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Page 152
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 8
order #15, in this case a credit that reduced
my costs and should have made both Andy
and me giddy as Lotto winners.
The problem was that the credit wasn't
Months earlier I had approved changes to
the runway (change order #8) and, in short
order, the project team at Tribble & Stephens
gleefully sent along a request asking for more
money. Long before the change ever got im-
plemented I found a better way to beef up the
runway, talked it over with the Tribble & Ste-
phens' project team, nixed the earlier change,
and waited for another change order credit-
ing me with the exact amount of the earlier
change order. That didn't happen. The cred-
it, when it arrived, was less than the earlier
charge. Why one didn't match the other, giv-
en that no work had taken place, was a bone
of contention for weeks.
Andy had been shielding me from such
squabbles for months, and with each con-
frontation he'd lost some of his old charm. By
April, he was raw-nerved and stubborn. He
shot off a series of e-mails and follow-up tele-
phone calls to Tribble & Stephens' staff, po-
litely complaining that things didn't add up.
Before going on, I'll be the first to admit
that any conversation, especially one that took
place years ago, is nearly impossible to recre-
ate here on the page with any accuracy, so I
won't even try. What I will do is offer up the
flavor of one such conversation, a composite
dialogue if you will, and you tell me if this sort
of give-and-take wouldn't drive a man insane.
The following conversation didn't happen, not
exactly, but it could have.
"Hold on," Andy said into the phone, "I've
reviewed the change order and it looks like
we got shorted."
A Tribble & Stephens staffer, let's call him
Milo to protect the innocent, responded in an
altogether professional tone, "It might look
that way, but we're square. Trust me."
"How can that be? We paid for a change
you never started. The final lift of asphalt,
it never happened. Removal of the old pave-
ment markings, new markings, none of the
work ever got done."
"That's right."
"It never even got approved," Andy said.
"Which explains why we never did the
work," Milo said, somewhat proud of himself.
"I'm not sure that's the point."
"I'm listening."
"My point is that we deserve a credit on
this change order in the exact amount of the
earlier change order. One should cancel the
"I'm not sure I'm following you." Milo
seemed to take pleasure in this.
"The credit you sent me, it's thirteen per-
cent too little," Andy said. "You owe us more
"You understand the difference between
net and gross, right?"
"What I don't understand is--"
In a calm voice, Milo said, "The net cost is
the direct cost of the work. Gross is the direct
cost plus a markup for overhead and profit.
We agree on this much, am I right?"
"I don't see that that makes any--"
"It does, trust me."
"I wish you'd stop saying that," Andy said.