It was a good day, indeed. Earlier this spring, Wember was notified that we had been selected to serve as owner’s representative for the much anticipated State of Colorado, Department of Agriculture’s new laboratory. Our efforts of tracking the project for over four years paid off! We had worked diligently to align our company’s experience and key team members and poured hours into devising a thoughtful proposal.

We knew this was a special project and began to realize its high-profile nature by the emails that began populating my inbox before our contact was even signed. Within days, I received over a dozen emails from general contractors who had heard the news and were preparing their submission strategy. While I was encouraged to see the amount of proactive effort being put forth, I began to get a little nervous after reading a few…

  1. What do we have to do to be awarded this project?
  2. What’s up? Did you select CMaR as the delivery method, if so we would be interested in pursuing.
  3. Congrats! When is the RFP for our services being issued?
  4. Congrats! Let’s grab lunch and we can tell you about our team.
  5. How did you win this?

It was then that I began to realize another myth that exists about owner’s representatives:  Myth #7 – The Owner’s Representative Selects the General Contractor. As an owner’s representative it is our priority to help assemble the project team while remaining fair and neutral to the A/E/C industry. We encourage interested firms to reach out to us to gain a greater understanding of the project before the RFP is published. It is our in our clients’ best interests to understand how interested parties are uniquely qualified.

I must admit that the idea of operating like a mob boss has a faint appeal (I am from the Chicago area after all), but it is not an option. While no one has offered me a wad of cash under the table, I feel compelled to clarify our role, which is to run a procurement process that leads to the owner to selecting the best suited team for the project.

Typically our involvement includes leading the owner and selection committee through a series of rankings, discussions and consensus building. In respect of neutrality, rarely do we voice an opinion in whom to hire. During the management of over seventy projects I have voted only one time in the decision making process and it was only after the client absolutely insisted that I do so.  While I appreciated the opportunity to provide input, I remain adamant that all owner’s representatives remain out of the voting process to avoid conflicts of interest.

It is common during the selection process for one candidate stand out from the others as the best fit. When that doesn’t happen, the deliberation can carry long into the night and it is resolved through the collaboration of the selection committee, which should be led by a neutral, third-party owner’s representative.

~ Paul Wember, Owner’s Representative