In the jobs market today, finding and retaining good employees can be a challenge. The Society for Human Resource Management reported that on average it costs a company 6 to 9 months of an employee’s salary to replace an employee. So if an employee makes $75,000 per year it will cost the company $37,500-$56,250 in recruiting and training. We all know that your employees are the face of your company, they are the people that make your products, they are the people that manage your projects, and they are the glue that holds your ship together. There are many things your company can do such as competitive salaries, benefits, etc. Below are a few things you can do, that really don’t cost much, to retain your productive employees.

About ASST - Our people make all the difference.

Make sure that you show appreciation for good work with positive reinforcement. Sometimes a simple “nice job” or “thank you” can go a long way. Employees want to know that Going Beyond is recognized. If you have employees that manufacture a product, share with them the end result of their work. For example, if you manufacture millwork for hospitals, show employees completed pictures of the hospital. Let them know that because of their hard work, a place for healing has been created. If you build schools, let your employees know that because of their hard work our future leaders have a place to learn and grow.

ASST employees are the key factor to our success.

The US Chamber of Congress list “Allowing employees to speak their minds” as one of the most important methods of retaining employees. It is important for employees to feel that their opinions about the business are being heard by management. Make sure that employees have a method to share their opinions with management. Make sure that you address all suggestions no matter how silly they might sound. If your employee Bobbi suggests that everyone gets a new car you could respond by saying “Hey Bobbi, this isn’t the Oprah show… you get a car… you get a car… but we are providing lunch for everyone at the employee safety meeting on Friday”. If you have an employee that makes a suggestion, that helps with efficiency, and that suggestion is implemented, acknowledge the recommendation in front of that person’s peers.

Happiness is infectious and happy employees are more productive than disgruntle employees. Forbes recently cited a study by Camille Preston that happy employees are up to 20% more productive and with sales people that number increases to 37%. A simple smile when passing someone can have a profound effect in how that person feels. Start meetings with a piece of good news. This can set the tone for your meeting. Make happy part of your company culture.

Encourage a work life balance. If you are in a manufacturing or labor intensive industry give your employees flexible start/stop times. Let your employees know that you understand that they have a life outside of work and you want to promote a healthy balance.

At ASST, we know that productive employees need more than continued employment. Our employees are the face of our company and they really are the glue that holds our ship together. Our employees fabricate and install your best work!!

The Construction Industry Institute reported that 55% of construction rework is caused by inaccurate documentation. This often happens when someone is referencing the wrong set of documents. It is critical to commercial construction project success to have one and only one set of documents that everyone is using. Utilizing or not utilizing centralized plans, photos, revision management and other important documents will make or break your projects.

Document accessibility on job sites is important. Equally important is having the correct documents while on site. What happens when changes are made due to site conditions and the Project Planner does not update the correct set of drawings? Rework.

Rework causes longer construction schedules that push occupancy dates and cost overruns that can be between 2%-20% of the project value. This percentage comes from the Construction Industry Institute of Texas. Could your project absorb a $400,000 rework on a $2,000,000 project? Rework not only affects your bottom line, but it can also cost companies their reputations and sway decisions regarding future work with a customer.


Throughout a project lifespan there will be multiple drawing revisions. Ensure that your document management system implements some type of version control. Some companies use in house developed document management systems. Some companies use out of the box software such as Procore, Textura, BIM 360, Plangrid and Blue Beam. These cloud based systems can assist with subcontractor communication. For example a millwork contractor gets the plumbing submittals that include sink cutouts and faucet information that is needed to fabricate the tops.

The bottom line is that if you do not have control of your documentation, you have a much lower chance of successfully completing your projects on time and in budget.


Commercial construction projects rarely progress exactly as planned. Wikipedia defines scope creep as changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful. Scope creep will happen when Project Managers fail to address changes as they occur. Failing to remain in control of project scope/schedule is a runaway train and will result in a financial train wreck.

What are some causes of scope creep? Poorly defined project scope. This usually begins with your preconstruction team. Failure to stick to change practices. If a customer asks you for a change, no matter how small, document it.  Because one of our goals a satisfied customer, when asked for a change, we may agree without first initiating a change process. Any change in requirements, large or small, becomes a new feature (scope) that was not part of the original agreement.

Recently a large addition to the millwork scope was added to a healthcare project we were managing. This happened because the owner had overlooked it in the original design and therefore it was not part of the original contract. Our team immediately assessed how this would affect our responsibilities to complete this project on time and in budget. We did request additional material and labor cost to the added scope via a change order. In this case, we were ahead of schedule and did not have to work overtime to ensure that the work was completed on time. No overtime labor costs were passed on to our customer.

Another example is when a customer informs you that the owner would like the color of the solid surface countertops to be a complex patterned color that just so happens to be the most expensive group of coloring offered by the manufacturer. Your preconstruction team priced the material at a cost that is half that of what is now being requested. If your team did not clearly define what material was included in your proposal, you may be at odds with your customer about changing the scope/cost. This is a great example of scope creep that is caused by requirements or material not clearly defined.

There are many things you can do to help prevent scope creep. Make sure that your project is clearly defined. Something as simple as the color of countertops can make or break a project. Make sure that everyone on your team is aware that ALL changes to project scope are documented and go through the project management team. This includes employees that are handling submittals and installers. Let’s say that your submittal coordinator receives a phone call from the customer and they let them know what pulls they want on all of the casework and what company to use. The submittal coordinators thanks them for making their day just a little bit easier as they don’t need to dig through the specifications to find this information. They submit the pulls that were requested via the phone call not knowing that they are completely different from what is in the spec and costs 25% more. Your project costs just increased and no one even knows it. Another example is when your installers have a plan to go floor-by-floor installing tops. On a few floors, the trades before you are behind and the customer lets your site supervisor know that the schedule for installation has to be changed. If your site super does not let you know that you are delayed because of another trade you may be asked to keep your schedule. When this happens, it needs to be documented. Make sure that you have a clear process for dealing with changes. If there is no process then your team members have no guidelines for what has to be done with scope changes and will most likely assure scope creep. Make sure that changes are addressed immediately. It may become a problem if you go back to your customer with a change request for something that you have already completed.



What do cyber threats have to do with commercial construction? Commercial Construction is no longer the last industry to embrace new technology. We are all diving into Commercial Construction technology, sometimes whether is it beneficial to our business or not. See our article “Keeping up with the Joneses” here. Because of the rapid deployment of technology many commercial construction companies are not keeping up with cyber security.
According to Rival Security the chances of a data compromise is 27%. One out of every four commercial construction companies will experience some type of data breach. What would happen to your company if you came into work and all systems had been locked out by a crypto-locker virus? How long would you be down? How would this effect your customers and your bottom line? Construct Connect reported that two of the nation’s largest General Contractors both had security breaches that included the release of employee personal information such as social security numbers.
How can you mitigate cyber security threats in our ever changing technical world? It is difficult to show an ROI for security measures if nothing has happened to your company, yet. There is no silver bullet that will ensure that you will always be protected but there are measures that you can take to make sure that your company is more difficult to breach than the next company. Below is a list and description of measures to assist with securing your company data. While this is not a comprehensive list of security methods, it will help make sure that your company is better able to fight against security breaches.
Firewalls – A good firewall is worth its weight in 25% margin commercial contracts. This enables all of your computer systems to remain anonymous to the internet. This device will block all incoming traffic unless you allow it.
Antivirus – If you don’t have good antivirus, that is up to date, it is only a matter of time before you will realize that you were the slowest one when the bear was chasing you and your friends.
Updates – You have to keep all of your operating systems AND software up to date. This can be time consuming. Most hackers find their way into system exploiting systems that have not been patched.
VPN – If you have remote users that need access to data stored on your premise then you need some type of encrypted remote access. Don’t forget that encryption slows down connections so you will need to make sure your internet connection has fast upload AND download speeds.
Policies – Make sure your employees know what they are permitted to do and more importantly NOT permitted to do. Make sure that your policies are enforceable. Many a computer virus infection started with “I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to download an emoji generator”.
Training – The last and best line of cyber defense is the most important part of your company. Train your employees and test them. We all get busy and it is very easy to see that meeting schedule for a large project can put a training session on the back burner. Let employees know why training is important and what could happen. No one wants to be the person that provided their Office 365 login on a bogus website causing all of your customers to receive PHISHING emails from your company. Make training and passing a test the requirement for continued permission to use your IT systems.
Insurance – Would you drive your car without insurance? Contact your insurance agent and let them know you want cyber insurance. They will likely ask you to show that you have certain security measures in place.


Did roofers show up to install the casework for your large commercial project? If you have worked in large commercial construction, you have either suffered the consequences of bad installation or heard the stories of it happening. Did the PLAM on the wall cabinets not match the PLAM on the base cabinets? Often times this happens when materials are ordered with a large time span between procurement. Did your millworker not inform you that they were delayed because of a material shortage until the day of installation?

These are just some of the ways your large commercial construction project can come off the tracks. We are all acutely aware that we are at the tail end of a pandemic that has rocked commercial construction. We are dealing with supply shortages, employee shortages, and unheard-of escalations. Coupled with owners that may not understand how this affects schedule or cost and you have a recipe for disaster. How are your millworkers dealing with this? What happens to your project when your millworker is ill-equipped to maneuver in these difficult times of commercial construction? Will your project be delayed? Will occupancy dates get pushed? 

At ASST, we know that materials are in short supply. We know that there is a serious shortage in labor. We know that times are tough all around. What are we doing about it? We have always been willing to provide VE options when bidding a project. We can also offer material options when we know that a material may be difficult to procure. We are ordering further out than we ever had before and we are storing materials that we know are being delayed. We are using multiple shipping companies to ensure that if one cannot provide a mobilization for our project, we have a backup that can. These are just some of the ways we are handling the current issues in commercial construction. At ASST, one of our core values has always been innovation. We continuously generate new ideas and methods to ensure success.

Solid Surface

Would you and your team like to do a virtual shop tour of one of our facilities? It only takes about 25 minutes and we demonstrate how we successfully plan and complete large millwork projects on time and in budget. Email us at info@asst.com to setup a virtual shop tour.

Solid surface is one of the most versatile millwork finishes. There are some guidelines when specifying solid surfaces to keep your design intent. Below are a few of those guidelines.

Solid colors and colors with small particulates will either show no seam at all (solid colors) or be difficult to see (small particulates). Solid surfaces colors that will show a seam are any color that has movement (swirls, large particulates, etc.). Keep in mind that most solid surfaces come in 30” X 144”. If your project has a surface area larger than this, there will be a seam. The last thing you want is your best work to have, what might be considered, a flaw that is painfully obvious. If you have any reservations about how a seam will look, contact your fabricator and ask them to send you large seamed samples. Any good fabricator will do this at no cost to your firm.

Iowa Children's Hospital


Color and Finish Level
Solid surfaces come in hundreds of colors from different manufacturers. While solid surface is a versatile surface with few limitations, there are some guidelines when specifying light and dark colors. When you are choosing color selection for a working surface (transaction ledges, tops, etc.) stay away from dark colors. Dark colors will show every little scratch and although they are easy to repair, it will have to be done often to keep the aesthetic you have designed. Light colors don’t show scratches easily and most often will only require basic cleaning. Dark solid surfaces are great for vertical applications such as die walls or wall cladding. When specifying a dark color, make sure that you specify the finish level. A matte finish on a black solid surface will actually look grey. With very dark colors you will want at least a semi-gloss finish. Keep in mind that the higher the finish the higher the cost as there is more labor involved.

Thermoforming solid surfaces gives you the ability to remove the chains and take your design to a whole new level. Solid surfaces are no longer just the flat countertop in a well-appointed kitchen. Thermoformed solid surfaces can be used for anything from an eye-catching nurse’s station to the radius corners in an operating room and beyond. When specifying a thermoformed solid surface project, make sure that you specify the fabricator of choice. Don’t let your best work be doled out to the cheapest millworker.

At ASST, we have been fabricating healthcare solid surfaces for 23 years. We have a solid surface fabrication facility in McSherrystown, PA and a quartz fabrication facility in Corry, PA. Whatever your needs, ASST can build it to the exact specifications, in a safe manner and to the finest quality standards you expect. Contact us online or call us at 717-630-1251. WWW.ASST.COM

If you work in commercial construction, you know that getting building material right now can be difficult. It does not matter if you are talking about MDF, steel, or even portable toilets for workers. What is causing this? There are many reasons such as COVID-19, worker shortages, extreme weather and even shipping container shortages. While we don’t have individual control over extreme weather or worker shortages, there are actions that companies can take to ensure project continuity.

Know your schedule and get in front of ordering materials early. This should go without saying and if you do not do this, you will certainly risk not being able to get materials on time. If you have the space, order your material early and store it. In the time of JIT (just in time) manufacturing/production this seems counter-intuitive. However, this could be the difference between a delayed project and being the hero during tough times.

Make sure you have multiple distributors for the same material. Don’t wait until the distributor you normally use is out. Having multiple accounts setup with sales representatives ahead of time will help speed up ordering material. When getting material pricing, ask your sales representative to guarantee pricing past the time you will need it. Make sure you get confirmation in writing. A verbal “don’t worry about it” won’t do. Pay your vendors on time per the net terms of your agreement. Your company is not the only company that ranks customers by how fast they pay as one of the metrics. That may make the difference between you getting the material ahead of the customer that decides to pay on their terms. While none of this is a guarantee for project success, it may be the difference between project delays and successfully completing on time and in budget. Not being prepared is a guarantee for failure.

Did you know that it costs between $400 and $700 per square foot to build a hospital depending on the geographic location (Becker’s Hospital Review)? For example, in Los Vegas the cost to build a hospital is between $285 and $455 per square foot. While in New York City the cost is between $475 and $700 per square foot. When a health network spends this kind of money they want to make sure that it will be done on time and in budget. An operating room costs the health system around $2,200 per hour for direct and indirect cost (American Journal of Managed Care).  Hospitals charge between $3200 per hour and $10,000 per hour per operating room (Journal of Clinical Anesthesia, Stanford).  The sooner the health system can take occupancy the sooner they can start recouping that investment.

One of the most important decisions that General Contractors and Owners can make is the selection of subcontractors. What happens when the subcontractor does not have the capacity to complete the project in the schedule required? Usually the General Contractor will have to hustle to find another subcontractor to supplement the work that cannot be completed by the awarded sub. This is painful and a deduct change order ensues or worse the performance bond is engaged and a replacement subcontractor has to be contracted. After this the GC usually will have to explain why schedule is not going to be met to the owner.

Some of the questions that have to be answered for any successful General Contractor and owner are as follows: Does this subcontractor have experience with this type of work? Does this subcontractor have the capacity to handle this type of work? Does this subcontractor operate safely? Does this subcontractor provide the quality of work to meet and exceed the expectations of the owner? Is this subcontractor financially sound? If the answers to ALL of these questions are not a resounding YES then your project is at risk.

At ASST, we have been successfully providing millwork, casework and solid surfaces on large health care projects for 23 years. We have the capacity for large projects, the processes to keep schedule, we do it safely, we are financially sound and we have the Project Managers that know how to be successful. We look forward to Going Beyond for your exciting project! Contact us today at 717-630-1251/ info@asst.com or visit our website at www.asst.com.


What is templating? Templating is defining of a shape in relation to the site conditions compared to the building plans. Why do we template? Templating a project is important to reduce field (re)work and provide a product that can be installed with minimum modifications. How do we template? There are different ways to template commercial construction scope. One way is to use an angle finder and a tape measure. Some companies might even create a template with cardboard from the measurements done by a person. While this tried and true method has been used for generations, there is room for human error. Another method is digital templating. There are many different digital templating tools on the market. Digital templating helps to mitigate human error but requires the tools to be calibrated. Uncalibrated tools can be just as disastrous as writing down a measurement incorrectly.  When do we template? Templating is done when all other trades before us have completed their work. If templating is done before other trades are completed, site conditions can change and templates could be rendered useless.

(Using a digital templating tool helps reduce the amount of human error)

What could go wrong? When templating is not done correctly, oftentimes it is not noticed until installation. Some materials can be easily repaired in the field such as solid surface. Other materials, such as quartz or granite, simply cannot be repaired in the field. In the case of a large project, by the time installation is happening the fabricator may have already produced a large portion of the scope of work. In this case, the product may have to be re fabricated. This could cause project delays and even occupancy delays.

What could go right? When templating is done properly, field modifications are eliminated or reduced. This means that countertops can be dropped in placed reducing time and ensuring project success.


(Digital templating can ensure project success)

At ASST, we use two different digital templating tools. We make sure that our tools are calibrated, we take digital pictures and we verify with manual measurements. We understand that the devil is in the details.

ASST is uniquely positioned to fulfill all aspects of your project. Whatever you need, ASST can build it to the exact specifications you require and the finest quality standards you expect. Contact us today at 717-630-1251/info@asst.com or visit our website at www.asst.com

Who is taking your exceptional design and bringing it to life? Every Architect and Designer wants their project to be fabricated and installed with the same high standards that went into taking an idea and turning it into an extraordinary project. You have taken an idea, created a narrative, researched all the materials/processes and have produced your best work. Now your project is being turned over to the General Contractor.



It is the responsibility of the General Contractor to complete projects on time, in budget and safely. Part of keeping a project in budget is making sure that sub-contracting costs are kept at a minimum. This means that often times your exceptionally designed project is handed off to the cheapest bidder. Do you want your best work doled out to the cheapest sub-contractor?



At ASST, we offer design assistance to exceptional firms for solid surfaces at no cost. We offer technical assistance with solid surfaces and project samples. We are the industry leader thermoforming solid surfaces and have the capacity for large projects. Whatever your needs, ASST can build it to the exact specifications, in a safe manner and to the finest quality standards you expect. Contact us online or call us at 717-630-1251. WWW.ASST.COM