The Construction Leading Edge Podcast

How to develop joint ventures and collaborative relationships as a diverse contractor, how to maintain culture in an organization and Monroe's approach to giving back to his local community.

In this episode, I interview Monroe Barnes, President of MBJ Consultants in Cincinnati, OH, which provides construction management and facilities management services to clients in the midwest and California.

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Here are some of the questions I asked, and Monroe's responses:

How important is the culture of an organization, and does it affect the impact the bottom line?
[Monroe] Our culture is to service the customer, service the customer more, then service the customer again. The customer is our friend. If you don't service your customer and don't do a good job, it definitely impacts the bottom line.

We drive a culture of taking care of each other, on the job and outside the job. If you get in trouble outside of work, it is going to affect your ability to do a good job at work.

What are some things you do to reinforce culture?
[Monroe] I've had to remind some of my apprentices that the way they look and carry themselves is a reflection of the company. I try to make my people understand that they should carry themselves in a way that it looks like they care about themselves and about the company.

When you think of a successful construction company, what are the measuring sticks you use?
[Monroe] Companies have to make money to be successful, but they also need to impact their community. Part of your success is to help those who can't help themselves, or need to find kids that have had tough starts, are underprivileged and bring them into the company so they can grow up and have families, and their kids can grow up in a normal atmosphere. Then all of a sudden we break this poverty mode.

Success goes a lot further than just creatinga project on time. I think it's the lives in your organization that you affect, and the community.

What are the challenges to people trying to make the jump out of poverty?
A lot of the young men we may hire, nobody has ever demanded anything out of them. I have one guy who practically raised himself. They've never seen anyone get up and go to work every day, or buy groceries, or buy new cars. Some of these kids are sheltered within their community, often surrounded by people who would rather sell drugs or steal than get a job.

What are some of the common mistakes you see construction business owners make?
[Monroe] Sometimes we spend too much time on the paper documents, and on how you build buildings. I wish I had learned more about the business side; the financial side, cost projections, what is the bank looking for, what is the bonding company looking for?

I spent too much time on just the plans and specs of the projects while the business thought process was suffering, and dragging down our business.

What are some practical things you do to focus on the business and not just the projects.
[Monroe] At the end of the day, my job is to manage the risk of the company. In order to do that, you need to have data. If you are gathering data, and keep seeing the same mistake coming up, you can hone in on it, and figure out how to mitigate that problem.

Using data to help you mitigate your risks is very important.

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Listen to the rest of the interview to hear Monroe's advice on how to develop joint venture partnerships with large contractors and a variety of other topics.

How you can get in touch with Monroe

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Direct download: 036_Monroe_Barnes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT