Transcript - How to Win Work With ARCO, with Jake Stefan

Audio:                   Welcome to AEC Marketing for Principals, brought to you by Smartegies, where we help design and construction firms navigate sales and leverage marketing to win more projects. Here are your hosts, Katie Cash and Judy Sparks.

Katie Cash:                    Hi, everyone. Katie Cash here, sitting with my partner in strategy, Ms. Judy Sparks, as we are diving into today's episode with Jake Stefan, the President of ARCO Design/Build-BTS. We are super excited to talk with Jake today not only because he and his firm often partner with design and construction firms across the Southeast for developments, but because he represents so much of our typical C-suite listener base, being technically trained, coming up through the ranks of a construction firm, and then finding himself through the path of principle, sitting as a resident of a design build firm today. Jake, we are very interested and excited for you to share your journey with us and our listeners today and appreciate you taking time out.

Jake Stefan:                  Absolutely. I appreciate it. Happy to be here, and certain a fan of the podcast. This is a neat experience for me too.

Katie Cash:                    Well, I'm sure you're trying to contain your fangirlism over there, and you're getting super excited to talk with Judy and I both on the show, but we are equally excited to talk with you. Maybe you could share with our listeners that might not be as familiar with ARCO Design/Build a little bit about your company and really what your day looks like serving as the current President?

Jake Stefan:                  The day is always a fun conversation point. We'll start with ARCO Design/Build as a company, first and foremost. We are a design build general contractor, who travels nationally. Our focus is predominantly industrial buildings, especially out of the Atlanta, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Houston, and Philadelphia, well, Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore offices. That's our core. We do plenty of other things as well, but our real specialty and what we grew up on and have become today is really the experts in the industrial design and build construction process. We kind of view ourselves really as as customer service company that just happens to do construction along the way.

Katie Cash:                    I love that.

Jake Stefan:                  It's kind of one of the little mantras that we have around the office and really what we built the business around today. That's kind of what we look for. We work a lot with end users, cold storage clients, pharmaceutical clients, obviously, the big developers around the country as well. There's a lot there in terms of what keeps us busy I guess you'd say.

Katie Cash:                    It's so interesting kind of see how you've evolved across the industry, across the Southeast. It sounds like you're even kind of encroaching up into the Northeast in terms of geography, but focusing really in that industrial market that is kind of experiencing a boom as we sit here today and a lot of that being driven by e-commerce and the demand for warehouse and distribution facilities. Are you seeing any other trends in that particular market that kind of maybe you're seeing more through just design-build procurement and things like that?

Jake Stefan:                  Yeah, I think you definitely hit on some of it, Katie, in terms of the e-commerce thing. That's obviously changed the way that distribution has been viewed and looked at. The American consumer buys completely differently today than they did 20 years ago, and so you've got lots of companies that are trying to still today figure out how to deal with that. We look at the Amazon effect and the things that have happened there and how they've kind of looked at and embraced this concept of the last mile distribution and utilizing all different sorts of ways to get the product to the consumer.

Jake Stefan:                  There's a lot of companies that are still trying to figure out how to catch up to that because it's somewhat questionable as to how profitable at all some of this last mile stuff is that Amazon is doing. They're kind of getting away with it because they're Amazon and it doesn't necessarily work for everybody else. There's a lot of trying to figure that out and we're seeing people do things along the lines of trying to do distribution out of their retail stores because they've already got bricks and mortar to completely independent distribution centers for nothing but e-commerce to, "Let's take our existing distribution center that's designed to go and deliver to bricks and mortar and let's figure out how to carve out a section of this warehouse or do an expansion on this warehouse and VC kind of distribute out of that. Nobody has really got that perfect solution yet in that, so that's driving a lot and I think you hit right on that.

Jake Stefan:                  The other thing we're seeing a lot of is in the food business and the cold storage arena there is a ton of activity, which is great for us because we're one of the premier builders in the country for cold storage. We've seen a lot of uptick in growth in that, both on the import-export side of things. There's a lot of these inland ports that have developed as trucking and transportation has been a big problem. We're seeing a lot more of these inland ports that aren't anywhere near water like Greer, South Carolina, and Joliet, Illinois, that are just popping up because there's a lot of industrial land, they're near roadways or railway intersections and they can bring in a lot of product, funnel port, and then distribute from there as kind of a secondary slot. We're seeing a lot of that sort of thing happening as well where we're seeing these cold storage or food distribution things happening.

Jake Stefan:                  The other thing that's been really interesting in the food world is the way we buy our food is completely different than the way we used to do it years ago. Now, 20 years ago, you walked into a grocery store and there was no organic anything, and now there's organic aisles, like multiple sections of it and you go in Publix and every major department has got organic produce or organic meats, organic seafoods, or GreenWise this or that and all these different things. All of these companies are starting to embrace that and one of the things that's developed out of this green movement is the concept of frozen is the new fresh.

Jake Stefan:                  You're seeing people buy produce now out of the frozen section and it be potentially fresher than what you're buying out of the actual produce section because it came out of the field and immediately got frozen and went right into distribution, whereas the other produce that came right out of the field, it had seven days before it got to a distribution point or something along those lines. You already have the decaying process starting there where it's kind of been put on hold with the frozen foods. Frozen is no longer the TV dinner that you warm up in a microwave and sit and eat.

Katie Cash:                    It's so funny, whenever you were talking about the way we buy food and beverage has changed, I thought you were going to go along the lines of kind of continuing on this e-commerce story with Blue Apron and HelloFresh and those meal kits, but I really didn't think about... I just went to Publix earlier this week and I did buy a lot of frozen stuff because I knew I wouldn't be able to eat all of the fresh vegetables. I hadn't even thought about that, so that's really interesting to me.

Jake Stefan:                  It's amazing and your point on Blue Apron and these meal kits is valid, although it's been somewhat unproven as to how sustainable that stuff is, and even AmazonFresh and what they're trying to do in groceries through e-commerce is still somewhat unproven in terms of what it is. It got tried 10 or 15 years ago, heck, it was almost 20 years ago when in Atlanta we had like Webvan. I don't know if you guys remember that at all. I loved it as a young professional, but that was definitely ahead of the curve I think in terms of what was okay because that crashed and burned in a hurry.

Jake Stefan:                  Now, you can go and you can order from Publix and you can order from Kroger and you can order all these... My wife knows all these different things. I'm not as familiar with them, but there's a lot of that stuff that's out there that you can get that home delivery. That's not really distribution-oriented, it's really driven more by the... It's Uber or it's driven by the grocery stores themselves and things like that for home delivery. The meal kits are interesting but I'm not sure how longterm that goes in terms of the premiums that people are paying for that and things along those lines. The impact on the cold storage market has been tremendous in terms of all those additional frozen and cold product that's being kept, and that's been a huge motivator or driver I should say of our business over the last five to 10 years I'd say.

Judy Sparks:                  Jake, there's a couple of things. You've mentioned the Amazon effect and you mentioned how a lot of people in your position might even question how profitable is that and not every retailer out there or distribution center can get away with that. Just this avoidance of becoming a commodity. Then, you mentioned your company is really a customer service company that happens to do construction and I kind of linked those two ideas about avoiding this commodity service platform that is so common where low bid wins and being able to bring extra value to a customer. You very well articulating that your company is built on this philosophy of being a customer service company. Can you give us a little bit deeper dive of what does that look like? How does that define your brand?

Jake Stefan:                  Yeah, that's a good observation, Judy. We've worked really hard and you guys know better than anybody it is really hard to build a positive reputation and it takes no time at all to destroy one. I've been at ARCO for over 20 years now at this point and we have had the same common scene the whole time I've been here. We've got the same core values today that we had then and a couple of those that are really I think worth discussing or really kind of help identify our brand, the first one is not anything complicated. You got taught it in kindergarten. It's treat people fairly and do the right thing.

Jake Stefan:                  It's just how we do business and unfortunately I think there's a lot of companies and businesses out there that like to try and separate business from how you'd actually like to be treated as a person and we try to not do that. We look at it and say, "Look, we're in the people business. We are trying to sell quite frankly the logistics service to clients. Sure, we think we bring a lot of specialized intelligence and ideas and concepts on how to do this to the table, but at the end of the day we're really just selling a service that if people had enough time and energy and expertise and maybe enough desire to take on risk, they'd do themselves. We think we do it pretty well and so because of that we sell that we can, but at the same point in time, we're really just dealing with people.

Jake Stefan:                  The flip side of that is we self-perform some of our own work, concrete and things along those lines, but predominantly most of our work is subcontracted out. Since we're doing it on a national basis, relationships are a huge part of what we do, and so I tell our project managers all the time, "We need our vendors more than they need us in reality", and that's especially true when we're traveling. It all ties together that treating people fairly and doing the right thing, you just have to do it. We've kind of built that mantra in in terms of who we are.

Jake Stefan:                  One of the other core values that we really drive on is the concept of, "We need to understand our clients' business and we have to solve their problems." At the end of the day, if we're not doing that, we're no different than anybody else. I can go and find a whole series of contractors out there, whether they're big companies or they're two guys in a truck, that if I tell them, "Go do exactly this", they'll go do it. If I ask them, "Hey, I've got this logistics issue and we're really just... our warehouse isn't efficient and we can't figure out why", or, "We're having this sort of problem with our concrete slabs and it's really creating a big maintenance draw and we're spending a bunch of CapEx money", most of those guys aren't going to be able to figure out how to actually solve that problem. Not to mention identify it as a problem.

Jake Stefan:                  We've kind of built this whole concept of who we are off... Like I said, there are four core values, but those are the two that I think really help define publicly as a company how we operate. I think if you talked to our clients they'd tell you the same sort of thing, that the amount of energy and effort and time that we put forth trying to make their businesses better is really what is the endearing factor for us. I think of one of our clients that we've worked with. We were talking to him and doing a little interview for our promotional video and he said, "They provided us what we needed, which wasn't exactly what we were asking for."

Jake Stefan:                  I think that's a powerful statement because at the end of the day, companies that are building widgets or doing distribution or storing cold product, whatever it is, they do that really well. They don't inherently have the time or the energy to go out and find somebody that knows how to build the building and do that really well. Not to say that you can't find those people, but we like to think that we bring that as a package and that's part of what defines our brand.

Judy Sparks:                  Well, I definitely think you all uphold your reputation in the marketplace and several of our clients have worked with you, either on the design side or the subcontracting side. I'd like .to talk to you a little bit about this idea of treating people fairly and doing the right thing and how that extends to the architects that you select to work with or the subcontractors that earn your business. Can you talk about some of the key things that you look for in those partners?

Jake Stefan:                  Sure, and I'm glad you used the term "partners", Judy, because that is kind of how we view them because they really are, especially in the design side, partners more than anything. I think we generally come to the table as the contractor with a lot of ideas and, frankly, the way we typically do business from an estimating standpoint and a trying to acquire business standpoint is we actually will do our own in-house design and concepts through our project managers and put our estimates together based upon our understanding of the scope and knowing exactly what's to go into the building. That can honestly be a pretty good challenge for designers because some designers are very used to the other side of the contracting world, the plan-inspect world where they're not ever given the concept or I should say the ins and outs of what's going into a design.

Jake Stefan:                  They're given, "Hey, we need a building. It needs to be 250,000 square feet. Go ahead and design it." We're bringing our partners in after we've already won the work and we're saying, "Hey, look, we've got to design a 250,000 square foot building. Here's actually the footprint. Here's what the base spaces are going to be. We've already run the joist calculations. We came up with this. Our columns are this big. We need in this part of the building to actually change the base space and to fit their rack space because this is what it is. They need to be 82 degrees on the inside of it and we've already figured that we're going to be roughly this many tons of AC. We kind of laid it out like this.

Jake Stefan:                  We've already thought through that, and so our relationship with our design partners is one of, "Here's what we've got. Please tell us where we're wrong. Sometimes we're wrong to the good, sometimes we're wrong to the bad, but please tell us if we're wrong. At the same point in time, tell us if you see some better ways to do some things, but these are the challenges we're trying to overcome. Here's what we'd like to do." We like to think that we in turn cut out a lot of that design development phase for some of the designers that can make them more efficient in what they are doing, and in turn ideally turn projects around with us quicker than what would otherwise be the case.

Judy Sparks:                  I bet they find that helpful, especially right now where everybody is looking for good people. There's such a shortage of talent in the marketplace as you know, and to work with a construction partner that has helped you solve a lot of the hard issues going into a design project is probably very helpful and welcomed now I would imagine.

Jake Stefan:                  I think it's viewed that way and especially by most of the design partners that we work with regularly. I think it's somewhat intimidating, quite honestly, to people that haven't worked with us previously because it's a lot of information and to some respect, we're just the stupid contractor, so what could we know? I don't blame anybody for thinking that, quite honestly, based upon the reputations of some contractors that are out there. I think it takes a little bit of a conversation to get comfortable with what that really is and how we're working, but we're also not perfect, Judy. I'd like to say that we are, and so there's times that we're wrong and that leads to some frustration because we've told you, "Hey, do this", and we interpreted the client wrong sometimes and we've got to go back to the drawing board or shuffle something around. I still think the majority of the time we're much better off than we would be if we're just starting from nowhere.

Jake Stefan:                  I think there is definitely a benefit for our design partners. It's just one of those things. You mentioned people that are wanting to do business with us and things like that, it's something that I think they have to go into eyes wide open with because it is a different mindset and it's a different perspective and we're not doing it because we disrespect their design partners and think that they should be nothing but drafters. We're simply doing it, quite frankly, just to help expedite the whole process, which at the end of the day is what we're really trying to give our clients.

Katie Cash:                    What does that partnership look like if you take it the subcontractor level? How does that come to play there? I would imagine you're still looking for a partner that's not just putting the widgets together, but going to be challenging you on, "Hey, I saw that you were spec'ing this. Did you know about this alternative? It might save us some time on the schedule." You're kind of looking for that collaboration it sounds like.

Jake Stefan:                  Yeah. No, we absolutely are and it's especially important on a national basis. It's one thing to be traveling around the Southeast where generally things are typically about the same. The code officials are about the same, the way we do things are about the same, the type of design standards you have are about the same. Obviously, there's differences in a lot of different places around the Southeast, but just speaking broad spectrum versus like when you decide you're going to go to California and build something, they don't do anything the same in terms of how we are in the Southeast. It's a whole different world of concepts and ideas. They build buildings that 1% floats out there because it helps with site design, and you talk to somebody out east and you talk about building the building out of plane, where it's literally sloping from one side of the building to the next at 1%, they look at you like you're crazy.

Katie Cash:                    Well, that's a design flaw on this side of the country for sure.

Jake Stefan:                  You get sued for that sort of stuff. It's called errors and omissions insurance. It's just like you run into that stuff and if you go to do something in the Northeast, they're absolutely going to tell you exactly how they think things should be done up there and this is how we do it, and a lot of times there's really good reasons for it based upon the design conditions or the environment that they have. Sometimes it's just because, "This is how we've always done it and this is just how we do it." A lot of things are different. Labor markets and some things that cost more material-wise but are definitely more valuable from a labor standpoint because it saves time, well, if cost-justifies in a market like New Jersey but it doesn't cost-justify in North Carolina.

Jake Stefan:                  You have to be open to those conversations like you're saying, Katie, and so we kind of approach our subcontractors in a very similar sort of mindset where we put out a set of drawings and we say, "Hey, look, this is a Design/Build project. We are controlling the design and, henceforth, as long as you have some concepts or ideas that make you as a vendor and as a subcontracting partner more valuable or more cost effective, which is serving our clients or us in a way that's positive, we'd love to hear them. If we're not changing the performance of the building or we're not changing the long-term duration or maintenance upkeep of the building, well, we're going to consider that." We view that sort of intellectual property as specific to that vendor. We won't take it and shop it around and say, "Hey, that's a great idea. We're going to go tell all your competitors about it", and then-

Katie Cash:                    Right. I think that goes back to doing what's right, that kind of mantra that you set forth a little bit earlier in our discussion [crosstalk 00:22:58]-

Jake Stefan:                  Exactly.

Katie Cash:                    You kind of honor that. I think to echo what Judy says, that speaks really highly of your firm and the brand and the reputation that you've built and you've maintained and continue to sustain many decades into it. If we could, the name of our show is How to Win Work with Owners, and I would really love to better understand, Jake, if you could shed some light on it, how would a firm that hasn't had the opportunity to either partner with you from a design capacity or partner with you from a subcontractor capacity, how do they get their foot in the door? What does that look like in terms of onboarding a new partner for opportunities? Do you have a formal selection process? Is there a vendor pre-qualification process they go through? What does that look like for ARCO?

Jake Stefan:                  Yeah, that's a great question. The great news is we are a relationship-driven company. The terrible news is we're a relationship-driven company.

Katie Cash:                    It's a double-edged sword for sure, right?

Jake Stefan:                  It's a double-edged sword, and so it's interesting and it's a little bit different from a design partner standpoint versus a subcontracting standpoint. We'll talk about it from a design partner standpoint first and foremost. The way to go about it from a big picture standpoint is really reaching out to us, and we've got ARCO as an entity, a $2.5 billion a year construction company, I think we're at 28 offices all over the country. I named a whole bunch that were here on the East Coast that's all part of what I call the ARCO Design/Build Family, but you'll find ARCO as a name on a whole bunch of different offices around the country.

Jake Stefan:                  The thing to really do, and generally speaking, we all somewhat do this concept pretty similarly. We all have the same core values, we all operate as a business generally the same. How procurement works is a little bit different and who are partners are is a little different from one place to the next, but for us, civil engineers, we very much want to use local civil engineers typically on all the projects that we're doing, at least regional in the worst case scenario because site is one of those things that is very different from one place to the next to the next.

Katie Cash:                    I think that makes a lot of sense for sure. Understanding the local jurisdictions, all of that.

Jake Stefan:                  Absolutely. Connections and knowing what gets interpreted and how they interpret it and what they want to have enforced. There's just so many different things. From a civil engineering standpoint, the best thing to do is really just to kind of reach out to whichever office is most local to you and working on that introduction and who you are and what you do. Again, understanding that generally speaking, all of the offices have a specialty or a very good knowledge base in industrial construction. Some of the offices do a variety of other things. Some of them do multi-family, some of them do self-storage, some of them do entertainment. There's a variety of different things, so talking to that local office really will help understand a little bit of where their specialties are where some of those needs are.

Katie Cash:                    That's great.

Jake Stefan:                  That's where I would start from a civil engineering standpoint. Architectural and structural, it's kind of a little bit of a different animal. We will use regional guys when we're dealing with more regional-focused areas. It doesn't make a lot of sense to take an architect out of Atlanta to do work in California because there's so many specialty things to California, but generally speaking, most of the other states, you can kind of bounce from one to the next to the next as architects and structural engineers.

Jake Stefan:                  In a lot of those scenarios we will... Again, similar approach. I would talk to the local office because that's the easiest place to start, or if you know that there's an ARCO office that's doing work in your area. We're usually not very shy about putting up signs on construction sites. You can kind of reach out to the ones that are doing work in your area and start that dialogue. Understanding we are a design/builder, we are going to have a lot of ideas on how we do things. I'm going to say this, I'll say this out loud. Typically, the fee structure that you would get working with us versus working in a plan-inspect scenario with an owner is completely different-

Katie Cash:                    Sure.

Jake Stefan:                  Because you're not doing any of the construction admin or very little of it. We're giving you a lot more direction in terms of, "Hey, this is what you're doing." You're not having to do all of the front end stuff as we talked about. Those fees are usually dramatically different and as long as you're comfortable with understanding that and how things work, and it works with your business model, then the conversation is worthwhile having, but I can't speak to how everybody does business, of course.

Judy Sparks:                  Jake, what about your MEP engineers? How do you treat those relationships?

Jake Stefan:                  Good question, Judy. Very similar as well to some degree. We kind of do MEP on two different fronts. When we have time, we like to do MEP as a Design/Build subcontracting relationship. We'll find those vendors that do the design in-house as well as the installation and procurement themselves. We've found historically that that has been beneficial from a standpoint of cost as well a lot of times regional markets, they know a lot more of what they can and can't do and what works really well. That's one side of the coin when we have time. There has been a movement across the country over the last 10 years I would say where more and more permit submittals are having to come in with not just architectural and structural, but also all of the MEPS, which puts a lot of demand on having that work done and completed day one.

Jake Stefan:                  In those scenarios, we are oftentimes partnering with an MEP engineering firm as well or maybe one that's doing just electrical and one that's doing mechanical and plumbing or however it works. Again, same sort of process. My recommendation is reach out to the office that's local to you and touch base with them. I know for all the ADB offices, you could certainly reach out to us in Atlanta. We're kind of the head of all the ADB offices and we can kind of help steer you in the right directions to building that relationship and kind of go on from there.

Judy Sparks:                  Jake, I'm going to put you on the spot a little bit.

Jake Stefan:                  Please.

Judy Sparks:                  Let's say you're the local office and an architect is calling on you or an MEP engineer or a civil. What are the top three things they could say to you to make you want to do business?

Jake Stefan:                  Boy, that is a great question and it does put me on the spot.

Katie Cash:                    What do you want to hear?

Jake Stefan:                  I think the things that are the most interesting to me are, what value do they think they can bring to us? I say that because I like to know where people... where their strengths are. Some engineers and architects, they've got these very creative conceptual designs. Some of them have relationships that work really well. We're very open obviously to the fact that if someone brings us into a deal in a project and creates that relationship, we're absolutely going to use that vendor on that project. Again, treat people fairly, do the right thing. If someone brings you to the table, you don't go and not use them. That's part of it, and that's not usually what we're looking for, but sometimes that's one of those things that comes up. I wouldn't say that happens typically on a brand new relationship. Usually that's something that after we've been working together for a while and everybody has got a comfort factor, then that comes up.

Jake Stefan:                  I like to understand areas of expertise, so that's one. Another thing that I like to understand is how they do business and, frankly, part of the how they do business is really getting into a little bit of the weeds of when we're sitting down and doing a design kickoff meeting, who is going to be the person that shows up at that meeting? Is that the person that is my business relationship? Or is that the person that's actually going to be doing the drafting and the actual design? How do they do their quality control? That's a big deal to us is we want to make sure that at the end of the day, what we're talking about is going into their brains, being absorbed, being put on paper, and it's not coming back with a whole bunch of twists and turns that we didn't anticipate, or more importantly, we didn't discuss. That's just lost time and in world we're selling time. We've got to be efficient in terms of everything that's happening.

Jake Stefan:                  Those are two big things and I'd say if I talked about a third, it's probably more of what I would call more of a factor today than it might be in another time, but today everything has to do with labor and how much labor you have and how much capacity you have and how long it takes you to turn sets of projects around. I think that's a big deal in terms of understanding what someone's workload is. Unfortunately, we've got relationships right now that in some of those scenarios, what used to take them four weeks to turn around instead of drawings is taking 12 or 16 weeks because they've gotten so busy.

Jake Stefan:                  Relationship aside, we can't do that because we can't sell that to our owners. It's not what we promised. Understanding people's workload is a big deal and that's true with any of our vendors, whether they're engineering or whether they're Design/Build partners in terms of contractors or whether or not they're masons or anything. It's very open and honest conversation about what it takes to get things done.

Judy Sparks:                  Those are great answers, Jake, and one more tough question and I'll be done with you.

Jake Stefan:                  You're dismissed.

Judy Sparks:                  I am wondering, what are some critical things that a partner can do to definitely lose your business?

Jake Stefan:                  Ooh.

Katie Cash:                    Sometimes that's more helpful to know like [crosstalk 00:33:45]-

Judy Sparks:                  Everyone makes mistakes and long-term relationships persevere, but at some point you say, "We won't do that again." What does that look like?

Jake Stefan:                  That's really great because it is... I tell our clients all the time that it's not what we screwed up, it's how we reacted when we screwed it up because we're going to make a mistake. It's going to happen. I think from a big picture standpoint, this is answering your question in a roundabout sort of way because it's not exactly what I expect our vendors to be honest with us. When they can't do something, I expect them to be honest, and when they've made a mistake I expect them to be honest because we can't fix it otherwise. In the roundabout way of answering her question, not being honest will lose you our business quickly and that's a big issue. I think repetitive mistakes, and when I say repetitive mistakes I don't mean making mistakes repetitively, although that's not great, but making the same mistake over and over, that will lose you our business because it breeds no confidence.

Jake Stefan:                  I'm all for the process of going through design and I know it's difficult, especially with our design partners. A lot of times of, "Hey, look, this is how we like to do it." It gets done, it gets drawn and then it comes back and it's not that way and we've got to redline it and we say, "Hey, look, we talked about this before. You didn't really get it right. Here's how we draw it." Then, it comes back and it's wrong again and when we're not getting questions back as to how to do something and we're just getting stuff reissued to us, that will lose our confidence in a hurry. Those are two really big things to me and the honesty part, it just goes against our core values. We're not going to do business with companies that don't operate the same way we do. If you're not going to be honest, you're not going to work with ARCO. That's really the biggest one and then we kind of go from there, quite honestly.

Judy Sparks:                  Well, before Katie wraps up, Jake, is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

Jake Stefan:                  Well, my wife wanted me to work in the word "Braves" somehow, not referring to the actual Braves, so I actually by doing that out loud, we've done that. I don't even know what the kids wanted me to say. No, I'm kidding.

Judy Sparks:                  You think? Go Braves. You can say, "Go Braves." That's allowed.

Jake Stefan:                  That's allowed. That's okay. I think from a big picture standpoint, I think just doing business with ARCO I think can be a really great thing for a lot of companies and we certainly encourage. As I said before, we really want to find good partners and we really do value the fact that our partners make us who we are. We cannot do our jobs without good partners. We encourage that. It's not an easy path all the time to become one of those partners. Like I said, that's the double-edged sword of relationships, but I will tell you you will be treated fairly and you will be given feedback on where everything is and sometimes that feedback is now what you want to hear, but it's better than no feedback.

Jake Stefan:                  I think that's a big part of it of who we are as a company and is valuable for your audience to know, but I also think that the design/build construction world is something that is a specialty sort of thing that's becoming more and more and more common. It's not this little twinkle in an eye like it was 30, 40 years ago, but it's still very different than the plan-inspect world and we approach it very differently than the plan-inspect world. We expect that the partners that we have that are embracing Design/Build will approach it very differently as well. That being, we don't look for the problems in drawings to find change orders and we don't expect our partners to do the same thing. We're looking at things and going, "That's a problem in that drawing. We need to fix that problem and then incorporate that cost so that it's not something we argue about later.

Katie Cash:                    I'm really appreciative of your time today, Jake. I think if any of our listeners out there have the opportunity to work with you and to gain your business and to build that relationship that they will find that to be a quite positive partnership. Everything you've shared with us today has really painted and supplemented what we already knew about the ARCO brand. As I sit here today, I just want to summarize for our listeners, and if I misspeak here, just let us know and we'll get it corrected.

Katie Cash:                    We started off kind of talking about ARCO Design/Build and your expertise in the industrial market and some of the trends that you are seeing in that market around the continuation of e-commerce driving new developments related to distribution centers and lots of ideation around how to help companies determine whether or not they can achieve the same level of success with last mile delivery systems, similar to what Amazon has done but maybe on a smaller scale. You're also seeing a lot of food and beverage activity, mainly around cold storage because the way consumers are buying and using produce and other meats and other food and beverage materials really are moving away from the fresh materials that are often old or outdated or discarded from the fresh produce aisle more in terms of it being cold storage. You're seeing a boom there.

Katie Cash:                    Also, a big movement towards more sustainable measures and along the lines of the green movement. Then, as Judy and I started asking you questions about what a good partnership looked like, you're really looking for a partner both design subcontractor and all of your engineers that are going to challenge the team and really look for better ways to achieve the goals and ultimately being honest. Whether that's sharing good ideas or calling attention to some of the challenging and owning up to maybe where a mistake might have been made and looking for partners that are really going to be honest there.

Katie Cash:                    If you are listening today and looking for a way to get in the door with ARCO Design/Build, looking for a partnership, looking to build that relationship, Jake shared with us right here today that your first step is to reach out to your local ARCO Design/Build partners. They are all across the country. There's lots of opportunities to explore a partnership. When you're able to have that meeting with them, three things that Jake recommends you talk about first and foremost, what value you bring to the team to that discussion. A little bit about your areas of expertise.

Katie Cash:                    As you mentioned, some of the ARCO offices specialize in industrial facilities, others specialize in multi-family. There's lots of opportunities out there, so understanding what your particular expertise might be. Then, also share a little bit of insight on how you do business. Are you going to engage with a client relationship manager? Or is the person who is doing the drafting and doing the design or possibly even the installation of the system, is that going to be the main point of contact that they go to throughout the development? Again, lots of opportunities out there as design/build as a proven method of terms of greater efficiencies, greater cost savings continues to sweep the nation. We've really enjoyed having you today, Jake, so if there's any lasting comments you want to share, feel free, but we've appreciated it.

Jake Stefan:                  No, I appreciate you guys' time, Katie and Judy. Katie, you must have been taking notes because that was spot-on.

Katie Cash:                    Trying to remember off the top of my head, but hopefully it's all helpful for everyone. We appreciate you being very candid, and to all of our listeners out there, we hope you enjoyed today's episode, learned a little bit more about the industrial market here in the U.S. and how you might pursue work with ARCO Design/Build. Have a great week.

Audio:                   You've been listening to AEC Marketing for Principles, brought to you by Smartegies. If you liked this episode, please let us know by visiting aecmarketingpodcast.com, where you can learn more ways to position your brand and sell to owners.