RQ Construction is streamlining its processes to cut down on project time for clients that include the Department of Defense

Kelly McCabe | Published in Construction Today

Although it constructs many types of developments, including medical facilities, museums and hotels, California’s RQ Construction says it’s more than a builder. “We’re a design/build firm,” President and CEO George Rogers says. “A lot of people would say we’re a construction company, but we don’t like to describe ourselves as just a construction company. We’re not just going out and building some architect’s plans; we’re heavily involved in the actual design of the projects.”

The company is using that expertise in work for the federal government, which is a current area of focus. RQ Construction partners with the Department of Defense to build “virtually anything” that goes on a military base, such as headquarters, housing, vehicle and equipment maintenance facilities, and communication centers.

RQ recently completed a state-of-the-art lodge for the Marine Corps and is designing and building a high-profile museum that will honor the U.S. Navy’s Seabees, the construction battalion of the Navy. The $11 million project will be completed in June 2010, which Rogers says is well ahead of schedule.

“Most federal museums are in [Washington] D.C., and the Seabees have an old museum at Port Hueneme, Calif.,” Rogers explains. “They had been working for years to build up enough money for a new museum, and now we’re designing and building it. We’ve started the design, and we are humbled to be chosen for such a high-profile project.”

Rogers says working for the federal government provides some challenges, but it’s rewarding work. Companies who work for the government have to be very familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). “[It] is very, very extensive, and to do work with the federal government, you better know the rules,” Rogers explains.

“That is a big part of working with the federal government. If you understand the rules and abide by them, the Department of Defense is a great customer. If you cut corners, you will find them a difficult customer to work with.”

A big advantage is that the Department of Defense is constantly building because its mission keeps changing, and if a construction company performs well, it will have a long-term client. “They have a program, and not just a project”, Rogers states. “We will keep them as a customer if we continuously improve the quality, price and cycle time of our work; we can never stop getting better.”

When choosing a contractor to work on a project, the government looks at many aspects, and Rogers is proud of his company for meeting those standards. “They’re fair and choose their contractors based on best value,” he says. “Price is a component, but they’re also very interested in a company’s technical experience, past performance on previous projects, commitment to use of small businesses and a company’s commitment to safety. They put all of those things into a pot and evaluate who they want to work with. They expect you to do what you say you’re going to do.”

To evaluate the success of construction projects, the federal government has a system called CCASS – a construction contract performance evaluation system – which rates projects from unacceptable to outstanding. Rogers says more than 90 percent of RQ Construction’s projects for the government has been rated outstanding, and the rest have received above-average grades.

Knack for Technology

RQ Construction is a leader in the use of building information modeling (BIM), a 3-D building information modeling technology, Rogers says, which allows the company to provide a superior end-product. “A lot of people think it’s just 3-D pictures, but it’s much more comprehensive than that,” he states.

“We’re probably a leader in identifying value created by BIM and 3-D technology,” Rogers continues. “BIM is something that will eventually become the industry standard, and it’s on the radar of any good construction company.”

“It is hard to find a complex commercial project that doesn’t use the technology in some way,” he states. “We are always pushing the limit to try and use enabling technologies to maximize client value. If we virtually build the building in the computer first, we can fix problems and conflicts digitally, which is almost always cheaper than fixing them in the physical world.”

The company’s use of cutting-edge technologies is part of its overall goal to reduce production variation and cut construction waste. “The production of work is like a highway – if all cars are moving at exactly the same rate, you can move a huge number of cars down that freeway,” he says. “But if some are moving fast and some are moving slow, you get traffic jams. We’re using the best and brightest people and technology to reduce project time and the amount of waste in our projects. We are learning to apply lean manufacturing concepts to design and construction.”

Safety for All

RQ Construction prides itself on top-notch safety standards for all employees. It strives to provide a safe environment with help from its incentives and rewards program. “RQ recognizes our personnel and subcontractors through monthly T.E.A.M (Together Everyone Achieves More) Safety Awards,” the company explains. “Awards are given to those individuals and companies who exhibit positive and proactive safety efforts. Safety awards are also given to projects with completed milestones (100,000 man hours) and/or projects that complete with zero accident and zero incidents.”

An accident-free work place is atop the company’s priorities. “Safety is everyone’s responsibility, [and] RQ is committed to keeping our employees and our subcontractors safe,” it continues. “The success of our safety program is based on management’s belief that our people are our company’s most valuable asset.

“Project safety is of the utmost importance to RQ,” the company states. “Our single greatest responsibility as a corporation is to always ensure the safety of our employees, our clients, and our entire design and construction team.”

“Safety is promoted, mandated, monitored and celebrated on every RQ project in accordance with our comprehensive safety program and vision for what safety can and should be. Included are excellent project documentation, on-going safety training and continuous safety improvement achieved through innovation and employee incentives.”

Originally published in the Summer 2009 issue of Construction Today. To visit their website, click here.