MBEX Has the Scoop

Check out our latest updates & findings below.

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Construction Bond Claims - Part 1

posted on 12.14.2021

Contractors always work to avoid claims situations, but should also be proactive about understanding the process. There are 3 main types of construction bonds: bid bonds, payment bonds, and performance bonds. Contractors should be familiar with the claims that can arise from each. This week, we take a look at Bid Bonds.


First, what is a bid bond? A bid bond is issued as part of a supply bidding process by the contractor to the project owner, to provide guarantee, that the winning bidder will undertake the contract under the terms at which they bid. 

The cash deposit is subject to full or partial forfeiture if the winning contractor fails to either execute the contract or provide the required performance and/or payment bonds. The bid bond assures and guarantees that should the bidder be successful, the bidder will execute the contract and provide the required surety bonds.

A bid bond claim arises when the contractor, also known as the "supplier" or "principal," is the successful bidder but fails to enter into the contract and provide final bonds.

Generally, the principal and surety are bound to pay a stated sum (for example, 5-10% of the contract price) to the owner (or general contractor), also known as the"obligee". The principal and surety should make sure the bond form caps liability at a defined amout --- typically the difference between the principal's bid and the bid of the next highest bidder, not to exceed the penal sum of the bid bond.

Contractors prefer the use of bid bonds because they are a less expensive option and they do not tie up cash or bank credit lines during the bidding process. Owners and general contractors also use bid bonds because they establish and confirm that the bidding contractor or supplier is qualified to undertake the project.


Leveraging one's relationship with the right surety gives a contractor the knowledge and experience of their claims team. Knowing the basics is the first step for any contractor who wants to take on bonded jobs.


The Most Valuable College Majors are Construction-Related

posted on 11.05.2021

A recent analysis from Bankrate, a publisher and provider of financial product comparison tools, shows three of the five top-earning and most secure four-year college majors are related to the construction industry.

An engineering degree of any kind offers a clear path to steady employment and a solid income. But once engineering specialty stands out. Architectural Engineering --- a discipline focused on the science of buildings --- ranks #1 of Bankrate's latest look at 159 college degrees. Compared to civil engineers who learn to build roads and bridges in addition to buildings, architectural engineering emerged as a distinct major for students who want to focus primiarily on buildings.

Construction services came in as the #2 most valuable major, followed by computer engineering. Electical engineering came in as the highest-paying degree.

For this study, Bankrate looked at the median incomes and unemployment rates of American workers based on the subject of their bachelor's degrees. The higher the income level and the lower the unemployment rate, the better.

Not surprisingly, STEM majors (science, technology, engineering & math) make up everyone of the top 25 degrees in the study, with engineering degrees claiming eight of the top 10 spots and 14 of the top 20 spots.

Here are the Top 20 College Majors, ranked by Bankrate:

1) Architecutural Engineering
2) Construction Services
3) Computer Engineering
4) Areospace Engineering
5) Transportation Services & Technologies
6) Electrical Engineering
7) Materials Engineering & Materials Science
8) Civil Engineering
9) Mechanical Engineering
10) Chemical Engineering
11) Engineering Mechanics, Physics & Science
12) Pharmary, Pharmaceutical Sciences & Administration
13) Industiral Production Technologies
14) Health & Medical Prepatory Programs
15) Electircal Engineering Technology
16) Metallurigcal Engineering
17) Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering
18) Materials Science
19) Miscellaneous Engineering
20) Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering


Source: Bankrate's 2021 ranking of the most and least valuable college majors


Of course, students shouldn't pick their college major based on future income, unemployment rate and the amount of schooling required. STEM degrees aren't for everyone; studnets wlll be their most successful pursuing a field that's interesting to them. 


To read more about Bankrate's study and a full look at the 159 ranked college degrees, click here.

Odds and Ends

7 Books for Construction Professionals

posted on 11.01.2021

Construction is a constantly evolving field. In order to be the best, one must remain competitive and stay on top of the latest trends. You need a solid understanding of construction fundamentals to leadership to project management.

Now, no one is going to disagree that the best way to learn construction of any kind is to get out in the field. But, a little reference material never hurt.

In honor of National Author’s Day, we’ve scoped out a handful of titles and recommend them to those starting a construction career or wanting to advance their skillsets.


Construction Management Jumpstart: The Best First Step Toward a Career in Construction Management by Barbara J. Jackson
- If you are just getting started in construction management, this is a must-have. Not only will you learn the fundamentals of the industry but this well-organized guide provides a step by step walk-through of all stages of project management including project costs, administering contracts, monitoring performances and safety and more. Think of this as your A-Z guide for project management from estimating, scheduling, to new technology and safety.

Markup & Profit: A Contractor’s Guide by Michael C. Stone
- Described as a great book with clear and practical advice, this one is a must read.

Code Check Complete: An Illustrated Guide to the Building, Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical Codes by Redwood Kardon, Douglas Hansen, & Paddy Morrissey
- More practical than the others on this list, but a solid reference book nonetheless.

Contractor’s Survival Guide by Jason Reid
- This book focuses on solid principles for any business, but with a construction angle.

Construction Business Management: What Every Construction Contractor, Builder & Subcontractor Needs to Know by Nick Ganaway
- With over 25 years as successful commercial contractor under his belt, Ganaway offers real-world advice from marketing to hiring, and even how to get paid.

Construction Leadership Success: The Construction Foreman’s Definitive Guide for Running Safe, Efficient, and Profitable Projects by Jason C. McCarty 
- McCarty shares great advice for managing teams and projects with an eye for the construction industry.

A Builder’s Guide to Accounting by Michael Thomsett
- This one helps to build a solid understanding of accounting – good even if you’re using accounting software.


And, we have a few recommendations for the kids, too:


Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beatty
- A New York Times best seller, this story follows a little girl who sees inspiration everywhere.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherry Dusky Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
- Called “a standout picture book, especially for those who like wheels with their dreams.”

Architecture According to Pigeons by Stella Gurney
- This one is for slightly older kids, but it gives an overview of famous structures.

Who Made This Cake? by Chihiro Nakagawa and Junji Koyose
- What if we built cakes the way we build buildings? This is what would happen. It’s a Horn Book Fanfare Award-winner, too.

Member News

Members Approve SCBX + MBEX Merger

posted on 10.29.2021

Members of both the St. Cloud Builders Exchange (SCBX) and the Minnesota Builders Exchange (MBEX) held and completed a vote to approve the merger of the two organizations, and the vote passed near unanimously.

This decision paves the way for an effective merger date of November 1, 2021. On November 1, active members of SCBX will become MBEX members for a complimentary trial period of 60 days. Terms of the merger call for MBEX to continue operating two physical plan rooms located in Minneapolis and Duluth, expanding social events to include the St. Cloud area, access to the MBEX Online Plan Room, and two special-term MBEX Board seats offered to former SCBX Board members.

St. Cloud members will be receiving further information, such as Plan Room log-in and membership benefits information, directly from MBEX very soon. 

If there are questions about the merger, the merging process, membership or its benefits, please reach out to one of the following individuals:

- Tom Getzke, MBEX Executive Director: tg@mbex.org | 612-381-2625
- Ashlee Hartwig, MBEX Membership & Communications Manager: ah@mbex.org | 612-381-2631
- Lisa Berezni, SCBX President: lisa@negenarchitects.com | 320-250-3304
- Brian Kalla, SCBX Vice President: brian@stcloudacoustics.com | 320-363-8585
- Steve Sauer, SCBX Board Member: steves@ericksonelectricmn.com | 320-290-3943

The approval of this merger marks the third time MBEX has expanded membership and services to the regional commercial construction industry. In 2013, the Builders Exchange of St. Paul merged with the Minneapolis Builders Exchange to form MBEX. The Duluth Builders Exchange then merged with MBEX in 2019.

To learn more about the merger and its terms, please click here.

Odds and Ends

Encouraging Young Girls in Construction

posted on 10.11.2021

It’s 2021, and women only make up about 10% of construction industry workers. Although a minority in the industry, women are making strides to break down barriers and become more of an influence in the industry.

In honor of today being International Day of the Girl, we wondered how young girls can be encouraged to explore a possible career in construction. For many, they probably don’t realize a career in construction is possible.

As a construction trade association, we know there is a plethora of opportunities in this industry! There are the trades: plumbers, plasterers, electricians, iron workers, painters, masons, flooring installers…the list is a long one. However, projects also need architectural designers, structural engineers, project managers, safety managers, and fore(wo)men.

Encouraging young girls to play and build is an easy way to expose them early on. Here are a few different, hands-on activities get them started. Plus, they’re fun for adults, too!

1) Building Shapes - Construct shapes with just two household items, such as toothpicks and marshmallows. Kids will learn to manipulate elements to assemble larger structures – a key skill in construction play.

2) Matching - Play a matching card game where kids match the movements of common construction equipment to each other (for example, a cement mixer would match with the movement ‘Spin’). It’s great for growing interest in construction machines like bulldozers and excavators.

3) Create a Neighborhood - Using cardboard, paper, color pencils/crayons/markers, scissors, paint and paintbrushes and other creative tools you can find around the house, have your kiddos create their own neighborhood complete with roadways, houses, stop signs, and more. Creating their own neighborhood helps kids make connections with real-world construction projects. Bonus points if you add in dump trucks, bulldozers, and other construction equipment to build out the scene.

4) Build with LEGO - Put their imagination to the test with LEGO building cards. Write down objects on pieces of paper, mix them up in a hat, pick one and prompt them to “build” it. It can be things like a robot, a car, or a hammer. Those creative-thinking skills will be put in motion!

5) Bridge Building - Using spaghetti as the main building material, kids will recreate bridge designs, learning about important architectural elements like trusses. We’re not stopping at building; we also have to test it to see how it holds up against different weights and forces. Download this guide from Big Rentz for different bridge structures to try.

Activities like these can help young girls and boys grow their imaginations while learning possible jobs they can do when they grow up, including construction, architects, and engineers. After all, they’ll be the ones building the world around us one day.


So, What is Hyperloop?

posted on 08.23.2021

Welcome to our newest News column: So, What Is It? Things are constantly popping up and change with how fast technology moves in this day and age, so when we come across something new or sparks our interest, we’ll take a dive into learning more and sharing our findings with you. These will not be long, in-depth posts (we totally get it; you’re busy people!). Think of them more as a highlights brief on the topic. We hope this will be the first of many posts like this, and we hope even more you’ll be back to check out what we discover next!

So, what is Hyperloop, or rather Hyperloop Transportation?

Hyperloop is a new form of super speed ground-level transportation in which people could travel in a hovering pod inside a vacuum tube at speeds as high as 760 mph (that's just shy of the speed of sound). These pods could be built either above or below ground. The idea behind this new mode of transportation is to make travel between cities faster, easier, and more eco-friendly, as some hyperloop concepts would use magnetic levitation similar to bullet trains.

It's currently being developed by a number of companies, including Elon Musk's Boring Company and Richard Branson's Virgin Hyperloop. Virgin Hyperloop One made history as the first company to successfully test hyperloop technology. It includes magnetic levitation, much like the technology used in advanved high-speed rail projects in Japan and Germany.

HyperloopTT, a U.S-based start-up company that's been developing hyperloop travel since 2013, says it plans to apply for federal funding for the development of "the world's most advanced hyperloop project" in the Great Lakes if the law is passed. Other companies throwing their hat into the hyperloop ring are Hardt Hyperloop in the Netherlands and TransPod, a Canadian company.

For a further explaination behind the concept of hyperloop, check out this video. It's on the longer side (12 minutes), but if you're intrigued, it's worth the watch.


We discovered hyperloop technology in this Changing America article. Had you previously heard of hyperloop? What do you think --- is hyperloop the transportation mode of the future?

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