have their challenges, whether it is during design or construction.  What everyone doesn’t know is that once the contractors have left the site and moved onto the next project, it doesn’t mean the owners of the facility aren’t going to run into problems due to materials used or natural calamities.  Once Cambridge staff has left a site, we turn over all warranty information, subcontractor list, as-built drawings and owner manuals to the facility owner.  These documents include the warranty period (which is typically a year) as well as all operational booklets and a contact for each subcontractor.  All warranties have a timeframe; if you’ve ever bought something such as a car, you know that once that warranty runs out, all expenses are at your cost.  When Cambridge leaves a job site, we don’t leave all issues regarding warranty in the owner’s hands.  We work hands-on with them to ensure we can get subcontractors back out to complete the warranty work.  Once the warranty has expired, Cambridge will still work with the owners to ensure their complete satisfaction on the project.  Sometimes that issue can’t be solved on the first attempt, maybe the issue continues to occur over time.  The great thing about working with Cambridge is that we aren’t going to leave you out in the cold with the problem.  We will still come back, even years down the line, to evaluate and work with you to ensure the problem is resolved.  This is unique.  It’s unique because even though there may be some costs to the owner after the warranties are expired, Cambridge doesn’t wash our hands of the project, we work with you to solve the problem and find the best, lowest cost solution.  Our goal is always to build relationships and this is one of the ways that we do that.

Let me give you an example…

Over a year after one project was complete, a client had damage to their facility after winds in the region were over 65 mph.  Damage occurred to the overhead doors and siding.  The client called Cambridge regarding the damage.  Cambridge, in turn, contacted the manufacturers and subcontractors for these items.  The Project Manager (PM) for the project visited the site and kept in constant contact with the owners, manufacturers, and subcontractors to ensure this problem was resolved for our client.

We stand by what we build.  Even years after the work has been completed, Cambridge staff will still go back to work and solve a problem that occurred at a facility we designed and built.  Wouldn’t it be great if when your car manufacturer’s warranty ran out, they would still help you solve the problem?  I know I would definitely appreciate the help!

Take a look at a few other blogs from this year that focus on Cambridge’s core values, controlling costs, designing to build a solid foundation, construction departments’ early involvement, and the customer experience at Cambridge.  You can also 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!

Carrie Schutzius – Marketing 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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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!

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!

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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