Author: Gerry Bollman


Last week, we celebrated Thanksgiving. I hope each of you enjoyed the time with family and friends as much as I did. The week before Thanksgiving, I found a paper on the counter next to our laptop at home. It was a list of ten items titled “I AM THANKFUL FOR”. My wife tells me she got it years ago from one of her aunts and she likes to read it each year at Thanksgiving. I do not know who the author is, but I think it is really good and would like to share it with you.


  1. The mess to clean up after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
  2. The taxes I pay because it means that I’m employed.
  3. The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
  4. A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
  5. The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
  6. All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
  7. The lady behind me at church who sings off key because it means I can hear.
  8. My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
  9. The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means I’m alive.
  10. Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.

Each of us has much to be thankful for. All of us at PDMi are very thankful for the many relationships we get to enjoy each and every day.

Foundations: Can’t Live Without Them

We are working with a client on producing schematic documents that will establish the scope and quality of a proposed building addition. The goal of the documents is to set the foundation for the project so that when corporate approval is complete, the design, permit/construction plans & specs and construction can start immediately.

Setting the foundation of the project during planning is a lot like setting the foundation for the building during construction.

  • Building Foundations support the superstructure from settlement and failure. Planning provides the base to keep the project from veering too far right or left before it ever gets started.
  • Building Foundations are seldom seen after they are constructed, which makes them an “underappreciated” building component. Planning is also “underappreciated”, because it is not what you see at the end of the project.
  • Building Foundations are very difficult to repair after the building is built; Planning sets the why, how and what for the project. If the answers to these questions are not correct, it becomes very difficult to get the project correct after it is moving forward.

At PDMi, we can help you establish that sound foundation on your next project. Give us a call; we want to put our experience to work for you.

Never say Never

A while ago, we engineered and designed a large distribution facility for a grocery chain on the east coast. Due to the size of the facility, they needed a large parcel of land to support not only the building but also the truck traffic and trailer storage needed for the day to day operations. They located a site that seemed to be perfect: why did they choose this site? Well as the old real-estate phrase goes “Location, Location, Location”! This site was located along a major transportation corridor; it was large enough to meet the opening day needs along with plenty of acres for future expansion, and it was in a small town where the tax structure and available workforce were favorable to the corporation.

With all the positives of “Location, Location, Location” came the reality of “Problem, Problem, Problem”. The problems on the site were: it had designated wetlands; it had three different endangered species of wildlife and the biggie – it had three Historical Cemeteries. But: Never say Never. The sleeves were rolled up and the work began on these constrains. Some of the wet lands were mitigated and some were built around. The client purchased more land so that the construction would not encroach into the part of the site where the endangered species lived. They went through the process of moving two of the historical cemeteries and designed the driveways to miss the third one.

So when you love the “Location, Location, Location” but face the reality of “Problem, Problem, Problem” here is what you do…

  • Identify the constraints early in the project.
  • Gather your team and determine how to manage the constraints.
  • Don’t let a couple of constraints cause you to move on. Remember “Things worthwhile don’t come easy”.

Let us know if we can help on your next project.

Circle the Wagons

I grew up watching TV Westerns. Shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Wagon Train. I loved watching the exploits of the gun slingers, cowboys and ranchers as they protected what was theirs. Out of that era came the phrase “Circle the Wagons”. This expression came from the 1800’s immigrants to the Old West and suggest that a group of people must work together to protect themselves from external danger or attack.

Like many idiomatic expressions with long histories, “circle the wagons” has taken on new meanings as time has passed. It is now used when overwhelming circumstances arise and the team needs to focus not only on the problem but viable solutions that work.

Often when projects we have designed and documented are being constructed, stuff happens and someone will say “It is time to Circle the Wagons”. We circle up the team, lay out a plan and get through it. So how do you solve problems faced in the midst of a fast moving construction schedule?

Determine the extent of the problem and understand what caused it.

  • Design or document deficiencies
  • Poor workmanship
  • Owner changes
  • Unforeseen weather conditions

Identify where you need to go to get the facts/knowledge to solve the problem.

  • Other stakeholders
  • Agencies
  • Vendors

Weigh the risk & rewards of the different solution options as they relate to…

  • Schedule
  • Cost
  • Scope/Quality Compromise

Decide on a solution and implement it!

When you face your next problem, “Circle the Wagons”. Get the stakeholders together, focus on the problem and follow a process of problem solving. Then and only then can you get back on the trail. Give us a call we would love to help.

Digging for Gold

Several years ago the Fort Wayne News Sentinel newspaper ran an article that caught my eye. The headline said “Unearthed Plans for City Coliseum”. That would not be much of a news story except for the fact that the article tells how the general manager of the Memorial Coliseum was cleaning out his closet and found detailed 1917 construction documents for a project that was conceived long before the design and construction of the 1952 Memorial Coliseum we know today.

As I read the article, memories came flowing back to me of numerous occasions spent digging through rolls of old blue prints in an owner’s closet, his basement storage room, or his highly secure storage cabinet – a big old cardboard box. Sometimes you get lucky and you find what you are looking for, but most of the time you go away empty handed. However, the hunt is always worth it because you never know what “gold nugget” you may unearth.

If you are fortunate enough to have blue prints of your facility I recommend:

  • Inventory your drawings so you know what you have and don’t have
  • Place your drawings in a place that is secure yet accessible. With existing blue prints this can be done by having the drawings scanned and digitally filed.
  • Remember the drawings are not “museum pieces” they should be used for reference, but never allow them to be removed from the premises without a transmittal of who took them and when.

If you don’t have documentation of your facility, give us a call and we can help you create them.