The longer you work in the engineering consulting world, the more rules of thumb get passed along from senior engineers who have “done it all.” The one that has always intrigued me is, “The best time to do marketing is when you are at your busiest.”
At first glance this statement seems to contradict itself, because if you are really busy, how do you find the time to market or develop business plans? Rather than try to understand what it really means or think about what kind of engineering consultant actually coined the phrase, let’s assume it is true or, better yet, a way of doing business.
The construction season is not quite in full swing but is certainly nearing that tipping point. So I suppose one could make a fairly valid case that our Civil department is near (or even at) our busiest. Based on that old rule of thumb, we better be marketing. Now, I’m pretty confident we never stop marketing, but perhaps this is the time to up the ante, so to speak, and include some strategic thinking!
With the intent of becoming more predictable in the unpredictable Government market and to decrease the effect of seasonality on our business, our department has considered various strategic areas of focus to carry us forward. Here is a summary of a few of them.
Department of Transportation (DOT) work
We work regularly and successfully with the North Dakota DOT and the South Dakota DOT. We are familiar with these agencies and understand how to pursue work. The goal is to learn how to pursue work with other DOTs; namely CDOT (Colorado), MnDOT (Minnesota), WYDOT (Wyoming) and MDT (Montana).
This becomes a matter of looking for information on the pre-qualification process; the procurement process; how many districts; when the projects let; size of projects; competition in each district; and scheduled meetings with each agency.
Construction related services
A lot of time and money is invested in providing training to our staff to be leaders in the industry on DOT construction management and observation projects. Our goal is to leverage this comprehensive training to bring our construction engineering expertise to other entities. At a minimum, our expanded search includes work that would be available with:
- Other Ulteig departments
- Other agencies in North Dakota
- Agencies and DOTs outside of the Midwest (warmer climates/longer construction seasons)
- Private entity work
- Projects besides roads/streets/highways/utilities
Internal marketing, external marketing and DOT research are necessary steps to uncover the opportunities out there. Could this be the first step in solving our seasonality issue?
Minnesota municipal projects
As we work to expand our municipal projects, we’re starting by increasing our coverage of Minnesota municipalities. Ulteig can leverage its geographic locations in Minnesota and existing client relationships to reach more communities, especially those being under-served, with priorities for:
- Basic civil engineering work in the Twin Cities area
- City engineer/municipal work in southern Minnesota
- Western and central Minnesota expansion centering around our Detroit Lakes and Alexandria staff
Front Range market
Our Denver office is home to two of our department directors (although it seems they are either in Fargo or St. Paul more often than not) and many of our company’s business leaders. With the leadership in place there, it makes sense to begin to build a strong Civil team and presence in Colorado. Future investments would most likely include a strategic hire with either CDOT experience or multi-municipality experience.