March 2020 - Southern Site

Southern Site Contractors Weather Day

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At Southern Site Contractors, we understand how much inclement weather can mess up any construction company’s plans. On a rainy day, everyone in the construction industry knows they might get the call to stay at home. At most companies, that means you don’t get paid for the day. But at Southern Site, our weather day policy ensures that our people still get their regular paycheck (or at least close to it), even if rain keeps them away from the job site.

Rainy Day Program

Our weather day policy is on a crew-by-crew basis because some jobs can work in the rain, while others can’t. In general, weather days are earned based on the profitability of the job site. At the beginning of every month, each foreman is given a worksheet by their project manager that outlines their profitability goals.

If the team reaches 90% of their goal, they all earn one weather day. If they get to 100% of their goal, they receive two weather days, and reaching 110% of that goal gets them three weather days. We also reserve those days during the dry months and then start paying them out in November. At the beginning of May, any unused weather days are paid out to each employee in the form of a lump-sum bonus.

For example, let’s say there’s a crew on a site that only gets 24 hours for the week because they got rained out for two days. Then, when we’re doing payroll, we will grant that entire crew weather days to try to get them as close to 40 hours as possible.

The second people hear that we offer this structure — especially those that have experience with other companies in the construction industry — they nearly universally say they’ve never heard of a construction company offering this type of perk.

We’ve found that the weather day policy helps considerably with both attracting new hires and also retaining our current team members. Once they see those weather day payouts show up in their paychecks, they have concrete proof of how much we truly care about our employees.

The Role of Technology at Southern Site

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At Southern Site Contractors, we have experienced firsthand how much the latest technology can streamline our operations. Our integration of technology starts in the field, where our usage of GPS in our dozers and trackhoes allows us to be more efficient, while also improving our performance.

Previously, we only had GPS in our dozers. We would have the dozers run along the initial cut, while a trackhoe followed it. Now that we have GPS in the trackhoes too, we don’t even need that level of babysitting anymore. When you compare it to the old method of using grade stakes, it’s unbelievable how much time and effort we’re saving these days thanks to the GPS.

GPS also helps make our work more reliable in the field. We’re within two-tenths of an inch, every time, no matter what. For most projects, we can get that down to one-tenth, or even half a tenth. Even if a job has a one-tenth tolerance, we’re going to hit that every time. It’ll be nearly perfect. With GPS, there’s never really a question of whether we’re grading within tolerance anymore.

In addition to GPS, our foremen and supervisors have iPads that they can use to document progress on any given job. They also use those iPads to figure out all sorts of issues on the fly. For example, they can determine what kind of risers we need for a manhole. Within moments, they know the right size of riser to put that manhole stack perfectly on grade, which is a process that used to be much more complicated.

We also recently started increasing our investment in software, and we’re already seeing the benefits of that decision. Previously, we would use Excel spreadsheets for estimating, which required a ton of effort for our estimators. Now, we’ve implemented HCSS HeavyBid, which has significantly streamlined the entire estimating process.

With HeavyBid, we can put every single little thing we need to do a job into our estimate, right down to the nuts and bolts we’ll use. And the accuracy is incredible — we’re able to get within a few dollars of our actual costs with every estimate. It’s getting to the point where we’ll barely have to do takeoffs anymore.

We’re also about to start using another HCSS product — Equipment360, which will track any issues we have with our equipment. With these programs exchanging information with each other, we’ll be able to go straight from the bid all the way through the finished project, accurately documenting every step of the process.

Technology will never replace the expertise and experience of our people in the field, or in the office. However, by intelligently implementing technology in the right ways, we can help our employees be as efficient as possible, in an industry where time truly is money.

The Southern Site Company Culture

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To put it simply, the Southern Site Contractors company culture is one of family. We’re all very passionate people when it comes to what we do for a living. Sometimes, we’ll debate about what we believe is right for any given job, but at the end of the day, we trust that all of our people are going to make the right decisions.

We always have each other’s backs, which sometimes means being flexible enough to drop what you’re doing and go help somebody else out for a day or two. That will occasionally even mean helping out with things that aren’t even part of our typical operations. A great example of this was the recent tornadoes in Tennessee.

When Ryan started Southern Site, he came from Goodall Homes. The Stonebridge neighborhood of Lebanon, Tennessee, is a project Goodall Homes has been working on for over a decade. When the tornadoes came through, they really hit Stonebridge hard. Even though that’s a development we don’t actually work on for Goodall, the very next morning we took equipment off of our jobs and headed up there to help clean up the debris.

That’s a good example of how our people at Southern Site treat everybody. We try to maintain that mutually beneficial family atmosphere, not just with our employees and our customers, but also in our communities. We want our people to treat everyone with compassion and respect, and the ones that don’t usually don’t last very long here. It’s an ‘all hands on deck, do whatever it takes’ mentality.

We’re not afraid to say the things that are on our mind, and fight for what we think is important. Everyone here knows that their opinions are respected and that we will listen to their perspectives, no matter what the issue is. In a way, that results in more opportunities for advancement and growth at Southern Site than you would typically see at other construction companies.

We strongly believe in giving people every chance to learn and to do things right, even if that means failing along the way in the short term. We can make mistakes and come back from them. It’s the repeated errors that you can’t always come back from. Everyone here has the freedom to be successful in their own roles, and that comes with a lot of faith in our people from the top down.

As we look to the future, we have to focus on maintaining our company culture as we continue to grow and expand our business. In that context, hiring the right people is vital. When we bring new people into the company, we need to provide them with the necessary tools to succeed and make sure they understand the processes we like to follow.

We also need to never lose sight of our role in the community. A lot of larger companies lose touch with the communities they serve, but as Southern Site grows, we want to make sure we set up every job site to put our best foot forward for the community.