Communication – Our Primary Key to Success During Challenging Times
By: Jerry Sanders, Chairman & CEO
Our website begins with our core mission, Associated Industrial Riggers Corp. is not just another contractor, but an extension of your workforce. This has been our introductory statement for almost 40 years. It is a statement that represents how we work with our customers. Moving machinery is an inherently dangerous discipline that requires intense and detailed communication and teamwork. We must make sure every sling and every chain are in the exact spot before leverage and/or pressure is applied to move the equipment. That takes both verbal and non-verbal agreement on every employee working on that project. A 50-ton press handled the wrong way can mean life or death, or a substantial insurance claim for replacement.
We have nearly 40 years’ experience but in my 33+ years, our industry has never had the same challenges that we have had this year in a general sense. From adapting to the COVID workplace guidelines of temperatures, masks, and social distancing, we have also witnessed new workforce challenges. Even with the “new normal” environments, we have been able to successfully manage our projects. I must give credit to key communication between our team and our customers for making recent projects work. These recent challenges have also reminded me that key communication is the critical component of what “an extension of your workforce means.”
I had been reflecting on this year recently and then I got a call about month ago and it really brought my thinking into a conversation. I received a call from a customer and the call was to provide accolades to our company. His project had been one of the most challenging projects as far as timelines go, incredibly challenging. I think we accommodated over 20 major delivery and/or schedule changes during the project. Initially, we had scheduled a 6-week project and it ended up at almost five months when completed. Under some circumstances that could have caused immense stress on schedules, but our customer worked with us in literal terms, as if we were an extension of his workforce, and it worked. We adjusted port delivery dates, delivery truck changes and then had to adjust around a complete mass Covid shut down during the pivotal time of installation. That project had been a challenging one as truck after truck was delayed, detoured or wrong equipment was delivered. In our talk, I had the privilege of sharing a few procedures that we have found essential for us during his project as well as other any other challenging job.
Morning Meetings – I would argue with anyone that the most important 15 minutes of our day begins at 6:45 am with our morning meeting. We have been doing this on almost every project for over 40 years. This is a focused time when we review project details, safety checks, and expectations of the day. There are days when we need our teams working faster and with higher proficiency. It is important they know the tasks coming before them that day and they have time to personally adapt to the mental and physical demands. This meeting also serves as daily safety focused check. Our number one priority is to keep everyone on the job safe. A dedicated part of every morning meeting is reserved for reviewing safety regulations, OSHA standards and our internal, company mandated safety requirements.
Communication with customers. It is not an option but essential for us to be in sync with our customers on a regular basis. Often, that is a daily call, messages or in person meetings. When we are moving or installing high dollar equipment, it is a team effort. We literally become an extension of your workforce. We do not want issues or problems to sit and not be addressed. Whether our communication is good news or issues, we make it a point in our company to incorporate the customer into our decision making, and we expect vice versa communications. Changes in timelines, budget, etc. need to be brought to the project table immediately. The project on which I received the call was an example of a logistics dilemma from the beginning. Because of our relationship with the customer, we were able to adjust delivery schedules, provide storage options for early deliveries and work with the client to find an economically feasible outcome. From our experience, great communication leads to solutions that save time and money for both parties.
Engaged Owner. A lot of companies want to grow bigger faster but when that happens, the key infrastructure is not always in place for the company to retain its quality and key services. In my company, we appreciate the growth, but quality is always our number one priority. I also feel that it is important to be on the job sites regularly. We have exceptional staff, but as the owner of the company, I have found being present makes a difference in our communications. Often, my primary role is to keep our teams talking about options, researching ways of how we might be able to do jobs more efficient and on time.
The last part of our opening statement is, “Our company has been providing industry with reliable, competent craftspeople and equipment since 1982…long before out-sourcing was the industry standard. Over this period, we have established a reputation for quality work performed safely, done on time, and at affordable rates.” Our reputation is on the line every time we take on a project. I have been standing behind that reputation my entire life. When you hire our company, you are hiring an extension of your workforce and with that comes ALL of us communicating with you.