Edgewater Construction Services
October 28, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Professionalism and Service in the Construction Industry
About Edgewater Construction Services
Edgewater is continually searching for the "right" professionals to become a member of our team. Come learn more about us to see if you will enjoy working with an energetic team, working in a challenging environment, and being directly rewarded for your excellence.
Chesapeake, VA 23322
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – October 28, 2013
CEOCFO: Mr. Collins, what is the vision at Edgewater?
Mr. Collins: It is kind of cliché but it is a place where people want to come to work. When I retired from the navy it was difficult to find a job and difficult to find a place to where you fit in. The vision for Edgewater was to create a personality within the company that people want to come to and that reflects on our projects and the way we work with other people and clients. It goes through our whole culture.
CEOCFO: How does you vision play out on a daily basis?
Mr. Collins: In the way we work with each other. It is very open. I do not believe in agendas and I do not believe in extreme egos; an ego is a deficit instead of an asset. If it gets in the way of what you are doing on the job, you are not going to accomplish anything, so we lay everything out on the table. We have quite a few sayings in the company such as bad news does not get better with age, let’s deal with it. If you have a problem, put it on the table and let’s all get together as a team to figure out the best way to proceed and the course of action. The way we do that is I have the office set up is the whole center part is open and then there are offices surrounding it so they get their privacy, but it is a way we can all come together and it is the way we work daily to make sure we are solving the problems and we are ahead of the owner or the customers out there in dealing with things instead of trying to brush them under rugs or let your personal opinions get too much involved.
What type of projects do you work on?
CEOCFO: What is the key to understanding what the customer wants but also leading them to where they should be going - you know the facts and they may not?
Mr. Collins: In my opinion you can almost add anything to your question that want and the answer would be the same…communication. You cannot sit there and tell the owner that they can have the goldmine facility when their budget is not a goldmine facility. You have to be ahead of them in making sure that you are communicating with them and manage their expectation. As long as you have that communication back and forth in trying to envision where they want to go, it is not as difficult as it seems. You become part of what they are trying to accomplish and they understand it from their perspective and they are trying to get their accomplishment in but then we take that same understanding and put it to our level of construction knowledge and merge the two together. Communication is the absolute key to many things.
CEOCFO: The construction industry does not always have the most stellar reputation. When you are speaking with a client about a potential project is here an ‘aha’ moment when they understand the Edgewater approach is different?
Mr. Collins: That was a great question. If you look on our site and you look on the way we have things set up, our logo is ‘We are Building Professionals.’ I went to school at MIT and that came to me when I was at a symposium with a bunch of civil engineers and everybody was saying our industry is not where it needs to be. We design everything from roads to buildings so why are we not held as true professionals and it was long discussion. I listened to all of it and at the end that is where we are building professionals for Edgewater came from. You have to know your trade and what you are doing and you have to build professional products. On the other side, we are trying to build professional individuals as well. We require our project managers, superintendants and anybody that represents Edgewater to perform and to act in a certain way. It is the way we want to do things. We are not out to live up to or down to some of the standards in some of the general contracting world. We hold ourselves higher and we do that through our actions. When owners call us, we are there and answer. We deal with issues and we never go away. It is part of my passion and I want to have professional buildings out there which is one thing and it is great to see on a webpage but I also want people to either leave Edgewater or stay at Edgewater and understand that there is a certain way that we should be acting in this community and we should not be acting in a way that other people that come before us. We can better this profession to bring up construction to a level.
CEOCFO: What surprised you most as the company have developed?
Mr. Collins: People. It never stops surprising me either it is positive or negative. I see people doing things without asking or ever saying a word and going above and beyond. They represent the company almost better than I do. I also see the negative where you scratch your head and say really people are that self centered or they think it is their river and we are just enjoying the ride. You cannot have that in a company.
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Mr. Collins: Knock on wood, very good. We have kept a leg in the private sector as well as the last two years moved into the federal sector with the services, which has put us on several multi-year contracts with the Coast Guard US Navy, DHS. We are looking at projects from New Jersey to Pennsylvania down to Georgia. A few years ago we decided to go out of our comfort zone and travel and we have gotten comfortable with that and getting people to trust to put onsite. With that we are getting more opportunities, so work is steady, which is very good.
CEOCFO: In general with the government fluctuations, do you just ebb and flow with it or are you concerned that there will be less potential for you?
Mr. Collins: Yes I am concerned but whether it is federal or private it is the company and you are always out there trying to find the potential. I think going with the ebb and flow is pretty accurate because I do worry about it but I am also the type where I only worry about the things that I know I can control and if I cannot control it I keep a pulse, understand it and watch it but if I cannot control it I do not like to react. I am controlling by nature so that is kind of difficult sometimes. I do not understand some of the things that are going on. I spent 21 years in the government and I understand that side of it. Sometimes you just scratch your head and you do not see where things are even on the current situation side just the things that the government gets wrapped around and projects individually take forever to get awarded or started. That is hard for a company but again it is something I cannot control, so we just try to ride it out.
CEOCFO: What lessons did you learn in the military that have been most helpful in creating and running the business?
Mr. Collins: Leadership. It is funny because I was civil engineer corp. and they teach us construction from what they think. They talk a lot about leadership but it is not something that they sit down in the classroom and show you. It is really the stuff that you learn as you are going through the experiences and the different commands or jobs that you take. Just the ability to interact with people and leadership is interaction. It is not somebody standing up on the podium doing something. It is trying to get a common goal between more than two people. The military taught me that and the confidence and leadership is not leading from the back but being upfront. You lead the people and manage the process.
CEOCFO: How do you reach potential customers particularly, on the private side?
Mr. Collins: Quite a bit of referrals. Our company is referred, so I will go meet with people. We have a pretty good network out there that I either come to know or come across that they refer our company. There are tools online that you can find out what design firms are working on and what they are looking at. You have people looking online to see what projects are on designer boards and if you know somebody you try to get in there and see if you can get on a bidders list.
CEOCFO: Would you like to do more design build projects?
Mr. Collins: In a sense yes. There are some great benefits to that but it is really up to the owner. The owner needs to be comfortable in that process and they need to be involved. I have been on some design build projects that the owner just kind of turned it over to us. It is great for us. We understood it and knew where we wanted to go but it was difficult as we got in later in the process because as we started producing things, they were like I want to change this and I want to change that and if we were involved earlier, we could have done that better and we could have learned together on where we wanted to go. I would love to do more.
CEOCFO: Why should the business and investment community pay attention to Edgewater Construction Services?
Because we are trying to make a difference. It is in our culture and it is
the people that we bring in here. It is not a façade on the side of a
building. We are trying to make a difference in our small world within the
construction industry that they is a way to do a construction project with
open communication, understanding. The back and forth is good whether it is
argument or “atta-boy” the dialogue back and forth. What we do that is
ingrained in our team that we are just not out to make a difference for the
sake of personal gain or individual gain but it is really for company gain
to understand that we are trying to raise the level of the professionalism
in our industry.
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