ASA President’s Letter – July 2013

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ASA President’s Letter-July 2013

Dear ASA Member:
As your new president for 2013-14, I wanted to share a little bit about myself so you know that I’m just like you. My firm, Sobie Company Inc., is an interior finishing company in Dutton, Mich., just south of Grand Rapids. We work on a full range of projects, from small commercial projects through multi-million dollar ones. I joined the firm as a carpenter in 1979 and purchased the firm in 1994. We are known for our quality work in interior finishing. We are not lawyers. But, we do talk about contracts regularly.
It’s important to my company that our department supervisors and other managers are knowledgeable about the contract terms and conditions that can most negatively affect our business. While our department supervisors don’t get involved in the reading of contracts at that level, they do hear about terms that can be detrimental.
To help them better understand risky contract language, our department supervisors in both walls and floors receive key information and resources from ASA, including the new “Subcontractor’s Negotiating Tip Sheets.” These tip sheets provide our department supervisors with a visual representation of issues we talk about regularly — and some that we haven’t considered.
For example, the first weekly tip sheet that ASA released on “Pay-if-Paid Clauses” explains this kind of contingent payment clause and the risks to subcontractors. With this handy, one-page resource, our supervisors can have a better understanding about why and how we try to negotiate such harmful terms out of our contracts. These tip sheets include common arguments that general contractors use and suggested responses that subcontractors can make and provide recommended language to use instead of the general contractor’s provisions.
Our department supervisors get a better feel for what we’re up against by being knowledgeable about the issues and able to articulate our position in the field, if confronted with a problem. We’re also trying to teach our department supervisors so they are prepared when they move into upper management positions.
Recognizing the need for subcontractor education and advocacy, I helped establish ASA of West Michigan and served as president of ASA of Michigan from 2008 to 2010. As I said in March during the ASA Business Forum and Convention in Las Vegas, Nev., “As your president, I will work to ensure that ASA continues not just to meet your expectations — but also to exceed them.”
As an ASA member, you may expect to learn more about contract terms and conditions that can most negatively impact your company. The new ASA tip sheets go a step farther by providing key information in the palm of your hand, on your computer screen, or on your handheld mobile device.
If you would like to request additional secondary contacts be added to your ASA membership account, simply reply to this email with the contact information for each individual, including name, title, office address, phone and email address. Also, the new ASA tip sheets are available in the members-only section of the ASA Web site at
Jack Austhof
2013-14 ASA President

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