Minority Chamber: Reaching Out

For Coaches, Results Count

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These articles were prepared for the February 21, 2001 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Estimating, Managing Inestimable Projects

When the thousands of fans pour into Staten Island’s

new stadium on June 1 to watch the minor league Yankees toss the

horsehide

around, they can thank Brooklyn-born Marty Seigel for their

view, comfort, and safety. Seigel is the construction project manager

overseeing this $87 million complex, including the ball field,

stadium,

train station, and road and rail links. He is the man who transforms

the owner’s dreams into sod and concrete, pitcher’s mound and

bleachers

— all for a price they can probably afford.

Yet whether it’s an $87 million stadium or tiny bungalow, figuring

the right cost and the right schedule are the two initial steps that

will guide or haunt you the remainder of that long construction

journey.

Thus, for those in the trade seeking the sharpest tricks, Seigel

offers

his eight-week course, Construction Cost Estimating and Administration

beginning Wednesday, February 28, at Mercer County Community College.

This upcoming course is part of a five-course package offered by MCCC

to fulfill the requirements for the Construction Project Manager

Certification

Program. Each course, running about 8 to 10 weeks, is set in sequence

and is prerequisite for the course following. Contact the Mercer

College

registrar at 609-586-9446.

"I teach reality," says Seigel. Since graduating from City

College of New York, he has spent 40 years in the construction trade

— 26 of them as a construction engineer for New York City. Seigel

is head project manager for Bovis Lend Lease, the Australian-based

firm dealing in all aspects of real estate.

The project manager (or construction manager) in theory solves

building’s

old inimical triangle of owner versus architect versus general

contractor.

The owner hires a project manager, notes Seigel, "to be his

representative…to

break up log jams and make the work flow easily."

But some participants, including architects, argue that the project

manager can often turn that old inimical triangle into an unfriendly

four. The debate over whether a project manager is a hindrance or

a help rages on. Having stood on both sides, Seigel offers his two

prime directives to owners hiring project managers.

First, choose the man, not the firm. It is the specific individual

whom you must trust, who must placate the contractors and who must

fight for you. His company, however good, is doubtless off on other

projects, leaving him to his own devices.

Second, hammer out exact responsibilities beforehand. Who holds the

authority to stop a project, issue change orders, pay for a

requisition?

Make these totally understood at the outset. Relinquish too much,

and you are tempting your contractors with a license to steal.

Construction cost estimating and scheduling traditionally remain

furtive

mysteries held close by a cadre of experts ever fearful of cut throat

competition. But Seigel, displaying his "reality first"

approach,

plunges right in with a list of dos, don’ts and caveats.

Scheduling is cost, and cost is scheduling, says Seigel. They stand

inseparable. Time is money, and distance is money. (Remember those

old algebraic distance, rate, time formulas?) All three interplay

in a complex spiraling ballet that if unconsidered can flutter your

company like the Black Prince into the Hades of Chapter 11. "A

few jobs back," Seigel says, "I needed a large sewage pump.

Seemingly simple item. Yet it turned out that it had to be made in

London, shipped by boat from Germany and would take 17 months to

arrive.

Now ask yourself: Have I set up enough alternative tasks to keep my

work force and project moving during the wait?"

Consider book price a base, no more, Seigel counsels. Textbook

formulas

may assure you that paint costs 75 cents a square foot plus the labor

cost. Fine, if your building is one story. But what if you need

scaffolding

for the third story, or a crane for the fourth? How much time is lost

in crane transport? Along the same lines, square-foot price is only

a rule of thumb, variable by a third. In the U.S. 1 area, office space

can be erected for $80 to $100 a square foot. Unless, you want wood

paneling instead of sheet rock or unless your backhoe operator

uncovers

Jimmy Hoffa while preparing the concrete slab. For all the above

reasons,

Seigel strongly urges:

Hitch your wagon to experience . If you are a young engineer

or contractor seeking to move up and out on your own, first attach

yourself to a veteran. The factors in cost estimation and project

scheduling are too numerous to memorize. They form a process that

must be intuited. It is lore that only the experienced can pass on.

Consider architect estimates to be written in water .

"Frequently,"

says Seigel, "they can be off by up to 30 percent "Architects

are hired to envision practical endings, not to foresee problems.

When that $70 a yard concrete can not be pumped up, as planned, but

must be carried up by men and mixed on site, costs change. Like the

square-foot estimate, the architect’s estimate is a useful tool, but

the owner should not bet down to his last dollar on it.

Weigh the relative advantages of union and non-union labor.

Unions bury a banquet of costs beyond the standard higher labor price.

Seigel’s 280-person crew building the Staten Island Stadium is union,

entailing both a teamster and a maintenance foreman whose sole job

is to guard union rules. They are salaried, he says, but totally

unproductive.

Add in the additional lawyer fees, grievance costs, and paperwork

time that come with union labor, Seigel says, and then balance the

quality of worker.

Be aware of hidden costs in government projects . Probably

the greatest forgotten factor in cost estimating and scheduling is

private versus governmental projects. "This especially hurts the

little guy," says Seigel. "He’s got a pickup truck full of

tools and his wife keeping the books in the basement. He latches onto

a municipal bid because he can count on getting paid definitely, if

not promptly. But oh, what he doesn’t realize is that in New York,

we frequently ran 35 percent over private costs."

First, the government invariably over designs. That safety factor

of 1.7 built into a private office structure, rises to 3 or even 6

for a public monument intended for a century of high traffic use.

Complying with laws also ups the cost of government projects. Every

aspect must be doubly inspected and the inspector’s reaction time

is invariably slower than promised. You also may have to consider

the cost of the inspector’s vehicle, his phone, fax and radio costs,

even his equipped on-site trailer. But the real sinker, Seigel says,

is the paperwork. All the government forms can inundate a large

contractor

and just bankrupt a small one. Here again is where experience will

help make an realistic bid.

"None of this, from the bidding to the last nail is done

alone," says Seigel. "Managing and estimating requires a team

attitude. It cannot be `my side versus the other side.’ It takes a

great deal of diplomacy." Then, he adds, with a laugh, "of

course if that doesn’t work, it always helps to have a strong right

hook."

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Minority Chamber: Reaching Out

John Harmon, businessman and president of the

Metropolitan Trenton African American Chamber of Commerce, started

his career as the first African American management trainee at the

Bowery Savings Bank in Manhattan. "I was up against 150

candidates,"

he recalls. "Coming from Trenton, it was somewhat

intimidating."

Piloting MTAACC, an organization that was founded in 1997 and shot

up from 25 members to 90 last year, Harmon draws upon his own

experience.

"Minority businesses need to get out of their comfort zones,"

he says. Mainstream businesses in Central Jersey are receptive to

their minority counterparts, he finds, but it sometimes takes gentle

encouragement from MTAACC to jog minority business owners to get out

and reach for the opportunities.

On Wednesday, February 28, at 6 p.m. MTAACC is honoring prominent

minority leaders at the Princeton Hyatt. The keynote speech,

"Achieving

Success Together," is by Charlie Allen, chairman of the

American Automobile Association. Cost: $75. Call 609-393-5933. The

honorees are Reverend Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., secretary

of state; James B. Golden Jr., director of the Trenton Police

Department; Larry Sheffield, Universal Consulting Group; Jerri

L. Morrison, Young Scholars Institute; and Rocky Peterson,

an attorney with Hill Wallack.

Top Of Page
For Coaches, Results Count

Coaching differs from consulting in that the business

coach sticks around, working with clients until they reach their

goals.

Helene Mazur, business coach and owner of Princeton Performance

Dynamics, says coaching is a lot like strategic planning. "We

don’t come in and tell you what to do," Mazur says. "We ask

a lot of questions so that you can crystallize your goals."

Typically working on goal setting, attitude, skills development,

coaches

remain with clients as they test their new resolve in the real world.

Also different from training, where lessons are learned, and then

"the phone rings four times and you’re back where you

started,"

coaching sets up accountability standards, Mazur says. Clients not

only set goals, but work with their coaches to measure progress toward

reaching them.

Mazur worked in corporate America for financial services companies,

including Merrill Lynch, Bankers Trust, and Dean Witter Reynolds,

for 22 years before starting her business last year. Her

responsibilities

included training, sales and marketing, and running large

administrative

groups. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the State

University of New York at Albany (Class of 1979) and an MBA in finance

from New York University. A Princeton resident, and the mother of

seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter, Mazur is married

to a project manager for Delsys Pharmaceutical.

On Wednesday, February 28, at 7:45 a.m. Mazur speaks to the Princeton

YMCA Business/Professional Women at the Nassau Club on "What

Business

Coaching Can Do for You." Cost: $22.50. Call 609-497-2100.

While Mazur specializes in business coaching, Susan Levinson,

founder of Results Life Coaching in Metuchen, tackles every aspect

of clients’ lives, including relationships, career goals, volunteer

objectives, and the accomplishment of creative work. Levinson does

personal coaching and trains and certifies coaches.

The next training course begins on Monday, March 19, for those who

want to be trained through teleconferences and on March 20 for those

who prefer in-person training. The fee is $2,500 for the three-month,

part-time course. There is also a requirement that students be

coached,

before or during the course, at a cost that ranges from $900 to

$1,500.

Call 732-494-4494 or find information at www.resultslifecoaching.com

Levinson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brandeis and

a master’s degree in computer science from Stevens Institute, has

worked for a number of telecommunications companies, including AT&T,

Bellcore and, most recently, Bridgewater-based DSET. She was in

Australia

working on a telecom project in 1998 when she met David and Lisa Rock,

the couple who founded Results Life Coaching. "I was making a

lot of money, but I wasn’t satisfied," Levinson says. Having

coached

as a volunteer, she was intrigued by the idea of making a living as

a coach.

Two years ago Levinson opened the first American franchise of Results

Life Coaching. Many of the coaches Levinson has trained come from

Information Technology backgrounds. "Maybe after a while, they’re

not satisfied with the work," she says. Others taking the course

include the national marketing manager for a fragrance company, a

pharmaceutical sales rep, a retired human resources professional,

a massage therapist, an accountant, and two nurses. Some graduates

coach full time and some part time. Levinson says a coach with 12

clients could gross $6,000 a month working approximately 18 hours

a week.

Coaches pay Results Life Coaching a license fee for which they receive

marketing assistance, an Internet presence, and instruction materials.

Coaching students are taught listening skills and the art of asking

good questions, Levinson says. They use this training to help clients

clarify their goals and break them down into manageable pieces. Each

client is asked to state three goals in his first session.

A stock broker Levinson recently worked with wanted to add 33 new

clients, write a non-discrimination plan for a non-profit where he

volunteered, and repair his relationship with his wife and children.

At the beginning of the coaching sessions, the business goal was the

most important to him, Levinson said. But as time went on, he focused

more on his family. When his coaching session ended, the stock broker

had finished writing up his non-discrimination plan, decided to revamp

his business, and reported a vastly improved family situation.

Coaching works, Levinson says, because it holds clients accountable.

"We don’t let them talk themselves out of their goals," she

says.


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