Construction Accountability that is Measurable and Attainable
By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition
Many times we have heard about forensic sciences often known as just forensics, which is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences and technologies to investigate and establish facts. Alex Palacios, a local graduate engineer, provides that service through the company he owns PRODIGY Construction Management L.L.C. Based out of McAllen Texas, the PRODIGY concept has been in the making for over 12 years and provides construction management for new construction, renovation, and re-development projects. Palacios also provides auditing services that relate to the organization and development of a project prior to the start of construction, during, and sometimes after in case something went wrong while constructing a facility.
His experience and ability to analyze architectural, designer blueprints, and contracts is a unique skill. Many businesspeople in the Rio Grande Valley have used his services and ended up with very successful construction projects and substantial project cost savings.
How much is substantial? According to him, as he demonstrates actual project savings on his conference table, the savings showed to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For a developer, municipality, school district, or entrepreneur it is important to take note of this information because this is when it gets even better. Palacios’ education in the engineering field, his 28 years of experience in construction, and his unique way of analyzing details can actually help clients achieve timely completion and cost effective construction.
If you have a project that you’ve planned with specific details and operational use; his job is to assure you, the end user gets what he paid for. “We do not cut corners, we do not reduce the square footage because we know and can prove that your building can be built within your budget or less… we guarantee it and I stand behind it,” he told Texas Border Business.
The list of projects that PRODIGY has done showed proven financial data with savings of $5,000 to $250,000 and even to one project in particular that showed $1,000,000 in costs savings. “This was in cost reductions without reducing quality or square footage of any building,” he said.
He pointed out that change orders have been reduced to none compared to the industry standard that averages between 3 or more in change orders. “I challenge you to go into any past project records and I can assure you that they will have a substantial amount of change orders causing the project to have budget overruns.”
In one project Palacios and his team started with the original design and original open bid of $4.2 million, at the end of the project, which took them almost 12 months to complete, the final cost was $3.3 million with a total savings of $810,000 for the client.
When Palacios talks about these accomplishments it is obvious how passionate he is about helping the client save money. “We did several re-roofing jobs. The original budget of the designer was $4.8 million. We came in and did this at $4.4 million; with a savings of $341,496 going back to the client.”
On another project of a 10,000 sq. ft. facility, the designer came in with a cost estimate to build of $989,000. PRODIGY was hired to take over the project and came in at $697,000 with a savings for the client of $292,000. “To the original estimate of $900,000 plus, the client said it “was completely out of the question and unacceptable”, Palacios explained.
PRODIGY did not substitute products or reduce the building size; what we did was to analyze all documents and found areas embedded within the design as well as with the contract language. “Believe it or not, nine times out of ten, these contracts that are produced by the design teams have language that adds cost to the project and has absolutely nothing to do with the foundation, the concrete, brick or furniture.”
The PRODIGY Team has over 75 years of combined experience in engineering and construction. His team also knows that project value savings can be found by reviewing the consultants contract agreements.
One very interesting example is what he found in one of the contracts he was hired to analyze. “In this contract there was language that read, ‘contractor to provide 28 tons of red iron steel’, but the question is where exactly were these 28 tons of red iron steel to be part of the project?” he questioned. It was obvious that the red iron steel was possibly an added cost to the project, but was never to be used or credited back to the client. He goes on to mention that our construction industry is plagued with so much chaos and there needs to be more structure.
After listening to Palacios it is clear that language alone in a contract could substantially increase the cost of construction; that it has nothing to do with the esthetics, foundation, or the footage of the building. “Knowing all these variables and loopholes embedded in the entire contract of construction, I can guarantee savings because our objective is to successfully take projects to fruition,” he said.
PRODIGY Construction Management L.L.C. is a project management company that also provides mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering services. Their objective for the coming year is to pursue commercial and industrial projects, which is their emphasis.
They have worked on projects ranging from $50,000 to $5,000,000. “We oversee and manage all types and sizes of projects but in the interim we also provide additional services; contract reviews, procurement, policy reviews, plan reviews, cost estimates, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing commonly known as MEP engineering. As it was mentioned they also do forensics engineering. “We troubleshoot and investigate and offer a wide variety of services under the umbrella of engineering,” Palacios said. Our services cover a diverse array of building structures such as municipal, educational, financial, healthcare, and industrial to name a few. “We are very confident and very certain that the PRODIGY staff can provide these services.”
The beginning of PRODIGY Construction Management LLC was based on the fact that Alex had wanted to become an independent businessman and to follow in his father’s footsteps as an entrepreneur.
As far back as high school, Alex had taken vocational classes in Air-conditioning and competed each year in HVAC competitions at the local, regional, and state levels earning First Place honors in the second year. He had a Vocational Instructor, Mr. Oscar Garza who had been instrumental in working with Alex to help him refine his skills and achieve a spot at the national level of competition. When Alex competed in Wichita Kansas, he returned to his hotel room in and discovered it had been broken into; his wallet, clothes and even his work boots had been stolen. Luckily Mr. Garza was there to help him get through this situation by purchasing clothes for Alex he could finish the competition. Having this over his head, he was very nervous and made some careless mistakes, so he placed 5th in the national HVAC competition. “It was a very rough start for me, but I was determined to make my parents proud of me,” he said.
Alex had grown up learning about tools on the job as he followed his father around job sites. He had been expected to work helping his father every day after school on service calls. It was a daily routine he had enjoyed. He had hoped that someday he might be as good as his father.
At one point in his life he decided to take it to a different level and return to school to study mechanical engineering with an emphasis in heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC).
Alex was already a licensed mechanical air-conditioning contractor by this time. He received his associate’s of sciences degree from TSTI, which is now known as TSTC. Then he pursued his mechanical engineering degree from Pan American University, which is now known as UTPA.
Palacios enjoys working as a community leader participating in different organizations. He served as the chairman of the board of trustees for the McAllen Independent School District from 2000-04 during his first term. He is currently serving in the CDBG board at the City of McAllen and has supported McAllen Police officers in the Christmas toy drive. Palacios says he is honored to serve on various boards, committees, and programs in the Rio Grande Valley. “It is our duty and responsibility to serve as part of our community.
Palacios is the son of the late Alicia Palacios and the late Severo Palacios, Sr. who had owned an air-conditioning and refrigeration company for over 30 years. Alex is the seventh of ten very close siblings. Palacios learned the HVAC business from his father. “I learned the trade as a young boy just following my father around from job to job. I was learning about the tools and understanding the concept of construction. I learned valuable lessons, and the concept of principles and ethics, for that I am thankful to my father, and from my mother, the blessings of perseverance.” Alex Palacios has great respect for his father and mentor Severo Palacios, Sr. “I apply philosophies that I learned from him in today’s world. “Mi palabra es mi contrato” (my word is my bond), Palacios finalized.
If you are looking for a construction management and engineering firm to help you with your next project, please visit PRODIGY’s website at: www.ProdigyCompany.com and check out their Ad on page 11. TBB
Written by: – Roberto Hugo Gonzalez is the 2009 SBA Journalist of the Year Award Winner & The 2009 and 2012 Paul Harris Award recipient –
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