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Stay nimble to nurture success

The construction industry—and the world as a whole—changes constantly. If a company isn’t learning, adapting and growing, it quickly grows stagnant.

In the more than 50 years Shaw Construction has been doing business in the Rocky Mountain region, we have built a myriad of projects for clients across many industries. Hospitals, airport hangars, university buildings, residential complexes, municipal structures, performing and fine art centers, resorts and hotels, custom homes, and even bridges—you name it. Our company’s growth relies on adaptability and diversification, so Shaw is hugely diversified, and that’s the way we like it.


More than anything, our company’s tendency to diversify stems from being a geographic builder based on the relationships we’ve grown and serve. Some builders latch onto one certain type of structure—warehouses or grocery stores, for example—and travel across the country to build lots of that type of building. At Shaw, we build structures for our clients in the Rocky Mountain region. Sometimes those clients need simple projects, but more often we get the call for the complex projects—specialized, tough and unique projects with circumstances that require creative thinking. Shaw has always been very relationship-focused, and we build the projects our clients need us to build.

We were once contracted to build an airport control tower. We spoke to a Texas-based colleague who specializes in airport control towers, and mentioned that we were aiming to complete the tower in six months. Our colleague laughed. Actually laughed. He said his team had never completed an airport control tower in under 11 months.

But Shaw did finish the tower in six months—at a remote mountain location. We did it because our team members brought insightful forethought and innovative thinking to a product that was new to us. We have smart team members who know how to be creative and thoughtful, and it was that creative thinking that helped us meet the client’s deadline.

Regardless of industry, teams that work on different kinds of projects tend to be nimble, flexible and adaptable. They usually haven’t latched onto industry paradigms, so they’re not stuck in a “this is how we have always done it” mentality.

Questions about experience are common when a business is on the hunt for a potential agency or firm. ‘How many other health care companies have you worked with?’ ‘How many finance-related companies?’ For many, prior experience is what proves competence.

But that mentality can work to the detriment of the client. When members of a team have worked on the same kind of project again and again, it’s easy to simply go down a standard checklist, ticking each box, doing things the same way they have always been done.

Instead, what if the team members were encouraged to be continuously thinking about what the client’s real objectives are? What is truly important to the customer? What do they expect the final project to accomplish? 

Taking on a wide range of projects and challenges encourages members of a team to be imaginative, to delve into thorough research and to constantly reflect on the needs of the project and client. It’s a process that nurtures creativity through experiential learning. It’s ongoing professional development; it’s on-the-ground learning.

As the world changes, it is important to be nimble, adaptable and creative to be able to meet the objectives of the client and achieve success in business.

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Clark Atkinson

Clark Atkinson is the President of Shaw Construction, a Colorado-based construction firm that builds cutting-edge structures in a variety of sectors across the Rocky Mountain region. Visit www.shawconstruction.net to learn more.

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