An Accelerant: Woods Construction President John Bodary on Retail Construction in the Coronavirus Era
By Dennis Burck
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to enforce social distancing came on March 24, advising that people stay six feet apart to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The distance was troubling for Woods Construction President John Bodary. “If we are hanging a sheet of drywall, how can our guys stay six feet away from each other?”
It would be the first question of many in a myriad of challenges Bodary faces in the especially hard-hit retail sector of construction during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a recent study by Dodge Data and Analytics, 2020 is projected to see a 33 percent decrease in U.S. commercial building starts.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that March saw the greatest decline in retail sales within the last 30 years at 8.7 percent. April’s report is expected to be much higher.
“When you go into construction, you get satisfaction from producing. You want to see that you have built something. You want to see your progress. For me this has been the opposite of that,” Bodary said.
“Now you go home at the end of the day exhausted and what you did was just put jobs on pause. It is kind of depressing.”
His first reaction was to read the executive order and see if there was a way to keep business going. Bodary evaluated over 30 of his construction sites from Boston to Alaska, trying to navigate the evolving and sometimes gray legalities of continuing operation during the pandemic.
However, a phone call from a client changed his priorities.
“The client said ‘Hey, on this date from eight until noon, we need to know every one of your employees that was on the job site because we sent in a third-party vendor who had a confirmed case of coronavirus at that site.’ I looked at the list and we had five employees at that job in Wisconsin.”
Bodary looked at the group of five on the job: One worker had a baby due in a month, another was one month from retiring.
“Each person has a story and I thought what are we doing here? If we talk the talk that our employees are the most valuable resource, we better start walking the walk.”
The employees that were exposed were remodeling a restaurant, and the decision was made to methodically make the project safe, secure and usable by the client and then get the employees home to practice self-distancing.
“The decision became more philosophical than business: We weren’t building a hospital here,” Bodary added. “We weren’t going to leave an essential remodel in progress – like a pharmacy or grocery department remodel, but we also wanted to get our people home safe and allow the client to operate their essential business without distraction.”
Now Bodary’s work has shifted to planning for a gradual and safe return to work with a nine-page document and checklist for each job site.
“We are taking the best practices from lots of sources − OSHA, CDC and the trades. We are trying to summarize these and make them ours. It is very important to have moving forward.”
According to Bodary’s retail clients, most summer projects will be bumped back into next year and the focus will shift on more immediate essential needs like installing plexiglass guards for cashiers and other emergency tasks as the situation evolves.
“As for the well-being of the retail construction market, the coronavirus is not the root cause in most of the downturns,” he said.
“I don’t think the result of the coronavirus will change what the market results would be anyway. I think it is just accelerating the change that was inevitable.”
Bodary expects to see an accelerated decline in B- and C-class malls and more retailers who are continuing to “right-size” their stores by decreasing square footage and curating the space with more popular inventory.
Target is already testing this model in downtown markets like East Lansing in 2019 by opening its first small-format store in Michigan. Woods Construction contributed to the build.
“At the same time, I think this is going to create opportunities for people who are sustainable. Retailers like Target and others that offer essential grocery and pharmaceutical products will have opportunities to take advantage of a downturned real estate market,” Bodary said. “They can take advantage of an old box vacated by Kmart or another struggling retailer. It will take some time, but I think those companies are going to flourish.”
Though the future of known specific work is still up in the air, Bodary sees the function of Woods Construction and other builders remaining constant throughout the crisis.
“From our perspective, I know from the last 35 years of doing this is that we become the managers of change. And this unique event in our lives is going to create change.”
Woods Construction, Inc. is a full-service General and Specialty Contractor with experience spanning, from coast to coast, and projects ranging in size from the construction of multi-million dollar retail stores, to simple maintenance calls for public schools and community churches, and most everything in-between. They are a long-time CAM member and an active participant on the CAM Safety Committee.
Hired as a Prebid Construction News Reporter, Dennis Burck recently joined the team at the Construction Association of Michigan. Burck earned a BA in journalism from Wayne State University in 2017, spending the last two years as a new development and general assignment reporter for the Lansing City Pulse. At the Pulse, Burck was tasked with writing the paper’s “New in Town” column, tracking commercial and city developments from construction to completion. His work also appeared in the Detroit Metro Times, Metro Parent, Model D Media and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ magazine
How UPS is responding to the Coronavirus
UPS is closely monitoring the impact of the Coronavirus and we want to make sure you are kept up-to-date on what they are doing to keep members and customers like you safe while continuing to deliver around the world.
Here’s what we know and what you can expect:
- Compliance with all government regulations and health safety guidelines related to the containment of COVID-19.
- Many people are asking the same question: is it safe to receive and handle a shipment? The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that the likelihood of catching the COVID-19 virus by touching cardboard or other shipping containers is low.
- If you prefer that your UPS driver does not deliver packages to your premises, you can arrange for your packages to be held for pickup at your local customer center for 2 weeks. When you wish to resume delivery to your business, you can request that to happen at the same UPS customer service counter you visit to pick up packages.
For more details and updates, please visit: http://bit.ly/UPS_Updates
Need to Ship? Visit: www.savewithups.com/cam
Have questions about your Savings Program? Call: 1-800-MEMBERS (636-2377), M-F: 8am-5pm ET.
Is Your Construction Contract COVID-19 Proof?
Are you an owner, general contractor, or subcontractor currently performing your obligations pursuant to a construction contract? Are you drafting, negotiating, or preparing to enter into a construction contract in the near future?
If you answered yes to either of the above questions, it is imperative that you review or consider incorporating a force majeure clause into your contract.
Even before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, construction projects across the country were being impacted due to China, the world’s largest producer of steel and other goods, being at the epicenter of the outbreak. Now, as the federal government and private employers begin implementing protective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, construction projects will most certainly be impacted even more by the virus.
As such, if you are in the construction industry it is essential that you review your current or future contracts for a force majeure clause and the applicable notice requirements. A standard provision in many contracts, a force majeure clause, relieves both parties of their contractual obligations upon the occurrence of a specifically defined event that is unforeseeable at the time of contracting or is out of a parties’ control, making performance impossible or impracticable. The force majeure clause may also include specific time-sensitive notice requirements that should be strictly adhered to.
In Michigan, force majeure clauses are narrowly construed; meaning that a clause “will generally only excuse a party’s nonperformance if the event that caused the party’s nonperformance is specifically identified.” Kyocera Corp. v. Hemlock Semiconductor, LLC, 313 Mich. App. 437, 447, 886 N.W.2d 445, 451 (2015). Thus, in regard to COVID-19, a contract’s force majeure clause is most likely applicable if it contains the term “pandemic,” “disease,” or “viral outbreak.”
However, merely because a force majeure clause might be applicable does not mean a party can immediately stop preforming his or her contractual obligations. In order to invoke a force majeure clause, a contracting party must not have of been the cause of the delaying event or failed to prevent it by exercising prudence, due diligence, and care. See Erickson v. Dart Oil & Gas Corp., 189 Mich. App. 679, 688, 474 N.W.2d 150, 155 (1991); Cordoba v. City of Detroit, No. 221391, 2001 WL 1009308, at 3 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 4, 2001). According to Michigan common law, “a party’s failure to explore or utilize available options to overcome the delaying condition can constitute lack of due diligence.” Id. If you are in the construction industry and your work is being negatively impacted by COVID-19 or have questions or concerns regarding your contract, please feel free to contact McAlpine PC at (248)373-3700.
McAlpine PC is a nationally-known law firm concentrating in construction law and litigation in Michigan and throughout the United States. It has received some of the largest jury verdicts and arbitration awards in the country. The firm’s founder, Mark L. McAlpine, is recognized as one of the best construction litigators in the country by a wide variety of lawyer peer review publications. The firm’s lawyers regularly counsel clients on matters of contract formation and administration, claims litigation, insurance, environmental and real estate issues faced by owners, contractors and subcontractors. Visit our website at www.mcalpinepc.com or call us at (248) 373-3700 for more information about the firm.
CAM Members Save with Staples Advantage
As a member, you are eligible for all the benefits and savings that our partnership with Staples Business Advantage offers. They truly are a one source shop for all your business needs. Staples Business Advantage is different than Staples.com – it is a service designed to benefit large companies, with big buying power. Your CAM membership makes you eligible for this VIP service, regardless of your business size!
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- Facility solutions – Products and services to keep your buildings clean, safe and efficient, nationwide
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- Print solutions – Solve any print need, from complex forms and labels to digital copy
- Furniture solutions – Everyday furniture and complete services, design to installation
- Safety Supplies – PPE, flammable gas storage, material handling equipment, and more
Learn why more organizations choose Staples Advantage as their trusted office solutions advisor over everyone else. Contact Lynn Swain at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up today.
Providing Assistance During COVID-19
- Workplace Essentials Remote Working
- Work From Home – Staples Technology
- Staples COVID-19 FAQs_032420
- Staples Advantage Work from Home Delivery Program Link Customers Overview
- Coronavirus_Sandy Douglas Staples CEO Letter
- Work from Home_Mono Printer 0pgs Dex Imaging
- Work from Home Mono Printer_500pgs Dex Imaging
- Work from Home Color MFP Printer 1000pgs Dex Imaging
Coronavirus: Info and Updates
Preparation Begins for Michigan's Construction Industry to Return to Work
May 19, 2020
On May 18th, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-92 as part of her MI Safe Start plan. In addition to adding manufacturing to the list of businesses allowed to resume, it maintained the Stay Home order until May 28, 2020 for most regions in Michigan.
This executive order repeats the guidelines of the May 1st Executive Order 2020-77, which allowed the May 7th resumption of some types of work that present a very low risk of infection, including construction, real-estate activities, and work that is traditionally and primarily performed outdoors.
Under the order, construction sites must adopt a set of best practices to protect their workers from infection. Those practices include:
- Designating a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies.
- Conducting daily health screenings for workers.
- Creating dedicated entry points, if possible, or issuing stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day.
- Identifying choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, water stations, and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing.
- Ensuring sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.
We encourage you to protect your workplace, employees, suppliers, and customers as you return to work. Protection may include retrofitting office space to provide additional separation, purchase of personal protective equipment, touch-less thermometers, and sanitizer stations, training on new policies and procedures, and designation of certain staff members to coordinate activities.
Together we will get through this! However long COVID-19 impacts our lives and our work, eventually life will go back to normal. And the world will understand that we are all connected and better together than apart.
Stay focused, stay healthy!
Kevin N. Koehler
Construction Association of Michigan
- Michigan’s Guidelines and Best Practices for Construction 5.06.20
- Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC) Construction Facility Recommendations
- MI Start Safe Presentation 4/27/20
- Michigan’s Executive Order 2020-92
- State of Michigan Coronavirus Resources
- CDC Resources
- State of Michigan Paycheck Protection Program
Return to Work Toolkit
Policies, Procedures, and Training
- CAM_COVID-19 Site Response Sample Plan
- TOOLBOX TALK Preventing Transmission of COVID19 4.27.20
- TOOLBOX TALK Disposable Respirators COVID19 4.27.20
- TOOLBOX TALK Handwashing COVID19 4.27.20
- TOOLBOX TALK Disinfecting Surfaces COVID19 4.27.20
- Contact your CAM Membership Representative to find out how to save 10% on PureSafety online training.
- CPWR Standards for Construction Sites
- MIOSHA Workplace Guidelines
Prepare the Workplace
- Restarting Your Business Checklist
- Health and Wellness Posters for the Workplace
- Acrylic Partitions, Social Distance Reminders
- Partitions, Reminders, Thermal Cameras
- OSHA Guidance: Keep Construction Workers Safe
- City of Detroit Workplace Standards
To meet health screening requirements, CAM member SPARK Business Works has created a digital screening tool that requires no app to download:
CAM Member Field Tools has also created a health screening tool.
Clean & Sanitize Tools
- Milwaukee Tool Cleaning Protocol
- Equipment for Cleaning and Sanitizing
- Spray Nine Cleaner, Degreaser, and Disinfectant
- Disinfecting with Bleach – Safe Use Instructions
Personal Protective Equipment
- Can Employees Avoid Work, Avoid Discipline and Get Paid?
- The CARES Act: What CAM Members Need to Know
- COVID-19 “Ask the EEOC” Webinar
- Home Ergonomics: Setting Up Your Home Office
- Employer Plans and Responses to the Known and Unknown
- UIA Michigan Employer Informational Webinar (March 2020)
- Tax Implications of the CARES Act
State of Michigan Health and Human Services Recommendations
Resources for Employers
On April 23, Congress approved additional funding for the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers forgivable small business loans to cover up to eight weeks of payroll and other costs such as rent and utilities. The loans are primarily available to companies with up to 500 employees. We strongly encourage you to apply now with your lending institution as applications are likely to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
State of Michigan / Unemployment
- Executive Order 2020-57 Unemployment Expansion
- Guidance to Employers Contemplating Layoff
- Pure Michigan Business Connect Portal
- Michigan Unemployment: Work Share Program
- Michigan Unemployment: COVID-19 Fact Sheet
- Michigan Unemployment: Compensation Notice to Employee
- Small Business Resources
- Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
- Michigan’s Response
Tax / Financial / HR Information
- Doeren Mayhew Resource Center
- Rehmann Resource Center
- Plante Moran Resource Center
- Gordon Advisors
- Health & Wellness Posters for the Workplace
- Society for Human Resource Management
- Consumers Energy Support for Small Business
- Small Business Paycheck Protection Program
Resources for the Construction Industry
- Shutdown Guidelines for Construction Projects
- Demolition Guidance During COVID-19
- Is Your Construction Contract COVID-19 Proof?
- Plans and Procedures for the Construction Companies to Implement to Mitigate the Impact of the Coronavirus.
- SAMPLE exemption letter
Federal Waivers for CDL Holders
Resources for CAM Members
Precautions at the Construction Association of Michigan
In observance of Executive Order 2020-92, all CAM employees will be working remotely. Our project news team will continue to report on and update projects. CAM Magazine and the e-News will continue to get published. If you need assistance, please send an email to email@example.com. We will keep you informed with any new information as it becomes available.
Future CAM events, classes, and meetings are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis and our team is working to notify affected parties as soon as possible.
CAM Inducts New Chairman and Three New Board Members
At the 134th Annual Meeting of the Construction Association of Michigan, held February 12, 2020, at the Suburban Showplace Collection in Novi, the association’s new officers and directors who will serve on the 2020 Board of Directors were installed.
Each year, three Directors retire from CAM’s 12-member board, and three new Directors are elected by the CAM Membership.
Newly promoted to CAM Vice Chairmen are: Stephen J. Frantz, Motor City Electric Company, and Paul A. Stachowiak, Integrated Design Solutions, LLC. CAM’s incoming Treasurer is Joshua T. Barney, J.J. Barney Construction.
Other current members of the CAM Board of Directors are: Jeffrey A. Chandler, VTC Insurance Group; Matthew D. Cramer, Dee Cramer, Inc.; Michael J. Green, John E. Green Company; Frank G. Jonna, Jonna Companies; and Tricia S. Ruby, Ruby + Associates.
CAM’s new 2020 Chairman of the Board is Samuel J. Ruegsegger III , Project Executive, The Christman Company.
The newly elected 2020 Directors are: Gerald C. Caratelli, VP/Managing Partner, Architectural Building Components, Inc., Ferndale; Teresa K. Miller , Program Manager, Walsh Construction, Detroit; and Todd A. Moilanen , President/CEO, Cloverleaf Equipment Company, Oak Park.
Click here for the full Board of Directors.
Candidates for Board of Directors
November 21, 2019 – The Construction Association of Michigan is thrilled to announce the six new candidates for its Board of Directors. Through a member voting process, three will be selected and installed during the 134th CAM Annual Meeting on Wednesday, February 12, 2020. Click on each photo to view a biography of the candidate.
Each member firm receives ONE ballet. Ballots must be returned by December 4, 2019.
MSDSonline – a VelocityEHS Solution, is a Preferred Vendor Providing Special Discounted Rates – Schedule a Complimentary Demonstration Today!
Construction Association of Michigan members know the challenges businesses face working to ensure employee safety while also staying current with an evolving regulatory landscape, including changes brought on by GHS. Cloud-based MSDSonline chemical management solutions help make workplaces safer and compliance easier by providing users with seamless access to the leading inventory of safety data sheets, including those in the new GHS-aligned format.
Thanks to a special preferred vendor arrangement, CAM members can quickly and easily sign up with MSDSonline to access everything needed to centralize Hazard Communication and GHS compliance across their entire organization, including:
- Safety Data Sheet Management
- Right-to-Know Compliance Tools
- Chemical Inventory Management
- Chemical Approval Workflows
- Auto-Flagging & Management of Banned Chemicals
- Regulatory Reporting Tools
- Emergency Response Services (add-on service)
Schedule a demo today! To get started, you can click the Request Quote button on this page, or contact Kate Schalk (312) 881-2488, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAM eNewsletter - October 15, 2019
FEATURED IN THIS ISSUE:
- A New Show! A New Location! Two Days!
- The 4th Annual Legislative Breakfast Takes Place on Friday
- Early Bird Registration Still Open for Safety Leadership Conference
- Return Your 2020 CAM Buyers Guide Listing Today!
- CAMTEC’s Upcoming Classes
- CAMComp Free Lunch & Learn Seminar Takes Place on October 25th
- Two Great CAM Connect Networking Events Coming This Fall
- Tricia Ruby of Ruby + Associates Wins National Service Award
- Careers in Energy Week Highlights In-Demand Job Opportunities
- FY 2020 USDOT Bonding Education Program in Detroit
- North American International Cyber Summit 2019 Comes to Detroit
- Introducing the Fulcrum Conference – The Future of Work
- Oliver/Hatcher Raises $145,000 for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital
- Amendment to Part 11. Recording and Reporting of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
- New Weighting System Could Increase Safety and Health Inspections