The Construction Leading Edge Podcast

Ken Stowe has been in the construction industry for over 25 years, working for companies including Disney, Pizzagalli and Macomber Builders, and now helps AEC firms across the globe leverage the power of BIM (Building Information Modeling) in their businesses.

Listen to this interview to listen to Ken discuss the following topics:

  • How to accelerate your project schedule 7% - 12%.
  • What you should and should not be prefabricating.
  • How modeling your projects during the bidding process can make you more profitable.
  • Key lessons Ken learned while working at Disney.
  • The "Dominoes of Waste."
  • The 19 Benefits of BIM (Building Information Modeling).
  • Why 2D blueprints are not good for communication.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

41 Mistakes to Avoid When Dealing With Conflict

Ken's video workshop "ROI of BIM for Construction."

A Brief History Of The Concept of Waste In Production by Lauri Koskela, Rafel Sacks and John Rooke

The Effects of Building Information Modeling on Construction Site Productivity by Douglas Chelson


How you can connect with Ken Stowe:


Email - Ken.Stowe(at)

Direct download: Ep_41_Ken_Stowe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:59pm EST

How to get started with Lean Construction, even if you have no idea where to start...

David Umstot is the President of Umstot Project and Facilities Solutions, LLC.  He is a California-registered Professional Civil Engineer with 29 years of leadership experience in private sector and public agency construction program management and facilities management. 
He has delivered more than $2 Billion in construction projects, and he is an expert in project delivery methods, specifically lean construction.  
We cover topics including:
- Lean construction techniques that will help your foremen nearly double their success rate at meeting schedule and production commitments.
- How Lean Construction methods can help you speed up your projects and make more money.
- The fundamental mindset shifts you need to make to be more successful.
- A better way to plan your projects, and how you can never issue meeting minutes again.
- What is the Last Planner system?
- How to get started with Lean, even if you have no idea where to start.
-Why being a successful "firefighter" on a project can be a bad thing.
- The psychology of motivation that Lean planning taps into.
How to connect with David Umstot:
Company website -
David's LinkedIn page (which also has some interesting articles and videos)
Email - david.umstot (at)
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Archisnapper - A great way to create good looking reports to keep your clients informed on projects.
41 Mistakes to Avoid When Dealing With Conflict At Work - Download the entire list and see which ones you are guilty of.


Direct download: Ep_40_Dave_Umstot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EST

Tony Booth has worked for one of the biggest contractors in the world, has run a family owned small contracting business and is now a consultant for contractors and runs The Contractors Coachcast podcast as well as
During this interview we talk about how contractors can provide high level customer service and get repeat business.  Tony also shares a few of his "6 Tips for Choosing the Right Construction Projects."
Listen to Tony's podcast on Stitcher (click here) or on iTunes (click here)
How to connect with Tony Booth
Contracting Coach website -
Resources discussed in this episode:
Click here to watch a quick demo video of Archisnapper and learn how to get a 20% discount.
Direct download: 039_Tony_Booth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:13pm EST

How you should think differently about construction estimating

Some new strategies you need to embrace and some systems you can use to become an entrepreneurial estimator.

Offering "Free Estimates" is like a car dealership offering free test drives. It's time to stop thinking of it as "estimating," and start calling it selling, business development or revenue generation.

Common frustrations from construction estimators and business owners:

"I send out a lot of estimates, but they don't go anywhere."

"I want to get more private and negotiated work, but I don't get invited to bid."

"I waste so much time doing budgeting and design work for people who either don't have the budget or they're just kicking tires."

"I have a business to run, and I can't spend all my time doing estimates."

You need to think about construction estimating differently:

If your value proposition is to offer a quote, you're not standing out from the crowd.

Advertising "Free Estimates" is like a car dealership offering "Free Test Drives." More about that later.

Let's stop calling it "estimating," and call it selling, business development or revenue generation.

Realize that everyone who comes in contact with a customer is in business development, not just your sales and estimating folks.

Just like good sales people don't sit and wait for the phone to ring, like an "order taker," if you are responsible for estimating, you need to realize that you can and should be strategic.


1. The focus must be on the needs of the CLIENT, not on YOUR needs or capabilities.

Remember the Toby Keith song, "I wanna talk about me," from several years ago? It was a popular song, but it is a lousy marketing strategy.

If you look at a lot of contractors' websites (probably yours too), you will be given the opportunity to learn about where their office is, how long they've been in business, how many employees they have, the charities they support, pictures of the last 5k their CEO ran in, their certifications, acronyms of all the trade organizations they are part of, a detailed listing of their cranes, dump trucks and trackhoes complete with model numbers (my favorite), and maybe a bunch of technical jargon.

Guess what? Your prospects don't give a flip how many 185 cfm air compressors you have or the maximum digging depth of your biggest trackhoe , or even where your CEO went to college!

Here's what they want to know: "Can this company solve my problem?"

Think about it. If you needed to hire a CPA, would you care what model of laptop she built spreadsheets on? Probably not.

Instead of talking about yourself and your company, you need to be focused on your prospect.

Start by answering these questions:

What kind of external problems do they experience that you can help with? They need to expand their plant, have a blocked drain, deteriorated driveway, need to remodel their office, etc.

What are the internal problems they may be dealing with? They might be afraid of paying too much, nervous about having someone in their house, feel bad because their house is run down, or concerned about the future of their job if they don't manage the office remodel properly.

How you can you help them with the external problems, and how can you address their internal problems or concerns.

In a nutshell, talk about your prospect and their needs a lot more than you talk about you, your company and your equipment.

2. Shift the focus away from PRICE, which is a commodity, and focus on building relationships and trust.

Back to "Call for a free estimate."  First off, have you EVER heard of someone who actually charges for an estimate? Secondly, do you really want to compete strictly on price?

"Call for a free estimate" is code for, "I am a commodity and the only value I can provide you is a number, so you can shop around and compare my price to all the other guys who think of themselves as commodities too."

The purpose of the construction estimating and sales process is to create opportunities for people to get to KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you. When people know you, like you and trust you, they are very likely to do business with you.

So here's what you should do. Take the "Call for a free estimate button" off your website. Today.

"If I stop offering estimates, how do I engage with my prospects?"

Figure out something that will be of value to your ideal prospect and give it away on your website. Set up a simple opt in form on your site so people enter their email address to receive that something valuable. Then you can follow up with them periodically.

What should you give away? Here are a few examples:

- For all contractors: Free Checklist for Project Owners/Homeowners: Top Ten Things To Remember When Hiring a Contractor.
- General Contractor - Checklist for vetting out contractors, a case study on lien laws or a comparison of the different contract delivery methods available, e.g. design-build vs. traditional design-bid-build.
- Deck builders: Put together a document with a bunch of different deck planning ideas, ideally consisting of pictures of your work.
- Concrete finishers: Checklist of things to consider when replacing your driveway or patio.
- HVAC installers: List of any rebates available from local utility companies for replacing air handling units, condensing units, furnaces, etc.
- Electricians: Case study on how much money could be saved, and rebates that could be realized, by upgrading light fixtures in a commercial building.

When you give away something valuable to your prospect, you are positioned as an authority on the subject and they feel like you are on their side. It also taps into one of the tools of influence that Robert Cialdini wrote about in his book, "Influence," which is reciprocity.

3. Be generous. Add value every opportunity you get. (Listen to Episode 16 with Brent Darnell)

4. Understand their problems and pain instead of just giving an estimate on what they ask for. Give your clients what they NEED, even if that's different than what they ASK for.

5. Qualify your prospects and get to level of commitment with the optimal amount of effort. Remember the Three D's: Dollars, Dirt and Desire.

6. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

Tactics and systems

1. Set up a CRM database to keep track of contacts, opportunities, calls, emails, and set reminders, etc. There are plenty of low cost options out there, and they are worth the money. Check out my buddy Rob McKinney's site at for some recommendations.

2. Identify the ideal clients (developers, general contractors, property owners, etc.) you would like to work with. Do an 80/20 analysis (Listen to Episode 31)

3. Network your way into making connections with people on your target list (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)

4. Keep your eyes open for articles or resources that would be valuable to your target prospects, and every month or two, send them an email with valuable information. Consider setting up a blog to post articles written by you or others.

5. Call your prospects about once a month and ask if there is anything they need help with. Sometimes it is all about timing.

6. Call your subcontractors and vendors and ask them to make introductions to people on your target list.

7. Call architects engineers, that work in your area or industry and offer to provide free budget work if they need help. Add them to the target list and contact them regularly. This will help you learn of upcoming projects, and help get your name on the bid invitation list.

8. Hand written notes: It sounds old school, but after your first phone call with someone on your target list, send them a hand written thank you note on some nice stationary. It has a surprising effect.

Joe Girard, the #1 car salesman in the country for twelve years, sent out 13,000 cards per month that said, "I like you. Happy (Insert holiday of the month.)"

What should you do next?

Listen to Episode 16 with Brent Darnell and Episode 31 on how to do an 80/20 analysis.

Print out these show notes.

Follow the advice of my old college professor, "Turn the crank."  Set up your system and begin to work through the strategies and tactics

If there's something you need help with or have questions about, email me - todd(at)

Join the Construction Leading Edge Nation to get insider access to the resources I am working on.

Direct download: 038_Entrepreneurial_Estimator.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm EST

Will Hodges is President of Cadence McShane Construction Company, a general contractor in Dallas, Houston and Austin Texas with around 135 employees and an annual revenue of about $260 million.
During this interview we talk about how he made the transition from project management and operations into executive leadership, the importance of company culture, workforce development and how to be strategic with your business and your career.
A lot of people run their construction business like a project.  What are the problems with this approach?
[Will Hodges]  A construction project is linear, one dimensional, has a set of plans and specs, etc.  You're going to build the project over 18, 24 or 30 months, get a certificate of occupancy and move on to the next project.
People have come up through the ranks with that perspective as field engineer, project manager, senior PM, VP, etc.
Businesses are multi-faceted with a lot things to consider; techonology, banks, HR, surety, etc.  It is must more strategic and not as linear as running a project.  If you run your business like a project, you get out of a strategic mindset and get into a tactical mindset, and you can get lost in the weeds.
How can someone make the transition from a linear project based mindset to a strategic mindset?
[Will Hodges] Some people's strengths are in very tactical things, and some people's strength is in more strategic things.  It's just how they are hard wired.
There are things you can do and processes you can use to stretch you into a more strategic mindset and think a little more globally.  
One of the things we talk about is where we want to be in three, four or five years, understand  where we are today and all the pieces that will help us get where we want to be.
Listen to the rest of the interview to hear Will's answers to a few other questions like:
How important is the culture of an organization, and how does it impact the bottom line?
How is the construction industry guilty of having a "herd" mentality?
You shared an equation, "Performance + Behavior = Results."  What does that mean?
If you had an audience with a group of construction business owners and could give them one piece of advice, what would it be?
How to connect with Will Hodges
Will's email address - whodges(at)
Direct download: 037_Will_Hodges.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:01pm EST

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.

Click here to learn more about LeanPlanner from Newforma

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.

Click here to learn more about LeanPlanner from Newforma

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

Want more content and insider information like this?  Click here to join The Construction Leading Edge Nation

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

This episode of The Construction Leading Edge podcast (press and hold on this link) is an interview with Jim Johnson, President and CEO of GE Johnson Construction Company in Colorado Springs, CO.  
The company was founded in 1967 and made the 2015 ENR Top 100 Green Building Contractors list.
Here are a few of the topics we cover in the interview:
How important is the culture of an organization and how does it impact the bottom line?
[Jim] Our culture is more important than the bottom line, and our culture is not for sale.  We believe if we manage our culture, the bottom line will take care of itself.
Our company has decided that we don't want to be a compliance department. We believe if we reinforce and keep promoting our culture, the policy manual will take care of itself.
What is your philosophy and approach when it comes to leading people?
[Jim] I am a believer that you really have to develop your own style of leadership.  It's really hard to be someone who you aren't wired like.  I set out on a quest to inventory my own skill sets and develop my own leadership style.  During the course of that, I realized that there are people are better at the finances and better at preconstruction than me. 
My collaborative style was by me admitting, "I don't have all the answers."  Most of the time, my employees have the answers. 
I'm smarter when other people are helping me think.
What is your advice for people who want to develop their leadership skills?
[Jim] I would listen.  When I was growing up there were different people who I identified with leadership, and I would listen to those people.
I would also be honest and genuine with yourself.  There are different places to try your leadership skills.  They don't have to be in the workplace. 
Take some risks, try some different things and be willing to get feedback.
What are some of the mistakes you see construction business owners making?
[Jim] People often forget this is a business.  Sometimes the best person to deal with the complexities is not your sister-in-law.  You need to decide whether you want to surround yourself with talent or family members. The most talented project engineers and superintendents may not be the right people to run the business.
Be willing to take advice from attorneys, accountants and bonding companies. It is an evolving business and one person can't do it all in's just to complex and too fast.
Listen to the entire interview to learn about the importance of transparency in leadership and what Jim calls, "the speed of trust."
Resources mentioned in this episode
Bid Ocean - You can get bid opportunities for the type of work you do in the markets you serve, delivered to your email inbox.
Archisnapper - Avoid contract disputes and justify your requests for schedule extension by creating regular reports for your projects.  This app would have saved a project I took over $67,000 in liquidated damages. I use this app every week.
Join the Construction Leading Edge Nation to get insider access to the stuff I am working on.
Direct download: 035_Jim_Johnson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:48pm EST

In this episode of The Construction Leading Edge Podcast ( we will be covering...

Construction Technology You Probably Didn't Know Existed

Press and hold on this link to go to the full show notes


James Benham is CEO of JBKnowledge (, who advises and consults 700 construction companies on technology.  He also speaks all over the country on trends that his firm identifies as coming up.

Some of the most exciting technologies being developed today according to James are:

Computer Vision - Interior 3D Scanning


3D Printing

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Real time applications that allow for synchronicity between jobsite and office

We also talk about a few other topics, including:

- Common mistakes contractors make when it comes to technology, and some recommendations to avoid them.

- The importance of mobile devices.

- The basics of where to start if you don't know what to do first.

- The importance of data security, and how most contractors are at risk.


How you can connect with James - James' personal site

@jamesmbenham - Twitter - Corporate website


This episode is sponsored by...

Archisnapper - A slick app for creating jobsite inspection reports, preconstruction photo reports, etc.  If you are uploading pictures from your phone and sticking them in a Word need to sign up for a free trial of Archisnapper.

Tsheets - The best mobile time tracking and reporting app on the planet.  Check them out...sign up for a free trial.


Direct download: 034_James_Benham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00pm EST

In this episode of The Construction Leading Edge Podcast ( we will be covering...

The Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Dealing With Conflict At Work

Press and hold on this link to go to the full show notes

Out of the total list of 41 Mistakes that I put together, here are the Top 10 I covered in the podcast

Click here to download the complete list of 41 Mistakes to Avoid..

#2 Not recognizing the cost of unresolved conflict – According to Daniel Dana, author of a book on conflict resolution, “Unresolved interpersonal conflict in the workplace is one of the largest reducible productivity costs, yet it is the least identified.”

#3 Avoiding conflict – A recent survey found that 35% of managers would rather jump out of a plane than deal with conflict. 27% would rather shave their head for charity, and 8% would rather eat bugs.

#10 Using anger – Don’t respond to issues when you are angry or upset.  Many people use anger to fuel them to overcome their fear of confrontation.

#13 - The Avalanche – Don’t let issues pile up over time until you unload like an avalanche, wiping out everything in your path.

#14 - Speculating about motives – You can judge facts, but you can only speculate/guess why someone did something. You know what happens when you ASSUME.

#23 - The "Go-Between"....

Listen to the podcast to hear about the rest or just click here to download the complete list of 41 Mistakes to Avoid When Dealing With Conflict At Work.

Other resources mentioned in this podcast

Archisnapper - Slick app for preparing jobsite inspection reports, preconstruction photos, and any report that requires you to insert pictures and text into a Word or Google Doc. 

Tsheets - The best mobile time tracking app I have ever used. 

Direct download: 033_Top_10_Mistakes_When_Dealing_With_Conflict.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:13pm EST

This is The Construction Leading Edge podcast (, my name is Todd Dawalt, and my job is to help you grow your leadership skills, grow your business and grow your income.

Need help with daily reports? Sign up for a free 15 day trial of Raken

In this episode, I interview Chris Fussell. He is the Chief Growth Officer at McChrystal Group. He's an author of the New York Times bestseller, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement in a Complex World.

Chris was commissioned as a Naval Officer in 1997, and spent the next 15 years on US Navy SEAL Teams, leading SEAL elements in combat zones around the globe, including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few years ago, Chris left the Naval Special Warfare Development Group to join the McChrystal Group. They are a leadership and management consultancy composed of a mix of folks from the military, academic, business, and technology sectors. Their consultants specialize in transforming stagnant and siloed organizations into cohesive, adaptable “teams of teams”.

In a nutshell, in this interview you will learn about how the military special operations leadership had to change their approach during the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan and how the principles they developed apply to business today. You will learn about distributed networks, what empowered execution is and how to create a shared consciousness.

Sign up for a free 15 day trial of Raken: The #1 Construction App for Daily Reporting

Here's how you can learn more about and connect with Chris:

His book: Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement in a Complex World
The McChrystal Group -
Twitter - @fussellchris

Chris' articles:
The biggest career lesson this Navy SEAL learned in Iraq - Fortune Magazine

Why Special Ops Stopped Relying So Much on Top-Down Leadership - Harvard Business Review


Direct download: 032_Counter_terrorism_strategies_for_business.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18pm EST

Todd Dawalt here from The Construction Leading Edge (  

If you lead a business, department or a project, you're probably busy, there's always work to do, you could always use more customers, and every part of your operation can be optimized to be more efficient.

A lot of people think that when they need to get more results, speed things up, increase profit, etc. the answer is simply to do more, work more, hire more people, or just work harder.


The reality? In business, almost every activity is a waste of time.

Want to learn the principle that will help you increase output while decreasing input?

It's the same principle used by Warren Buffett and the guy who invented shorthand.

Listen on.

Direct download: 031_8020_principle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50pm EST

Welcome to another episode of the Construction Leading Edge podcast. My name is Todd Dawalt, and today is going to be a little different.  I’m going to start with a story.

It was August 2014, and I had spent two or three hours preparing for this meeting.  I was nervous because this meeting would determine the future of my job.

When it was time, I drove a few miles to the Applebees where we agreed to meet, and I had a knot in my stomach.  This was going to be one of the most difficult, and important conversations of my life.

You see, I was meeting with the owner of the company I worked for to confront him about some things, and frankly I didn’t know if I would have a job when it was over.

This episode is all about Unresolved Conflict and how to improve your conflict resolution skills.

According to Daniel Dana, author of a book on conflict resolution, “Research suggests that unresolved interpersonal conflict in the workplace is one of the largest reducible productivity costs, yet it is the least identified.”

A NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) report says, Interpersonal conflict on the job is identified as one of the top occupational job stressors strongly linked to a reduction in worker psychological and physical health.

[FREE PDF GUIDE]Cheat sheet you can use to have that "tough conversation" with an employee, sub...even the boss.

Click here to go to the show notes on

Click here to go 

Direct download: 030_Conflict_Resolution.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:50pm EST

Welcome to episode #29 of The Construction Leading Edge Podcast ( where my job is to help you grow your leadership skills, grow your business and grow your income.

This episode is part 2 of The Construction Business Accelerator program, where I will be going deep into specific strategies and tactics that I used to double revenue and triple profits at a construction company I ran for about three and a half years.

Today's episode is about Leveraging Your Labor Force

Key points include the following:

The importance of showing your team "what winning looks like."

What transparency will do for your organization.

Two of the biggest motivators that don't cost anything.

How to grow your people along the delegation spectrum.

One of Nemoto's "Ten Principles of Leadership" that most managers don't follow.

Want to get insider information and stay connected with this stuff?  Click here to join the Construction Leading Edge nation - or go to

Direct download: 029_Leverage_Your_Labor_Force.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:32pm EST

Welcome to The Construction Leading Edge Podcast, where my job is to help you grow your leadership skills, grow your construction business and grow your income.


In this episode I interview Dan Conery, VP of Business Development with Newforma, a company that develops software for the construction industry.

We talk about advice for millennials, how contractors should approach innovation, why Dan is jealous of the people he sells software to, and some great sales and business development advice.


If you need help keeping a scattered project team working together, click here to download a free resource guide from Newforma

or go to

Click here to join the Construction Leading Edge Nation and get insider access to the stuff we are working on.

Direct download: 028_Dan_Conery_from_Newforma.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Welcome to episode 27 of The Construction Leading Edge podcast

 Click here to download a free resource guide from Mallorie's team - "WHERE WE'RE HEADED: Construction Technology Trends for 2015" 


Direct download:
Category:general -- posted at: 5:32pm EST