Borrego's Nexus Initiative: Q&A with Brian Barker

Last year, Borrego launched an initiative called Nexus to maximize end customer value by applying lean principles and collaborative management approaches with its subcontractors. We sat down with our VP of Operations for the West Coast and Midwest, Brian Barker, to get more insight into what this means for Borrego’s customers, subcontractor partners and the rest of Borrego’s business.

Brian Barker, VP of Operations for the West Coast and Midwest

What is your role at Borrego?

I am the Vice President of Operations for the Western US. My job is to ensure that the operations team is providing the highest level of safety, quality, on-time delivery and financial performance to our customers. My commitment is to maximize our end customer’s value by applying lean construction principles and collaborative management approaches to drive out waste, reduce cost and lead-time, and maximize quality. One of the central initiatives I’m currently leading to achieve this goal is the Borrego’s Nexus Partnership Program.

What is Borrego’s Nexus partnership program?

Borrego’s Nexus Partners are a tightly integrated team of suppliers and subcontractors who are bound by a common commitment to maximize end customer value by applying lean principles and collaborative management approaches to drive out waste, reduce cost and lead-time, and maximize quality.

The Nexus Partnering Program is a structured process that aligns the sales, engineering and construction teams at a corporate program level and throughout the lifecycle of individual projects. Nexus Partnering provides a space for communication, improved strategy, and issue resolution. Nexus teams build trust, a reliable predictor of high performing teams. Through partnering, fragmented teams coalesce and unify around a shared objective: successful project delivery.

How does the Nexus process work?

The Nexus Partner Program starts with engaging a trusted subcontractor that has demonstrated the ability and desire to engage with us to improve process and drive out waste. We first focus on developing a team charter and steering committee to align and govern the Nexus Partnership. From there, the focus is on cost alignment, standardizing processes, and continuous improvement through quarterly initiatives.

Traditionally, EPC’s will use the design, bid, build approach where a project is designed by one group, bid out to a group of subcontractors and then built by the selected group of subcontractors. This traditional approach has some advantages, however we believe that engaging in a collaborative design build process with trusted partners provides the highest level of safety, quality, and on-time delivery at the lowest cost to our customers. Through our Nexus partnerships we are able to align with our partners to drive out waste through predictable standard work practices.

One challenge we faced early on was working through the fact that subcontractors are apprehensive or unwilling to share their internal cost and processes with us. Subcontractors have historically kept their costs, processes and operational structure close to their chests because of the concern that we would share it with other subcontractors, we would try to squeeze their margins, or that we would take our subcontractor work in house. As a result, the Nexus Partnering process focuses on very deliberate open communication and commitments at the highest levels. We’re building a relationship that is mutually beneficial and centered on full trust and transparency.

A subcontractor works on Sacramento Airport’s solar project

How does Nexus align with company wide initiatives?

The Nexus initiative works in parallel with a forward pricing initiative and quality product initiative that all roll up to a larger cost reduction initiative. In order to improve on safety, quality, schedule and cost, it is critical to align with our Nexus Partners and drive waste out of our collective processes.

Overall, Borrego is focused on cost reduction through lean management principles. A big part of this is creating a shared goal with our project partners and reducing inefficient processes that are the result of having two separate structures and goals. Historically, there has been too much postering and grinding back and forth — with Nexus, we’re creating a shared goal.

Currently, we’re up to eight Nexus partners throughout the country. We aim to continue developing the Nexus Partner Program and expand it so we can implement it in other areas of our business as well. The program has been very successful thus far and we look forward to continuous improvement with feedback from our partners.

What is the ultimate goal of the Nexus initiative?

To maximize end customer value by applying lean principles and collaborative management approaches to drive out waste, reduce cost and lead-time, and maximize quality.

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