- Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish has been looking outside the construction industry when it comes to filling the general contractor’s executive management slots, according to The Boston Globe, as part of a strategy to emphasize the company’s continuing shift toward high tech.
- Last week, Fish, who oversees 2,300 employees at Suffolk, brought on Lea Stendahl from E-Trade as the company’s new chief marketing officer and Puneet Mahajan from General Electric as chief financial officer. These new hires are in addition to other corporate moves like dropping “Construction” from its name in marketing materials and, in some areas of the country, introducing “Smart Labs,” where the company tests new construction technologies like a real-time, project data wall and a “cave” where clients can view virtual models of their projects.
- “As we continue to try to build an iconic company," Fish told The Globe, "we need to put the best players on the field. We’re bringing on skill sets that really address the future needs of the company.”
Many contractors, regardless of size, have incorporated construction technology into their businesses.
In the Associated General Contractors of America’s "2019 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report,” the organization found that more than 42% of the contractors it surveyed planned to increase their IT investments, while 75% of respondents said they felt comfortable storing data on the cloud. Survey participants also said they would be using mobile technology to complete and file daily field reports (44%); access project data and other information from the field (40%); track employee work hours (40%); and share documents (38%).
A recent USG Corp. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey showed contractors were even more eager to delve into the world of advanced technology. Their fourth-quarter Commercial Construction Index survey results indicated that more than 50% of general and specialty contractors are using technologies like drones, equipment tagging, wearables, RFID tagging, augmented or virtual reality, reality capture, automation and 3D printing.
Automation is also something that contractors could find themselves being forced to embrace if the shortage of human construction workers persists. By taking up the slack when it comes to repetitive tasks, robots could free up workers to concentrate on more creative and intricate tasks but could also, according to a Midwest Economic Policy Institute study, replace 2.7 million construction workers by 2057. The construction industry, however, is full of work that cannot be 100% automated, and those jobs still must be performed by humans.