Posts Tagged ‘A/E/C’

Back in the day, when I loved going to shows and had far fewer responsibilities than today, there was nothing like seeing ‘The Boss’ in concert. For those who have witnessed his show, you know you leave feeling as if you have climbed a very large hill, wind in your face.

For those who only know Mr. Springsteen’s music through the airwaves or via their favorite music playing machine, you really should consider seeing him live. More than likely, you will leave thinking that if the Olympics ever included rock and roll as an event, it is easily conceivable that Bruce Springsteen and the ‘E Street’ Band would win gold, silver and bronze.

That said, I remember one of the times he played in Atlanta, after a few songs, he stopped to greet the crowd, “How’s it going Chattanooga!?” Some good natured ‘Boos’ followed and he was quickly told he was in Atlanta. I remember thinking, how silly is that!? How could someone not know what city they are in? I mean, I am sure the tour is hectic but his days of lifting equipment; loading and unloading are/were way, way behind him.

Fast forward a few years and I one day find that I am assigned a rather large, ‘rock and roll’ task. Because of a very large initiative, and the debut of a new company within our stable, I was tapped to create, write and deliver a one hour presentation on how to introduce this new product to architectural firms.

My agenda was simple…do this presentation at all 12 of our major branch offices in five days.

As memory serves me, the schedule was:

Monday – San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Tuesday – Denver, Kansas City, Dallas

Wednesday – Chicago, Boston

Thursday – Washington DC, Atlanta

Friday – Tampa, Orlando

Just revisiting this schedule in my mind makes me tired. But, in those days, the potency of the ‘piss and vinegar’ running through my veins was definitely of a higher proof than today. In spite of all the eagerness and enthusiasm that I packed with me on this ‘whirlwind tour’, I did indeed find myself, in the back of a cab, wondering what city I was in. As soon as I reached for my itinerary, I remembered that Springsteen concert and thought to myself, “Wow, I don’t know what city I am in!”

Since those days, I have yet to find myself in the same situation. However, from time to time, in spite of my best OCD efforts to keep a well maintained scheduled and prioritized task list, I have had to take pause and focus on which way is up. For me, the end of the year is a great time to not only take a personal inventory of accomplishments and goals but for my business as well.

As we see 2010 draw upon a close and the wheels of commerce coast to a stop for another year, I hope you have fared well during this time of economic uncertainty and, from a business perspective, realized that if it did not kill you, it made you stronger.

Finally, while I publically apologize to Mr. Springsteen for my thoughts on his confusing Chattanooga with Atlanta, I also offer my most sincere wishes that you are able to build new business in 2011 to unprecedented heights.

Merry Christmas and here’s to a safe, happy and prosperous new year.

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com


Read Full Post »

Back in the saddle is a good place to be!

My last post was more than a while ago and I did share with everyone how I was involved in an auto accident that put me on the sidelines for a while. Between physical therapy and having to have an operation, plus keep up with my ‘day job’, I have not had much time to write. That has changed.

One of the things I learned while I was trying to sneak in trips to the doctor and to P.T., was just how much I took for granted my ability to walk downstairs to my office each day and how much I truly am addicted to what I do. (Business-wise that is.)

I set as my goal, way back when, that I would retire at age 40. I had a Finance professor who taught Federal Finance (The Federal Reserve, etc.) and he did just that. On our last day of class, he said he wanted to thank us for being such a great group of students and that this was his final class as he was retiring.

To make a long story short, and to definitely date myself, my professor invested in real estate in the Athens, GA area, begin pyramiding his properties for several years and within a six month time frame, liquidated everything, netted after taxes, just north of $2,000,000. He bought a condo in south Florida and munis with the rest. That, I told myself, would be my plan.

Well, fast forward and the closest I ever came to that would be when my former company was sold, the new owners told ‘old timers’ like me to hit the road and I had six months severance and they had to purchase my stock. I was in no hurry to get a job. I told my wife, I was going to take six weeks and do nothing but play golf.

That lasted about three days.

I started going ‘crazy’ and then decided that I would make my job to find a new job. I would go to my home office at 8:00 AM and search for my next opportunity until 5:00 PM. Fortunately, at the same time, I started Construction Market Consultants, Inc. and have loved what I do ever since.

Why does Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs still put in the hours they do? Because they love what they do.

I have since changed my mantra from my days in business school. I never want to retire. Sure, I have lofty financial goals that would put me in a position so I would not have to work, but rather would want to work. Yes, my IRA is not where it used to be but I am not that concerned. I am addicted to churning the wheels of commerce and am so grateful that I get to wake up each day and participate in the free enterprise system.

In spite of loving what I do, don’t let me kid you, there are, to quote Jimmy Buffett, ‘Good days and bad days and going half-mad days.’ without a doubt. I am more than ready for 2010 to be a part of history. However, there is nothing like savoring a successful RFP or to be referred a nice piece of business that helps sooth the aches and pains from pulling the crank and seeing three lemons time and time again.

Next time, I will address something more specifically pertaining to building new business. Today, I wanted to remind everyone that if you too are ready for 2011, to just keep on hanging on and if no one else decides to participate, let’s just us turn things around in spite of the doomsayers! Being the week of Thanksgiving, I am willing to bet that even the most beleaguered businesses still has things to be thankful for.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone and know that of all the many things I am thankful for, those who take time to read my ramblings are definitely on that list.


Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com


Read Full Post »


Sorry for the lack of activity but I hit a snag about a month ago on a business trip.

To make a long story short, I was involved in a head-on auto collision (Not my fault), was knocked out, woke up in the ambulance, got a CT Scan at emergency room, was told as I was checking out, “Oh yea…by the way, we found a golf ball sized tumor in your neck, you need to get that checked.”

We had it biopsied, inconclusive.

Radio-active medical scan, inconclusive.

So, last week they went in and got it…thankfully, it was benign.

That said, I am back in the saddle and ready to churn the wheels of commerce once again! I did a webinar yesterday for a company called Elevation Research Group and was very happy with the results. It was on, what else? Building New Business for Architects.

I trust all is well and enjoying cooler temps. I hope to post some good stuff shortly so in the mean time, keep on churning!


Read Full Post »

Way back when, in my college days, I became very interested in investing in real estate. Those were the days when one would have found it a challenge to flip through the channels on television and not have seen some ‘guru’ hawking their real estate, home study course.

It was during this time when I first heard the phrase; ‘A Win-Win Situation’ and ‘Win-Win Negotiating’. Of course, the philosophy behind the headline is that in such a situation or negotiation, both parties win. What a concept!

I believe that, unless one has a gun pointed at their head, any time two parties agree and sign their name on the proverbial dotted line, how can it not be a win-win deal?

The past few months, I have found myself dealing with a new type of business situation which I shall call a ‘Win When?’ scenario.

I have recently worked with two clients; both on bringing new product and service offerings to market…both are involved in the construction industry. Both situations have reminded me of my father’s oft repeated line; “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”

Both situations have also prompted me to add to that with this: “If a job is worth starting, it is worth completing.”

In construction there is also the famous edict; “Measure twice, cut once.”

I constantly have to remind, not only my clients, but also myself, that the tried and true rule is not: “Measure six dozen times, think about cutting, hold meetings on the cutting process, deliberate on the cutting process and then go back to measuring.”

Do not misunderstand me, I am not ‘dissing’ planning, so much as I am promoting execution. That said, I believe I am in good company.

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Drucker

“A good battle plan that you act on today can be better than a perfect one tomorrow.” – General George S. Patton.

“Git ‘r done!” – Larry the Cable Guy

Specifically, what I am talking about is all the planning in the world needs to point to a specific goal with a specific deadline providing a specific result.

Take pause for a moment and answer the following:

“What is the single most important thing I need to achieve for my business?

“When do I need to achieve this?”

“How will I achieve this?”

There, business planning in a nutshell.

We all want to win; we all want to build new business, we all want to see our revenue and margins increase but are we spending too much time find sanding the widget or are we putting it in the showroom window with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it and moving on to build the next one?

I am afraid I have worked with, and talked to, far too many people who appear to be far more endeared to the idea of playing business owner than being a business owner. Times are tough and time is valuable. More now than ever, focus on what will take you to your next big ‘win’ and know ‘when’ that will happen.

Do that and I believe you will find yourself in your very own win-win situation.


Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com


Read Full Post »

Hey gang…we are giving the guest posting another shot as we received a lot of very good feedback from our first posting from Chris Hill, construction attorney. Next up is Kevin Kaiser who is here to share with us about the importance of a strong bonding program. Hopefully, you will read Kevin’s post and ‘bond’ with what he has to share. (Sorry, I could not help myself…Bobby)


Being in charge of your company’s bonding program is an important task. And often the people in the company consider the surety program to be a simple tool that should be dealt with only when absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately for you, this is not the case. If you want to succeed easily, then it’s important to be proactive when it comes to your surety program. Things change all the time, so staying current really helps when it comes time to secure the bond for your next project. Plus, we can always improve things, right? A good thing today could be great tomorrow as long as you take the time to care and grow it. This is exactly what should be done in your bonding program and here are a few ways to go about it to make sure you get the surety bond you need for your company to succeed.

Can You Call Me?

Having solid communications with your bonding company can really improve the service you receive and speed up the process for both parties.

Talk to your agent. Tell them what you need, what you expect, and make sure they follow through. If the surety makes a decision about something that you don’t quite understand, ask them. Setting up meetings with your agent on a regular basis can really help make sure your bonding program is on the right track and progress is always being made.

Also, making sure that you answer when your agent contacts you will help them provide better service to you.

How Much Are You Worth?

A big indicator a surety looks at is your net worth. In other words, do you own more stuff than you owe? Sureties look at this because it shows whether your company is going to be able to turn a profit in the long haul. It also shows if you can lose a wing without the plane crashing, so to speak.

For example, when considering two companies, the surety will most likely bond the one with the most net worth, so it’s something that should be definitely be on the mind of everyone in the company.

Another thing worth building up is your working capital. It’s often seen much the same as net worth (it’s the difference between current assets and liabilities), though it covers a much shorter period, usually the previous 12 months. Find your company improving these two things and bonding companies will be much more likely to write bonds for your company.

Last Tips

We all want our company to grow. It’s perfectly logical. Unfortunately though, there are many companies that grow too fast and flop. That’s why it’s important not to grow too much in the eyes of your surety. A good tip is to not try to do anything more than twice the size of what your previous job was.

Being honest really helps. If you decide that you’re going to wait to tell the surety that the project is not going as expected, you can sure to be find difficulties down the road when trying to get a bond. Just keep open the lines of communication with your surety and let them know anything that might be related to your bond program immediately so it can be dealt with efficiently.

Follow these tips and your bonding program will no doubt improve, allowing your company to take on larger contracts and in turn, grow your business.


Kevin Kaiser is a principal at SuretyBonds.com, the nationwide leader in surety bonds. You can connect with him on Twitter, @suretybond or Facebook.com/suretybond.

Feel free to contact Kevin directly: kevin{at}suretybonds.com.

Read Full Post »

Today is the Fourth of July.

While I will be attending the annual Darnell Family picnic and fireworks extravaganza, I will not be celebrating the ‘Fourth of July’.

I will however be celebrating Independence Day.

Now, for those who think I may be splitting hairs in game of semantics, allow me to explain. In Iran, North Vietnam, Syria and Cuba…they have a Fourth of July. Today we celebrate Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Apart from topics of eternal themes, my family and friends, there is absolutely nothing I am more passionate about than my daily participation in free market capitalism. My daily engagement in building new business for Construction Market Consultants and for our clients has been made possible by those brave men who set the stage for this country to truly be the land of opportunity.

Have a great, safe, fun weekend everyone. After the holiday, it is back to churning the wheels of commerce and our pursuit of happiness.

Thanks for reading…


Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com


Read Full Post »

Having played guitar since I was a youngster, I have developed a deep appreciation for guitar players. Once, a friend asked me, “What is the difference between you and Sonny Lallerstedt?” (More on Sonny in a moment.) I replied, “I play guitar, Sonny is a guitar player.”

I could regale you, if you are a music fan, with Sonny Lallerstedt stories for the entire blog but I will make a point before I am done. Sonny is one of the best friends I have ever had, and without a doubt the most talented musician I have ever known. He played Phil Keaggy’s ‘Wedding In The Country Manor’ at our wedding, has played on hundreds of albums from Elton John down to people no one has ever heard of and he is as humble as he is gifted.

A couple of quick examples of Sonny’s musical abilities:

– When Sonny was 12 years old, he could play any song on the radio by Chet Atkins (His major guitar influence)

– Sonny has perfect pitch. You can put a guitar tuner in front of him, ask him to sing a ‘C’ and the tuner will indicate a spot on ‘C’.

– I was in his recording studio once when he was working on a project for the ‘Miss South Carolina’ beauty pageant; they were making a track of ‘New York, New York’. He had six horn players, all partitioned from each other but still playing/recording at the same time.

After they finished, Sonny had to point out to one of the horn players that at a certain measure, he played a ‘F’ instead of a ‘G’. Obviously, the trumpet player asked to hear the playback. Sonny ‘punched out’ all the rest of the horns so we would only be hearing the player in question and sure enough, the mistake was obvious.

There are so many other examples I could share but the bottom line is I have been very blessed to have so many experts at so many things among my circle of friends. When I am buying a new guitar, piece of equipment or whatever, I always ask Sonny’s input first.

Now, back to business; when Eddie Van Halen came on the scene, the tones he got out of his home-made, Fender ‘Stratocaster’ copy guitar were amazing. I once mentioned to Sonny how I would love to play Eddie’s guitar to get those sounds. He replied that it would sound different if I played it. (He was not just talking about the vast talent gap either.) That thought never left my mind.

When I got the idea for his blog, I dropped Sonny an email just to make sure I remembered this conversation correctly, that if I picked up Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, played it, it would sound differently. Sonny’s reply was:

You’re right! Everybody has a different touch. We might get close to the sound, but the little things that each of us does makes a difference.

This was good news for me. First, I would not have to abandon my idea for this blog and secondly, my memory may not be as bad as I feared.

As we try to build new business, we are inundated with solutions, tools, opportunities and experts all offering help. I have no doubt that we can all learn something…even from a blog like mine! The thing to remember is when you hear someone say “This is the way to do this.” or “This is the way to do that.” each one of us, no matter how closely we follow the recipe, will have a different result because of, just like Sonny said, we all have a different touch.

It you play guitar or are a guitar player and you want to improve…read a book, attend a seminar/webinar or even better, take a personal lesson that will help you develop your unique touch. What may be comfortable for me to say in front of a building committee will be different than what you would feel comfortable saying. If you are in charge of growing revenue and/or increasing profits for your company, I believe the same holds true.

There are many solutions out there that will help you grow your company, just remember that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Or, one ‘sound’ doesn’t fit all.

Post Script – I want to thank Chris Hill for his guest post last time. Chris is an incredible resource and his blog, ‘Construction Law Musings’ is the best law blog I have read.

Also, if you want to see a very short clip, less than a minute, of Sonny:



Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »