Modeling & Mentoring
Ikerd Consulting weaves core values into every aspect of business
Core values are at the very heart of Ikerd Consulting, LLC (IKERD). The engineering, construction-grade modeling, laser scanning, forensics and consulting firm believes so strongly in its values that they are integrated in the very first stage of interviewing for prospective team members.
The North Texas-based company establishes its work on the ideals of integrity, excellence, loyalty, communication and improvement. “Through the filter of those five things, we form our team,” says Will Ikerd, principal at IKERD. “We want people that will follow through—that’s integrity and do the job right—that’s excellence.”
Mentoring Begins with the Interview Process
Prior to the interview for hiring, applicants take the DiSC personality test. This tool evaluates traits such as how decisive and how engaging someone is or how much stability or variety they need. “To do what we do, it takes valuing different personalities—introvert and extrovert, the cautious and the life-of-the-party type. For success, the team requires all categories, but it takes understanding them,” Will says.
Using a Venn diagram to begin the interview, Will draws three circles representing the applicant’s strengths, what the applicant enjoys doing and what makes the applicant productive. Where all three intersect is what the firm calls someone’s three circles. “The team goal is to get everyone working in their three circles,” Will says.
“At the end of a successful interview, I tell new hires, ‘We look forward to working for you,’ not the other way around. I am promising loyalty to them, and mentoring has begun,” he says.
“Three of our project managers I have right now have grown up through our culture, and it wasn’t until a year into project managing that they looked back and realized I had been mentoring them in becoming a PM all along the way during the previous eight years,” Will says.
Cultivating Leadership Qualities
A new team member is given a handful of books to read in the first 90 days of employment. “Many of the books are old and don’t have anything to do with 3D technology, except that I would argue that they have everything to do with 3D technology because they’re teaching leadership and communication,” Will says. He adds, “I am an expert witness consultant on some of the largest building information modeling (BIM) litigation cases in the U.S., and I see that many of them have a common thread of a lack of leadership in communication. These books are meant to address these deficiencies in the industry around BIM.
One of the books is “The Go-Getter” by Peter B. Kyne, a quick read about going to great lengths to succeed. Based on that book, IKERD offers a go-getter award of up to $1,000. Employees who go the extra mile are eligible for recognition. Even a first-year summer intern has won such an award.
“Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson is also required reading. Written in the late 1990s, the business classic is a 96-page fable that addresses change and how we react. “This is relevant because of the technological revolution in the building industry causing the evolution of services offered,” Will says. “Training everyone to think ahead about change and take action as needed leads to the understanding that leadership is not a title, it’s a behavior.”
Beyond books, the firm offers cross training on all of the trades at least once a month. Every employee becomes certified in the Certificate of Development in Building Information Modeling (CD-BIM) and the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation’s (USIBD’s) Level of Accuracy (LOA) for laser scanning. “Many firms might have a couple people obtain those certifications, but we invest, and even the entry-level technician goes through the training,” Will says.
Communication and Relationship
“Our business deals with information and technology in the construction industry, and that field drastically changes every day as new technology emerges,” Will says. Some of IKERD’s services encompass BIM, LiDAR laser scanning and engineering—giving architecture, engineering and construction professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure. Clients rely on the company for sound advice in implementing new technology.
Individuals on the team are good with the technology, but they’re also trained in communicating with clients. “They understand what commitment and service are all about, and that’s a hallmark of our team,” Will says. “They’re here to establish a rapport with the client.”
The company also connects with students aspiring to join the construction field by giving back to local high schools and colleges. IKERD members serve as guest lecturers, and Will teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas. The company offers internship opportunities, as well. “Our philosophy is pursuing relationships, and in 10 years those individuals will be project engineers, superintendents and project managers at construction firms. As we state in our interviews, we will continue to ‘look forward to working for them’ as they become future clients years down the road,” Will says.
Three of the people who worked through IKERD’s program now lead the BIM and virtual design and construction departments of Engineering News-Record Top 400 general contractors. “We’re here to leave things better than we found them and leave people better than we found them,” Will says.
IKERD implemented and led BIM on the CenturyLink Technology Center of Excellence project for Yates Construction (Yates) in Louisiana. Yates utilized IKERD skills to train and implement their building team in BIM for this signature project of over $100 million in construction. IKERD was also hired separately for 11 other trade scopes on the Yates project to create shop and fabrication drawings with IKERD’s team of detailers and modelers all co-located in North Texas.
Other high-profile projects IKERD has completed include the laser scanning on a super large 2 million-square-foot professional league athletic stadium renovation in the U.S. Another noted project is the nearly 100-year-old Tobin Center for the Performing Arts renovation in San Antonio for the Linbeck/Zachary Joint Venture. Much of the Tobin structure was demolished to be replaced with a more modern auditorium, but the external façade, entrance and public circulation areas were kept intact. IKERD performed laser scanning and 3D modeling of the remaining parts of the structure so that the new building could be attached accurately to the historic 1920s exterior structure and façade. IKERD’s laser scanning played a key role in the Tobin project, winning the 2014 Associated General Contractors (AGC) Texas Building Branch Award for Outstanding Construction.
Flexibility Enables the Team to Expand
IKERD employs more than 20 people, most of them full time but some with flexible schedules and fewer hours. For example, three of the employees who are also moms work about 30 hours a week, depending on their children’s schedules and needs.
“My wife, Brenda, majority owner of IKERD, brought the flexible structure to our company,” Will says. “Obviously, being a mother and professional at the same time, she inspired the flexible work program, and it has created phenomenal opportunities for both the team members and company,”
Brenda, originally from Mexico, worked on construction projects in her home country; she and Will met there while he was serving on a building mission trip in 1994. “What gives her a unique perspective is having worked through college beginning in Mexico and finishing in the U.S. She flourished while overcoming the obstacles of coming from a different country—mastering the language, understanding business here and growing a great company,” Will says.
Like Will, many on the IKERD team serve on mission trips. The company’s charitable efforts mostly target surrounding areas and those in the building industry. The group, for example, helped with planning for construction at Arms of Hope, a nonprofit previously known as Boles Children’s Home, in Quinlan, Texas.
“We also donate time to educating the industry in emerging technology and to preparing the next generation of individuals in design and construction and in the trades,” Will says.
Every team member picks one topic each year and contributes a presentation that might show best practices for modeling plumbing or how to model roofing details in 3D. Teaching reinforces the core values of communication and improvement by challenging each employee to explain a new process to others. “I end all my presentations with, ‘If you see anything that we can do better, please let me know. And if you see anything that you like about what we’ve done, please let everyone else know.’ We want to ensure our workmanship and relationships have embodied the core values of our corporate culture,” Will says.