Oscar J. Boldt Construction Co., a division of The Boldt Co., Appleton, Wis., is Wisconsin’s largest general contractor and ranked 12th in Midwest Construction’s 2009 Top Contractor listing.
The company serves construction-related needs of customers in a wide range of industries that includes general construction, power generation, industrial work, recreational facilities, education, pulp and paper, commercial, airport, government/municipal, and healthcare projects.
Philosophy and Trust Key to Long-Term Relationships
Among healthcare clients, Boldt’s ongoing relationships with a number of major hospitals have spanned several projects and are still going strong after 10, 20, or even 30 years.
Explaining how Boldt and its client hospitals develop these long-term relationships, Boldt Co. Senior Vice President of Business Development Jim Rossmeissel says that the relationships start with a good match between contractor and customer.
“We work best with customers who are comfortable with a collaborative culture. Working with owners who have the same philosophy as you do allows you to maximize success.”
Rossmeissel goes on to say, “A project’s delivery method will dictate the general parameters and nature of the relationship between contractor and owner. Integrated delivery or construction management leads to a more collaborative atmosphere than does a strict competitive bid.
”But it takes more than picking the right customer and delivery method to develop a relationship that lasts a decade or more. Rossmeissel says that long-term relationships are based on developing mutual trust and on the contractor and owner each having a real interest in each other’s success. “All of our long-term relationships develop the same way. The customer and contractor get to know each other and talk about delivering higher value,” he says.
“It starts right from the pre-construction stage,” says Rossmeissel. “That’s the most important phase of a project because that’s when a contractor can best make suggestions about ways to reach the customer’s goal at a lower cost.”
“What keeps you onboard continuously is continuous high-level performance,” he says, noting that Boldt has a repeat business ratio of about 90%.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Prime Example
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in metropolitan Milwaukee is a bustling 296-bed medical facility that specializes in treating children ranging from newborn to 18 years who come from all across the state. In 2008, it saw 22,500 admissions, 60,000 emergency-room visits, and 303,000 outpatient appointments. It was recently rated as the third-best children’s hospital in America by Parents magazine.
Boldt has been serving Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years and has been on site more or less continuously for the last 10 as the hospital has expanded and renovated.
Tim Birkenstock, Chief Financial Officer for Children’s Hospital, explains that the hospital started a campus master plan with a physicians’ building 10 years ago. Boldt finished that project on time and on budget, so it was a leading candidate when the hospital began expanding the facility in $100-million projects after that.
Says Birkenstock, “We defined our needs, then figured out what we could afford. The answer was to develop three to four significant projects in a row, all intertwined. The ongoing projects feel like execution of one facility expansion plan.”
Boldt has been on all the expansions, plus lesser projects in between.
Like Rossmeissel, Birkenstock also talks about trust. “One of the major advantages of working with a contractor for a long time is trust. I don’t worry about things I did years ago, like construction interrupting patient care. Boldt has proven they know us and know how to get things done without interrupting the work we do taking care of kids.”
As an example, Birkenstock notes that when construction or renovation will affect parts of the working hospital, the construction team meets with leaders from the affected departments. “When we were constructing a heart-catheterization lab, the construction team met with the testing technicians, the cardiologists, the nurses, and others from the department that would be affected to see how the project could be done to get the best result with the least disruption to their work and patients. The contstruction team asked how many rooms could be shut down and for how long,” says Birkenstock.
The hospital’s leader of the construction team is Steve Roth, director of facility development, who is responsible for the 1.2-million-sq-ft hospital and about 800,000 sq ft of other facilities in the Children’s Hospital system.