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3 Lessons to Changing the Game in Public Utilities: Saving Money, Building Trust, and Getting Funding

3 Lessons to Changing the Game in Public Utilities Saving Money, Building Trust, and Getting Funding

The Triple-Threat to Success in Public Utilities

In the world of public utilities, there are three big things that matter: finding the right experts, being open and honest, and getting the money needed for the job. In this piece, we’ll look at how picking specialized contractors can save you money. Christopher Martin from New Water Enterprise will also talk about how sharing information and being upfront can earn client trust. And finally, we’ll explain how to find and apply for grants to fund community projects. By tackling these three key areas, we can make the industry better and more efficient for everyone. 

In this informative and engaging episode, we discussed essential topics that will help you understand and take advantage of the strategy used by Christopher.  

Lesson #1: Choosing Specialist Contractors: A Cost-Saving Strategy:

This is like comparing a general builder with one who specializes in building water tanks. An inexperienced builder might make a surprisingly low bid because they don’t fully grasp the project’s complexity. In these situations, you need to consider whether saving money upfront is worth the potential problems later. This is where change orders, or amendments to the original contract, come into play.

In small towns, you
don’t usually have people experienced in dealing with contracts every day. They may only have a couple of projects in years, like maintaining their tanks. So, you may have a new person dealing with a new project each time.

Christopher mentions that some contractors heavily rely on change orders for profit. They’ll give a low initial bid to secure the project, and then wait for you to define the work scope. They’ll sign off on it, knowing you haven’t detailed everything, and then charge more to cover those overlooked aspects. 

Lesson #2:  Breaking Information Barriers: Building Trust through Transparency and Value 

Christopher talks about how the industry doesn’t share information and wants to change that. He gives an example of an engineering firm that keeps a solution to themselves, which is strange because nobody knows about it. Martin believes in being transparent and providing valuable information to build trust with clients.

He mentions that ethical clauses prevent them from advertising specific prices for their services. Instead, He focus on giving information without any obligation. He thinks this helps establish trust and makes them stand out from competitors. He also mentions that rural systems value openness and personal connections.

By freely sharing knowledge and going the extra mile,
New Water Enterprises aim to build long-term relationships and gain client trust.

They understand they might lose some bids in the short term but believe their approach will lead to more business opportunities and loyal clients in the future.

Lesson #3: How Chris Navigates Funding Challenges

Christopher discusses the challenges of navigating grant and loan systems in different states to support various communities.It emphasizes the complexity and difficulty of obtaining grants due to the extensive requirements and documentation involved.

The lack of knowledge about where to find grants further compounds the issue. However, the government has
allocated significant funds for rural and disadvantaged systems, which often rely on grants for financial support.

The National Rural Water Association and State Rural Water Associations are recommended as 60 to 75 pages resources for accessing grants. Hiring a grant writer is often necessary, but it can be costly, and the submission process requires multiple iterations and clarifications.

He created a subsidiary company called New Water Funding, which specializes in targeting water utilities and assumes the risk associated with grant applications. The company understands the grant requirements and aims to maximize the client’s chances of approval.

Additionally, the article
explains a potential arrangement where the company receives extra points in the evaluation process for the grant work it has performed.

Overall, grants and their financial opportunities are considered the most significant hurdle for systems seeking funding, and it is crucial for them to find trustworthy and knowledgeable partners to navigate the process effectively.

About Engineers for Communities 

We are here to allow smaller disadvantaged communities in Colorado, Texas, and other states to connect on topics such as water, wastewater, city project planning, government funding, and everything in between. 

​​On the LIVE Engineers for Communities show, you’ll learn the hard-fought lessons from the front lines earned by various community leaders who have already had their teeth bashed in and lived to talk about it. We’ll share the tips, tricks, mindsets, and frameworks that allow great communities to preserve. Register to attend the live show, ask questions, and level up. It’s every Thursday starting at 12:00PM MT.