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Coop’s Corner: What You Don’t Know…

An ongoing series of articles from ACI’s Director of Diversity Strategies, Bill Cooper (Coop).

No Matter How Smart You Are – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Many of us are very confident about what we know – and that’s cool. It’s cool as long as you also stay curious. Here’s my point: there is no way that any individual can know everything that another individual knows. As a result, there is always something new to learn from someone else. Once you’ve learned it, you then have additional information about that subject. What could be wrong with that?

The problem is us. We want to be right and we have a difficult time accepting that we don’t know something. We live in a world that is chockfull of differences; some of these differences may be seen but more often than not they are differences that are invisible. The differences may be biological, social, or organizational. They may be rooted in race, age, sexual orientation, religious preference, or military experience. Differences also exist because of the department we work in, our position in an organization, the type of office we have, or the type of vehicles we drive.

These differences create what is known as social distance – it confirms that I am like me and you are like you. This distance can be navigated if either or both of us is open to discovery. If we are curious. In the world of diversity and inclusion, the process of first understanding oneself and how we view the world and then seeking to understand the same for others is called cross cultural competency, I call it C3 (I know it looks like C-cubed but I say, “C-three” because I like it). Cross cultural competency requires that we acknowledge and then invite difference; that we honor the power that is inherent in difference and then work to leverage it to our advantage.

So the next time that you have a project assigned to you at work and you must pick a partner, why not look for someone that you don’t hang out with; someone that you know only as a person that may look at the project with a perspective that is different from yours. While this may not be your natural inclination, it will give you a chance to bring a broader set of experiences and thinking to the execution of your assignment.

By the way, the same goes for life outside of the office. We usually all KNOW where we like to go. But, in the spirit of honoring difference, when you gather with a group socially, why not ask for recommendations from someone that rarely has the chance to pick your destination? Why not suggest that you try somewhere that you have never been before? Or ask a neighbor (or even a stranger) for a recommendation?

In his book, What If?: Short Stories to Spark Diversity Dialogue, master storyteller Steve Robbins tells the story of a know-it-all professor who was shown by a student that he didn’t know what he didn’t know. In acknowledging that he could be wrong, the professor had an “Ah-Ha moment.” He was committed to learning and thus realized, that in order to continue to learn, he would have to change his way of thinking. He felt that this was especially true about things he knew little about and people with whom he had not spent much time. The professor decided from that day forward he would: Minimize his certainty and maximize his curiosity. Since I learned this from Steve some years back, I’ve tried my best to embrace this philosophy and it has served me well. Be less certain and more curious – try it!

Ciao!

Coop

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 700 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com.

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Introducing Bill Cooper’s Inclusion and Diversity Corner!

We hope you enjoy— and are informed by— this first in an ongoing series of articles from ACI’s Director of Diversity Strategies, Bill Cooper (Coop).

What do Small Businesses Need Most?

I first remember hearing this question asked more than 20 years ago at a conference focused on minority businesses. The question was asked by Mel Gravely, now CEO of Triversity Construction in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mel, a thought leader on minority business success, was then the CEO of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Thinking. (Mel actually used minority businesses in asking however I choose to use small in order to address a wider audience).

Since this time, when I have asked audiences, “What do small businesses need most?” like Mel, predictably, I got the same responses – cash and contracts.

I learned from Mel, and the School of Hard Knocks, that while cash and contracts are important—they are not as important as developing and executing a strategy for a small business. Leonard Greenhalgh and James Lowry confirmed this fact in their book, Minority Business Success: Refocusing on the American Dream. They contend that easy access to contracts and capital can “actually be counterproductive if the MBE (minority business enterprise) is not set up to deliver on the contracts or to use the capital wisely.”

Using data collected at the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, they compiled a list of the shortcomings most likely to hamper an MBE’s success. Number one on the prioritized list – lack of strategic clarity.

Greenhalgh and Lowry, as well as Gravely, agree that in order to develop this clarity, small businesses must be able to answer questions like:

  • What’s happening in the market?
  • Where do I fit in the value chain?
  • How and where do we compete?
  • How do we consistently deliver on our promises?
  • How do we make money?
  • How do we plan to grow? What customers do we pursue; what customers do we let go?
  • Who do I hire? Who do I buy from?

While this list is not exhaustive, answers to these questions and others like them will provide business owners with the road map that they need in order to understand where they (and their business) are going.

Putting in work to answer the questions that help provide strategic clarity offers owners a clearer path to profits, growth, and ultimately wealth. This work is an example of the owner working ON his/her business rather than IN that business. Because it’s often easy for the busy entrepreneur to get so caught up on working IN the business (cutting hair in the barber shop, baking cakes in the pastry shop, or supervising the crew on a jobsite) they may fail to make time to work ON their business (developing a strategy, doing research, or attending training to improve their business acumen).

By the way, for those of us who support and advocate on behalf of small business success, when we simply seek firms to satisfy diverse supplier requirements, might it be said of us that we are only working IN our business? For us to be working ON our business, we need to constantly remind them to stay ON it…

Ciao!

Coop

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 700 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com.

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Tour ACI’s 130,000 sq ft Fabrication Shop!

All Under One Big Roof

ACI is an extraordinary company doing extraordinary work for our customers. After our people, one of the biggest assets we leverage to the benefit of our clients is our massive, highly automated 130,000 sq ft fabrication shop.  Here, we can prefabricate complex installations, handle large scale painting and blasting jobs, assemble massive sheet metal and duct work builds, weld and cut pipe with speed and precision and many other self-performed construction projects. A facility like this empowers us to provide truly innovative solutions as well as allowing us to save our clients time and money while ensuring the highest levels of quality and safety.

While there’s nothing like walking through our facility to truly help gain an understanding of the scope of what is possible here, we hope this video overview will give you a good idea of what ACI can do for you and your next project.

> ACI Fabrication Shop Video

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 600 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com. For media information, contact Eddie Williams, Director of Marketing at 804.523.8795.

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ACI’S Open House

Event in Honor of Our A-List

ACI would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone involved with our recent A-List Open House. During this highly successful event, ACI played host to many of our top customers, partners, and vendors who comprise our “A-List.”

The 200-plus guests who visited our 130,000-square-foot, highly automated production facility had the opportunity to explore our facility and experience firsthand the many self-performed services ACI has to offer.

Local food trucks from Curbside Creations, Riverside City Wood Fire Pizza, and Slideways Mobile Bistro provided much of the fare, with delicious desserts provided by Carytown Cupcakes. To enhance the cupcake experience, our sheet metal shop crafted an amazing, one-of-a-kind cupcake display!

As no special event is complete without live music, we engaged up-and-coming Virginia recording artist, Bryan Elijah Smith. The sounds of his unique brand of Americana music rang through the facility, providing entertainment that had our more than a few guests tapping their feet and singing along.

We hope this Open House allowed our guests to see how much we value them. Many new connections were made and many existing ones were strengthened. Thanks again to everyone who helped make our A-List Open House such an extraordinary success!

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 600 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com. For media information, contact Eddie Williams, Director of Marketing at 804.523.8795.

ACI Sets Precedent Regarding Diversity

Harnessing the Power of People with Different Backgrounds

For many companies, diversity is a buzzword that has become too hard to ignore. From Silicon Valley and the world’s largest tech companies to smaller heavy industry players, employees and the community alike are demanding statistics on a company’s makeup, and, if a company doesn’t measure up on diversity, change.

But Atlantic Constructors doesn’t think diversity is enough.

“Diversity by itself is just a mix of differences, but true inclusion is making the mix work,” said Terrence Kerner, President of ACI. “If we learn to harness the power of people with different backgrounds and experiences, it makes us more innovative.”

With over 700 employees, the leading service and construction provider for commercial and industrial markets knows that it’s the people that set the company apart in the industry.

Bill Cooper, ACI’s Director of Diversity Strategies, shared this after working with the company for a few months: “ACI builds not by counting people, but by making people count.

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 600 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com.

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Helping Out in Puerto Rico

Transporting goods from a church in Suffolk, VA to an island more than 1,000 miles off the U.S. coast has proven to be incredibly difficult. Jonathan Gonzalez is an ACI employee at our Suffolk location and a Puerto Rico native with many family members residing on the island. After Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, Jonathan waited several days without hearing if his family was okay. Finally, he got word from a radio station that his family had survived. Like many other Puerto Ricans in the wake of the storm, he decided he would make the trip to the island himself to bring supplies to his family and community.

ACI employees at the Suffolk location collected more than $300 to help Jonathan buy supplies. With this contribution, Jonathan was able to bring 1,000 pounds of food, water and water purification systems, cases of baby wipes for bathing, electronics, flashlights, batteries, battery chargers, extension cords, and a satellite phone to establish communication. ACI also purchased black bins that helped transport the supplies easily. Upon arrival, Jonathan received law enforcement escorts and help from the mayor to disperse his goods as efficiently as possible.

With a little help from ACI, Jonathan was able to provide much-needed relief for 10 days. There is no doubt it takes a certain kind of team to support a fellow employee in this way. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to Jonathan’s journey and his efforts in assisting the people of Puerto Rico.

He shared images of the overwhelming damage and devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Click the links below for more.

View Pics and Video of Jonathan in Puerto Rico

See How You Can Continue to Help Puerto Rico

 

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 600 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com.

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ACI Cuts the Cord

ACI Makes Major Investment in Safety and Efficiency

In order to meet new OSHA regulations for silica dust exposure, Atlantic Constructors, Inc. (ACI) partnered with Milwaukee Tools to provide, among several other new tools, the Milwaukee HAMMERVAC™ Dedicated Dust Extractor which connects directly to and is powered by the M18 FUEL™ 1” SDS Plus Rotary Hammer. This design allows for a very compact HAMMERVAC™ and rotary hammer combination to fit in the most confined work spaces, utilizing the same replaceable certified HEPA filter as other HAMMERVACS™, which filter 99.97% of all particles greater than 0.3µm.

 

Evan Shriver, ACI’s Executive Vice President for Construction Operations believes this initiative to be another clear indication of ACI’s dedication to providing something extraordinary to our clients. “These new tools represent a major, $100,000+ investment which will not only ensure ACI meets or exceeds OSHA requirements, but will also provide more efficient layout while increasing safety, quality and productivity for our workers and our customers.”

 

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 550 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com.

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ACI Congratulates Our Apprenticeship Grads!

Programs Help ACI Maintain Competitive Edge

On Friday, June 2nd & Monday, June 12th, Atlantic Constructors officially congratulated our apprentices:

  • Shelton Barker, Service & Special Projects
  • Joseph Clarke, Fire Protection
  • Joshua Maddox, Service & Special Projects
  • Shawn Mitchell, Service & Special Projects
  • Bradley Ruble, Service & Special Projects
  • Robert Snellings, Service & Special Projects
  • Ebony Thompson, Service & Special Projects
  • Gabe Jovel, Mechanical
  • Christopher Martin, Service & Special Projects
  • Sean Norris, Service & Special Projects

At the electrical graduation, VECAP presented two outstanding student awards, both won by ACI’s Josh Maddox! He received the award for the highest grade point average (98%) and was also acknowledged for his perfect attendance – he never missed a class during the entire four-year period! This is the second consecutive year that ACI apprentices have won each award. (Last year Chris Peters had the highest grade point average and Joshua Stanley perfect attendance.)

Keith Dunford, Senior Project Manager, was quick to express his excitement for all of the graduates. He also shared this about Josh, “Josh’s determination and drive are exceptional and his joyous positive attitude is contagious. We are proud of his aspiring nature and are continually impressed by his ability to go above and beyond. It has been a pleasure to watch him grow and we are looking forward to him continuing his future with ACI.”

ACI was represented at the June 2nd ceremony by Terrence Kerner, Keith Dunford, Gary Crawford, Melissa Weaver, Chancelor VanGorder, and Tim Hodge. Keith has been an instructor in the program for three years and Chance just completed his first year in this role.

Last Friday’s electrical apprentice graduation was not our only reason to celebrate. We also had three more apprentices finish their respective programs. Gabe Jovel and Christopher Martin completed the plumbing apprentice program and Sean Norris completed his HVAC training. ACI was represented at the June 12 plumbing graduation ceremony by Donna Westbrook & Melissa Weaver. Melissa Weaver, ACI’s Training Manager/ Apprenticeship Coordinator was full of congrats for all of our graduates and she offered this advice. “Sit for your test ASAP! It’s easier to access all the book knowledge that you will need now rather than 12 months from now.”

ACI’s President, Terrence Kerner, noted that “The apprentice programs play an important role in our ability to compete in an industry where there is a shortage of skilled labor. ACI encourages participation in all trades.”

 

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 550 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com.

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Atlantic Constructors Undertakes Massive Expansion to Fabrication Facility

$3 million project supports growth in prefabrication & modular construction services

Richmond, Va. (March 31, 2017) – Atlantic Constructors, Inc., (ACI) the region’s leading commercial and industrial contractor with offices in Richmond, Roanoke and Hampton Roads, is currently undergoing a $3 million expansion to enlarge its fabrication facility in Richmond from 100,000 to 130,000 square feet. The project, which is scheduled for completion in July 2017, enables ACI to seize a competitive edge with its prefabrication and modular construction capabilities.

With the expansion, ACI is adding a significant amount of fabrication capacity, including increased overhead crane capacity, to meet the growing customer demand for “off-jobsite” assemblies and prefabrication. ACI fabricates the ductwork, piping, plumbing and steelwork to the client’s exact specifications while work at the client’s construction site is underway. The finished ACI products are then delivered to the jobsite in a ready-to-install state, increasing quality control and minimizing on-site installation time.

“A 30 percent increase in size allows us to have all of our fabrication services under one roof, which will result in greater efficiency, quality and cost-effectiveness for our customers,” said Terrance Kerner, President of ACI. “We are passionate about providing something extraordinary in terms of innovative and quality solutions for our clients. This expansion is a big step toward achieving our strategic goal to be positioned as the Mid-Atlantic region’s contractor of choice.”

“We are extremely pleased that Atlantic Constructors has made this new three-million-dollar investment in their facility here in the Bermuda District in Chesterfield County. Atlantic Constructors is a top-quality employer that truly lives their mission of being Extraordinary through Innovation, Collaboration, and Diversity,” said Dorothy Jaeckle, Chair, Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. “We appreciate Atlantic Constructors’ commitment to continued growth and we look forward to the new jobs this growth will bring to our community. Atlantic Constructors has been a great corporate community partner and we congratulate them on this expansion and wish them continued success.”

 

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Atlantic Constructors, Inc. is a full service industrial and commercial contractor headquartered in Richmond, VA (Chesterfield County) with satellite offices in Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads, VA. Our highly skilled team of over 550 employees serves customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.acibuilds.com.