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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The real "Change Order" boat(s)

Yesterday, I reached Paul Frazier at Bronze Construction in Memphis, Tennessee. Indeed, he owns a boat named "Change Order" but his boat is not the same boat whose image has found its way around the Internet over the past year. (Brian Ernest of Mississauga, Ontario, took that image). With Paul's permission, I'm posting some images of his boat. Below is the story we're publishing this month in The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) Construction Report. Misssissaga is in the Toronto area, so the story is now relevant to our print media readers.

The Change Order boat: An Internet hit from Misssissaga
Who owns it?
By Mark Buckshon

Misssissaga management consultant Brian Ernest didn't expect to create an Internet viral hit when he snapped a photo in July 2007 of a large yacht named “Change Order” moored next to a tiny dinghy named “Original Contract” while travelling in Ohio.

He sent the image to a few friends in the construction industry, and they sent it to a few more, and soon, thousands of copies of the image were circulating in emails between architects, engineers, contractors, and consultants throughout North America.

Mark Buckshon, president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies, first noticed the image in September, 2007, and posted it on his Construction Marketing Ideas blog.
“Almost immediately, I saw a surge in visitors to my blog from Google keyword searches for the 'change order boat',” Buckshon said. “The image seems to capture one of the big issues of the construction industry.”

(Change orders are controversial. Some owners say that requests for change orders inflate the profits of general contractors and sub-trades; while many contractors and sub trades say they have trouble being paid for their true costs in implementing changes from the original project plans.)

Buckshon tried to find the Change Order boat owner, and discovered a U.S. Coast Guard registration in the name of Paul Frazier, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Frazier, president of Bronze Construction, indeed owns a boat named Change Order – but it isn't the same vessel. “I've heard about it – in fact about 20 people have sent me pictures of the other boat,” he said.

Frazier's office forwarded photos of his “Change Order” boat, generally moored on Lake Pickwick, on the borders of Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.

So who owns the other Change Order boat – the one circulating throughout the Internet? This is still a mystery.

“I was on assignment in Vermillon, Ohio, in late July 2007 eating at the Red Clay on the River restaurant patio overlooking the water,” Ernest wrote.

“I noted the boat and tender moored in a slip across the water and given my construction background thought the boat and tender names highly funny. (So I) shot the picture with a digital camera that I carry, (and) sent some copies to a few close friends and associates who I thought would appreciate the humour.

“This year (March 2009), I was with a client in New Jersey, who had the picture in his office and said 'See my boat',” Ernest wrote. “My immediate answer was that it wasn't his boat since I shot the original image. I knew it was my original from the girl in black in the picture, the placement of her leg behind the piling and the bow of the boat just entering the picture on the lower left.

“I have no idea of who owns the boat other than that he appears to be a successful contractor with a great sense of humour.”

In Tennessee, Frazier says most people who see his boat, unfamiliar with the construction industry, wonder what 'change order' means. He said it started as a joke. People in the construction industry, of course, understand the story. “Our company, we're developers and site contractors, and we do a bunch of third party work,” he said. Change orders are part of the business, and can be a good source of revenue, he indicated.

Several thousand miles away, in Misssissaga, Brian Ernest said: “The interesting part of this story is that I had no idea the image would resonate as it has.

“I found that you can Google the picture and find it which is how I happened on your (Construction Marketing Ideas) website. I know the power of the Internet but had never really experienced how things of interest can travel so widely in cyberspace. There is a small part of me that wishes I had 10 cents for every computer this picture has been sent to. I might be in Tahiti with a beach house, etc. Oh well.

“But I am happy that many others seem to have enjoyed it,” he wrote.

Frazier, meanwhile, is thinking of purchasing a new boat. He's planning to name it: “Divorce Papers.”

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