First Word: A perfect time for planning

With the busy summer season winding down, now is a good time to recharge your batteries with a vacation, start on your business plan for next year or attend an industry meeting to get the scoop on the latest trends and techniques that can help you be a more successful contractor.

Two major contractor associations – the Associated General Contractors of America and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association – are holding meetings at the end of this month. If you are a member of either group, consider combining attendance at one of these forums with a much-deserved vacation.

At AGC’s midyear meeting, to be held September 29 through October 1 in San Francisco, you can learn about:

  • marketing techniques to attract new business;
  • how to make the most of the newest construction tax cut;
  • your responsibilities regarding storm water controls; and
  • economic trends affecting the construction industry.

AGC is also holding leadership workshops in San Jose, California (September 16-19), and Cincinnati (October 14-17), that might be beneficial to your mid-level managers. The workshops help participants discover their leadership styles and effectively use them in the field. If you are thinking of appointing one person in your firm to be in charge of your safety program, a three-day AGC course in Glen Allen, Virginia, September 20-22, will give that person the basic skills needed to manage such a program.

The focus of ARTBA’s annual meeting, to be held September 26-29 in San Diego, will be the next federal highway and transit investment bill. The schedule includes:

  • discussions about the growing transportation needs of America’s manufacturing and shipping industries led by representatives of those industries;
  • A look at the cutting-edge design and construction techniques that can give you a competitive advantage in coming years;
  • the latest on developments in state-level funding and contracting such as the Trans-Texas Corridor plan, California’s “strategic growth plan” and the Indiana Toll Road concession.

This could also be a good time to sharpen the saw by looking into continuing education opportunities for yourself and your employees. Chevron’s Lubricants University recently added a Web-based course – Heavy-duty Coolants – to its catalog of training options for maintenance professionals. Students learn about engine cooling system parts, operation and potential problems.

Keeping your nose to the grindstone is great for productivity, but setting aside some time to reflect on what your company has been doing, where you want it to go and how to get there is important, too. This may be the perfect time to do that.