Steven Massaro elevates teamwork to new levels at Massaro Corp.

Working smarter

With growth comes the need to add efficiencies through defined, consistent processes.

“We’re trying to make our people as efficient as possible, to make their lives better by minimizing the risk of the things that create poor performance,” Massaro says.

About 10 years ago, the business began following the Baldrige criteria for performance excellence. The concepts are simple but require hard work. For example, a company can’t say it’s good at scheduling unless it measures results that support that.

While each project is different, Massaro Corp. can measure certain steps every time, such as pre-construction services, estimating, scheduling, site logistics, customer check-ins and the close-out process.

“Our basic learning from that was the variability you could have — meaning people do it the way they want to do it or that they’re most comfortable with, and it’s not consistent throughout the company,” Massaro says.

By identifying your key processes, a company can develop the best method and train employees to apply it. Massaro Corp. has increasingly taken a lean construction approach with its constructability reviews, pull planning meetings and weekly work plans, which all help control costs and maintain the schedule.

“The constructability review could mean 10 different things to 10 different people. We took it as an opportunity to say, ‘This is what it means to Massaro. This is what it means for a lean integrated project approach,’” he says.

Essentially, the company added communication and collaboration.

With constructability reviews, rather than just reviewing drawings to estimate costs, Massaro Corp. invites input from architects and engineers to clarify concerns, gather necessary information upfront and eliminate the blame game. Then, a kick-off lunch meeting helps get everyone on the same page.

Through pull planning meetings with subcontractors, the company develops the pull plan, which starts with the end date and pulls the schedule back from there. Weekly work plans at each site provide a visual tool that helps keep everything on track.

It might seem like common sense, but Massaro says a lean integrated project delivery needs to be intentional. It’s also critical to include the foreman or superintendent. By treating subcontractors like partners, Massaro Corp. cuts down on the number of requests for information and change orders.

“We want that person here, too. They’re the ones who will implement the work. They’re the ones that will work with our superintendent, so we want to start that collaboration before we mobilize and start construction,” he says.

While not every project needs this kind of planning, without it, a lot of things have to go right. You need good drawings, good subcontractors, a good general contracting team and a good owner, Massaro says. It’s better to be proactive, even if an error is another entity’s responsibility.

“You try to do something about things that you typically don’t have control over,” Massaro says.

Showing the value

As with any change, it takes time to gain buy-in.

“People in construction, like any other industry, are used to doing it one way. They become numb to higher-level thinking, where you think, ‘It doesn’t have to be this way,’” Massaro says.

As a result, you need to start slowly, because when people get busy or stressed, they can fall back into their usual habits.

“Don’t try to take too much on. That was a lesson we had,” Massaro says. “Take baby steps. Find something that has an opportunity for improvement. Develop a process for it. Communicate it. Train to it. Measure it and begin to show people that it not only helps our company’s bottom line, it also helps make your life easier.”