What does it meant to "prosper" in the construction industry?  Depending on the size of your business, it may mean simply weathering the past few years with minimal layoffs.  It may mean that you have kept adequate cash flow to complete the projects in the pipeline.  For Houston-based Satterfield & Pontikes, it meant adapting to the industry downturn and embracing new technologies and business development methods to sustain the workloads.

In an excellent company profile article in ENR last week called Prospering on the Edge (subs. req’d), freelance writer and blogger Jim Parson details many of the reasons why S&P has prospered over the years.  These include:

  • Have a core principle.  Founded in 1989, S&P has followed the same core principles as part of its work ethic: "Always do the right thing for the right reason; deliver, no matter what; and adhere to the company’s system of doing business."  Is your work based upon a set of core values?  Do you meet each day’s challenges with the same excitement and commitment to excellence?  You should.
  • Embrace technology.  For S&P, this meant getting involved in BIM as an early-adopter.  According George Pontikes in the ENR article, "BIM was perfect for our firm, as it complemented the way we schedule projects and always stay on top of prices as plan documents change."  The firm has embraced a commitment to cutting-edge technology, which should be in the "skill set of any contractor who expects to be a part of the 21st century construction economy."
  • Learn how to adapt.  The ENR article is full of examples of the types of changes S&P has undergone to adapt to market conditions.  For example, at the very start of the downturn in the construction industry, Pontikes instructed his senior staff to pursue and procure as many new public-sector jobs as they could  When the economy continued to tighten, S&P had a number of projects in the pipeline to sustain their business.  More recently, the company is adapting by acquiring subcontractors, which allows S&P to self-perform more work in a cost effective manner.

You should read the article to fully appreciate the company’s profile and the steps that S&P has taken to survive (and prosper) in a tight economy.