JDI Contracts Inc.
JDI Contracts provides project and construction management expertise
primarily to electricity-generating utilities and their contractors in the upper Midwest.
By Russ Gager
For JDI Contracts Inc., there is an advantage in being a manageable size. “We’re not a traditional contractor or engineering firm, and we don’t wish to become or compete with either of them,” President and Owner Roger Hoyum emphasizes. “What we offer is highly efficient, specialized services in project and construction management, field inspection, and related technical support. We’re one of the smallest companies that offers a full-service construction management and owner’s representative portfolio. And we’re able to offer such an excellent value precisely because we are small firm.”
Since 2003, JDI Contracts has provided construction management and technical support services for large and medium sized utility and heavy process plant projects, primarily in an owner’s representation delivery model.
“We’ve spent most of our time in the electric utility industry, specifically in the generating and the transmission areas,” Hoyum explains. “In recent years, we’ve also branched off into the distribution arena. Our larger project portfolio is centered in the upper Midwest, where we’ve provided both capital and operations support resources in some of the largest Midwestern utility generating plants. For the last several years, we’ve also worked for the third-largest municipal electrical utility in the state of Minnesota.”
JDI’s operating territory includes 15 to 20 midsized investor-owned utilities and approximately 100 cooperatives and smaller utilities in the upper Midwest including Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois. Hoyum observes that JDI’s diverse clientele has offered the firm numerous opportunities and has well-positioned JDI with connections throughout utilities and construction industries.
“First and foremost, we focus on the project work, and operations work normally follows,” Hoyum says. “In fact, operations work has become a natural extension for us. Normally, we get to know utilities through their larger capital project expenditures. When smaller initiatives are undertaken – maybe turnaround management and support – utilities will often call us for gap project resources, such as a certified inspector or project controls support requirement, or scheduling or other support requirement.
“Those are the projects where our firm’s smaller size provides a critical advantage for us and is a real benefit for our clients,” Hoyum says. “We’re a flexible firm that can quickly provide the resources and services utilities need for these smaller initiatives. And because we’ve worked on so many of these types of projects, we don’t have to spend as much time getting acquainted and acclimated.”
Large, complex infrastructure projects require more extensive coordination and management. “Obviously, a great deal of planning is required on the front end for larger projects, especially in more mature and highly integrated industries,” Hoyum emphasizes. “We’re big believers in the adage: Plans are nothing but planning is everything. The larger the number of constituents and suppliers, the greater the imperative is to get everyone to come together in the planning process.”
Hoyum adds that the challenge is always getting to know an organization quickly to help its employees become more efficient with their project expenditures and project execution strategies. “I’m proud of the fact that over the years, many of our clients have commented on our firm’s ability to come into an organization and quickly and accurately assess the situation. Again, I think this has something to do with our firm’s size. Because we have to be focused on our own efficiencies, we’re able to quickly zero in on opportunities to improve efficiencies for our clients.”
Management and Support
JDI’s forte is its comprehensive company construction management field team – which provides cost control and other project services – and supports the owner’s management team from development through construction. “There’s many ways to get a job done, and depending on the nature of the project, we might place an entire team that can integrate and work with and sometimes actually lead our client’s internal team,” Hoyum says.
“A lot of times, the client may not have all of the pieces in place, such as a complete internal engineering team,” he points out. “They might only supply procurement services or other component parts of the project effort. We can and have come in to offer a leadership component with integrated technical experience that interfaces directly with their onsite team.”
Efficiency is a word often used by Hoyum, and it is one of his passions. When questioned about efficiency, Hoyum elaborates. “When you boil it down, peak efficiency is a challenge solved by systematic project planning and execution,” he says. “A recent project win for JDI involved an owner-procured engineering package that had been bid out. As a standalone package in a larger integrated deliverable, the savings in bidding the engineering were far outweighed by value engineering to reintegrate that package more effectively into construction. The construction savings were estimated at $200,000, whereas the original project approach might have saved 5 to 10 percent of that.”
JDI offers numerous support programs, such as project and scheduling controls, quality control, document management, issues resolution and others. “We’ll implement key programs in the field at whatever level of detail required,” Hoyum adds. These also include structural and mechanical field inspections, safety coordination and related documentation requirements. “We can bring fully mature programs directly to the field that reduce the amount of time required for implementation,” Hoyum says. “JDI’s experience is built from successful projects. We help clients hit the ground running as opposed to trying to build programs from scratch.”
In some cases, JDI provides assistance in one specific area. “A lot of what we do is gap resource supply, where a client has a need for field inspection or construction coordination, or perhaps working with a remote engineering group,” Hoyum says. “It could be a particular specialty. For example, many times integrated scheduling and project controls become fragmented. We can help fill in those team parts and pieces. We work with the owner and their suppliers to provide the most comprehensive solution to benefit the project’s outcomes. We base this all according to the demands of the job and the needs of the owner from both a construction and long-term operations perspective.”
One of JDI’s competitive advantages is its client relationships. “We see a lot of repeat business, and we feel that is because we take the time to get to know companies well,” Hoyum says. “By having our senior management team interacting with their teams at every level, we feel we get better placement. We understand it’s about finding the right personality, skills and experience of the teams that go in.”
Hoyum attributes his company’s success to several factors. “There’s really no secret recipe for success in this business,” he says. “It’s about hard work and understanding the industry, but we strive to place teams that have worked not only in the role as contractors but also as owners. We feel this is a tremendous advantage for our clients. Our team members understand both the operations of the types of facilities we work in, as well as the contractor side of the business. We provide our clients with a 360-degree view of every project.”
Looking towards the future, Hoyum sees JDI developing additional experience for higher-complexity projects, balanced with a greater geographical reach and activity in multiple industries.
“Right now, approximately 80 percent of our revenue is from the electric utility industry,” Hoyum says. “We’re always going to be a player in that industry. But when we look at the future, we also want to leverage our team’s multi-industry experience and penetrate the mining, paper and shale energy industries.”
“Shale energy is of particular interest to us because of the increasing demand for petrochemical production,” Hoyum concludes. “Based on our past success, our expertise and experience with the electric utility industry, we feel we’re a natural fit to service the petrochemical industry.”