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.
How Well Do You Know Your Product?
With the help of an assistant and a punchlist person, Kevin Treloar delivers 12 homes a month on average.
Name: Kevin Treloar
Company: Phillips Builders, Nashville, Tenn.
Years as superintendent: 12
Customer willingness to recommend: 100%
Units carried per quarter: 55
Days ahead/behind schedule: 25 ahead
Homes delivered last year: 124
Value of homes delivered: $15.6 million
Hard-cost variance: within 1.5%
Punchlist items on first inspection: 8
Average days to correct punchlist items: less than 5
Kevin Treloar builds starter homes in a hot-selling community in Hermitage, Tenn., near Nashville. With the help of an assistant and a punchlist person, he delivers 12 homes a month on average. Treloar contends he would not be as successful as he is without knowing how each of the houses he is building stands at any given moment, without referring to notes.
The product is not complicated, but each home still has hundreds of parts that need to be assembled. Remembering the status of every home from day to day is no small task considering that at any given time Treloar is carrying 40 to 70 homes.
"You can't work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and expect to remember everything that happened," says Treloar. It usually takes him a couple of hours at the end of the day to do the written and mental inventories required to be ready for the next day.
Knowing the status of each home under construction, inside and out, is part of Treloar's overarching goal of being in total control of all aspects of his job site. In terms of day-to-day operations, his control of a job helps things move along smoother in two ways. First, there is no question about where to go when there is a question or problem. Second, Treloar usually handles obstacles quickly and efficiently, which builds confidence in the team leader and creates a stable environment in which each team member can focus exclusively on the requirements of his or her job.
Treloar's six success drivers:
- Know your jobs and job site. "No sub or homeowner should be able to tell you anything about your homes that you don't already know."
- Have the site ready for each trade. "When the subs come to the job and it is hot or cold or muddy and they don't want to work, you won't have given them any reason that they can't do it."
- Show yourself at each home site as often as possible.
- You can't do too much communication with trades or home buyers.
- Be a good judge of character. "Don't waste time working with a trade that is not going to do a lot of good."
- Understand your buyer. With the short cycle time of the starter homes he builds, Treloar understands that buyers have a compressed time frame for expressing any concerns. He leaves it up to each buyer to decide how much contact to have with him during construction. "That's what I'm here for," he tells them.
What the trades say: "I told Kevin a couple of months ago that if he ever leaves, I am going with him. He is the best. He's always ahead of schedule. I am never short on material. If there is a little item that needs fixing, he won't ask us to come back on a special trip. Others want us to come back more than once. I am also a GC. I build for my own sometimes. If I have questions, I always ask him. He always has an answer. He will always do the research, and he will always help you out." -- Fayez "Frank" Abdel, owner, Imperial Builders (framer), Hendersonville, Tenn.
Kevin on getting to know subcontractors
Kevin on communicating with subcontractors
Kevin on dealing with customers
Kevin on advice for new superintendents
Kevin on working with good people