As our health facilities group lead, I had the opportunity to share my unique perspective on the healthcare market with Leslie Busija, marketing manager, during a recent interview. Drawing on my experience over the past 10 years with Faithful+Gould, we discuss the evolution of our initial outfitting and transition (IO&T) service delivery and our team providing those services to USACE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) in the U.S. and around the world.
Leslie Busija: Congratulations on your anniversary! How do you feel celebrating this milestone?
It feels great. Honestly, great doesn't do much justice to my feelings, but it is the best word I can think of to describe them. I have a wonderful career at Faithful+Gould and have grown significantly as a professional. I have been able to build a very high performance team which is built on trust.
I find that trust in understanding the project, risk exposure, profit margin and ability to deliver is really what our business is built on.
I find that trust in understanding the project, risk exposure, profit margin and ability to deliver is really what our business is built on. I can always rely on my team to deliver consistently.
LB: How did you become involved with the IO&T service?
Reza Amirkhalili, president and managing director, was approached eight years ago with an opportunity in San Antonio. He contacted Tom Horner, senior vice president, who stopped me in the elevator lobby and brought me on board to pursue this healthcare project. We spent three months on a proposal and as a result, we were chosen to lead an 'operations management team' with me as the subject matter expert. The project started in March 2009 and was planned to end in September 2010 with fees totaling around $3 million.
We quickly were at odds on delivery and fee and our risk register grew with every passing day. To combat this, I relocated a few people, including myself, to San Antonio and grew this operation to 12 full-time staff and contracted backlog until March 2012. Long story short, we formed a joint venture called BTF Solutions with two trusted partners in June 2010 and have enjoyed great success with the service ever since.
LB: How would you describe our IO&T service?
Basically, IO&T planning is used to ensure that building occupants have everything they need from the day they move in. I've found that people tend to think that once construction is complete on a project, the building in ready to go. This is rarely the case. Particularly with the kinds of medical and military facilities we work on, construction completion is only the beginning.
These facilities are among the most complex building types, expected to be operational 24/7, with many moving parts to consider. Our IO&T team outfits the spaces with furniture, fixtures, and equipment and helps transition personnel into these facilities until they are fully operational to see and treat patients. We clearly do more than logistics, this is a high level consult business built on project management processes.
LB: What kinds of projects are we currently working on?
Much of our work is done with the federal government, which recognizes that our expertise is required for its complicated projects. Currently, we are working on four Army facilities (California, Maryland, Japan and Germany) and one Veterans Administration Hospital in California.
LB: What are the challenges facing our clients on these kinds of projects?
Right now, we have clients coming to us with equipment and systems that have reached the end of their lifecycle and must be replaced and/or renovated. Many of these projects require facilities to stay open, or at least partially open, throughout renovations or moves.
...the medical field is constantly innovating and we must account for the latest technologies throughout this planning.
Working on a new or renovated building while still providing healthcare services is a complicated process and requires careful transition planning, often starting years in advance. At the same time, the medical field is constantly innovating and we must account for the latest technologies throughout this planning.
LB: And we are meeting these challenges?
Yes, through our service offering we have really honed in on what is required in the market today. Our team has had little turn over in the past eight years, which is a testament of our company, and in turn we have developed new technologies to improve our overall service delivery. Clients are continuing to recognize the need for this level of attention to detail in their planning and that’s where we come in.
LB: What would you say is the strength of our particular brand of IO&T services for projects like this?
Our people are truly our strength when meeting these challenges for clients. We offer project managers who have the expertise in service delivery as well as real world understanding. For instance, one of our team members, Program Director David Bailey is a retired Army officer. Given his experience, he is well in tune with the needs of government and military operations, which helps improve overall communication with the government.
LB: What are your hopes for the service going forward?
Our joint venture, BTF Solutions, is entering its seventh year and we have enjoyed great success handling U.S. Army hospitals. Additionally, we now have a mentor/protégée relationship with a women owned small business, Work Place Solutions, and this partnership is gaining momentum with a contract in Germany and blanket purchase agreement for the Veterans Administration. Our success is measured by our outstanding client ratings and contract value.
As of now, I am pleased with the growth we've had in the service so far. Going forward, we're looking to expand outside of healthcare and government sectors into new industries. What's great about our work in this service is that we have gained such a strong understanding of the planning and transition process in our fields that expansion is a logical next step.