I have recently set off on my own and started a new company: The Ordering Force. We are primarily offering construction management & project management, although we have other engineering & CM services. We are primarily serving the NY Metro area and the surrounding locales. This piece was published on February 7th on our website as a letter from the founder, kind of a cross between a mission statement, an annual review, and a piece to bring us exposure as we start off. I am publishing it here, because I believe the internet is a powerful tool to help connect people and services, so if you have a chaotic project, let us know, we'd love to take you on as our first client ever.
To the market, my colleagues, my friends, and the world:
It's with tremulous excitement that I announce to you all the founding and formation of my new company, The Ordering Force. Though we have not won any work yet, I know that we will very soon. The founding of this company feels like the achievement of a generational goal. My father was an engineer back in Egypt, but when he emigrated here to the United States, he hardly got to work as an engineer. His dream was to always start a company. I never realized it, but his dream somehow became my own. We don't realize it, but oftentimes the goals that we set are achieved a generation or two away from us. When a new company is started, the possibilities are endless, and while this is exciting, it's also a bit overwhelming. Over the last few years, I have learned that writing helps us focus, and with that idea in mind, I decided I was going to pen a letter from the founder. I intend on doing this every year. This first letter is meant to set the focus for this year, 2023. I have laid out a company vision for the future, the goals for this year, the kinds of people we want to work with, and the kind of work we want to win. I have also given my perspective on an industry I've been working in since I got my first internship in 2013 at Turner Construction. Since then I've worked on some interesting jobs including installing Wi-Fi in the NYC Subway, the big 3 airports in NYC/NJ, and most recently The Spiral in Hudson Boulevard.
The men & women who work in today's Construction & Engineering industry are the inheritors of a discipline that spans 120 centuries. As far back as our knowledge of humanity stretches, we have built our environments in an attempt to overcome nature and showcase the highest achievements of the mind. The fact that Construction is no longer the field where the latest technological advancements are made is a profound signal that "things aint the way they used to be." Once upon a time, the peaks of human achievement were physical & tangible: towers, tunnels, cars, planes, and medicine. Today's peaks are digital and mainly exist on computers: virtual reality, cryptocurrency, and AI chatbots that are so powerful that even Google is sweating. Historical moments like the one we are in today call on us to make the changes necessary to leap forward to the new era. Now is the time to correct course so that destiny greets us and doesn't crash into us.
120 centuries. 12,000 years. That's how old Göbekli Tepe (Wikipedia it) is, the oldest structure we know of. That's how long humans have been building. A history that mind-bogglingly long is a heavy inheritance. To inherit it is to inherit knowledge as old as the story of humanity, but this also means inheriting the responsibility to keep the knowledge alive, expand it where you can, and ensure that the baton is passed on to future generations. Uncle Ben was right, "With great power comes great responsibility." There is a caveat however, ancient things tend to decay and degrade over time. The people involved get complacent, innovation slows down, and entropy (chaos) sets in. This can be said about the Construction/Engineering industry here in America today.
1) Our infrastructure is in a grim state.
2) The workforce demographic is an uneven barbell; on one end, you have a shrinking pool of professionals approaching retirement age (COVID did not help this at all), and on the other end, you have a large pool of young people who feel underappreciated and have dealt with an economy that keeps slapping them down, our generation lags behind previous generation in birthrate, marriage, home ownership.(Yes, I'm a millennial, can you believe we're in our 30s already?)
3) Everyone is overworked.
4) To top it all off, technological advances have not had the same impact in our industry as in finance, for example.
On one hand, we could look at this as tragic. The picture isn't pretty. On the other hand, we could look at it like this: We inherited a mess. Terrible, I know; however, the responsibility left on the table by the past generations gives our generation the opportunity to be the ones who fix things. We can be the generation that stops pointing the finger at the generation before it & figures out how to work with it's elders. Millennials & Gen-Zers have boundless energy and ambition, but we must admit that the older generation knows more than we've forgotten.
We have to kick things up a notch or 50. With each passing year, the economy looks more and more unstable. I never thought I'd see the day when a Turkey Bacon, Egg & Cheese would be a luxury. In times like this, nations strengthen and revitalize their economies by investing in and building their infrastructure. The US did this during the Great Depression; in fact, the high school I attended (Midwood Highschool) was built using federal WPA funds. For all the chaos coming out of Washington, it appears our government still understands this. Trillions of dollars are being approved for Infrastructure bills. This money has to be used intelligently to rebuild America. Large sums tend to be wasted and bankroll inefficient teams. We need to get more out of this money than we usually expect.
The challenges ahead of us are like nothing we've faced before. It follows that they call us forth to do what we have not done before. I don't mean this vaguely; here is what I mean explicitly:
"It is time we marry the "tech" disciplines with our older "Engineering" disciplines, mainly Construction. We have to start hiring people with backgrounds in computer science & computer Engineering. It's time for us to stop avoiding them because we are scared we can't manage them because we don't understand what they're doing. This fear is keeping us ignorant. The layoffs in the tech industry are an opportunity to bring some of the greatest minds in the market to Construction."
The Construction/Engineering Industry is criminally inefficient & I mean this literally. When public project costs are overrun, the taxpayer foots the bill. There is no specific criminal to point the finger a. Instead, a cloud of malaise called "we've always done it this way," and the inertia it rains down on everyone. I have seen this inefficiency firsthand in my career, and I've also seen how technology increases efficiency in a way that cannot be ignored. I am a Civil Engineer by training; I only know three programming languages (2 of which I haven't typed a line of code with in over seven years): VBA, C++ & Matlab. Over the last four years on multiple PANYNJ Megaprojects, I managed the workload of 3-5 people by automating portions of my job using VBA, one of the simplest programming languages in the world. Can you imagine what a seasoned Google engineer could do? Teams of 20 could shrink down to 1 or 2 people. Efficiency would skyrocket, and menial and aggravating tasks that aren't worth human energy would be automated. We all know this is coming. It is better we usher it in and guide it. This is our industry, and we understand how things work. The prospect of this is so exciting it is mind-numbing. Think about this, the advent of the elevator allowed builders to build skyscrapers; what will the advent of automation allow us to create? As the cost of Construction drops, will we build new tunnels relieving LA & NY of traffic? High-speed rails to start new towns easing the housing crisis? Maybe we'll aim lower. Maybe we automate pothole repair; it's time potholes exist only in the history books.
I want to finish this letter by addressing two groups of people: my potential clients & the tech workers who have recently been laid off.
To the clients, agencies & firms that would hire us: The Ordering Force is officially open for business. We specialize in Construction & Project Management. At this time in our company's development, we would ideally like to win data-heavy jobs. Jobs that involve: Time tracking/change order management/budgeting/projections/equipment tracking/labor tracking/progress tracking/Construction admin. These jobs lend themselves to being automated, and I have experience in automating them. I am confident The Ordering Force can deliver these jobs with smaller teams, at a higher value, and with more consistency. Tedious tasks like the ones I am aiming at often slow down jobs, no one wants to do them, and they keep management tied up. Automating them frees up human energy to do more human tasks. A real-time dashboard that tracks budget, personnel on a job, and cost to completion would give a PM the information necessary to make informed decisions on how to proceed. I've built tools like this that helped multiple different managers at 2 of the largest A&E firms in NYC manage millions of dollars. The banks have built tools that do much more; we can do it too. This is merely the start. The end goal is to automate Construction labor, but we are playing the long game; I believe we're still at least ten years away from this. For now, we are aiming at more desk-style work. I can be reached at Khaled@theorderingforce.com. I only ask for the opportunity to provide a proposal.
To the tech workers who have recently been laid off: Come apply. For too long, we've suffered from losing your talents to FAANG. You wrote algorithms that undoubtedly shaped the psyches. If you decided to, you could also help shape our physical world. Come to the Construction World and leave a mark that will last another 120 centuries by the grace of God. New York City is overdue a new bridge; I've even seen some plans for a tunnel to add a subway from Brooklyn to Staten Island that was never built(although they did start digging). I don't have the work yet, but a company is only as valuable as the people it can call on when needed. Once the clients call, I will turn around and call on you. Any Engineering firm needs a file of resumes that they can utilize when proposing for projects, and we're no different. Oh, and more thing, at this stage, everyone joining the company will get stock ownership on top of a competitive salary. I never could get motivated when I was just an employee who didn't get a piece of the pie, so I won't ask that of you.
I would also like to explicitly state that I'm absolutely looking to also hire traditional professionals who work in the Construction/Engineering industry. So if you're an Architect/Engineer (MEP, Civil, Structural, etc.), Project Manager, please do not hesitate to apply.
Chaos grows in the dark. It takes root in the places we aren't paying attention to, and from there, it spreads. Over the past few years, we've all seen and felt the chaos grow. It's not just going to go away; in fact, if we don't do anything, it's only going to get worse. Our human ingenuity, attention & energy are the worldly antidotes to chaos or, in other words- The Ordering Force.
Founder, The Ordering Force