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The Executive’s Desk: Crisis accelerated project timelines

It’s the tale of COVID-19 times – as other industries shut down, you are grateful if you are an essential business and able to continue operations, but what does it look like? How do you manage projects during a wildly changing and uncertain landscape?

Clinton Beall

The most immediate impact the pandemic had on construction management was production. B&D Industries already had robust safety programs in place to start each day with stretch/flex, toolbox safety talks and pre-task planning.

The measures and protocols in response to COVID-19 have added an additional layer, more time for distancing, face-covering, and glove requirements and tempera-ture checks on some job sites. Any types of delays are not ideal, but doing everything we can so that our employees can remain healthy and return to their families at the end of the day is much more important.

Our risk management team of safety professionals has been on top of the CDC and WHO recommendations. But as new information comes out and you must adapt, a huge part for us has been being an industry partner on both the local and national levels. As being active in the Associated General Contractors of New Mexico and the Electric Roundtable to share best practices and methodologies.

B&D Industries converted the Albuquerque Public Schools’ Milne Stadium parking lot into a helipad for statewide hospital use. (Courtesy of B&D Industries, Inc.)

Operating during a pandemic has also impacted supply chains. The shipping of materials and equipment has slowed significantly. Rarely does the “force majeure” clause – sometimes known as an “act of God” clause – of our contracts come into play but it has been necessary in explaining to our customer the reasoning behind material delivery impacts. It is never fun to disappoint our customers, but on the bright side, 99% of them have been very understanding.

A B&D Industries crew works on retrofitting Gibson Medical Center to accommodate COVID-19 patients and house 200 hospital beds and 20 ICU patients. The project required a complete overhaul within 14 days, according to the company.

The main unforeseen challenge has been overcoming nearly 75% of our administrative and management staff working from home. This forced us – like most companies – to leverage technology and video conference solutions. We ensured everyone had some type of web camera capability so that we could meet “face to face” virtually. Communication is critical in project management and having to adapt to new technologies, while continuing to perform your job function is a challenge. I am proud to have seen our folks shift to this very quickly and successfully.

Just as the world crisis has affected how we operate, it also alters demand. B&D Industries was hand-selected to help convert and renovate facilities in New Mexico and Arizona into emergency medical facilities. The renovation of the Gibson Medical Center was a complete overhaul to accommodate 20 ICU beds and 200 acute COVID-19 patients – our scope of work included plumbing,

B&D converted the Chinle Community Center on the Navajo Nation in Chinle, Arizona, into a satellite patient ward.

heating and cooling, and electrical to ensure the facility was up to code and fully functional. Our team worked on the conversion of the Chinle Community Center into an alternate care facility, which was able to be completed in a 12-day timeframe. Within five days, we helped convert the Albuquerque Public Schools’ Milne Stadium into an emergency helipad to accommodate patients from rural areas throughout New Mexico. The services we provided are what we specialize in. The deviation is in the expedited timelines.

As for non-COVID related projects, there has been a downturn in demand. Construction always seems to have a lag in terms of impacts felt from heavy economic declines. Just now we’re starting to see a reduction of private sector work and the lighter commercial work seems to have slowed down significantly. On top of that, we’re of course worried about government work slowing down, especially in New Mexico with the oil crash.

We are a family-owned business that’s been serving this community for 65 years with our “whatever it takes” philosophy. In preparation of an uncertain and changing environment, keeping our core values as a guiding system for employee decisions and actions is imperative, but also adapting and growing to continue to do right by our community, clients and employees will remain a top priority.

Clinton Beall is senior vice president for B&D Industries, a New Mexico construction and management firm that provides services to the residential, commercial and industrial markets. The executive’s desk is a guest column providing advice or information about resources available to the business community in New Mexico.


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