Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
Do You Draw on Your Experiences?
Orestes Hernandez has a deep well of construction knowledge, business savvy and people skills.
Name: Orestes Hernandez
Company: Holiday Builders, Melbourne, Fla.
Years as superintendent: 2, plus 14 years of trade management
Customer willingness to recommend: 98%
Units carried per quarter: 18
Days ahead/behind schedule: 14 ahead
Homes delivered last year: 50
Value of homes delivered: $6.5 million
Hard-cost variance: 3% under budget
Punchlist items on first inspection: fewer than 5
Average days to correct punchlist items: 2
Orestes Hernandez has a deep well of construction knowledge, business savvy and people skills. He ran a plumbing and HVAC firm with his father and uncle. Later he owned a drywall business in South Florida for seven years to capitalize on the massive rebuilding after Hurricane Andrew. Before that he studied architecture at a technical college, and he learned a lot about leadership and organizational skills while in the military. And he has a broker's license. After only 24 months on the job, Hernandez won Superintendent of the Year for Holiday Builders.
Getting ahead of schedule: Hernandez schedules his jobs in two phases. Finish and trim have a separate schedule from all the rough work, with a small buffer in between. That way, if the schedule slips during the early stages, the trim and finish crews are unaffected. And he has fewer calls to make to get back on track.
"Sometimes I have to schedule trades 30 to 45 days out just to get a slot," he says. "If I made a single schedule through the whole course of a job, I would have to pretty much call everybody again: carpenters, painters, tile guys, cabinet guys, plumbing trim and electrical trim."
Hernandez also gains up to two weeks by doing site preparation as soon as the file from a new sale arrives on his desk. It is all work he can do before the building permits arrive, which is the start date of the company's building schedule.
Thorough pre-checks on all files: When Hernandez gets the file on a home, he spends extra time trying to uncover potential glitches. Truss orders are matched against elevation selections. He also checks that any extra room options are planned for and scheduled.
Right there and then: Trades can rely on the dates he supplies them, so Hernandez has built a lot of goodwill with them, which he uses to his advantage on customers' behalf. On the job site, he is all action and answers for customers. If they have a problem, it never makes it to a "to-do" list. "I deal with things right away. Right there on the spot I call the trade partner and schedule a time to take care of it. They come out within a day or two depending on how they are booked. If it is something critical, they are out there pretty quick."
What the trades say: "My office staff just loves when Orestes calls. It is very enjoyable to work with him. He is always in a good mood. He schedules his jobs early, a month before. If it is one day off, he will call up. In turn, we work with him to get his jobs done on time. You always try to help people who do their jobs the right way. His homes are always complete and ready for us to come in. He knows all of his customers by first name. He's on the phone right away to make the customers happy. He goes the extra step to please people." -- Kim Williams, president, Peay's Electric, West Melbourne, Fla.
Orestes on scheduling
Orestes on projecting and staying ahead of schedule
Orestes on working with trade workers
Orestes on keeping in contact with the homeowners