Page 13 - Texas811 Magazine 2021 Issue 4
P. 13

Excavation advances are
often thought of in terms
of equipment and perhaps technology. Certainly, there is a lot to celebrate with those kinds of advances. However, long-term and meaningful advances in ensuring zero damages and maximum profitability may have more to do with perspective as it does with the latest piece of equipment.
I recently visited with Trey Crawford, Vice President of Grady Crawford Construction headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Grady Crawford Construction has worked as a utility contractor for more than 48 years working on major projects from Texas to Georgia in the south. And you won’t be surprised to learn that during that time, they’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry.
Trey said, “Change is just part of the business and can have either a positive or a negative impact. For the excavator, a game changer is working in states that have implemented virtual white lining. At least it has for us. For years folks have said excavators need to white line all construction sites and
I say that is a great practice, but not always possible. For us, white lining
a job three hours away would create
a problem if white lining meant we
had to drive there to do it. But with virtual white lining, we now can do it. Highlight where we’re going to work, give the map to the locator with the specific location of the worksite and
we both win. It is not yet available everywhere we work, but it will be soon.”
Again, speaking on behalf of the excavators, we wish all utilities were members of the 811 Centers across the country and the reason is obvious. Some utilities require permits to dig within their jurisdiction and of course that is their right. However, because each municipality has their own system, we can’t assume getting a permit is going to be issued without delay, so we’ve learned not to call in a ticket until permits are in hand.
I asked Trey to define the difference between a “good” day and a “bad” day from his perspective. He laughed and said, “A good day is a day when you don’t have a lot of complaints. It’s
a safe and productive day. It’s a day when you see your safety culture at work. When everybody on the job cares. We encourage our employees
to care about their safety... to care about the safety of one another... to be proud of what they do and to be proud of their paycheck. We spend a lot of time training our people because they are important to us. Every Monday we meet to discuss what happened the previous week. We celebrate the good and we work to fix the bad. Then
we talk about expectations for the upcoming week.”
He continued, “For Grady Crawford Construction, the goal is to build
great relationships not only with our employees but with the locators and clients as well. The foundation for building these relationships is the willingness to communicate. We want the client to know what we’re doing and why or why not we’re behind schedule. You can’t lie to your client.
If they ask you do something you know you can’t do, just say it. Contractors
do not have unlimited resources. If
we know we can only do so much with what we have, we say that and then
try to figure out how best to fill in the gaps. There is a way to get things done but it takes communication to make it happen.”
How does that work with the locators? He said, “Exactly the same way. It begins and ends with communication... lots of communication. Contractors get projects that are both client driven and revenue driven. If our crews are going to start a major project, before we touch a blade of grass, we want
a preconstruction meeting. At that meeting, I’m going to identify the person that speaks for us on site. We want them to know that we’re not trying to ruin their weekends or their home lives. If the locators know us, we’ve probably already built good
relationships. If they don’t know us, then we want to start off on the right foot and show good faith. We want
to discuss the do’s and don’ts for the project. Exchange phone numbers and be ready to adapt on the fly. We tell our folks to call in work you can get done within the life of the ticket and to use the information given.”
When asked what he needed from
the locators involved in the project he said, “Oh, I don’t know. I guess I’d say make themselves available. Here’s what is important to the contractor... locate on time and if you can’t do that, then communicate to us when you can. It does me no good to send a crew to an area that is not located. I wouldn’t do that if I knew it wasn’t located. The most successful projects we’ve been involved with over the years were because we could work with the locator because he was able to work with us. We all have obstacles to overcome on these kinds of projects, so we must work together to keep from having unnecessary conflict. The truth is it makes sense to learn to work together because we know that it won’t be long before we’ll be working with these same guys on the next project.”
Thanks Trey Crawford for sharing your perspective which was no doubt developed as the result of decades
of experience as an excavator. In my experience, projects large and small that went smoothly was the direct result of good communication. And the reverse has always been true too.
Perhaps nobody said it more eloquently than the captain, played by Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke. In identifying the problem with Luke’s escape, he said, “What we got here is a failure to communicate.”
A failure to communicate dooms every project to frustration, finger pointing and lack of respect. With all that’s going on today that is beyond our control, it seems reasonable to me that we’d be willing to do what we can control.
Why can’t we just get along?
2021, Issue 4 Texas811 • 11

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