By Jason Courtney, Project Manager
Subcontractors are critical to the success of our projects and Vogel Bros. Building Co. is very fortunate to work with some of the very best. Over the course of our 88 years in business, there have been times when a subcontractor wasn’t performing as we needed them to. When this happens, oftentimes we have the ability to bring in additional resources to supplement the under-performing subcontractor in an effort to finish the job on time. But when a sub is responsible for highly specialized work – as is often the case in our Florida market – supplementing isn’t always an option. So the question becomes, “How do you deal with an under-performing subcontractor when they can’t be supplemented or easily replaced?”
One of our subcontractors began missing critical performance dates. Vogel Bros. followed the normal contractual protocols of putting them on notice, requesting corrective action plans, and giving them specific milestones that they needed to achieve. There was immediate improvement, but it was short-lived as the subcontractor soon began missing deadlines again. It came down to choosing to terminate the subcontractor and start over from scratch, or drag them to the finish line. We chose the latter, and – as it turned out – this was a mistake. The situation failed to improve and the project fell further and further behind schedule. Ultimately, we made the difficult decision to terminate their contract and bring in a replacement to finish the job.
Terminating a subcontractor was not a decision that was made lightly. In fact, it was an outcome that we tried everything in our power to avoid. We knew that bringing in a replacement would not only further delay the completion of the project, but would also carry a significant financial cost to Vogel Bros. By giving the subcontractor one chance after another and hoping that we would eventually get them across the finish line, we only delayed the inevitable. The lesson learned is that giving a struggling subcontractor a chance to remedy the situation is the right thing to do, but there must be clear limits to how many chances they are given. We must be willing and able to recognize when things aren’t getting better and we must be prepared to make the difficult choice of parting ways if necessary. Delaying the inevitable will only make matters worse. After all, that which must be done eventually should be done immediately.