February 6, 2009

BC Construction Show

MRSI seminar delves into how to make the most of tough times

Tough times mean rethinking work-place strategies plus holding onto those valued employees that will be difficult to replace when an economic cycle rebounds, said David Cook, president of Management Research and Solutions Inc. (MRSI), a speaker at the B.C. Construction Show.

“What I am hoping to do is help people confront the realities and go away with specific information on how not to shut themselves out of the information loop,” he said.

“We are helping people realize there is opportunity and positive things to focus upon.”

Cook said MRSI is a well-known Toronto company with offices also in Phoenix, Arizona and San Francisco, but it has only recently established an office in Vancouver.

“The people who will most benefit from attending (his session) are those who don’t know us,” he said.

MRSI is known for providing consulting assistance to a range of companies – including the construction sector – and also has free downloadable case studies and white papers on its website that describe how companies can meet their performance objectives.

One such posted case study is RDC Construction, based in Casa Grande, Arizona, which specializes in paving and grading, concrete plus underground utilities and structural construction.

RDC is a family owned business but was having difficulties with communications and hitting deadlines.

MRSI was able to go into the company and establish protocol and recommendations to ensure the company maintained its strong reputation in the marketplace.

Industry tough times in down cycles often evoke an emotional response – I don’t have anything to build – rather than a realistic one, Cook said.

He will cover three key areas where all sectors of the construction industry – engineers, architects and builders of all sizes – can refocus their efforts to build new business.

The first way to optimize during tough times is to add to the mix, he said.

That’s a combination of looking at what a company does and seeing if there is some forgotten service or practice area that can be increased.

“It could be a new opportunity, a new service or product in an existing market – you are bringing something onto the table that was not there before,” he said.

The second way of optimizing is revisiting an area once rejected.

“Take another look at something already considered but rejected,” he said.

Revisiting can lead to breakthroughs.

Take for example, he said, how doctors long considered stomach ulcers, as stomach acid induced and a life-style condition, while a different look by a group of researchers at this topic found that it was caused by bacterial infection that could easily be treated, Cook said.

“They literally re-framed the problem,” he said.

Businesses can also pursue the same tactic.

The final way is to look at what work is being done and determine whether it is something that has a future.

Cook said most companies do not change until they slip below the point of turning a profit, but a proactive company should be looking at their future – what is entering the market to erode their position and whether they are competitive – well before there is a slippage in the margins.

This involves getting out of the day-to-day and looking at the broader concept, he said.

In a second presentation, Cook will look at the challenges of “adding and holding onto quality people” within a company.

The recruitment and loss of employees is an additional cost to a company, he said.

Cook said that if a company lost 20 good employees over a year, there is the opportunity to consider the economics and impact on the company if it was able to keep seven of those employees. How would that have impacted the company both in terms of costs, business opportunities, and working atmosphere?

Also, there is the opportunity to explore what the values are that keep people on the job besides money.

Cook’s presentation “How to Optimize in Tough Times” will be on Feb. 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. while “Recruitment, Retention and Motivation: How to get and Keep The Best” will be held Feb. 11 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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