CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Grillo's Pickles

If you haven't been to the Grillo's Pickles website, you should. There, you'll find the fantastic story of how this company began. We've copied part of it here to save you a click.

Grillo's Pickles began with a pickle cart, just a small wooden stand in downtown Boston, where Travis Grillo and his friends would sell two spears for one dollar. Travis would make the pickles by night using his family's 100-year old recipe - one he'd memorized from making pickles every summer as a kid. In the morning, Travis would bike to the Boston Common and set up the cart with his buddies. They'd hang out all day, urging people to try the simple Grillo family pickle. It was a small business but Travis worked hard for it. He made more pickles, biked more miles, and slept less hours than he ever had before.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Factory Five Racing

Factory Five Racing was founded in 1995. Over the years they have grown from a start-up business in a small garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of "build-it-yourself" component car kits. They employ a full-time crew of about 40 people, and are located in Wareham, Massachusetts (about an hour south of Boston). They make their products right here in the USA, in the heart of New England where American manufacturing was born.
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Fred and Danny Magnanimi grew up watching their father create beautiful, handcrafted jewelry in the family's Cranston, RI jewelry manufacturing business. When the boys grew up, Fred moved to New York and began working on Wall Street as an investment banker, while younger brother Danny, still enamored by the family business, stayed home. Increased competition from overseas businesses created significant challenges for the business, but Danny was confident he could find a way for the family business to evolve and thrive. This was his mission, this was his passion.
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        Benefits and Challenges of a Mature Construction Cycle

        Construction may be the most cyclical of all the major industries. Each cycle (i.e., recessionary, emerging, prime, and mature) presents benefits and challenges. We are currently in a “mature” construction cycle. Construction success hinges on identifying the current cycle and leveraging the benefits of that cycle. This article details tools to leverage those benefits.
        To understand the benefits and challenges of a mature cycle from an owner’s perspective, it is necessary to understand the benefits and challenges from the contractor’s perspective. The greatest benefit of a mature construction cycle is a highly skilled and talented workforce seasoned by years of experience. By way of comparison, contractors were forced to select price over talent during a recessionary period simply to stay competitive. This phenomenon manifests most acutely in the quality (or lack thereof) of subcontractors retained. During a mature cycle, however, most contractors receive premium pay so the value proposition shifts from saving money to competency and ability to achieve deadlines. 
        By the time contractors reach a mature construction cycle, they have established systems for project delivery that have been tested, refined, and (almost) perfected. In short, they know how to build. The highly skilled workforce coupled with great institutional knowledge define the beneficial characteristics of a mature construction cycle.
        No cycle, however, is without challenges and a mature construction cycle is no exception. From the contractor’s perspective, the challenges are availability of talent, rising subcontractor costs, and ability to deliver projects on time. The Great Recession of 2008 forced hundreds of thousands of workers to change industries. This talent loss created a void in the worker pipeline that remains unfilled. For example, the construction industry has a critical shortage of project managers and superintendents; the exact positions the displaced workers would have filled. That void is getting worse because Baby Boomers are retiring and millennials have shown no interest in performing construction work. A recent survey of 18-25 year olds from the National Association of Home Builders revealed most young people wanted a “less physically demanding job” (only superhuman self-restraint prevented this Baby Boomer from making a snarky comment here). 
        The lack of workers, in turn, has led (among other factors) to increased subcontractor costs. By this stage in the cycle, Contractors are conditioned to accepting premium subcontractor prices. However, these prices have escalated more quickly than most contractors have budgeted. Indeed, even if contractors are willing to pay a super-premium, many subcontractors simply are not available. All of which leads to the next challenge; namely, timely project delivery.
        How can owners leverage the benefits of the mature construction cycle without suffering the challenges?  Although no process is perfect, the process most likely to yield success focuses on two key stages: contractor vetting and contract language. With respect to contractor vetting, key questions to ask during the process can be found at These questions include (1) how many other projects will the contractor have on-going, (2) identify the contractor’s “A-Team” project manager and superintendent” and condition contract award on their participation on your project, and (3) identify key subcontractors (e.g., electrical, plumbing, etc.).
        The other process to leverage reward while managing risk is through contract drafting. For example, (1) ensure the contractor locks up its key subcontractors before project commencement, (2) include liquidated damages for late delivery, (3) include language saying a lack of workforce is a risk owned by contractor, and (4) provide a clause that allows the owner to force contractor to increase workforce, work overtime, or supplement the workforce at its cost if the project schedule is in jeopardy. 

        Every construction cycle has its benefits and challenges. Understanding and leveraging the current environment should tilt the balance toward successful project completion.

        This article was published in the New England Real Estate Journal on September 15, 2017.  To see that version, please click here.