October 23, 2018

Transfer Station Design Pitfalls

I see it all the time: transfer stations designed by firms who have no idea what a transfer station is or the purpose it serves. Where so many costly mistakes are made during the design process, that the owner will spend tens of thousands of dollars on repairing over the life of the facility. The flaws in the design will more than likely require constant on-going maintenance as well as potentially make the facility less functional and therefore cost more to operate.  This is why it is so important that an experienced firm is engaged in the design of your facility from the get-go. If you don’t, it will cost you in the long run.

This blog post won’t be as lengthy as some, but I will be touching on a few key points that should be watched for. In the end, if you were to hire Cambridge, we can help you avoid these common mistakes because we have experience designing and building hundreds of transfer stations all over the country and have pretty much seen it all!

Pitfalls of Site Design

Inadequate Turn Radius/Radii: Inadequate turn radius/radii on site that cause vehicles to drive off the pavement daily, causing additional maintenance and money to keep repairing it.  A vehicle must be used in the site layout that requires the maximum turning radius to help avoid these issues.

Poorly Designed Site Paving: The engineer must understand the wear and tear vehicles will put on the pavement. They must also understand the sub-grade and design of the site pavement adequate for your facility.

Not Enough Queuing ON SITE: How friendly are neighbors or the local municipality when you have traffic backed up and blocking the road during peak hours? Exactly. You must understand the flow of waste into and out of the facility, so you can plan the proper amount of queuing.

Poorly Planned Site Traffic Quantities (based on types of vehicles): This comes down to understanding your customer mix.  Some facilities take residents with personal vehicles, internal vehicles, third party and commercial trucks. As the owner, your goal is to get all customers in and out quickly, so you need to understand this mix and plan your scaling and unloading operations to get them in and out quickly, especially your own trucks!

Storm Water Management: Every part of the United States is different and properly designing the storm water to not be a maintenance nightmare is key to keeping your site clean, drained and the water leaving the site quickly after a rain event.

Pitfalls of Building Design

Improper Sizing of the Tipping Floor: What this comes down to is a process we call “balancing the floor”. What we do is work with the client to analyze the inbound material as well as the outbound material to make sure we have the floor, quantity of doors, loading area(s), and equipment all tied together so we can ensure we don’t design a building too big or too small. There are dozens of factors that play into this exercise including timing of material inbound, transfer station hours, landfill hours, outbound material hours, size of equipment completing the loading, hauler(s), loading time, type of trailers, types of customers, days of operation, “clean floor” requirements, peak operation days (after holidays), etc. We gather all this information and work with the owner to help determine the right size of the facility.

Pit Type: While we have a specific type of pit we recommend to our clients, we build all types based on the size of facility, quantity of material, types of material, equipment to be used, etc. It’s important that the owner and the designer work together to determine the best option for the site, given the sizing exercise mentioned above.

“Pockets” for Material to Gather: The facilities Cambridge designs have nowhere for waste to gather, which in turn, means there is nowhere for rats or other vector to live. This is important for any transfer operator.

Obstructions: Need I say more? Too many facilities I see have obstructions either on the tip floor or in the pit. Cambridge’s transfer station design includes an open tipping floor and facility to eliminate any issues with obstructions for the employees working with in the facility or delivering the trash to the tipping floor.

Leachate Collection: Drains aren’t installed anywhere that they will get clogged with waste or other debris. Our clients don’t need to unclog trench drains on a daily basis, or worse, multiple times each day. No one likes to do this and so they are left to get clogged and don’t function properly.

Tipping Slab: Cambridge ensures our clients don’t need to replace their tipping floor for at least 10 years and many last longer than this timeframe. We have tested dozens of mix designs and have developed one that will typically get our customers 10-20 years’ worth of life out of it.

Overhead Door Opening Protection: Pipe bollards typically don’t work against loaders, heavy trucks or many other large pieces of equipment. Because of that, we don’t use them in our designs. We have designed a much more robust solution that will not fail, nor does it break the bank. Our clients don’t have issues with getting their door jambs hit, therefore they have less maintenance costs in the long run.

Pitfalls of Environmental Permitting

All I am going to say about this is to NOT over promise while you are trying to get your permit application approved. We have seen clients give in to all demands during this process and it just cost money, sometimes up front and sometimes forever. Oftentimes there are things that can be done as part of the design to meet the regulator’s goals and if we are involved in that phase we can help you by making suggestions.  Every permitting process is different, but if you bring us in earlier enough we can often help you get through that process more cost effectively and efficiently.

In the End

Transfer station design is an art. People see them and think, “It’s just concrete and steel, big deal! Anyone can design and build it.” Simply put, this isn’t true. You need to have an expert involved that can help. Why would you want to learn all the mistakes made by others? We can help you avoid those!

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017.  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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September 28, 2018

What the Hell Does that Mean? A Guide to Construction Terms and Acronyms

I get this question all the time when we are in conversations with owners who don’t live in the construction or design-build industry every day like we do.  In light of this, we have decided to dedicate this blog post to several terms and acronyms that are common in the industry that owners and others would benefit by knowing.  We hope it’s helpful!

  • Aggregate Base: A construction aggregate is typically composed of crushed rock capable of passing through 20 millimeters (¾ in.) rock screen. This is commonly used under hardscape on site such as asphalt or concrete paving as well as building slabs and footings.

  • Anchor Bolt: These are used to anchor the above grade structure or building to the concrete foundation.

  • Backing and Blocking

    • Backing: Installed behind drywall in areas where items will be mounted to the wall such as ADA grab bars, wall hung shelves, door stops, etc. where they can’t be supported by a stud.

    • Blocking: Evidently, the term is derived from “blocks,” and means the use of short pieces or off-cuts of lumber in wooden-framed construction. Construction workers use the blocking technique for filling, spacing, joining, or reinforcing structures.

  • Bearing Wall: A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.

  • Bench Mark: A mark on some permanent object fixed to the ground from which land measurements and elevations are taken.

  • Brick Veneer: A facing of brick laid against and fastened to sheathing of a frame wall or tile wall construction.

  • Building Envelope: A building envelope is the physical separator between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building including the resistance to air, water, heat, light, and noise transfer. This would refer to the entire shell of the structure.

  • Cold Joints: A cold joint is a plane of weakness in concrete caused by an interruption or delay in the concreting operations.

  • Concrete Mix Designs: The appropriate selection and proportioning of constituents to produce a concrete with pre-defined characteristics in the fresh and hardened states. The mix design will vary on the use, application, soils and various other factors relating to your project.

  • Concrete Slab: One of the few construction elements that is used in the vast majority of all structures, a concrete slab is the thick horizontal concrete platform (average of 10 – 40 cm) which is created to construct the floor or ceiling. There are several slab designs (corrugated, ribbed, waffle, one-way) and each one corresponds to the design or endurance required.

  • Construction Manager vs General Contractor

    • Construction Manager (CM): is typically a firm hired by the project owner to oversee the project. Sometimes the CM hires a general contractor under them or they hire the subcontractors direct. The CM is typically an owner rep and working on their behalf. As an owner rep, the CM usually carries less risk than the GC does.

    • General Contractor (GC): A GC is the firm hired to complete the overall project either by the owner or CM. They hold all the subcontracts and manage the day-to-day aspects of the project and carry the risk.

  • Course: Other than the class you take in school, a course is the term used to describe a continuous row of masonry. Whether it’s stones, bricks, or concrete blocks, a course can have several orientations and types.

  • Cross Bracing: Cross bracing is a structural component used to improve the endurance of a structure. The X-shaped reinforcement can prevent a building from collapsing completely in case of earthquakes, or a wooden chair from falling apart.

  • Cut and Fill: While creating railways and canals, construction workers would create cut slopes (like a mini valley) to install the railways. The soil that’s been moved, “the fills”, would subsequently create adjacent embankments, minimizing the labor. The approach is now frequently used on construction sites of any size.

  • Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build

    • Design-Build: In most projects, construction is frequently delayed due to time conflicts between two (or more) teams involved. The idea behind design-build is that the same team who designs the project constructs it as well. It is a project delivery system in which the design and the construction are considered “single-point-responsibility,” reducing costs and delivering the project on time.

    • Design-Bid-Build: The oldest way of doing business in our industry. The owner hires a design team (typically the architect) to design the project. Once the design is completed, the design team submits for permits. While this is taking place, the owner bids out the project. Upon receipt of the bids, the owner must decipher any differences between them, so they can make an informed decision. Once the owner makes the decision, a contract must be negotiated and then the contractor is on board for the duration of the project. Since the contractor wasn’t part of the design process, any issues with the drawings typically are absorbed by the owner. This method takes more time and has more risk for the owner than design-build.

  • E.I.F.S. vs Stucco – These are commonly mistaken for each other. One is a complete system and one is just a material applied to a building envelope in place already.

    • E.I.F.S.: An acronym for Exterior Insulation and Finish System. It is a general class of non-load bearing building cladding systems that provides exterior walls with an insulated, water-resistant, finished surface in an integrated composite material system.

    • Stucco: A material is a fine plaster or made of Portland cement, sand, and a small percentage of lime and applied in a plastic state to form a hard covering for exterior walls.

  • Encasement: On a construction site, encasement might refer to one of two things: in some situations, sewers and other underground pipes may need to be enclosed in a concrete encasement for structural reasons; or, the term might be applied to the process of encasing hazardous materials already installed in a structure such as asbestos.

  • Geotechnical Report: A tool used to communicate the site conditions as well as design and construction recommendations to the site design, building design, and construction personnel.

  • GMP vs Open Book vs Lump Sum Contracts

  • GMP: This is an acronym for Gross Maximum Price. Essentially what this means is, assuming the scope remains constant, the price will not exceed what was quoted or the GC absorbs the overage costs.

  • Open Book: Often used in many methods by Cambridge, the owner has full visibility to all subcontracts, markups, fees, labor rates and material costs. Nothing is hidden.

  • Lump Sum Contract: In this case, the owner only knows the total price of the contract and doesn’t have visibility to any of the project detail costs. Once the scope is set, the price is determined, and the owner agrees to the number. Any savings on costs are typically kept by the selected contractor.

  • Hardware: This is typically referred to as door knobs, locksets and other items like that.

  • HVAC: Acronym for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning commonly used for the buildings heating and cooling system.

  • Joist: Joists are crucial components of a wide-span structure, as they help transfer the load from the beams to the vertical columns and studs. These horizontal elements are connected perpendicularly to the beams (horizontally) and joined (vertically) to the columns.

  • Main Frame: This is the part of the metal building that does a majority of the work. It typically spans the “long” way, entails columns and beams and is the main structure holding the building together.

  • Masonry Unit: a standard size rectangular block used in building construction.

  • MPEFP: Acronym for Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical & Fire Protection that are part of a drawing set.

  • PEMB vs Structural Steel Building:

    • PEMB: Acronym for a Pre-Engineered Metal Building. In this case, the company where you buy the building from does all the engineering for the structure, fabricates it and ships it the project site.

    • Structural Steel Boiling: Typically designed by your project structural engineer and the columns, joists, beams and other parts are procured through a vendor based on the sizes determined by the engineer.

  • Portal Frame: This is a secondary piece of a metal building that helps to fortify the building, so it doesn’t “rack” or “twist” under the loads imposed. Typically, these are used when cross bracing can’t be installed.

  • Pre-Cast vs Cast-in-Place

    • Precast Concrete: One of the most commonly used forms of concrete, precast concrete is concrete elements are created off-site to be transferred or lifted to the site later. Designs could range from blocks to panels and create solid but maneuverable elements.

    • Cast-in-Place: Contrary to this, cast-in-place are concrete walls that are formed and poured on site as the construction takes place. Each has its advantages.

  • Purlin: A purlin is any longitudinal element implemented on the roof structure horizontally for additional structural or material support.

  • R-Value: This is a measure of a materials resistance to heat transfer. The higher the R-value the more resistant it is to heat transfer. Typically, ceilings/roofs are required to have a higher R-value than exterior walls because heat is easier to lose through the roof than the walls due to the nature of heat rising.

  • Rafter: Rafters are a series of inclined wooden elements that form a roof, which attach to the edge of the wall plate and often overhang to form the eave.

  • Rim Joist: In flooring systems, rim joists are attached to the ends of the floor’s main joists, providing lateral support to the ends of the decking system. However, they are not the end joists, which are usually the first and last row, parallel to the other joists.

  • Shoring: Temporarily installed on site, shoring is the method in which metal or timber props are assembled to support the structure during construction. Shores can be installed vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, depending on the support needed.

  • Structural Masonry: This refers to a section of masonry used to support the structure above it. Not all masonry is structural, many times it is used as a veneer or non-supporting exterior or interior wall.

  • Tongue-in-Groove: This is a certain type of board that has a “tongue” on one side and a “groove” on the other so when they are placed on the floor they connect to help strengthen the floor assembly and prevent squeaking.

  • Wind Column: These are “side” columns there to attach purlins to so the siding and insulation can be installed. They don’t do anything “structural” but they do support the wall mainly against wind loads.

  • Wall Stud: Wall studs are crucial members of wooden or steel wall frames, as they are the vertical elements that help support and transfer loads of bearing and nonbearing walls.

  • Water Closet: This is the industry term for a toilet. 

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017.  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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August 29, 2018

Figure 1 – Design Guide

Transfer Station Facility Design Guide: Tips for a Successful Project

Transfer Station design is tough and tedious. The design affects daily operations, capital layout, operating costs, maintenance costs, customer acquisition, safety, relationship with host community(ies), labor costs, and many other items, so it can’t be taken lightly.Transfer Station facilities may seem simple in nature but are very complicated to design and construct to handle the daily activities and abuse that they endure. Most people look at a transfer station and think, metal building and concrete floor… what’s so difficult about that? In short, the design must consider the following items:

  • Owner’s Operational Preference & Safety Requirements,

  • Local Municipality Requirements / Host Agreements / Design Requirements,

  • Environmental Agency Design Requirements,

  • Materials Received & Sorting Requirements,

  • Customer Make-Up,

  • Outbound Material Load Out & Schedule,

  • Site Size, Location & Restrictions,

  • Requested Life of Facility,

  • Growth Expectations / Facility Expansion, and

  • Other Activities Occurring on Site.

So, let’s touch briefly on each of these items that must be considered when designing a transfer station facility.  In subsequent blogs, we will dive into more detail on each of these design requirements.

Owner’s Operational Preference & Safety Requirements: Every site is unique, and each owner has their own operational preferences. This goes from traffic flow requirements, equipment used on site, scaling preferences, software, operating hours, materials to recover (if any), materials used within the building, vehicle time on site, activities allowed on site, employee count, whether they operate it or subcontract out that portion and many other items. A good design firm gathers as much about the owners operating preferences as possible BEFORE they start the design process. We do this in the scoping phase, also known as preliminary design. Safety is a discussion all on its own with the operator and needs to be clearly understood by the design team.

Local Municipality Requirements / Host Agreements / Design Requirements: As all the operators out there know, the local jurisdiction can impose many different requirements on the company. This can range from improvements outside of your property lines, traffic / routing requirements, recovery / diversion requirements, exterior façade / aesthetic requirements, hours of operations, parking, stormwater and many other factors that must be gathered at the onset of the design or during the preliminary design phase.  Also, part of this will be the fire marshal requirements.

Figure 2 – Environmental Factors

Environmental Agency Design Requirements: Depending on the state the facility will be located, each agency has their own preference and most of this discussion will take place during the environmental permitting stage. Items that typically are discussed at this point are: throughput allowed on an annual or daily basis, where the material will go, size of tipping floor, operating / equipment to be used, overhead door requirements, inbound material hours allowed, outbound materials handling, employee requirements, inspection requirements, leachate control, radiation detection requirements (if needed), and other various topics depending on the permit process in your state.

Materials Received & Sorting Requirements: While this is touched on in previous sections above, it’s important for the design because the transfer station design firm needs to understand the material make-up, quantities, storage requirements, outbound loading process, and what the owner will do with the materials while on site. For instance, if you are taking MSW and some recyclables, you will want to make sure that the water runoff from the MSW doesn’t contaminate the recyclable materials because then they lose value. The design firm must understand how you are going to receive, handle and send out all materials received so they can plan your floor accordingly.  Some items (compost, C&D) can be stored outside the transfer facility but each governing authority treats this differently, so you have to understand ALL the requirements.

Customer Make-Up: This is important because if the transfer facility only takes internal volume, the site should be straight forward and simple to get trucks in and out quickly. However, when you start mixing in third party haulers (whether it’s other waste trucks or small dump trucks, drywallers, demo firms, landscapes, roofers, etc.) it becomes increasingly more difficult to ensure that you have enough bays in the facility to allow for your

trucks to get in and out quickly and to allow for the third party to safely dump within the transfer station in an expedited manner. Now, throw in residents coming to dump small truck loads, garbage bags and other customers that could be paying cash and your job becomes even more difficult when designing the transfer station to be efficient.

Figure 3 – Outbound Material

Outbound Material Load Out & Schedule: The outbound schedule is typically driven by the facility receiving the material and the hours of operation your transfer station is allowed to be open. As an example, if a landfill is 2 hours away and doesn’t open until 6 AM, you would want to have trailers loaded and on the road by 4 AM. However, if your operating agreement doesn’t allow you to operate until 5 AM, you will need to pre-load trailers the day before, so the hauler can pick them up and leave at 4 AM without you opening. On the other hand, if the landfill closes at 4 PM but you receive material until 5 PM and it’s a 2 hour drive to the landfill, the material on your floor will need to be either stockpiled until morning OR pre-loaded into trailers because the last load going to the landfill will likely be no later than 1:30 so they can be tipped and out of the landfill by 4 PM. This means you have 3.5 hours of receiving material, stockpiling on your floor that you can’t haul off-site. You have the same issues with recyclables that needs to be dealt with. We call this Floor Balancing.  This is an exercise we conduct during the scoping / preliminary design phase.

Figure 4 – Facility Size

Site Size, Location & Restrictions: Some sites have plenty of acreage, some are tight, some are rural, some are in the city, some are near residences (some are not), and some have heavy storm water storage requirements, and some don’t. There are hundreds of items to consider during the site selection process.  Cambridge’s scoping or preliminary design phase often includes assisting clients with this process by conducting site walk-thrus, preliminary layouts, traffic pattern assessments, conceptual designs and budgets for various options being considered.

Figure 5 – Location, Location

Requested Life of Facility: Every owner has an idea on the capital outlay they want to stay within or the limit of financing available, as well as what kind of annual operating expenses they can handle based on the projected revenue of the facility.  Depending on the owner’s preference, we design the facility to meet these requirements. Several things that are done to modify the “life expectancy” or to “limit the annual OPEX or repair requirements” are thicker concrete push walls, thicker tipping floor, more robust overhead door protection, stick-built scale house vs. modular trailer, galvanizing the metal building, heavy duty deflector vs. lighter weight design, and other various items we work through with the owner. The transfer station design can vary greatly and affects the costs in several different ways that we work with the owner in determining their goals.

Figure 6 – Growth

Growth Expectations / Facility Expansion: Markets expand and contract and each owner has different ideas on what they expect for the expansion of their market and their internal volume and the ability to add third party customers. This must be clearly understood by the transfer station design firm and planned into the overall site design so that when the time comes to expand it doesn’t hinder their on-going operations too much. Along with volume growth, the “evolving ton” is a real thing. Just because you accept and sort certain materials today, doesn’t mean that 5 years from now you will have the same operation. You need to plan for changing operations and flexibility as much as you can today.

Other Activities Occurring on Site: Outside of just the transfer station design mentioned above, some companies combine their transfers with hauling companies, closing landfills, recycling facilities, compost facilities and other various operations.  A good design firm understands the entire scope of the operations on site and incorporates the transfer station into it seamlessly and, more importantly, safely.

As I mentioned when this blog started, transfer station design is not easy and can’t be over-simplified. You must hire the right partner to help you through everything mentioned in this article as well as all the other items I didn’t get to. Cambridge has completed over 120 solid waste facilities, including over 60 transfer stations, whether it be new construction, modifications, improvements or otherwise. We can help you get the right facility for what you need. We pride ourselves on durable, cost effective facilities. Cost effective, not only in construction but also in helping you manage your operations costs.

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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July 18, 2018

What is Commercial Design?

Commercial design entails the act of designing a new commercial facility from start to finish. This includes architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing design and civil engineering. It typically also includes interior design and finish selection.

There are usually three phases with an optional fourth phase, depending on the owner’s requirements. The first phase goes by several different names including scoping, feasibility, programming or preliminary design; the second is design development; and third would be construction administration.  The optional fourth phase would be supplying as-constructed drawings.

What I am going to leave out of this blog is the requirements of Building Information Modeling (BIM) because that could be an entry in-and-of itself. What is BIM?  Basically, BIM is where the facility is loaded in as a 3D model including all components and the owner can use this model, post construction, as a way to plan out all facility maintenance and future modifications. It’s gathering steam in the industry, but still is used mostly on larger projects with more complex owners.

Phase One – Scoping (aka Feasibility/Programming/Preliminary Design)

Cambridge uses the scoping term to describe this first phase of the commercial design process.  Several things typically occur during the scoping phase. One of the core tasks is a design firm working with the client to develop the parameters for the proposed facility. Now, I say design firm because this could be an architect, a design-build construction firm or a combination of both. As a design-build firm with an in-house architectural staff, we handle this phase for all our clients.  Cambridge takes a deep dive into the owner’s business to help them determine exactly what it is they need so the facility can be designed to accommodate their current needs as well as any future growth that needs to be projected for the facility.   Once we get the facility use information (people, parking, space requirements, employee gathering spaces, open areas, wellness room requirements, required growth, access, visitors, equipment, etc.,), we document the various space needs and memorialize it. We then move on to creating conceptual floor plans and site plans that meet the requirements set forth. Typically, there are a few iterations of this prior to finalization and then we move on to conceptual budgeting and schedules for the facility. Cambridge provides the owner with an overall project schedule (design/permitting/construction) and conceptual budget for the facility. This serves as a benchmark for the owner and what we typically consider a “do not exceed” budget for their internal use…so yes, it is conservative, but NO ONE wants to go back and ask for more money for a project. As long as the scope remains consistent with the requirements identified during the scoping phase, the budget should be adequate for the proposed project.

Phase Two – Design Development

The second phase is the design development.  The drawings are developed by the architects and engineering consultants based on the information gathered during the scoping phase.  Cambridge, the design team and the owners typically go through periodic reviews of the design development documents to ensure the drawings are meeting the needs of the end user.  Upon completion of the drawing generation and review process, permit and bidding documents are finalized and submitted to all applicable governing authorities as well as to bidding subcontractors and vendors. Permitting and bidding are run concurrently to save the owner time. Once permit comments and subcontractor feedback is received, we update the drawings and issue a “for construction” set which will be used in the field.

Phase Three – Construction Administration

The third phase is construction administration, which occurs during the construction phase of the project lifecycle. This entails site visits to verify construction quality control/quality assurance, submittal (shop drawings and product data) reviews and processing, request for information (RFI) responses as well as answering constructability questions, providing sketches and supplemental direction to the construction staff, pay application reviews and assisting with any owner requested modifications during construction.

Phase Four – Record Drawings

The last phase is not always required of the design firm, but sometimes the owner desires a set of as-designed or as-constructed record documents. In this case, we will supply record drawings consisting of all design changes that occurred as well as field modifications made during the construction process for the owner to keep on file.

Commercial Design covers all aspects of any project, from concept to owner occupancy.  At Cambridge our philosophy is to partner with the owner and manage the project with them from start to finish so they can have the ability to be involved as much or as little as they desire.  One of our goals is to “Handle the Day-to-Day to Make Our Client’s Life Easy” and by being there for them from start to finish, locking in budgets, designing to that budget and finishing on time, we feel we are the perfect partner for any design/build project that falls within our area of expertise.

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 19, 2018

Lessons Learned from Ray Eriks, a Business Owner of 30 Years

Part 3: Building a Scalable Business that Consistently Delivers

This month’s blog is the final installment in working with our founder and CEO, Ray Eriks, on what he has learned in his 30 years of being in business. The first installment was about mistakes and things he would do differently or wished he knew 30 years ago.  The second was relating to people and relationships, specifically customers and employees. This one touches on a few different topics.

As stated previously, according to USA Today, 20% of new businesses fail within their first year; 50% don’t last past five years and of that 50%, only 33% make it to 10 years. Cambridge is the exception, not the norm. What Ray has built at Cambridge is very successful and he has touched a lot of lives in the process as well as fed a lot of families. He should be very proud of the company he has built and the length of time he has been in business.

This final blog commemorating the 30 years that Cambridge has been in business will discuss a variety of topics from planning and growth to delivering what clients want and engaging them in the process.

Company Planning & Growth

  1. Growth needs to be calculated. You need to very methodical in how you go about this process. Grow too fast before you are ready, and you become a statistic, mentioned above. Be too hesitant to grow and you may shrink and ultimately fail. Seize the opportunities available to you and grow because it fits your business model and your long-term plan. Develop a “board” of advisors you can run ideas by and take time to work ON the business and not just IN the business.
  2. Understand the value of marketing to help grow the business. Marketing is a very broad term, but what needs to be understood is that every business needs to identify a target market that meets their growth objective and spend time building their brand within that market. Be a niche business not a “jack of all trades, master of none”. By getting good at one particular area you can laser focus your marketing plan to those ideal customers, which will increase your return on marketing dollars and assist you in growing your business at a pace that works for you.
  3. Make a Plan, Follow the Plan, Update the Plan. About three years ago we implemented a program by Gino Wickman called EOS. It’s based on a book he wrote called “Traction”. It’s essentially a high-level plan for managing your business. One of the things we learned going through this process is the necessity for 1-year, 3-year & 10-year plans. By laying all of these out annually, you set your targets and methods of how you get there.
  4. Weekly Department “Level 10 Meetings”. Again, this is part of the EOS process. Each department in our company holds individual meetings. Every team member is involved in at least one and they have a set agenda which includes time to discuss issues which we quickly solve within the team. These meetings help to keep everyone focused on their quarterly rocks (goals) and improve overall communication.

According to BusinessInsider.com, here are some of the commonly listed reasons for why businesses fail: 82% experience cash flow problems; 42% find that there is an insufficient need for their product or service; and 29% run out of cash.

  1. Cash Management. In any business cash is the one thing that can single handedly kill companies. You have to make sure you have enough cash on hand to get you through rough patches in your business (for instance 2008-2010). 273,316 small business closed between March 2007-March 2010 according to the US Census Bureau. I’m sure better cash management couldn’t have saved them all, but it’s possible a large number of them went insolvent because of a reduction in sales. Had they planned better for a downturn they may still be here today.
  2. Debt will sink the ship quickly. Taking on debt may increase your cash available for expansion or daily needs for running your business, but the obligation at the end of the day is that you need to make payments on that loan. When you have downturn in the economy, the bank will not stop asking for their money, so you will need to figure out how to make those payments. Limit your debt so you don’t put the strain on your cash flow and operations.

Planning your business growth includes having the right team on board, the proper processes in place and the financial capabilities to build your business in a way that won’t hinder it as well. Be smart in how you go about this process and you too can be as successful as Ray has been.

Delivery What the Customer Wants… Consistently

In this short section, Ray wanted me to touch on the importance of design and client engagement.

Design. In the world of construction, design is a key (and often most important) component to every project we are involved in. It can make or break the budget, schedule and overall success of the project.  As a company, we primarily focus on the design/build delivery method. We feel that this method gives our customers the highest probability of having a successful project even though we take on additional risk.  As part of this, our pre-construction department handles all feasibility assessments, design projects and preliminary budgets.  Why do we have architects on staff? Bottom line is they know how to design buildings and our construction staff can work with them to ensure they are designed in a very cost-effective, time-efficient manner with limited constructability issues.  A couple key components to this are:

  1. Managing projects this way allows you to be the single source to your customers. Instead of the customer having to manager the architect, structural & MEP engineers, civil engineer, contractor, etc., we are able to pull it all under our roof.  The customer has one main point of contact and we can help to ensure that the project is designed to meet or beat the budget and scope that we defined with the owner up front.
  2. Additional Risk & Responsibility. I eluded to this earlier, but as a contractor, when you take the design under your wing, you add responsibility and risk to your company. This needs to be weighed and determined if it is worth it to you or not.
  3. It’s all about the team you have around you. Since design is so key to the project success you need to have the right players on your team. This goes for the internal and the external team. Hiring the wrong design firm can ruin a project in a hurry. You need to fully vet and interview the firms before you make your selection.

Having the design in house is a wonderful benefit for our clients and we prefer it this way as well. We enjoy being responsible for the total project delivery and helping reduce the workload of our clients.

Client Engagement 

What I am referring to here is how you interact with clients from a procedural level. You want to be consistent and you want your information provided to be accurate. The three items Ray mentioned here are:

  1. Embrace Technology. This consistently evolving world has a lot to offer. You need to integrate technology in your business whenever possible. This will help your project tracking be more accurate and will allow you to develop interaction points with clients that are consistent. Research and identify software and hardware that will work for you and your business and consistently look for ways to utilize technology to improve and streamline your business.
  2. Consistently Deliver. What he wants to convey here is “say what you mean and mean what you say”. In its purest form this means if you tell your client you will do something… then do it. You need to build that trust with them to have a long-term relationship. This pertains to so much more though. You can reverse those words to say Deliver Consistency and it means something just a little different. If you create a customer experience that they are happy with, don’t just change it on them without getting their feedback. They need to know that what they get from one employee to the next and one project to the next isn’t going to change. Change like this creates stress and tension and that hurts relationships.
  3. Develop Processes that work in your business. Processes allow you to expand your business in a more efficient manner.  It provides you a “lesson plan” to train new hires and helps to create the consistency mentioned above for your customers. We use what we call the “Cambridge Way” of doing things. We have core processes for all departments and have a few select ones developed in more detail. These are always a work in progress but once you get them done they go a long way in helping to run a more efficient, easily expandable business.

A business is a living, breathing thing that needs to be raised, nurtured and grown in a very methodical way.  I hope these last few months have provided you some pieces of wisdom that you can use in your professional life to help you in your business journey.

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017.  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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May 18, 2018

Lessons Learned from Ray Eriks, a Business Owner of 30 Years

Part 2: It’s All About People and Relationships

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have sat down with Ray, our founder, to pick his brain on what he has learned in his 30 years of being in business. The first installment was about mistakes and things he would do differently or wish he knew 30 years ago.  This one will focus on people and relationships: customers and employees.

A quick recap in case you missed last month’s blog, here are some basic stats on small business success.   According to USA Today, 20% of new businesses fail within their first year, 50% don’t last past 5 years and only 33% make it to 10 years. To restate myself, Cambridge is the exception, not the norm. What Ray has built at Cambridge is very successful and he has touched a lot of lives in the process as well as fed a lot of families. He should be very proud of the company he has built and the length of time he has been in business.

Now I will get into the meat of this post.

Customer Success

If the customer is successful, it immediately translates to you being more successful as a business. Without making your business about the client’s success, you will never be successful. Keeping that in mind, every customer has their own version of success, so you need to identify what that is early on, so you can customize what you do to meet their expectations.

Ray identified seven things that he wanted to pass along when it comes to customers:

1.  Find customers you are compatible with. Being able to build mutually beneficial relationships is important, so you need to find customers that share similar values, ideals and goals as your company.

2.  Build relationships & partnerships. Your focus on growing your business needs to be around doing things so you have long term relationships and partnerships. In our business that means spending our customers money wisely, being frugal, making sure we don’t cut corners and give them exactly what it is they are paying for. The old adage that it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one is absolutely true.  Once you have customers you have relationships with, treat them fair, always have their best interest in mind and you can keep them around for a long time.

3.  What can you do to make their job easier? Life isn’t always about making your life easy. One of our uniques as a company that we focus on is “making clients lives easier one project at a time”.  What this means to us is that we go the extra mile to act as an extension of their company, so our clients can focus on their everyday work life and not have to worry that we are doing our job. We do the follow through, we customize reporting, we do whatever is asked so they can rely on us.  We take work off their plate, so they can focus on more important things. In short, we try to make their everyday work life easier, not harder.

4.  Ask questions to learn your customers business with the being goal to know it as well as they do. In almost any business, especially ours where we are designing facilities, we MUST understand our client’s operations inside and out if we want to design and build a functionally efficient, durable and operationally sound facility for them. This is a large investment, so we need to make sure it will make our clients everyday lives that much easier and more profitable AFTER we have completed our work.

5.  Not every customer is the right customer. Sometimes you must make tough decisions to “fire” a customer. If you aren’t compatible, don’t share common goals, don’t see eye-to-eye or have a different means or method of how you do things, then there will be times when it is best for all parties to discontinue the working relationships. This isn’t always a bad thing and can often times be mutually agreeable. The most important thing is that it is done the right way and handled professionally.

6.  Do the right thing – ALWAYS – whether your client is watching or not, you must do the right thing. This needs to be drilled into your employees and anyone else who is doing work for your customer. Building trust is one of the things that goes into any relationship and if they can’t trust you, they won’t be around for long.

7.  Remember even though we are builders – the prime thing we are is a service business. We need to out-service our competition. No matter what, always be looking for ways to improve your service, interaction and customer experience.  If you can do that and stay ahead of your competition, it will help you be more successful in the long run.

To flip the script, you can’t take care of customers if you don’t first take care of your employees. Happy employees lead to happy customers. The entire customer experience is driven by your employees. Think of Chick-fil-A. Their employees are engaged and happy and thus your experience is better. It’s the same for your business.

Employees

1.  It all starts at the top. How every employee is dealt with starts at the top of every organization. If the CEO treats their reports and everyone below them with respect, then it will funnel down. The opposite is also true. Every leader needs to understand that they are under a microscope and everyone is watching them and if they are doing the right things, making the right decisions, guiding the company the right way and leading effectively it will funnel throughout the organization and even to outside suppliers and subcontractors. Remember this as you pass people in the hallways, speak to customers, deal with suppliers and go about your everyday business.

2.  Plan your future staffing needs – define what the role will need to do and hire to fill the role. While it isn’t always practical to have extra headcount, we believe that you need to be adequately staffed to fill your future pipeline. If your employee headcount lags behind your sales, you won’t be able to service your customer properly, which is a bad trend to start. The second part of this is to make sure you define the role BEFORE you start advertising the role. You want to make sure you know exactly what skill set you are looking for before you start having conversations. Plan the growth, hire employees to work that plan and plan the hiring process appropriately.

3.  Develop your own hiring system – contracting out for this service has proved costly and less effective for us then knowing what we need and understanding how to find the person who WANTS to perform that role. Listen, we aren’t saying recruiters are a waste because they certainly have their position in the world, however, for the positions that we hire, we haven’t had great success.  We have been much better at handling that internally and making sure we had several management employees involved in the conversations to help vet the new hires. Hiring is not an exact science so take your time and make the best decision you can with the information available and the feedback from the hiring team.

4.  Understand that some or many of the employees you have today will not be the employees you need tomorrow. Skill needs change. With the ever-changing world of today and an evolving and growing business, your employee make-up needs to adapt and change with the systems, philosophies, customer experience and other goals your company has. While many of the employees can be adapted and changed, others may need to be moved to different roles, taught different things or replaced if their skill set doesn’t fit any of the roles you need as a company. Fact is, you must have the right people on your team if you want to be successful, so build roles that make the company successful and then fill the roles with the right people. You can’t mold roles to people’s skill sets that will be a recipe for disaster.

5.  Hire people that have a different skill set than you and are smarter than you in areas where you have skill gaps, people you can delegate to, and then the hard part – learn to delegate to them. A lot of managers have issues with hiring people smarter than them. They feel threatened by this because they don’t have the confidence in themselves. These are generally people who fail at management and leadership positions because they are constantly hiring people similar to them or B/C players that can’t make the team more successful. Don’t be afraid to do this. The only way to elevate your team and company is to hire people that can push you and everyone around you. Just like in sports, your team can only succeed if you have a strong leader.  A strong leader can take the weakest player, help them develop their skills and make the team a force to be reckoned with.  You want to hire people who have the ability to lead, even if their current position doesn’t put them in that specific seat right from the start, strong leaders bring all the players together and make the team effective.  Even if some of the people on the team have weaknesses that might have caused them to move on to a position elsewhere, a strong leader will find out why and how to bring out the A-game in them.  Strong leaders challenge their team to listen, work together, collaborate and increase the effectiveness of even the weakest team member.

The second part of this is delegation. Many people fail at properly delegating. You must manage by delegation and not by abdication (to quote the E-Myth). Delegating properly means you hand it off with details, discussions and clear goals in mind as well as a clear follow up process defined to ensure its moving forward appropriately and to answer any questions they have. Management by abdication means you hand it off and wipe your hands clear of it…never to be heard of or asked about again until there are problems. This is no way to run a company so if you need to learn more about how to delegate properly, there are plenty of books out there to help improve that skill.

6.  Take care of your employees and they will take care of you (Generally speaking, at least the ones that should stick). This is a very wide brush within this statement. Taking care of employees means a lot of things. Proper pay/compensation packages, flexibility, proper management in place, proper feedback channels, the right roles and responsibilities, the right level of authority for their role, the right level of empathy, the right engagement from a management/owner level with each of the employees, the right benefits, good core value fits, training systems available, and the list goes on and on. You need to identify the right way to take care of your employees, define that and then hire people that have similar points of view. This is not a boiler plate thing for all companies, it has to start at the top of each company and feed down into the entire organization.

7.  Employees need to embody your customer philosophy – they are your main contact with your customer and the key to your success. For example, in our business we have customers who are high energy, short deadlines and therefore want project management teams that share the same philosophy. On the contrary we have customers who are methodical, want attention to detail and aren’t so tied to short / tight timelines but they just want it in a timely manner. Therefore, our team on their projects need to share the same goals. Whoever you assign to your customers need to share the same goals, same points of view and have common ground with them. You want to have them build that relationship and be able to see and understand things from the customers perspective. If they have similar personalities this is achievable at a higher success rate.

At the end of the day your entire life is relationships whether its work, family, friends, neighbors, people at the grocery stores or anyone else you encounter. You never know where it may lead. Manage each of those interactions and relationships as if you are focused on them and not on something for yourself and it’s amazing how much better your life can be. We all have the ability to affect many lives each day and any little thing you can do to better someone else will come back to you in time, if not immediately, as long as you do it truly with their best interest in mind.

Tune in to next month’s blog for the final installment of the lessons learned from Ray Eriks!

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017.  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!

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 23, 2018

Lessons Learned from Ray Eriks, a Business Owner of 30 Years

Part 1: Things I wish I knew 30 years ago

As you may know, 2018 is Cambridge Design-Build’s 30th year in business. While I have only been here for 18 of those, Ray Eriks has been here since its inception as the founder of Cambridge Companies, Inc. I decided to sit down with him and ask him to think of the top 30 things he’s learned in the last 30 years of being in business.  As usual, he exceeded expectations and gave me 39.  This will be a 3-part series listing those items and providing some additional insight with the goal being that maybe a couple of these will resonate with you and help you on your journey in the business world whether you are an employee, manager, leader or entrepreneur.

Many of you probably know the stats on small business success, if not here you go.  According to USA Today, 20% of new businesses fail within their first year, 50% don’t last past 5 years and only 33% make it to 10 years. Cambridge is the exception, not the norm. What Ray has built at Cambridge is very successful and he has touched a lot of lives in the process as well as fed a lot of families. He should be very proud of the company he has built and the length of time he has been in business.

I am one who enjoys learning new things and, especially, from the successes and failures of others. Some people often that more can be learned from failure than success and I tend to agree with that statement.  When things are easy and going well, it is easy to coast and not work on the business, but in trying times or when things go wrong that’s when you really dig in and learn more about yourself and the business your running.

One last thing to touch on before we get started on the list is something I like from E-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber. Each person who starts their own business is three people/personalities in one: entrepreneur, manager and technician. If you are going to start your own business, step one is to realize which one you really are (the dominant personality), then hire people to be the other two and delegate those tasks to them and you focus on what you are good at. No one person can be all three effectively.

Without further ado, here is the list of the first 11 items Ray learned and is passing on to us.

Lessons Learned: Things I wish I knew 30 years ago that would have helped me build a better company even faster.

  1. Starting your own business does not mean you are your own boss. When you start a business, you start out with the goal of freedom – be your own boss. However, not long after starting the business, you soon realize that, while you may enjoy what you do, you really aren’t your own boss… you now actually have many new bosses in the form of Customers – Vendors – Employees – and the rest of the other new life demands.

  1. Early in business, most start-ups only think of their business as a pay check and not a future. You need to make daily decisions as if you are building a business long-term and not just based on how I get my next pay check.

  1. Find a peer group early. Peer groups of like minded businesses will help you look at things a different way, provide support to bounce ideas off and give you people that are also out there dealing with the similar challenges.

  1. As soon as practical – build your team to include Operations – Accounting – Marketing (Business Development). Every business needs to have these three pieces to be successful. Without all three it will be very difficult to build a sustainable business. A company is only as strong as their weakest leader of these three departments, so keep that in mind when you are building your team.

  1. Learn early to look past what you see then as your limits. Understand that as a human you are constantly evolving and learning so just because you can’t do something today doesn’t mean you can’t learn it. Always be learning and improving yourself because the business will be limited by the skills of its leader, especially if they don’t have the ability to “out hire” themselves. I define “out-hiring” as hiring people who have skills that either you don’t have or that you are weak in so that your team can be well rounded.

  1. Learn earlier to work on the business and not in the business. Put simply, working on the business is more important than working in the business. Working “in the business” consists of daily tasks for projects while working on the business is long-term planning, process development, employee training, hiring, client relationships, etc. You need to have people to work in the business, so you can spend a majority of your time working on the business. That’s how you build long-term success.

  1. Learn to adapt to new roles as you grow your business. Ray had to change from a person who received immediate gratification (he was a carpenter by trade before starting this business, so he could see his progress every day and get that satisfaction) to one that had to get satisfaction from duties that were hard to quantify the results. When working on a business you don’t often see results until 1-3-6 months down the road, so you have to trust the process and find ways to see the results in pieces and not as a whole.

  1. Learn the need to train and develop staff early. Employee training is critical. You can’t just hire someone and throw them into the fire. You need to train them in your company procedures and then follow up regularly and continue to work with them.

  1. Learn the benefits of long term planning earlier. As Peter Thiel states, “Long-term planning is often undervalued by our indefinite short-term world”. This is so true. Our society is all about immediate results, so they make short sighted decisions. As a business owner you need to get rid of that mindset and think for the future as well as the present and realize that there are great benefits in long-term planning. Keeping that in mind, long-term planning needs to be accompanied by short-term goals (3-month rocks like we have in Traction by Gino Wickman) in order to keep you and your team focused day in and day out.

  1. Develop your collaboration skills early. As you add employees and teams, new customers and vendors and all the other necessary pieces of a business, you need to be able to build successful relationships and collaborate with all types of people. This skill must be worked on and improved daily to help you be more successful.

  1. Understand the economy is a big unknown and always be prepared. ALWAYS know that when the economy is good it will not stay good forever and when it is bad, it will not stay bad forever. Prepare for the time when it goes bad and HAVE a plan to succeed through it.

Tune in to next month’s blog for more lessons learned from Ray Eriks!

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017.  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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March 23, 2018

How to Find Better Candidates for Your Company

Internal “Active” Recruiting vs. External “Passive” Job Posting

Over the last six months, I have been leading the charge on finding new employees for Cambridge. Some are replacement positions and some are new positions.  Historically speaking, we have used what I would call, a “passive” approach to finding new employees.  This, to me, involves either using an outside recruiter or posting ads on job boards such as Indeed or ZipRecruiter.  I call it passive because we would basically sit there and wait for a recruiter to bring us a candidate or wait for resumes to roll in.  We weren’t out there trying to find people ourselves.

While these methods play a role in constantly pulling in new resumes, I felt like they weren’t providing us with the “best” options and that the “best” candidates are the ones not actively looking at job boards.  These candidates have feelers out there and are open to listening to what you have to say. Don’t get me wrong, we have found some great people with the passive approach. However, with the job market as tight as it is I felt like we needed to do something different to get different results. More recently, the quality of the people responding to ads wasn’t what I would call, “A-players”, which is what we look for.

This brought me to my current method, which to me is more of an “active” approach of looking for talent. Last year, we signed up for LinkedIn Recruiting. While not a cheap platform, I have found it to be the best way to contact talent who are open to listening, but not actively looking for a job. As a side note, “not cheap” is relative because it costs less than using a recruiter for one position, so for us, it pays off.

Historically speaking, employers keep their best talent happy and working and unless the employer fumbles in one way or another, they aren’t actively looking for a position by searching job boards. Besides, with so many platforms out there now, how do you know they will even see your posting?

My journey began with LinkedIn Recruiting in November 2017.  Since I changed our approach, we have hired four people who I started conversations with prior to them seeing my job posting. What this allows you to do is grab their attention and show them your interest. It also gives you control over the conversation. With a blanket job posting, they may read a couple sentences and then apply. They know nothing about you, your company or what you really want because people just don’t read the whole ad. By reaching out to candidates, you can give them an idea of who you are, your company goals, where you see them fitting in and set up a 10-minute “introduction” call to see if an interview is worthwhile or not.

With so much competition in the marketplace for talent, it’s important that you show the candidate that they are important to you and that, together, great things can be accomplished. This gets them excited about the opportunity and sets you apart from your competition.  Also, by using this method, you have very little competition for this person, since many employers still use the passive approach. So other than their current employer, they likely aren’t having many conversations. People out there applying for every job on the job board have a lot of interviews and you end up with more competition for what I consider to be lower quality candidates, typically.

After I start the conversation, I have a short agenda for the 10-minute introduction call that consists of:

  1. Asking them some questions about their current position, roles, responsibilities and career goals.

  2. Telling them about our company, the exciting things happening and what we see for the position and the growth and responsibilities attached to it.

At the end of the call, we mutually agree that we should either set up an in-person interview or wish each other good luck, because it’s probably not a good fit.

While still in its infancy, we feel like we have had great success with this method of active recruiting vs. passive job posting/wait method.

I encourage everyone out there to be more active with recruiting methods because you may get much better results in a job market this tight and competitive.

Potential new hires appreciate the fact that you saw potential in them and are usually more excited about these opportunities vs. hearing from an outside recruiter or responding to a posted job.

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2018 and 2017.  You can also view the Cambridge Infographic to learn more about the process we utilize from initial contact withpotential 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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February 23, 2018

One Bad Attitude Can Infiltrate A Whole Company

Employees are the lifeblood of your business.  Happy, inspired employees inject rocket fuel into your business. Their attitude is contagious, and their fellow employees feed off that energy and your customers feel it as well.

On the other hand, employees who aren’t happy or inspired are a drain on your company because their negativity has a compounding affect. As much of a positive influence the happy people, the unhappy have a much greater affect. I would be willing to bet that one unhappy employee can affect your organization 10x more than that of one happy employee. In other words, for every one bad culture fit, you would need 10 awesome, happy, inspired employees to average it out.

Here is an analogy for you…

Take an empty glass to represent your company.

  • The 4 oz of water we will put in the glass will represent the positive morale or attitudes of your employees.

  • Red food coloring will represent the negative energy of an unhappy employee.

Starting with a clear glass, fill it with the 4 oz of water. Everything is positive, and morale is good!

Then you make a hire and this person inherently has a bad attitude, doesn’t meet your core values, isn’t inspired by the work your company does or doesn’t feel a connection to the rest of the team.

Now, place one drop of red food coloring into the water.  Now add another drop, and another drop… Each drop of red food coloring represents each negative interaction with other employees or clients. Watch what happens to the water.  The more drops of coloring you add, the more of the water becomes contaminated. Now, it’s faint at first, but as time goes on and the longer you leave that employee in place and don’t deal with the issues, the more affect they have until the entire glass is red or the entire company and clients have been affected by the negativity of one employee.

Once you have made a decision to replace that person, even if you make a good hire, how many more ounces of water do you have to put in that glass to clear out that red dye? Even after you remove that person, the negativity and the damage they have done stays around for a while and it takes a lot of work to build the company back up.

To use our example from earlier, it would probably take about 40 oz of water to dilute that red dye enough to get CLOSE to where you were before that bad hire.

As a business owner, it’s important to build the right staff and take care of your employees.  A company is much like your family. It takes work to build it and to raise it the way you want to be successful. You must invest your time and money into it to make progress.  Your employees need your financial, mental and emotional support.

Some of the basics to keep in mind about employees and what you need to provide for them in order to nurture and cultivate your company:

  • They must share your company’s core values and vision, so they fit in culturally.

  • They have to love the work you do and be inspired and excited by it.

  • They have to believe in what you’re doing as an organization.

  • They need to know you are interested and invested in their success and growth.

  • They have to know you have their back and support them.

  • The driven ones want to know where their career can lead them to at your company.

If these needs aren’t being met, you will be a stepping stone for them to their next company.

Take the time and the energy into building the team that fits your company and where you want to take it. One drop of dye into a clear glass of water will affect the entire glass.  When you see someone disrupting your culture and morale in a bad way, make changes swiftly before the damage goes too far and you can’t get the water clear again.

Employees are the lifeblood of every company, treat them as such.

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2017 and 2018.  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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January 19, 2018

Failure Can Propel You To Greatness

At the beginning of each year, people often take the time to reflect on the previous year and then look toward the new year as an opportunity to start anew. Reflection on the previous year from a team, company and personal perspective is always beneficial. The positives from the previous year are always good to energize you and to use as positive reinforcements for your team, your company and yourself so you can show how you can be successful based on past experience.

However, the way to really improve yourself, your team and your company is to reflect on the year past and ask yourself this, “What failures did you have that you can take lessons from and apply to 2018?” You need to look at failures as opportunities. In our case it is, what bids did we lose or what delays did we have, what people did we lose and other things like that. We need to identify all our flaws from 2017 and look for the lessons within those and improve our company for 2018 because this is the only way we can get better. Successes are great but failures, taken in stride and utilized to their full extent, are what make people, teams and companies great!

This same philosophy should be applied to each of us as individuals. I’m sure everyone reading this had some type of personal failure in 2017. We should all take these and analyze them and figure out how we can learn from each of them going forward. The most successful people in the world all talk about their failures along the way and how they propelled them to greatness. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

My challenge to each of you reading this is to focus on your failures, not for what they are in the moment but for what they can help you become in the future. No one ever lived without failing, it’s your view of that failure that makes the difference.

I’ll leave you with this. “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors this world has ever seen.  Imagine if he would have given up after failing to create the light bulb… where would we be today?

Did you enjoy reading this blog?  Take a look at our other blogs from 2017.  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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