Meeting the Needs of the General Contractor
One of the main challenges for erectors is building strong relationships with
general contractors. The general’s job is to make sure that the project is
successful and the owner is satisfied. Thus when it comes to the core structure
or exterior of the building, the general contractor needs an erector who is up
to the task.
It is in the best interest of every erector to understand what general
contractors are looking for during the bidding process. “Experience is a
determining factor for a majority of general contractors. Too often, erectors
with minimal experience take on jobs that are too big. It leads to problems for
all involved, not to mention public safety issues,” says Derek Bentley of STL
Erectors, Tualatin, Ore.
Bentley has been involved with several jobs where he has been called in to
finish a project gone badly. “Owners find when they get an inexperienced erector
that they have to bring in an experienced crew halfway through. It is very
expensive for the owner. Owners are learning that it does not pay to go cheap.”
He has been erecting buildings for over 20 years and currently works as both an
erector and a general contractor for STL. The company is a design, fabrication,
and erection corporation with offices in Florida, California, Nevada, Utah, and
Massachusetts. It focuses on providing the customer with one source for steel
structural materials, construction, and problem solving.
“The most important issue that I face as a general contractor and erector is
finding qualified labor,” says Bentley. “If an erector can prove to me that they
are experienced and their crews are experienced, it goes a long way to winning
“It also goes hand in hand with competitive pricing,” he adds. “An experienced
crew can erect a building in half the time without any problems. It is part of
what I sell to our owners; values as our basis for business: Integrity, honesty,
communication, and great care in problem solving. That can only be accomplished
with experience.” Once the general contractor determines the erector’s
experience level, other issues such as safety and references are also evaluated.
By understanding what the general contractor is looking for, erectors can strive
to educate their crews to meet or exceed the criteria being set in the
marketplace. “Continuing education of erection crews is critical,” says Bentley.
“We are working with our associations and unions regularly to train our crews.
As a general contractor, I look for erectors with strong continuing education
Finally, general contractors look for erectors that match their area of
expertise. General contractors who specialize in weld-up are going to look for
erectors that are structural; similarly, contractors who specialize in
pre-engineered buildings look for erectors who specialize in prefabricated
systems. “By knowing your area of expertise and working to gain experience in
that field, an erector can build relationships that will grow their business for
many years to come,” concludes Bentley.
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