For large construction firms, it’s difficult enough to navigate the paperwork, bidding processes and financing required to bid on projects, particularly in the current climate. For small businesses, doing so can be nearly impossible.
To help small companies in this regard, Skanska USA is running its third year of workshops that focus on building the knowledge base needed to bid on big jobs. It’s the second year Skanska is working with the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network in offering the Building Blocks training program.
Through the program, Skanska has helped minority- and woman-owned businesses compete for bids, said Tom Webb, general manager for the metropolitan region. “It’s really to train them in matters like (business practices and paperwork) and get them comfortable with the process,” he said.
Skanska benefits from better-trained small businesses, as it helps the company build and maintain its subcontractor base.
The eight-week program, held at Rutgers Business School, in Newark, kicks off Tuesday night, with 41 firms from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania participating.
Webb said the 2010 program featured 10 New Jersey firms that were identified in the Skanska prequalification system that “had potential to grow.” Six of the 10 businesses that completed the program were awarded contracts by Skanska.
Webb said this year’s program will focus on basics like construction accounting, the estimating and bidding process and access to capital and bonding. Other topics include LEED basics, project labor agreements, understanding the Skanska prequalification process and how to respond to requests for proposal.
Skanska mentors assigned to firms continue to help participants through the contracting process.
“Its good for business and it also makes you feel good. You can see the tangible results and how it affects people and their lives,” Webb said. “To be able to help them overcome a lot of those hurdles and be able to compete for my business and put food on the table was a very rewarding experience.”