KD Construction Invests in Technology to Stay Nimble and Efficient During COVID-19
KD Construction’s core values positioned it to remain agile and efficient as stay-at-home orders were issued in Florida.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, KD Construction had visions of 2020 being an exciting year to be spent celebrating the benchmark of 30 years servicing its clients. What it didn’t realize is that its core values had unknowingly positioned it to remain agile and efficient as stay-at-home orders were issued in Florida.
The Pompano Beach, Fla.-based concrete shell and drywall contractor’s continuous improvement mindset led it to invest in the latest project management software, ensuring its entire staff has remote access today.
“We strive to improve our service and capabilities every day,” Vice President Greg Raley says. “When you stop getting better you start getting worse. Every day we continue to find better ways and think outside the box a bit to continue to give clients more than we have in years past.”
The south Florida multifamily residential sector in which KD Construction has specialized for the past 30 years is typically flush with money from both domestic and international investors. Because the south Florida market is well supported, the company’s biggest challenge has been maintaining the level of service it is committed to providing its clients.
“We have to turn down work at times because our challenge is not getting too big,” Raley adds. “We would rather do fewer jobs and do them really well than take on too much and not be able to provide the level of service we expect to provide for our clients.”
KD Construction’s typical shell projects range in size from just under 300,000 square feet to more than 1 million square feet. The company has completed projects that represent more than 100,000 apartment and residential units throughout the southern United States.
Investing in Technology
To improve efficiency and increase communication among its team, KD Construction adopts the latest technologies and project management software. For example, the company recently invested in remote server capabilities so its field team doesn’t have to leave the job site to drop off delivery tickets or invoices and can participate in virtual meetings.
“Before we pay an invoice, we need to make sure the field received the material in the proper type and quantity and collected the paperwork,” Raley adds. “To keep the ball rolling, the team in the field can scan those tickets in without leaving the job rather than transporting them to the office for payment processing. You don’t want to be paying bills without confirming the right quantity was delivered at the right price.”
KD Construction’s field personnel are equipped with Galaxy Pro tablets to access the most up-to-date plans, upload photos, request information, quickly ask questions and more. “The tablets have been a tremendous help in speeding up communication and exchanging information more quickly,” Raley says.
By investing in technology, KD Construction has improved efficiency, quality, production and safety on its jobs. “If a superintendent is constantly having to get on a phone call or run to the general contractor’s trailer, then he’s not watching the workers work,” Raley explains. “Anything we can do to get that information in people’s hands more quickly keeps them watching the team to make sure safety is in place and the quality is being maintained.”
When the state of Florida issued stay-at-home orders in March to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, KD Construction says its office staff had already been working from home, using its remote server technology. “We started early so we could work out the bugs, but there weren’t any bugs,” Raley notes. “Our software makes it like you’re sitting at your desk, controlling your desktop computer from a laptop wherever you are.”
KD Construction maintains quality on every project by having defined roles in each of its divisions, which include tunnel, high-rise and mid-rise. When the company first started building multifamily residential projects, low-rise garden-style developments were prominent. As real estate became scarce, the company bid more mid- and high-rise developments.
“We had a lot of our staff good at low-rise developments, but they wanted experience with high-rises, so we structured the teams to integrate them in with the people more experienced in high-rises,” Raley explains. “Every team has a director of operations, project manager and project engineer, as well as the supervisory team and they all have defined roles.”
By defining roles, KD Construction improves quality because the quality control supervisors are able to do just that: oversee quality rather than performing other roles. “You have to get bigger to get better rather than having one person and spreading them too thin,” Raley says. “If you only spend X amount of dollars on one employee to do everything — and he won’t be good at doing everything — there’s a lot of waste there. By adding an extra hand or two, you are saving so much in the waste side of things that it basically pays for itself.”
Working Better Together
KD Construction believes it is only as good as its people, who include not only its employees, but also its subcontractors, vendors and suppliers. “If there is one thing we have learned over this 30 year journey, it’s that you need to listen to those people and understand the struggles they are up against and realize that their challenges are equally important to our challenges,” Raley says.
KD Construction takes its staff on tours of some of its trade partners’ facilities so they understand exactly what those contractors need to successfully deliver material or services. Concrete is a major part of KD Construction’s business, so the entire staff meets with the concrete facility’s dispatchers and operations team to put a face to a name.
“Our team meets the dispatchers they talk to daily and our people get to see how their systems work,” Raley explains. “They tell us what their needs are, what’s important to them and how information is put into the systems. If a certain piece of information is missing, it slows down their delivery process.”
At the steel yards, KD Construction’s staff learns how rebar is fabricated and loaded onto the trucks. While visiting the yard, the teams can suggest different ways to load the truck to increase efficiency when unloading; for example, keeping certain phases of the building together.
“It does no good to get second-floor material mixed with third-floor when the balance of the second and third floor is on another truck,” Raley explains. “This helps us understand how they function so we can help each other do our jobs more efficiently. This is something that’s unique to us and helps increase loyalty by showing we care about others’ jobs, too. Everyone will have a bad day, but if you can minimize those bad days, that is when things start to function at a high level.”
Moving forward, KD Construction says it will continue to reflect back on the past 30 years and the lessons learned in an effort to maintain a continuous improvement mindset that maximizes efficiency and productivity while delivering high-quality projects.