The Ground Floor: Engineer's consulting firm focuses on project management

Company helps leaders improve their systems and to work on vision strategies

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March 28, 2014 | 12:16 pm

Long-time engineer George Hollins couldn’t help himself as his daughter’s wedding day approached last April.

Much of Hollins’s work these days is in project management, and he applied some of the same principles as wedding plans were being made. Together, the family used a risk-management analysis and determined rain could create problems for guests getting to the reception, as the venue had limited parking.

So they put three vans on standby, just in case.

“We had one of the worst rain storms we’ve ever had,” recalled Hollins, with a chuckle. “So we used all those vans.”

Hollins, of Coralville, uses the same kind of thinking for On-Track, his project management training and consulting venture.

Hollins went full-time with the business last November, after more than 20 years as an administrator at the University of Iowa, most recently as business manager. During his career, he has been responsible for the management of over $1 billion in project value.

On-Track offers training to businesses in project management, leadership, innovation and strategy. The training can be customized based on the priorities of the company.

Hollins also helps companies improve their systems and works with leaders on vision strategies, to close the gap between the leader’s intentions and employee production.

“The leaders of an organization often have a difficult time conveying their vision to the people that are doing the work,” Hollins said. “The people doing the work are the only ones who can accomplish that plan.”

Hollins teaches classes toward certification in project management at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. For the past few years, Hollins worked as a sub-contractor for the Lewis Institute in North Carolina, which does similar work on a much larger scale.

Hollins first met its president, Jim Lewis, about 15 years ago in the lunch line at a conference in Wisconsin. Lewis has written 12 books on project management, and Hollins noted he has modeled his company around the information.

At a coffee shop on a chilly February morning during an interview for this story, Hollins pulled out a book Lewis wrote titled “Project Planning, Scheduling and Control.” Several yellow sticky notes marked key pages, including one that included a flow chart.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a wedding or planning to land a space ship on the moon,” Hollins said. “The flow chart is a legitimate project management tool.”

Hollins would know, based on the experience with his daughter’s big day. He acknowledged she was not thrilled with his approach, but it worked out for the best.

“She was really, really tired of seeing the stuff,” Hollins said. “But it was a good thing we did.”

AT A GLANCE

Owners: George and Susan Hollins

Company: On-Track

Phone: (319) 331-8422

Website: www.ontrackstrategies.com

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and by appointment

Know a company in business for less than a year that should be considered for "The Ground Floor"? Contact Jeff Raasch at jeff.raasch@sourcemedia.net.

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