The Importance of Building Relationships

By Brad Shade, PE, LEED AP

Principal, Electrical Department Manager


Relationships in the construction industry are the key to successful projects and satisfied clients. Providing good design on every project is, without a doubt, a necessity, but developing relationships with clients leads to success. Being a good listener to fully understand the needs of the clients and the goals of each project creates trust. Honesty, proactive involvement when dealing with project issues and being part of the collaborative approach to the solution develops relationships.

But who exactly is “the client”? Is it the owner of the facility, the project user, the architect or other design professionals, the construction manager, or contractors performing the work? The answer, as you might have guessed, is all of them. Every team member is a client and the relationships that we develop to ensure success must be developed among all. Incidentally, this is how the Memorial Health System (MHS)—consisting of two hospitals, four medical campuses and several additional outpatient facilities—has become one of HAWA’s clients.

Through an existing relationship with a Columbus architect, I began working with MHS nearly ten years ago on a surgery renovation project at Selby General Hospital. Through the design process, I got to know the hospital’s facilities manager, as well as the health system’s facilities director and project coordinator. This project gave me an opportunity to listen and gain an understanding of their systems, their deficiencies and their plans for the future. This process of understanding led to trust, a relationship based on honesty, and a collaborative, proactive design process resulting in a system design that was modular, addressed deficiencies and would allow for expansion as part of future renovations.

During construction, my relationships extended to local contractors and their existing relationships with MHS. Relationships with design team members expanded to a Marietta-based architect who performed construction administration services for the project. As we all know, renovation projects are particularly messy, due to coordination with existing systems and the inevitable unforeseen conditions. However, the relationships established allowed the team to collaboratively and proactively approach issues, listening to all ideas and focusing on finding solutions, rather than assigning blame. This resulted in the project being completed on schedule and with minimal change orders.

The success of this project and the relationships developed laid the groundwork for future work at MHS. HAWA continues to work on projects with Memorial Health Systems, collaborating with many different design and construction teams. Through these projects, all our relationships—built on Listening, Honesty and a Collaborative, Proactive approach to problem solving—have led to success.

Our most recent project at MHS, the Strecker building, will be a two-story, 80,000-square-foot facility designed to replace the existing cancer center located on the main campus. The building will serve the radiation oncology function for the health system and will house a linear accelerator vault, two tomotherapy vaults, ancillary spaces on the first floor and will accommodate multiple doctors’ suites on the second floor. The building will also have a two-story connector to the existing building that serves the medical oncology function. HAWA is providing MEP engineering services that include HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, electrical and technology rough-in. The project will be designed in two phases, with an estimated completion date in 2019.

The key to successful projects—whether new or existing—is to cultivate good relationships with all team members involved. In my experience, owners, architects and contractors all appreciate when their design engineer is proactive, listens well and offers creative solutions tailored to their project’s unique requirements and budget.

Reach out today and learn more about how HAWA values building relationships in all we do.

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