Committee Spotlight: City & County
Private businesses often find themselves at odds with government, with both sides never seeing eye to eye. That’s not the case for the GCA’s City and County of Honolulu Committee.
Headed by Steve Baginski, the committee provides a neutral forum for general contractors and Honolulu city officials to openly discuss challenges both sides are facing on projects. Steve, who is President and CEO of Kaikor Construction Group, joined the committee because his predecessor thought it would be prudent to since his company had a significant percentage of City and County jobs. Today 40% to 60% of Kaikor’s work supports the City and County of Honolulu.
The discussions at this GCA committee are always solutions-oriented. “It’s not a gripe session for contractors. We also encourage the participants from the city to express their concerns, which are often legitimate,” Steve said. “It’s a two-way exchange and everyone listens.”
Representatives from two of the largest departments — the Facilities Division and the Civil Division of the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Design and Construction — are regular participants in this GCA committee. The discussions often lead to positive change.
"It’s not a gripe session for contractors. We also encourage the participants from the city to express their concerns, which are often legitimate. It’s a two-way exchange and everyone listens."
GCA City & County Chair
For example, Steve said the committee has been able to relook at requirements for jobs that were based on outdated specifications, or specs. Contractors and subcontractors were often at a loss on how to meet the specs for chain link fences. When subcontractors and manufacturers said they no longer produce the fences required in the specs, it became clear this had to change. This resulted in a positive outcome: the City and County updated its standards for chain link fences for future projects. The collaboration and resulting new standards help to avoid project delays that can last weeks or even months.
Still, the change is not an overnight transformation. “We’ve been able to take baby steps, but we are definitely heading in the right direction,” Steve said, as he reflected on the progress of his committee over the years. “We keep building on what we have.”
As with any relationship, it takes work and is an ongoing process. There is always more to tackle to streamline processes that expedite construction. GCA members are doing their part, too. When discussions pointed to the need for education to improve GCA member companies’ skills in scheduling or project management, GCA offered educational sessions on these topics.
Steve said he foresees the need for GCA to establish similar committees for the other counties, such as a Maui County Committee, to address challenges specific to the Valley Isle.
The City and County Committee has been meeting virtually every other month, but by the beginning of next year, Steve hopes the meetings will return to in-person because it provides a dimension of comfort and camaraderie that cannot be achieved through virtual meetings.