This article was featured in the 2009 edition of Custom Home Magazine.
Written by: Meghan Drueding
After he finished business school, Gus Rubio worked as a quality control manager at a large manufacturing plant. He and his colleagues implemented a new quality assurance system for the company, with dramatically positive results. This happened years ago, but Rubio vividly recalls the sense of satisfaction it brought him. “Ever since I left [that job], I’ve wanted to have time to implement a quality control program in my business,” he says. Rubio now has his own custom building company, Gabriel Builders in Greer, S.C. And while his current workload isn’t as light as many builders’ – he has four high-end houses under way – he has finally found time to accomplish his goal. He recently hired a full-time quality assurance manager. Through the NAHB Research Center’s National Housing Quality Program, he also engaged consultant Ken Clayman to help put together a company quality manual.”We’re now Gabriel Builders tracking things we never did before,” Rubio explains.
The new system encompasses Greer, S.C.regular meetings, periodic reviews, surveys, and other documentation. Taken together, these methods provide a concrete way to measure customer satisfaction, job site safety, employee performance, and adherence to established time frames and budgets. For example, “job-ready” forms provide a written record of the building process, detailing when each part of the project is set for work by the appropriate subcontractor. And “scope of work” contracts prevent miscommunication between Rubio’s staff and the subs.
Now, Rubio feels, is a good time for builders to make these kinds of changes. “When the economy turns around, you’re ready to go and in much better shape than before,” he points out. And he believes a quanti able system of quality control can do wonders for morale and motivation. “I saw what it did at the manufacturing plant,” he says. “It’s relevant to custom builders too.”