Building on Adversity: The experiences of Karalynn Cromeens and how she uses them to help others

Having firsthand knowledge of the construction industry and the obstacles faced by subcontractors, Karalynn Cromeens launched The Cromeens Law Firm in 2006.

In educating subcontractors on the best negotiation tactics, Cromeens had to negotiate a balance between law practice and entrepreneurship early in her career.

“Like most law schools, they teach you how to be a lawyer, but they don’t teach you how to run a business,” Cromeens said.

Running a business for over 15 years has taught Cromeens the value of filing tax returns, ensuring bills are paid, and invoices are issued.

Over the past five years, Cromeens has also learned the essential aspects of business: marketing, accounting, and HR.

The success of her law firm isn’t only a testament to Cromeens’ hard work, but her ability to surround herself with people better-suited in various business sectors.

“Being a good leader is being clear on your expectations,” Cromeens said. “But letting the ‘whos’ that are better at that answer how to do it.”

A function of Cromeens’ good leadership is her passion for understanding the construction industry’s victims: subcontractors.

Cromeens published a book, “Quit Getting Screwed: Understanding and Negotiating the Subcontract,” aimed at educating subcontractors on what subcontracts mean and the best negotiation techniques.

Her experience in construction litigation has led Cromeens to identify dangerous provisions, such as the delineation between a “scope” and a “bid.”

Before subcontractors take a job, they have to negotiate a bid – – an agreement of completing work for the desired price, which is then submitted to the employer for hire.

Once the subcontractor is hired, they receive a “scope of work.”

“What subcontractors don’t understand is that the scope that comes with the contract is normally different than their bid,” Cromeens said. “The scope is what you’re hired to do, not your bid.”

Cromeens believes scopes and bids are often “radically different,” which could lead to scopes including “$20,000 to $30,000 more” than what resides in a subcontractor’s bid.

During her keynote speech April 29-30 for the 2nd Annual Construction and Infrastructure Conference, Cromeens addressed her adversity, techniques for subcontract negotiation, and imploring subcontractors to “not sign a contract you don’t understand.”

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