Miles-McClellan General Superintendent, Steve Johnson, Shares Advice for Owners as They Start a Construction Project

Building Excellence requires communication, collaboration and connection. As part of your IMMPact team, it’s my job and my commitment to you to set the right expectations and gain your trust as you approach your construction project. You can have the confidence in knowing that the success of your project is as important to us as it is to you. We take pride in the final product, and if my name is behind the building, you can be assured I will do everything possible to make sure the work is done right and on time and budget.

Your best money and time spent is during the pre-construction. Everyone has their own opinions about how to get projects done, so creating a shared vision and plan is a great starting point. This can be accomplished by walking the property early in the process, as well as after drawings are completed, to make adjustments and to get on the same page prior to project approval and permit submissions. Once construction begins, it’s very difficult to stop or change, so let me share some tips on creating the vision and expectations for your project before construction begins.

Have a Blueprint for Construction Success

Nothing slows down construction progress more than change orders and revisions. Therefore, it is important to have your drawings complete prior to starting construction. Avoid changing the plan if possible. Finalize the details of your project early on to ensure it is “buildable” and to provide more inclusive plans to sub-contractors, so they can provide their most accurate bids.

One thing to consider before starting construction is that unforeseen circumstances are bound to happen. They always do. So, trusting your construction team and making sure there is enough contingency in the budget can help to avoid uncomfortable conversations and surprises throughout the process.

Be Realistic About Your Involvement in the Construction Process

Construction is time-consuming. Be realistic in assessing how much time you can devote to the project and be sure to choose a contractor you trust so you can give the right amount of attention to your project and to your company’s operations and overall well-being.

Don’t Judge a Bid by Its Cover Price

My mother always told me, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Seemingly minor details can significantly affect the price you pay in the end. For example, a low bid may look attractive on the surface, but it may not include things like materials and installation costs. Make sure to ask questions about what is included in the pricing and where the project team costs can be found. You will need to be able to put each bid into perspective to accurately assess whether you are getting a fair price per square foot. Working with a construction company you trust can avoid costly surprises.

Ask Questions About Your Project — Lots of Questions!

Clear communication is vital in any partnership, and we know you need a clear picture of what is happening with your investment. As construction professionals, we sometimes use industry jargon or explain techniques and processes using technical terms. It’s a second language to us, and we often forget that we are speaking a language not everyone knows. So, ask questions! Ask until you understand the answer! Ask until you have no more questions! Your construction team should guide you through the process and take the time to explain everything so everyone is on the same page and there aren’t any assumptions that can turn negative.

Remember, your project’s success is also a personal success to every construction professional who works on your facility. Your team at Miles-McClellan wants to make sure your project is set up for success from the very beginning. We are on your side. That’s why Miles-McClellan strives for Building Excellence through relationships with communication, collaboration and connection that results in exceeding client expectations.

Contact Miles-McClellan to learn more about how we strive to resolve issues before they become problems.

Miles-McClellan Helps Columbus City Schools Reorganize and Repurpose to Combat Overcrowding, Safety Concerns and Aging Buildings

In 2019, more than 630 children were attending Dominion Middle School, which was built to house 409 students, and the popularity of the high-achieving school suggested a future of rapid growth. At the same time, there was an aging high school in the area that could handle the growth but needed major renovations.

That is when Columbus City Schools (CCS) hired Miles-McClellan as the design/build contractor for the building envelope project of the former North High School. The historically registered building opened its doors in 1924. The design/build team was tasked with making the building safe and dry for students and staff, while preserving the building’s beauty, character and history.

former North High School

The project replaced the roofing, windows, skylight systems and completed masonry restoration. Each component of this project came with its challenges. The existing windows were installed in plaster containing asbestos that had to be removed, the roofing and masonry work had to be coordinated and, of course, the labor shortage and strict timeline to make sure kids could start school as scheduled in the fall played a role. But this project had the additional challenge of working with the Historical Preservation Committee to ensure all design, materials and construction techniques were approved during the design/pre-construction phase.

One of the historical requirements was to mimic the original historic sightlines of the original windows. After a great deal of preparation work, multiple manufacturer bids and an extensive review of three products to make sure they fit the design and performance specification, the Historical Preservation Committee was pleased, and the approval process went smoothly.

With a highly scrutinized budget by nature of working with a public school system, Miles-McClellan delivered a dry, safer school $19,637 under budget. In a 2020 interview with The Columbus Dispatch, Dominion Middle School Principal Dorothy Flanagan said, “We couldn’t have asked for a smoother process from district leadership and our design and construction team.”

Overall, Miles-McClellan has managed 11 projects to improve the safety and learning environment for CCS, including one current project to replace the HVAC systems in Valleyview Elementary, Westgate Elementary and West Broad Elementary schools.

Other HVAC upgrades, electrical upgrades and facilities renovations include Brookhaven High School, which now houses the Columbus North International High School, and the former Dominion Middle School, which is now the New World Language Middle School.

Safer schools are a priority for Columbus City Schools and Miles-McClellan. We are proud to have helped CCS provide more secure entrances to 10 district school buildings — adding new security checkpoints in five schools and upgrading security vestibules at another five schools. The work included demolition, casework, aluminum storefronts, wood doors, hollow metal frames, door hardware, drywall, painting, HVAC and electrical.

“The team at Miles-McClellan not only produce good work, they are very personable, responsive and organized. They have a great system in place to manage projects and they have helped Columbus City Schools make our schools better and safer for our students.”
-Columbus City Schools Facilities Rep

We build success by Building Excellence! We take pride in our people, and we take pride in our work. Contact Miles-McClellan Construction to put that pride to work on your next project.

Miles-McClellan Is Building Excellence With People

Miles-McClellan Is Building Excellence With People

While technically speaking, all our construction projects start with building materials at a job site. Our projects really start with our incredible employees who come together to form experienced and reliable teams that plan, facilitate and complete dynamic projects that are customer-centric.

So how does Miles-McClellan Construction (MMC) stand above the rest?

With our hands – Our team uses our hands to build quality structures and each project has our unique MMC thumbprint on it. Our construction projects are a major part of our clients’ stories and our company’s story and legacy.

With our heads – We offer our employees opportunities for career and leadership development, which help them with planning and problem-solving in their positions.

With our heart – The positive impact our projects make for people in local communities means everything to us. Client satisfaction is of paramount importance; it guides our work and recruitment. We believe in hiring the best people who will bring their valuable experiences and skill set to every project. Combine this with a purpose-driven heart and you have the answer to why Miles-McClellan has been a leader in commercial construction for over four decades (and counting!).

We are proud of our relationships with our employees and our clients. Simply put, pride is why we do it!

Below are a few ways Miles-McClellan distinguishes itself from other commercial construction companies with how we approach our team, starting with recruitment. Building excellence starts with attracting and supporting excellent employees.

Recruit and Develop Leaders on Our Strong Foundation

One of the best ways to sustain and grow a business is from within. Successfully recruiting talented individuals to join our team is not just about filling a specific position in the present. When we recruit and interview applicants, we focus on their current skillset and experience and their future potential. By seeing the talent and potential of our employees, we provide opportunities for them to develop into leaders at Miles-McClellan, which translates to employees and senior management being on the same page. For example, we work with the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio to provide leadership classes for some of our employees called BXFlex (Field Excellence Leadership Series). Just like we envision the potential of our projects and our employees.

Provide Career Path Development

When a job feels static with little or no opportunity to grow in a company, that can negatively affect employees’ work production and morale. That’s why we pride ourselves on providing career path development. Employees who will feel their work is appreciated and that there are chances for promotions and increased responsibility positively impacts their work and the company. Investing in our people for the long-term is an investment we make in them, and we make to drive building excellence for our clients.

Personal Ownership of Projects

Miles-McClellan ensures our expectations and our clients’ expectations are always being met by taking personal ownership of projects. When people feel personally responsible for getting something done, large or small, it promotes a culture of excellence. Our IMMPact approach illustrates this point of personal ownership by emphasizing knowledge sharing, which allows our team members to trust one another and hold each other accountable throughout a project life cycle.

Client Reassurances

Investing in our people is an investment in our clients’ projects. This level of continued investment and support directly correlates to our more than four decades of building excellence in Ohio and North Carolina. There are many non-tangibles that go into constructing a facility and we make sure to account for these factors to ensure we are always doing things the right way.

We take a lot of pride in our work at Miles-McClellan; it’s why we do it! And our pride is visible in every level of our company and with our great employees throughout their career experiences and development. Miles-McClellan strives for building excellence for a better community, for you.

Miles-McClellan Helps North Carolina Town Navigate Rapid Growth Enhancing Peace of Mind and Recreational Opportunities

Mooresville, NC

The Town of Mooresville, NC has more than doubled over the last 20 years. The population has grown from 32,711 in 2010 to 50,193 in the last decade alone, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. With this rapid growth, the city had to expand its services protect and improve the lives of its citizens.

After being granted $46.5 million in limited obligation bonds from The Local Government Commission to improve public safety and services, the Town of Mooresville contracted Miles-McClellan to design and build a new $3.5 million fire station and training center. Fire Station No. 6 is 13,000 square feet and will feature two engine bays, locker rooms, sleep quarters, administrative offices, a full kitchen, conference space and an outdoor patio.

Although the project is progressing nicely today (check out the progress on our live webcam), it did not come without challenges. The fire station was scheduled to be presented to the Board in March of 2020, but the North Carolina government locked down due to COVID-19, and Mooresville halted spending on all new projects. The Fire House 6 project was delayed until February 2021. During the delay, many material shortages and price increases occurred in the construction industry, but with the collective hard work of Miles-McClellan, the design team and the Town of Mooresville, Miles-McClellan was able to deliver the same product at a similar price and construction continues to move forward.

In addition to Fire Station No. 6, Miles-McClellan has worked with the town to enhance cultural and recreational opportunities for all the citizens of Mooresville. The company was awarded the $3 million Selma Burke Center Renovation, which was a high priority project for Mooresville’s Parks and Recreation Department. The renovation consisted of some “tricky elements,” according to Chris Wyckoff, Mooresville’s facilities and construction manager, like combining existing structures into one elemental structure. Miles-McClellan also managed the site work (landscape, furnishings and signage), renovations to the existing gymnasium with new basketball courts, a new playground and picnic shelter and a new 8,000 square foot, prefabricated multi-purpose building with classrooms.

“Their ability to work with our needs and sub-contractors, as well as control a project through difficult weather was spot-on,” says Wyckoff.

Miles-McClellan also managed the town’s Art Depot renovation, a historic building dating back to the 1970s, bringing the facility up to ADA standards and allowing the Art Guild to utilize their warehouse areas, featuring open beams and heavy barn doors, in a way previously not possible.

Miles-McClellan projects don’t just enhance the lives of the two-legged residents of Mooresville, they also help some 4-legged residents with the development of The Officer Jordan H. Sheldon Memorial Dog Park in Cornelius Park. The dog park is dedicated to a fallen K-9 officer who was killed in the line of duty. Wyckoff says the work on the dog park “led to a great moment of healing and happiness for the town, the family and the police department.”

“Working with Miles-McClellan on Fire Station No. 6 has been a great team experience all the way through design and now well into construction. They have demonstrated their ability to perform on previous projects and have continued to deliver. It is great working with a contractor who you can trust also wants to be a steward of tax-payer dollars and do right for all stake-holders.”
Christopher Wyckoff
Facilities & Construction Director
The Town of Mooresville

Miles-McClellan Turns Buildings into Art for Franklin Park Conservatory

If you’ve been to Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, you have seen firsthand how nature meets art through their displays of beautiful flowers, plants and organic landscapes, enhanced with real pieces of art. But did you notice how the buildings themselves fit into those landscapes and how, through lighting and innovative architectural design, they have become an art exhibit of their own?

With the Conservatory’s vision to restore the vitality, grandeur and beauty of Franklin Park while retaining its original charm and character, Miles-McClellan Construction has managed a variety of projects for The Conservatory, including the expansion of the John F. Wolfe Palm House, a registered Historical Place. As part of a four-phase, two-year expansion campaign, Miles-McClellan completed the expansion of The Palm House by building two 5,000 square foot additions that flank the building’s existing corridor, one designed for special events and the other for administrative offices. The versatility and creativity of the design added 10,000 square feet of flexible space for open air gardens, water features and elegant gatherings, while conquering the roadblocks that come with historical renovations.

In addition to the expansion of The Palm House, Miles-McClellan oversaw the construction of the Bride’s Garden, community gardens with education pavilion, and LIGHT RAMIENT II, an inspiring light display which illuminates The Palm House and was designed by internationally renowned, award-winning artist James Turrell.

Franklin Park Conservatory before and after

In 2015, as classes, programs and community outreach increased for the Conservatory, a new space was needed, so the organization relocated an historic barn’s timber frame, which was set to be dismantled, from northern Ohio to its campus. Miles-McClellan took on the transformation of the Wells Barn, which is not only a piece of history, but a construction marvel filled with engineering innovation, including a basement with classroom space, an elevator, a large event space, a commercial kitchen, and a bar.

“The project was completed on time and on budget, which is critical for a non-profit organization, in large part due to Miles-McClellan’s commitment to problem solving, open communication and outstanding project planning and budgeting.”

Garry Clarke, Vice President of Planning
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Building Excellence takes teamwork and Miles-McClellan would like to thank its architecture, engineering and landscape partners, and the Franklin Park Conservatory, for helping to create these amazing spaces.

Relationship Lessons Learned – How to Develop Lifelong Clients in the Construction Industry

With over 43 years of experience in the construction industry, Miles-McClellan Construction has learned valuable lessons about building lasting relationships with partners and clients. Our focusing on building strong relationships has resulted in many positive outcomes:

  • 85% repeat clients by volume
  • $71 million average annual sales volume
  • 10-year average employee tenure
  • Long-lasting success, even through difficult times

Our success in building trust with those we work with is no accident. It’s part of who we are and who we have always intended to be. So, what exactly do we do to cultivate trusting relationships?

How Miles-McClellan Cultivates Trusting Client Relationships

Focus on Positivity When Working With Clients and Partners

Negativity often seems to dominate the news headlines, social media chatter, and public discourse. Many people experience negativity seeping into their workplace, family life or social life. Negativity is pervasive – so why not stand out by being a source of positivity?

By focusing on the good, it’s far easier to stand out to your clients and partners. That’s not to say that negative things never happen or that they should be swept under the rug. Being candid and open is important but staying stuck on the negative is counterproductive. By actively focusing on genuine and positive interactions, we notice that we build better and more productive relationships.

Don’t Forget to Show Gratitude.
One important aspect of positivity we try to practice is showing gratitude, which can easily be taken for granted when busy. This includes gratitude to our clients and our colleagues and can be accomplished with small and simple ways of saying thanks, like emails, hand-written notes, small gifts or favors, highlighting the individual or organization’s accomplishments, or by sharing time over lunch.

Always Act with High Integrity
Integrity is one of our core values—and it contributes greatly to our ability to provide excellent customer service. When we communicate proactively, tell the truth, keep our word, act fairly and take responsibility for our actions, our clients see those behaviors as representing integrity. Practicing integrity isn’t always easy, but it always pays off in the long run.

The most important reason integrity is so critical to building long-lasting relationships is that it forms the foundation of trust. By showing clients and partners that we act with integrity through our day-to-day actions, we cultivate the type of trust needed to build repeat, long-lasting client relationships.

At Miles-McClellan, we practice integrity by focusing on:

  • Being true to our word — always
  • Being intensely loyal to our colleagues, clients and partners
  • Being honest and straightforward
  • Taking personal responsibility for the successes of our projects
  • Not taking shortcuts when it comes to problem solving
  • Taking pride in the quality of our work

Focus on Long-Term Sustainability Instead of Shortsighted Goals
So many organizations these days focus heavily on short-term goals. A lot of being long-term focused comes down to not forgetting about the bigger things that matter amidst day-to-day work. By not being exclusively short-term focused, we can once again stand out from other organizations while laying the groundwork that ensures our success down the road.

By taking a step back and focusing on the longer term, we allow ourselves to cultivate relationships, develop new capabilities and strengths and be proactive in managing risks, both on the job site and in the office. Our long-term approach allows us to:

  • Be actively involved in our community Invest in our own workforce and cultivate a culture of taking care of each other
  • Stay up to date on trends and new opportunities to proactively stay ahead of our peers
  • Actively build relationships with everyone we work with, even if there is no immediate reward or benefit
  • Focus on integrity, quality and service at all times

These strategies improve the quality of our work and relationships and help to ensure high continuity within our workforce. This leads to less client turnover, less disruption and higher overall satisfaction.

Focus on Beating Expectations in Client Service
Finally, beating client expectations in service is one of our founding principles. Our founders walked away from large international construction companies because they believed there was a better way to deliver construction services. There was a key component missing in the construction industry – customer service.

By building Miles-McClellan from the ground up with customer service at our core, we’ve separated ourselves from most other construction companies in the best way possible. This not only enables better relationships with our customers, but by aligning our model around our IMMPact Approach, we reduce bureaucracy, decrease miscommunication and improve the overall quality of the work we provide our long-term clients.

By building long-term relationships we are building excellence. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities.

Construction Momentum and Development Remains Hot Going Into the 4th Quarter of 2021

Every economic indicator for construction tracked by Miles-McClellan indicates strong growth in the most recent quarter, and a strong likelihood of continued growth heading into the 4th quarter of 2021.

To get a read on commercial and industrial construction, Miles-McClellan looks at:

  • ABC Construction Backlog: Amount of commercial construction to be performed in coming months.
  • AIA Architectural Billing Index: The Architecture Billings Index is an economic indicator for nonresidential construction activity, with a lead time of approximately 9–12 months.
  • FMI Non-Residential Construction Index: This index is an indicator that provides a leading look into construction projects.
  • Dodge Momentum Index: A unique 12-month leading indicator of construction spending for nonresidential building.

Accelerating Growth and Demand in Construction
From the above publications, not only are all the indicators quite far into “growth” territory, they have all been accelerating on a quarterly basis. The Architectural Billing Index and Dodge Momentum Index decreased slightly in June but are still very far into growth territory.

Construction Outlook for Q4 2021 Going into 2022
Based on the reports, we believe that barring any unforeseen shock to the economy, construction demand will remain very strong in the coming quarters. Lowered costs of financing have allowed many projects that were previously delayed to get started, and many of the COVID-19 oriented constraints have started to ease.

As a result, overall growth remains strong, and the previous issues of bottlenecks have become less of a burden to the construction industry. The largest constraint to the construction industry continues to be labor shortages and escalated pricing.

Are We at Peak Construction Growth?
One question some may be asking is whether we have hit peak construction growth. Many of the indicators tracked within this report have hit highs not seen since before the 2008 financial crisis. Keep in mind, peak growth does not mean that a decline in the growth rate entails contraction, just that the rate of growth is not accelerating beyond the current pace.

Questions over peak growth stem from lingering COVID-19 bottlenecks, reduction in consumer confidence due to many of the consumer stimulus programs winding down, and anticipation of rising interest rates in the future as the economy recovers and government / central bank policies become less accommodative.

While we don’t know whether we’ve hit peak growth yet, the indicators we watch have a long lead time, and provide a lot of confidence that the environment should be in “growth” mode for some time to come. With that said, we may see growth level off or moderate a bit, which may not be a bad thing as we work through labor and material bottlenecks.

Technical Excellence – It’s the Small Details

In the orchestra of construction, progress is systematic and purposeful, but with the many moving parts sometimes the little details are overlooked. But it’s the small details that demonstrate the professionalism and passion your project team has for their trade. Here are three fine details not to miss.

  • Fit & finish to be as flawless as possible – Demonstrates knowledge of how pieces fit together and the watchful eye of your construction partner. Are the corners straight and true? Are the trim and details clean? Are the paint lines crisp? Is everything installed to the standards? All these little items measure how meticulous the construction team paid attention to the easily overlooked details during crunch time at the end of the project. Interiors take only a couple of weeks to complete yet this is what you and clients will see every day. There is no perfect job which makes it even more important never to lose sight of quality. Have you looked lately at your building’s fine details?
  • Clean job site & trailer – A clean job site and trailer improve efficiency and safety. Organization means no lost time looking for tools and materials. A clean job site mitigates accidents that not only injury a worker but possibly one of your staff members. An injury might also cause lost time affecting your project schedule. A clean job site and trailer leaves an impression of organization, better quality, and safety – is your contractor leaving you with a good impression?
  • Consistency in customer service & communication – No matter if your project is $10,000 or $10 million you should be treated as if you are their only client. Consistency in customer service and communication is every team member knowing exactly what is going on with the project at all times, showing respect not only to you as the client but the subcontractors and suppliers, and professional daily interactions in addressing challenges and working toward a solution. Do you have an active relationship, appreciation, and camaraderie with your construction partner?

“Technical excellence can only be achieved through a full-team effort —everyone paying attention to details while keeping their clients’ best interests at the top of their mind.”– David McIntosh, Vice President