Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Gone Fishing

It’s that time of year again. Like clockwork, right before the holidays kick off, I start to worry about work for next year. After all, as a service company in construction, we are constantly burning off work.

Every year I take great pains with extensive due diligence figuring out which jobs we will have to build and when will they start. Our CFO always reminds me when we have slow months. It’s a balancing act for sure.

I was pretty proud of my planning of couple months ago, then one job fell off the radar. Gratefully, three unexpected replacements surfaced–Melbourne, Florida; West Palm Beach; and another 5-story mixed-use project here Birmingham.

The lessons I learn (or re-learn) every year are just like Dwight Eisenhower’s thoughts on planning. Although we are not an army, the quote is useful. “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” 

To me, you make the plan, expect it to work, and simultaneously expect it not to work. Don’t be disappointed either way. Relationships and projects require a lot of effort, almost like putting multiple hooks in the water, and when too many fish are online, pull the hooks so as not overload the boat.

I believe it will always be like this in many professions, particularly ours. Stay in good shape. Keep the plane trimmed out and you will be successful, long-term.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.