Q&A with Todd Winnerman



Winnerman is president of commercial construction company MW Builders, where he has worked his way up through the organization over the last 24 years since joining the company right after college.

  1. We had a pretty good winter until the middle of last month—how has weather this season affected progress on your progress, given the national scope of this freeze?

During the extreme weather in February, we lost about two weeks of progress on most of our projects, but since we knew the weather was coming, we prepared beforehand and accelerated some of our work to minimize the overall impact. Once the weather thawed, we were right back to work.

 

  1. Heading into a new construction season, what are your biggest concerns: Materials costs, labor/skill availability? Continuing COVID compliance? Other?

Material costs and supply chain disruptions are currently the biggest concerns; we’ve seen unprecedented price increases on several critical materials, including lumber, steel, and PVC pipe. The manufacturing industry has started to really feel the impacts of the COVID-related shutdowns and lead times for many products are significantly longer. We’ve changed our process to have materials delivered earlier than we have in the past to avoid any project delays.

 

  1. What impact might a new administration with a new legislative agenda have on the construction sector?

We aren’t anticipating any impacts on the industry in the short-term, but in the long-term, there is a high probability of a large infrastructure package that could potentially create additional obstacles to labor availability in commercial construction. This reinforces the need to continue to educate students about the career opportunities in construction and its benefits. We actively volunteer at PREP KC and partner with National Institute for Construction Excellence (NICE) to reach more students and show them what it’s like to be a part of this industry.

 

  1. Back to labor for a second: How rapidly are the tech applications for construction changing the nature of the new hires you have to make, especially with regard to post-secondary education/training/certification? Is construction losing some of the “blue” in its blue-collar reputation?

In today’s market, it still takes skilled craftsmen on the ground to successfully build the project. We are, however, seeing changes in the makeup of field leadership. Historically, the project Superintendents mainly grew up in the trades, and now we’re seeing more college graduates assume this role because of their technical skills.

 

  1. How’s your project pipeline holding up? And what kinds of projects are you see more/less of in the near term?

We’re thankful that our project pipeline still remains strong. We’re definitely seeing more projects in the light industrial warehouse and logistics facilities as companies look to service the “last mile” for their products.

 

  1. What factors instill the most optimism in you for both MWB and the construction sector overall through the rest of 2021 and into 2022?

The employee owners at MW Builders continue to instill the most optimism for me. I couldn’t be prouder of the way they united to navigate the pandemic, persevere, and ultimately produce a record year for MW Builders. Although we’re still navigating this challenging time, 2021 has given us something to look forward to as it marks our 50th anniversary. As we move into this new and exciting chapter for our organization, I’m confident we’ll continue to work together to achieve success and maintain our strong family-like culture.