Episode 19 – Tenders with Dave Angelis from Ivy North

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Tim is happy to have a guest from the construction management world on the show this week.  There’s lots to be learned which Tim emphasized in his intro in which he entreats the listener to “pay attention” and learn how to price jobs so as not to “look like a fucking retard.”  Tim University is now in session.

Dave Angelis is Tim’s guest this week.  Dave is a partner with Ivy North Corporation, a project management firm based in Etobicoke.  The company has focussed on staying small and working on medium-sized projects that they can service the hell out of.  Their sweet spot is on projects in the $10-30 million range.

Tim is curious how construction managers are finding subs to bid on jobs.  Developers often have preferred contractors that they go to on a regular basis.  Dave feels strongly in bringing in as many bids as possible to find the best contractors out there.  They have a list of guys they like as well and they definitely have a shit list of contractors they don’t.  Dave likes to get a minimum of five bids per trade. The high bid is probably too busy. The low bid is way too desperate.  It’s the guys in the middle that he likes to pick from.

“Have you guys ever fucked up and taken the lowest bidder to get yourself out of a financial jam” Tim asks diplomatically.

Dave admits that sometimes there will be a problem with developer.  They may have made an error in their design or maybe the city is holding them up on permits.  Whatever the issue is their bank account is draining and they have to make some hard decisions.  The problem is when you pick the low bidder they tend to come in and try and nickel and dime a developer.  They might bid lower than the cost of the job and then try to add 25% to the job before they’re done.

Tim talks about many bad experiences he has had with general contractors.  He was once on a job where every single trade got hit with the same $14 thousand charge for the same problem.  GC’s try and make their money by bidding low on jobs and then burning their subs as hard as they can.

“Why would I go to a GC when I know there all these bullshit shenanigans going on instead of hiring a construction manager?” Tim asks.

You won’t find a lot of people building condos with GC’s these days, Dave answers.  They are usually on large commercial spaces. There are a lot of companies that need a one-off building like a warehouse.  It’s those kinds of builds that you can find yourself getting burned on.



Episode 14 – The second coming of Big Chris

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It’s been a strange week in Nashville.  The PRSM conference is a lonely place for a Canadian boy like Tim Byrne.  Shunned by his American counterparts he’s been left to wander, listlessly through the dizzying array of display booths.  The PRSM crowd are a grim lot. Ashen-faced they stagger through the crowded hall with frozen smiles smashed across their dull faces. Tim starts to fear for his very soul.  Luckily, redemption is at hand. For there is one man that strides across this ocean of despair like the savior himself.

“Is that Fat Jesus?”  He asks.

Indeed it is.  Or rather it’s Christopher Blount.  President of Filtrex Services.  Chris is an old friend of Tim’s and agreed to appear on this edition of TBAL.  He earned his nickname because of his large stature and even larger beard. Being a generous soul he’s forgiven Tim for coining that hateful moniker.

Like any divine being Chris has been gifted with the power of prophecy.

“I can predict who what companies are going to make it and which ones won’t.” He says.

Everyone knows and likes Chris at PRSM but that sometimes doesn’t translate into sales.  

“Is it because your afraid to sell yourself?” Tim asks?

“Sometimes.” Chris answers.

At his first PRSM conference years ago Chris went all out.  He brought in Harley’s for prospective clients to ride. He hosted parties.  He shook every hand. And he didn’t get one piece of business. That was a big lesson for him.  He has since learned to let his technology speak for itself.

Unsurprisingly, Tim digresses from this important conversation about business.

“You’re one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met,” he says. “But you’re scary as shit from a distance.”

Chris is big and tough looking.  But it took a long time to try and portray himself in a more friendly way.  Stopping drinking was a big part of that. But so was not caring so much about what other people thought of him.

The conversation eventually drifts into politics.  Tennessee is deep Trump country and Chris is an avowed Republican.  He’s taken a lot of shit from his Democratic friends for voting for Trump but he now regrets it, admitting that he is a total embarrassment.  

The episode wraps up with a discussion about the horrors of Ron Jeremy the importance of choosing the right lane.


Episode 11 – Engineering Gravity with Gord Bendus

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Tim is especially excited for this week’s guest. To be fair, he would have been excited to have any guest this week. The stunning list of people who have refused to appear on this podcast continues to grow daily. Luckily, Tim really fluked out when, for no apparent reason, wildly successful engineering wunderkind Gord Bendus agreed to be interviewed. Gord is one of the founding partners of Gravity Engineering in Toronto. The firm has racked up an impressive list of projects in just a few short years. It’s success if even more impressive when you realize that Gord is just 33 years old. He has made very few mistakes in his decade long career but appearing on this podcast is definitely one of them.

For reasons that remain unclear, however, Tim chooses to start this episode with something totally unrelated to Gord. The podcast begins with a five minute long story that some have called “shocking”. Others have denounced it as “disgusting”. The details of this story are too vile to commit to print but suffice it to say it will almost certainly end in a mass exodus of listeners and, very possibly, a major lawsuit. The story – which we will only refer to as “The Smart Car Shit Story” – is easily one of the most horrifying yet undeniably hilarious stories Tim has told yet.

The episode manages to recover after that horrifying interlude when Tim finally gets around to starting the interview. He does so in his usual tactful manner.

“I hear that most engineers are alcoholics,” he says.

“Where did you hear that?” Gord asks.

“From a bunch of engineers I know,” Tim replies

The conversation moves into the horrors of trying to recover money from clients. The engineering business is just like any trade. Having clients ghost on you happens for them too – though not nearly as often that contractors have to deal with. Tim shares a business near death experience from early in his career. After doing $140 thousand of work for a client they immediately went into receivership. Tim’s company faced insolvency and he was facing total bankruptcy. He got the money though.

“I know a guy that can collect money from anyone,” he says.

The episode ends with yet another shocking story. Tim reveals one of the few times he fired a client. Tim couldn’t stand working with the guy running the job. It was a constant battle. The guy wouldn’t stop screaming at Tim. He worked up the courage to march into his office and declare that he would no longer work for him. After leaving the office Tim realized he has left his tool belt in the office. He had to work up the courage to go back to the guys office to get his tools the following Monday. When he went back in the receptionist had a surprise. The guy had died on Friday. Needless to say Tim decided not the fire the client after all.

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