The Global Steel Detailer: Update

Posted on May 9, 2016 by Ewen Dobbie

There is no ‘pass’ when times get tough.

Every business has its challenges… and when times get tough, there is no such thing as ‘getting a free pass.’

There will always be uncertainties in the steel detailing business. Today’s detailer has to deal with incomplete design drawings, impossible schedules, and declining fees. This is the new normal. Detailers no longer have the luxury of picking and choosing projects or customers. Success relies on a company’s ability to adapt to market realities and continue to deliver services the market has come to expect: high quality and low cost.

Constant improvement in processes, project controls, and metrics must remain the battle cry. For detailers, the need to grow operations and infrastructure globally to balance cost structures is undeniable. There is no ‘other’ way a steel detailer can survive in an increasingly competitive and globalized marketplace.

For many, Q1 results for 2016 have not been what was anticipated. Awarded projects have gone on hold and the award of others have been delayed. Whether it’s the US Presidential elections and Trumponomic fears, declining oil prices, or continued terrorist activity, the general marketplace seems to have been hit with a stun gun.

Despite what most would characterize as a bizarre first quarter, many remain confident traction can be re-gained and losses minimalized or erased completely in Q2.

There seems to be more work out for tender. Companies report that they have bid more than double they had in the same period in 2015. Such positive signs suggest that a full post recession recovery is almost complete and the overall outlook for construction starts continues to look positive. On the surface, it also looks like structural steel as a building material will continue to gain market share.

So, what does the Global Steel Detailer do next…

Organize, manage, and communicate as effectively as possible. It is important detailers understand customers are experiencing similar pains. To be successful today, the role of service companies must be to solve problems and deliver on their service promises.

Another comment that needs to be made relates to schedule and a client’s perception of the detailer's ‘urgency’ on their project.

Operating with a sense of urgency must be part of the detailer team’s mantra. The tireless work ethic and willpower of your team members are the key skills that will determine their success.

Stamina takes someone a long way in life. When we treat each day and every moment with urgency, our lives have the potential to move forward in leaps instead of steps. However, there will still be times when even the most driven among us feel like their progress is slowing or wants to give up.

Being a Project Manager and Steel Detailer is tough work. It takes both the physicality of long hours of work and the mental fortitude to keep going through the slumps and tough times.

Just remember that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Most experienced detailers have survived numerous recessions, and have re-invented themselves multiple times over the last few decades. Do any of us really know with clarity the way forward? No, but we must race forward with urgency, ‘whacking’ down the juggle with a machete so that others may follow.

Here are five inspiring quotes that emphasize time is truly of the essence to help motivate and inspire you to keep pushing full steam ahead.

  1. Progressive improvement beats delayed perfection. -- Mark Twain
  2. Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value. -- Jim Rohn
  3. I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do. -- Leonardo da Vinci
  4. You must take action now that will move you towards your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life. -- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  5. Everyone should have a sense of urgency -- it is getting a lot done in a short period of time in a calm, confident manner. -- Bob Proctor

Final thoughts:

No company can sustain an ever-increasing growth curve if they don’t treat each day like it matters. People can get lazy, they postpone and they procrastinate. Habits like this take away their power as a person and as an effective manager and as a productive detailer. Train your detailers to see each day as the important moment it is. By doing so, you amplify your opportunities today whilst simultaneously creating a better tomorrow. Cultivate an inner drive that makes each moment feel both special and urgent… and see what happens.

Ewen Dobbie


Dowco Group - Ewen Dobbie

Business Strategist, Owner, President, CEO, Director, for technology companies serving the design & construction industry.


Dowco Group of Companies