But One Testimonial

We have received many wonderful letters and phone calls over the years regarding our work and our people. We could list them out or put up links but there is one letter that we received some years back that captured the essence of J.A. Morrissey, Inc. like no other.  We offer this as our one testimonial.

Duncan Wisniewski Architecture

DATE:  09.21.07  

FROM:Michael Wisniewski, Duncan • Wisniewski  Architecture

To Whom It May Concern: J.A. Morrissey Recommendation

Being in a constant state of curiosity about our 'business', when I talk to a regular client in the affordable housing realm, I rush to get past the social pleasantries and get down to dishing on work. "So, how wasAcme Builders on such and such job?"  The answer inevitably is some variation of "OK, but they sure aren't a J.A.Morrissey." That's all you really need to know and I could stop right now, but I will digress.

Let's dispense with the usual suspects that people are concerned with up front:  They are organized. they communicate, they do what they say and meet deadlines, paperwork is thorough, detailed and accurate, change orders are fair, they followup and address issues during and after the job, they work well with their subs. In short, they do good work.

Now, let's address some of the more ephemeral qualities that make a good contractor rise to excellence:

Holistic Thought.
JAM just doesn't do a job, they think about it as a whole entity and in great detail.  Oddly enough, many contractors proceed in a linear fashion and seem surprised that work done early (or not done) has an implication on work done later.  JAM strives mightily to study the work in a holistic fashion and flush out as many issues as they can well in advance. In fact, this is the only real down side to working with JAM:Expect to be peppered with questions that ruthlessly expose all the weaknesses, contradictions, and faulty assumptions in your documents leading you to raise your game and clarify the documents.  I'll take that downside leading to a better job upside anytime.
Working on many jobs with JAM over many years has made me a more holistic, critical thinker and better architect who strives for clarity in action and documents.  How many times has an architect stated that, although we hope we give as good as we get?

Band of Brothers.
In Shakespeare's Henry V,  the young king stands in the fields of Agincourt  and begins to speak to his gathered, overmatched forces, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers......." after which his inspired army of 10,000 rushes out to defeat a French army of 50,000.  Working with JAM evokes that inspiration and commitment to the cause. Instead of adversarial relationships we become a band of brothers (andsisters) working against long odds, Murphy's law, capricious inspectors, weather and market forces arrayed against us. This includes recognizing that we all make mistakes but we will be nimble, makecorrections and solve problems together in a cooperative manner and we will beat the odds. It can benoble at times.

Doing the Right Thing.
JAM is guided by the idea that it is better to do what is right in the universe rather than merely feeding the fires of self interest.  Decisions are made and problems solved on this basis.   The contract documents define the scope of what is expected and JAM is scrupulous in meeting their obligations and taking responsibility for their own actions.  When the documents are unclear or the unexpected occurs then problem solving proceeds in the direction of what is fair for all parties.  It is refreshing to work in this manner; time and angst are saved and the focus is on the job instead of jockeying for position.  Philosophical discussions may ensue over some of the inherent contradictions that occur in our work.

How often can you work with a contractor on multiple projects over 14 years and not only be dealing withan almost unchanging core group of project managers and job superintendents, but also carpenters, laborers and office personnel?  Such stability indicates that something is being done right at JAM and this is not just great for the workers but benefits the job.  There is continuity and memory; a carpenter might mention how a similar detail was resolved on another job from five years back. People are invested in thesuccess of the work and act accordingly.  When I am working well into the evening I am not surprised when my project manager actually answers the phone instead of getting the message machine.

Once upon a time, in the middle of a crowded job meeting in a very small trailer, Andrew Seaver, the super, noticed that I missed a big spot in shaving my bald head that morning.  He grabbed his electric razor and proceeded to smooth me out while I kept writing meeting notes.  This is service!

On Stowe Family Housing, John Atherton, project manager and Steve Elder, project superintendent have been tireless and good humored on a project with a difficult, steep and very tight site, 17 different buildings of nine different designs, a hard schedule, a harder budget and several deluges of biblical magnitude.  Theproject is nearing completion ahead of schedule and is looking good.

In the 14 years  we have been working with JAM, through many and varied projects, including their very first project, a small health center in Georgia, VT, we have never been disappointed, never had a problem we couldn't solve together or an issue that left bad feelings in its wake. I look forward to more projectsover many more years.
But, dear reader, don't forget that for you to enjoy the JAM experience you must be prepared to operate at the same high level of quality, moral and professional standards,  commitment to cooperation and problem solving and maintaining a sense of humor.

Michael Wisniewski

“"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."” ~ George Bernard Shaw