Solving problems for clients sometimes means traveling with them

The Veneklasen team is customer-centric and wants to ensure a positive client experience on every project.  Not only does our organization perform work locally but we continue to grow our national footprint. Our national growth is a direct result of the trusting relationships we’ve developed with our clients that often take us to new areas of the country to serve them.

After a successful project, clients often prefer to engage the same team and approach in a different market to minimize the stress and challenge of starting over with a new contractor. There is shared knowledge around expectations that streamlines the process. Our consistent delivery paired with our experienced team also translates into successfully developing new clients in new markets.

According to Veneklasen Project Manager, Lynn Bolek, the frustrations that come with breaking in a new contractor in an unfamiliar market can be many. “We strive to understand our client’s business and project goals from the start. I’ve had clients who struggled to work with a new contractor after working with our team. When they come back to us after a difficult project, it’s a real boost to our team to know the client recognizes our approach as best in class.”

Project Manager Lynn Bolek keeps the client, the remote crew, and the Michigan team connected. Veneklasen Construction works with a local sub-contractor in Indianapolis Veneklasen's project team's top priority is earning the trust of local sub-contractors

We take the out-of-state question very seriously

We recently asked customers if there’s anything we should be doing to serve them better. The paraphrased reply from many was “I wish I could use Veneklasen as my contractor across the US.” After much thought, we’ve concluded that we will travel to support strategic customers if two details are in sync:
  1. We are familiar with and respectful of each other’s processes and operations.
  2. The client’s growth geography and project timeline are aligned with Veneklasen’s capabilities and resources.
Before we say yes to an out-of-state project that fits these criteria, we also consider the impact on our team and make sure the opportunity aligns with our goals and mission. Chris Veneklasen, CEO says “If we’re going to ask our team to travel for a client, we want it to be a great match with no surprises for either party. We want everyone to be all-in on the decision so we can effectively deal with the inherent complexity and do a great job.”

Building relationships and trust across the US

It’s a fact that Veneklasen’s people and culture are responsible for our success at home in Michigan and beyond. Our dedicated team members have been building commercial facilities and the company’s reputation in remote markets from Indianapolis to the Poconos Mountains and beyond. At the heart of a Veneklasen travel team are two professionals:

  • A thoughtful project manager who partners closely with clients to proactively build an effective construction plan.
  • An experienced and confident superintendent who has embraced the unique experience of leading a remote project.

It takes experienced individuals with a sense of adventure and an unfailing dedication to the client to make these remote assignments work. Lynn Bolek, Veneklasen Construction Project Manager recalls “I listen a lot and learn a lot when I work on a remote project. New projects go smoothly when you leverage what you learned on a previous project. There’s no substitute for first-hand experience especially when we’re working across state lines.” Jesse Fuerch, Veneklasen Superintendent says “remote work isn’t for everyone, but I’ve been on the road for nearly three years and I love it. After spending most of my career working in West Michigan, I was reluctant to travel at first, but it’s been the best decision of my career. I’ve learned so much because of the challenges and have become much better at my job. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to work with so many new people and serve important customers.”

Building bridges comes first

From their temporary home base, the travel team researches and hires local subcontractors and skillfully manages these relationships throughout the project while also facilitating regular progress meetings with the full project team. Superintendent Fuerch says “you can’t underestimate the importance of building relationships with sub-contractors when you arrive in a new market. That’s job number one for me. I work very hard to get to know my sub-contractors and invest in developing trusting relationships. Building those bridges is the key to a successful project.”

When we relocate an experienced superintendent like Jesse to a remote jobsite, not only do they have the full support of the team, but we are mindful of their personal situations when away from home. Fuerch says these supportive and family-friendly policies make a big difference. He acknowledges that it can be hard to feel super confident when faced with the vulnerability of being alone in a new market, but Veneklasen policies give him the footing he needs to do great work. “I feel very supported by our executives. They really do want us to be happy and fulfilled and that means a comfortable place to stay – and knowing that I can be home on weekends if I choose.” As evidenced by 35,000 flight miles and 70,000 miles on his truck since 2020, Fuerch does connect with colleagues and friends at home in Michigan regularly, but the customer and the needs of his sub-contractor partners are his priority. “If my subs are working on a Saturday because our timeline demands it, I’m there to lead and support them.”

5 secrets to remote project success

In the commercial construction business, every project is unique and complex wherever it’s located. We embrace five traits that mitigate the inevitable challenges of out-of-state projects and allow us to partner effectively in any region.
  • Innovation – Embracing technology that helps bridge the distance, allowing customers to feel like they’re onsite with our team is imperative. On-site cameras and software such as Procore and Holo-builder deliver real-time 2D and 3D virtual images to laptops, HQ conference rooms, and video calls.
  • Design-Build process – The biggest key to success is a tried and proven process of communication and collaboration. We call ours the Vene-BuiltSM process, that brings everyone together around a solid design, then sets the stage for the full construction process.
  • Transparency – A culture where people are empowered to discuss problems and make changes immediately results in a project where there are no surprises. Commenting on the inevitable need to adjust construction plans, Bolek says “When an issue arises, the customer knows when we know. We own mistakes because we know we’re not perfect and our projects are complex. We do the right thing and operating with 100% transparency is the best answer in any situation.”
  • Leadership – Integrated leadership where people know their roles and how to support each other is critical. The project manager is the liaison with the client and the quarterback for the entire project. The on-site superintendent builds a unified team and manages day-to-day activities. Veneklasen executives support and guide these project leaders and never get in their way.
  • Trust – When 1 through 4 are combined with a complementary customer mindset, the result is mutual trust – that elusive state where forward progress and achievement of goals is assured.

In the end, it’s all about facilitating our customer’s success

Team Veneklasen’s dedication to the commercial construction needs of our clients is fueled by our respect for their business needs and growth goals. Our purpose is linked with their purpose. Our first project together may have been on a jobsite in Michigan, but when their business demands a new space in another state, we’ve created a strong process that includes solid experience, a proven plan, and the people who can deliver.