The Mystery of the Missing Workers

Seems that we are not the only ones feeling this pinch in our efforts to attract talent. In the recent article “The Mystery of the Missing Workers” from Barron’s, there sure seems to be some credence to this. Having spoken with many of you recently on this very topic, I know it is at or near the top of your lists of concerns.

Specific to our industry and region, there seems to be a recurring pain in trying to hire mid-level talent – those with 5-10 years experience in the real estate and construction fields. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the cause of this dearth of talent. The lack of hiring, training and experience in this experience level can mostly be attributed to the results of the post Lehman Brothers era induced recession.

Yes, this upturn in demand for our services translates into somewhat increased margins, (or potential for them) but if we cannot perform to the level at which our clients demand and deserve, then it exacts a great long term cost to our business in terms of sullied reputation and lack of willingness for clients to repeat with us. Something NONE of us can afford or allow.

Here at Himes Associates, Ltd. we have to cast a wide net and constantly be on the lookout for new talent. Being busy is a GOOD thing in this rising (albeit moderately) market. It seems we are constantly running ads on LinkedIn, Indeed, and various industry / association boards. And in several markets concurrently.

Just thought I would share this, since many of you feel the same thing…..  So if you know of any great talent in project management, real estate development in the commercial and mission critical sectors send them our way ! If of course you have not snagged them first !

Hope that 2015 continues at this pace…. Being busy sure feels good !


Johnny Come Lately to the Data Center Dance

Thunderstruck. Floored. Maryland (who?) announces they are trying to woo data centers. Better take a sip of coffee or I will faint.

Now I am from Maryland. Born and raised. Love Baltimore and the State of Maryland. To visit. As a place to do business, Maryland has historically lagged Virginia as a business hub. Geographically close, the two states border each other but seem to be different planets. Drive through Northern Virginia and witness the energetic hubs of Tysons Corner replete with corporate HQ; Reston with its mixed use developments; and the mecca of Reston Town Center These all lead out to one of wonders of the tech world, the center of harmonic convergence in the data center world, Ashburn. Drive through Maryland and see, well, strip malls. And the occasional office building.

Now I applaud Maryland for even trying here. And this is GREAT news for ByteGrid who has to compete with Prince William County’s aggressive courting of high tech firms, Buddy Rizer of Loudoun County and the formidable Martin Briley from the State of Va EDA. More depth to their excellent offerings.

This move should especially hearten brokers who will add this to their arsenal of financial weaponry and wizardry to lure folks to Ashburn and PW County.

As I have been saying for years to people asking how to get into the data center game, you have to be deeply committed, in it for the long haul and be willing to stake your capital and reputation.

Good luck Maryland. I want you to succeed and I applaud your coming to the dance, albeit late

Re-inventing Firms in a Down-Sloping Market

By: Paul E. Himes

Yesterday, my good friend and prominent businessman, Jim Cahill and I had an hour long conversation  about “re-inventing” our firms in this sideways and down-sloping commercial real estate  market. The turbulence and unpredictability of course, comes courtesy of dynamic (some say destructive) capitalism. It is the ability to think DIFFERENTLY and to view things differently that enables us to formulate game winning strategies, the insight to “zig” when others “zag”, and like a good battlefield general, to know when to charge and when to pull back.

Primarily it is the “How do I differentiate myself?” question that we, as business people, need answered. For you see, our clientele, our customers, are NOT going to take the time to view us differently, or to use any sort of divinator when viewing us. It is us who must present, front and center, that difference. Place the lens in front of their eye, as it were, and FORCE them to view you as you would want them to view you.

How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci” was a great read. It taught me a lot, including to start using my left brain more. My left hand is my off hand since I am right handed.  To this day, years later, I have to continually work at this. Surfing and researching today I ran across this article in Inc. Magazine that struck me a a great distillation of the book in some easy points.

The Italian master had skill and great ideas, but he also had something else: the ability to look at the world around him differently. And Michael Gelb, being a pretty brilliant guy himself, uses DaVinci himself as an easel to paint to you how to think like Leo.

Applying this to my conversation yesterday spawned these thoughts:

Do you look, walk, act and sound too much like your closest competitors? Do SOMETHING about it. Change your viewpoint and start looking at the issue / your firm / your job / your life DIFFERENTLY. So what would Leonardo do? (A new bumper sticker in the making here – WWLD?) Do these: (or other creative ideas)

  • Sharpen your market offering  – focus and dig into specialty niche or sub-niche markets.
  • Everyone in your firm dress in blue suits, white shirts and ties? (ATTENTION: Lawyers and brokers) Do as our Mobil client did when they re-made themselves years ago – BAN the ties.
  • Change your pricing model. I often admired the guarantee of client satisfaction sometimes offered by the Staubach Company . 100% guaranteed. In the clients sole discretion.
  • Everyone using PowerPoint? Ditch it and bring an easel with a blank piece of paper and some markers. Start writing down what the CLIENT says. Which of course is what counts anyway.

And for the must have “wax on, wax off” balance and counterpoint – what should you NOT do as a so called “differentiator”? Some thoughts –

  • Offer yet another incremental copy cat offerings – ANOTHER dashboard of metrics? PUH-LEEEEZE
  • Add more dots to the maps of locations. YAWN. Ever heard of the internet? Mobile devices? I can be anywhere in this country in 6 hours
  • Add yet another service offering as an extension of your services. WOW ! Soon we will have firms that do EVERYTHING providing services to companies who outsource it all and do NOTHING.

These are easy thoughts and ideas. Getting more specific as to your particular situation is difficult. Intrigued enough to read the book? Get it here.

From that little company who saw things differently and differentiated themselves. Amazon.


Please Welcome John Tribble to the HAL Team!

Please join Himes Associates, Ltd. in welcoming John Tribble, our new Senior Project Manager to the team!

After a long, grueling search, we are happy to bring John on-board as an outstanding addition to our Mission Critical team.   John has over 30 years of experience in the mission critical space working on Data Centers, Tenant fit-outs, commercial, and federal projects ranging in worth from $1.5 million, to $500 million.

John’s expertise lies in the mission critical space. Specifically, John has managed data center projects up to 50,000 SF and 12 MW, and commercial space of over 70 million SF. His experience dealing with the complexity of data centers will bring  great value to the Himes team. In the past 2 months alone, Himes Associates, Ltd. has acquired over six data center/mission critical projects. With Himes’ dedication to quality service, and attention to detail, it was imperative to add a team member whose skills and experience match our quality of service. Currently, John is working with an important client on a data center in Denver, CO.

With that being said, Himes Associates, Ltd. is thrilled to welcome John Tribble to our team! We look forward to seeing John’s success here at Himes. 

Experts speak about Design-Build at Bisnow’s DICE Event

Last week, Paul Himes moderated at Bisnow’s Data Center Investment Conference and Expo (DICE) at DC’s J.W. Marriott. Check out the full list of Bisnow DICE speakers!

Paul Himes and Kevin Brightwell
Paul Himes and Kevin Brightwell

Paul Himes from Himes Associates spoke about the controversial topic of the Design-Build  model. Other speakers on the panel included, Kevin Brightwell, KTA Group, Brian Brezovsky, DPR Construction, Ben Stewart, Verizon Teremark, and James Sauvageau, ESD.

The best thing about this panel, aside from the constant witty banter, was that each speaker came armed with the view of their respective backgrounds: General Contractors, A/E firms, Owner’s Reps. This of course made for an interesting and truthfully comical 45 minutes of meaty dialogue for the audience.

The DB model has many positive aspects; it is collaborative, and saves the owner both time and money by preventing constant back and forth between A/E firms and GC’s. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet somehow, information always seems gets lost in translation. It seems to me that nothing would be more logical and productive  than having every important player at one round table making quick decisions. Ben Stewart from Teremark made the best point that everyone should to take home. Yes, the DB model has some pitfalls and can be a bit more time consuming, but consider the other option. A traditional design-bid-build model is just outdated.

It’s all about managing expectations on all ends of the spectrum. From the scope of work, to who (GC or A/E) will act as the lead throughout the project.The DB model has been around long enough now that it’s time for the masters to master it!

“Remember that the six most expensive words in business are: ‘We’ve always done it that way.'” -– Catherine DeVrye 

The entire panel
The Panel
Paul Himes, Kevin Brightwell, and Ben Stewart
Paul Himes, Kevin Brightwell, and Ben Stewart