Written by Jed Richard, Founder CEO of Richard Group
When I arrived at West Point in 1999, I never envisioned that a 75-minute snapshot in time on a routine September day in 2001 would change the paths of our lives. No matter your news source or your taste for politics, one thing is clear:
Americans are resilient, forgiving, generous, and ready to help. We are compelled to act, to give, and to do our part.
There’s no greater example of this than the surge of people that redirected their lives and efforts in the midst of those 9/11 terrorist attacks. At West Point in 2001, redirection for me meant realigning my values and priorities; it meant a deep desire and drive to get to the terrorist epicenter and do my part as an Airborne and Ranger Qualified Infantry officer. I am proud of my twelve friends and classmates whose values overrode the dangers. They were willing to do whatever it took, even as it took their lives.
In the 19 years since then, I have not felt that same level of urgency towards a cause…until now.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives, our families, our communities, and even our principles. Instead of our Armed Forces redirecting and realigning, this time it’s doctors, nurses, practitioners, and hospital support staff that are on the front lines and closest to the source. Our “boots on the ground” are wearing scrubs. Our “weapons” are compassion and ventilators, face masks and social distancing, time and space.
More than 20% of our company workforce are Veterans, which is why we felt that while the risks are high for these projects, there wasn’t a question of which projects were to take priority in our pipeline. Across over 40 hospital projects in the last 3 years, Richard Group has substantial experience with Infection Control Procedures. We have the qualifications, personnel resources, and equipment to support our health care communities in this fight.
So we didn’t hold back.
- We devoted countless design-bid hours to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with potential design-build scenarios based on our experience.
- Our self-perform and preconstruction groups fielded calls 7 days a week in order to provide health care communities with our essential services. A private hospital customer in Minnesota summed up their Richard Group COVID-19 experience with this, “Your response to help our organization touches our hearts. We are very busy with ramping up our ICU capacity, and these HEPA Negative Air units will help more than you’ll ever know.”
- We asked every available architect, engineer, plumbing and mechanical resource with major hospital experience to provide their comments, time, and effort.
And there’s more we tried to do. We worked long hours over the course of a week to bid, and then not win, the conversion of McCormick Place into a 3,000-bed facility. We also didn’t win a few major hotel conversions into patient bed areas. And you know what? We’d do it all again. Even with the same result. Because we are called to help, and—thankfully—we are not the only companies in America called to do so. Hats off to our brother and sister companies as we all play our parts in these efforts.
Fortunately, the need for these additional ICU structures seems to be dwindling as the curve flattens. Richard Group has learned some valuable lessons through this epidemic and the process of bidding on these projects that will shape who we are and reinforce our company values for years to come.
We all gave a valiant effort with incredible time, effort, and resources relative to the size of our company. We did everything we could, and we would have provided the same effort again, without question. Times of crisis require teams of professionals that are willing to endure sacrifice and provide selfless service, regardless of the personal outcome.
We’ll always do and be that for our communities.
And for that I am proud.