Friends or Colleagues

The alarm clock sounds, and Drew jumps out of bed. He already hit the snooze button three times, and he has to hurry if he is going to make it to work on time. He quickly throws on a pair of jeans, a nice shirt, and his hard hat; he grabs his keys and is out the door in a flash. As he is driving down the Florida beachfront with the sun just beginning to come over the horizon, he is unable to divert his attention from what was keeping him awake all night. The decision he would make may change his life forever.

As Drew drives to work, he keeps remembering his childhood and his best friend
Jake. These two guys did absolutely everything together. From elementary soccer teams, to high school football, and then to college, Drew and Jake were always there for each other, especially in the most critical times. Jake threw the winning touchdown pass to no other than his best friend Drew to win the state football title; Jake encouraged Drew to go with him to the University of Southern Mississippi to obtain his construction engineering degree when he previously had no sense of direction about his future; and Drew consoled Jake when his mother passed away from cancer. Jake and Drew were not just friends; they were like brothers.

Drew glances across the beach to see the sun’s rays reflecting off the water and casting streams of light on the numerous condominium developments. Once again, Drew is reminded of how he became a construction engineer and how he is employed by one of the most premier construction outfits on the Gulf Coast; the answer is of course, Jake.

Jake encouraged him to pursue his degree, introduced him to an individual within the same company, and now Drew is the head project manager for Blue Construction Company. Jake decided to choose an alternative route in the construction industry. He, too, had a construction engineering degree, but he kept remembering what his mother told him before she passed away: “You can do anything you want. Put your mind to it, and you will succeed.” Jake’s dream was to own his own business and be an independent general contractor, so he did just that. Jake’s construction company is known for quality work and a dependable crew that arrives to the construction site on time. Jake is emerging into the construction industry, so current jobs are limited but future prospects are encouraging. Both Drew and Jake love their jobs, and they continue to remain best friends.

Now, however, Drew faces an ethical decision. Yesterday, Drew and Jake were having lunch at the local diner, when they began to talk about the new condo being constructed by

the company Drew is employed with. Drew is the head project manager
for the site, so he along with other project managers have been accepting bids from various independent contractors in the area. Jake looked across the table at Drew and said, “Sometimes I wish I knew what other contractors were offering as bids for projects because I seem to lose many bids by close margins.” Drew thought about his response and then said, “Bids are very competitive, especially on this project. Blue Construction is really concerned about what it is going to cost the company.” Then, the two looked at each other with a little awkward silence and continued to eat. The conversation was diverted to a new topic area, but both men’s minds were in deep thought.

As Drew parked his truck at the construction site, he pondered what to do about Jake. He really was unsure if Jake was asking him to reveal some information regarding other contractors’ bids or if Jake was simply revealing the fact that recent projects seemed to be eluding his company. However, Drew did not ever hear Jake express so much concern regarding his business. Drew is now apprehensive about the future of Jake’s construction company. Drew realizes that he is where he is today because of Jake. Jake provided him with a sense of direction in his life and gave him the best friendship he could ever imagine.

Drew walks into his office, sits down, and is unable to concentrate on the day’s activities. He knows that other project managers have friends who obtained the bids to various projects. The means, however, by which they so happened to get these particular bids are unclear, but it seems common for such practices to occur. Drew also realizes that this does not happen only in the company in which he works for, but for the entire construction industry itself. Drew is still relatively new to the industry, but he even wonders if this is just the way the construction industry always operates.

Drew desperately wants to help Jake obtain the bid for the upcoming condo, but he questions if he should provide Jake with the competitors’ bids. Drew even thinks he could possibly tell Jake the lowest competitor’s bid, but not reveal which construction company offered the bid. Then, confidentiality regarding the identity of the other companies is still maintained. Drew realizes that such practices seem to be acceptable in the construction industry, but no one really openly discusses the issue. Drew is unsure if Jake is really even asking for some insight into the whole bidding process, but he knows Jake’s business currently needs some projects. Drew also knows that if Jake gets the bid, Blue Construction Company is guaranteed to receive the highest quality of work..

Where do you draw the line?