Does my MEP engineering partner need to be near me?

Even before the pandemic, our world was getting smaller. We could order items from anywhere with the click of a button. Talking with family members on the other side of the country – or the globe – was as easy as a video chat.

While the pandemic may have accelerated our adoption of virtual meetings or working from home, it also showed us that projects we once thought needed to be carried out by people constantly on site can be effectively managed from a distance.

From our home base in Kansas City, we’ve worked with architects all over the country for more than 30 years. From our existing location in Austin and our new Denver office – combined with the right tools and plenty of communication – location isn’t an obstacle to a successful partnership. You don’t have to limit your search for an MEP partner to just local firms. Consider these five reasons why partnering with an out-of-town MEP firm could be the best solution for your project:

1.    Communication

Communicating early, often and promptly is one of our core tenets. Unlike other MEP firms, we’d rather pick up the phone, send an email or log into a virtual meeting to deal with small issues than wait and let them become last-minute large problems. With the widespread adoption of video communication tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, it’s easier than ever to communicate with those outside of your local area. When considering an out-of-area MEP firm, choose one that places a high priority on communication.

2.    Site visits

The need for site visits used to be the most pressing reason to choose a local firm, but physical separation is no longer a barrier. Like Dialectic, many MEP firms have multiple offices in different parts of the country and world.

No matter where our clients are located, our central locations allows us to be on any site from coast to coast (including Canada) within a day. Even local engineers would need time to make themselves available. When all is said and done, there’s really no significant time savings associated to using a local engineer.

Virtual site visits are also becoming more common in the industry. Using the same technology that allows us to meet virtually also allows for remote site visits, which limits the number of people who need to be on site.

3.    Professional licenses

Another concern many architects have about hiring an out-of-area firm boils down to having the correct professional licenses and knowledge of local codes, so it’s important to look for a company that has licensed professionals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Not every jurisdiction is a breeze to get through, which is why we’ve compiled a comprehensive database that highlights code changes or adoptions and challenges faced in that jurisdiction or with a specific inspector. With our knowledge of codes such as California’s Title 24, we have a database that is a value-add for our clients during the permitting process.

Knowing local codes isn’t something specific to local firms. Rather, it comes from a commitment to excellence no matter the location.

4.    Trust

Perhaps the most important part of any relationship is building trust with your partners. This starts with transparent, real-time communication, and that can happen whether your MEP firm is in your backyard or a thousand miles away.

 

Trust is also easier when you know the people you’re working with have a stake in the game. As an employee-owned company, our success as a company benefits every employee directly. When you’re working with our team, you know each of us has a vested interest in the success of your project. In fact, a study on employee-owned companies found, “employee ownership improves employees’ commitment, positively shapes their thinking about ethical decisions and influences management action for the better.”

5.    Logistics

When considering whether a company from another city is a good fit for your project, it’s also important to consider the tangible things like logistics. Does the firm you’re considering have the infrastructure and processes in place to effectively communicate and manage a project if they aren’t on site all the time?

At Dialectic, we focus not only on the software tools but also on the best methods of project management. We’ve taken the best ideas from the Edwards Deming philosophy of continual improvement to the Agile Design Methodology big tech firms use to create processes that fit our industry. These tools and processes allow us to work on projects anywhere in the country with clients hundreds of miles away and still provide high-quality MEP design faster and more efficiently than our competitors.

Before you begin the search for your next MEP partner, consider whether you want to look farther than the borders of your own city or state. Out-of-area firms can offer expertise that may not be available locally while providing the same high-quality, hands-on service.

With a new office in Denver to complement our KC and Austin offices, Dialectic Engineering is here to provide high-quality service on your next project—whether you’re just down the street or a world away.

 

Greg Trees is CEO of Dialectic Engineering. Founded in 1988, Dialectic is a 100% employee-owned, nontraditional mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering firm. Recognized as one of Kansas City’s Best Places to Work in 2020, Dialectic brings buildings to life across a broad range of verticals, including distribution, multifamily, retail/restaurants, cannabis, entertainment, senior living, hospitality and charter schools/higher education. Learn more at dialecticeng.com.