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Role of owner's rep discussed at SMPS-NY breakfast seminar Feb. 19. (Transcripts).

At the Feb. 19, 2003 breakfast seminar of SMPS-NY nearly 70 people received insight to the unique role in the A/ E/C industry--that of the owner's rep. These individuals or firms work as project managers for many corporate and non-profit clients who have large design and building projects.

A rep's task is. to streamline, coordinate and oversee their clients'-: projects from start to finish, making sense out of a complicated process. Jennifer Thiele Busch, editor-in-chief of Contract Magazine, moderated the event by asking the panel tough questions regarding the controversial role of the owner's rep. Each panelist was asked for advice on how A/ E/C firms can find business with an owner, how everyone can work together to benefit the owner, what the role of the owner's rep is with regard to hiring design firms, and how design firms can facilitate this process.

Our four panelists were Debra Inwald, AIA and principal of Works-in-Progress (WPA); John E. Robbins, P.E., principal of Ferzan Robbins & Associates, LLC; Irwin H. Schneider, P.E. managing director, principal of VVA Project Managers & Consultants; and Joseph T. Yacovone, principal of FSI.

Inwald's firm specializes in all aspects of project management, development, and pre-development services for non-profit organizations. She stated that most non profits have been in business for over 50 years and their needs are growing. Since non-profits move on an average of every 2 to 5 years, Inwald 'helps her clients to sort out priorities and issues and helps them look great for less. She deals with the client as well as the board of directors, who get involved at the strategic planning level. Her example of everyone working together was one client that has 14 different organizations sharing one facility.

Robbins' firm is a project management and strategic planning firm with a global real estate project management portfolio. His clients are looking for the same thing as non-profits--spending less money. To accomplish this clients are allowing additional time at the strategic planning stage and this is paying off. Non-profits are resilient and stand the test of time. The commercial client, however, is not as resilient and tends to spend most of their dollars on real estate. With regard to working with architects, on 50% of projects his firm is asked to' come on board half way through because of the. architect's recommendation.

Schneider's firm has been a leader in the construction and management industries. His clients are mostly architects and lawyers, who he finds to be very resilient and when their leases are up, they are usually looking to expand. He finds there are three things that matter: quality, schedule, and cost. Due to the high cost of real estate, his clients are taking time to make decisions to see what is out there. Since the legal profession is growing, firms want to plan out their design and get it right from the beginning.

Yacovone, president of FSI since its inception in 1997, has been personally involved with many of his firm's projects. His clients are looking to get the most for their money and are re-evaluating what value means to them. He feels that the day of two to three bidders for a project is gone, and requests for bids are now going out to 10-bidders. With regard to the influence of an owner's rep, he states that his-role is to recommend.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Panel Discussion
Date:Apr 2, 2003
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