PT 79 LSAT Writing: Stonewall Construction

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The Prompt

Stonewall Construction is deciding which of two upcoming construction projects to bid on—resurfacing Hilltop Road or expanding Carlene Boulevard. Since Stonewall cannot fulfill both contracts at the same time and bids constitute binding commitments, Stonewall can only bid on one of them. Using the facts below, write an essay in which you argue for bidding on one project over the other based on the following two criteria:

  • Stonewall wants to enhance its reputation among potential clients.
  • Stonewall wants to increase its capacity to take on bigger projects.

The Hilltop Road resurfacing is a small project. The potential profit is relatively low. With Stonewall’s experience and resources, it is almost certain to win the contract, and it is highly likely to finish on time and within budget. Stonewall has an established reputation for finishing projects on time and within budget. Stonewall has specialized in small projects. Construction firms specializing in small projects find it increasingly difficult over time to win contracts for bigger projects. If the project is completed under budget, Stonewall will keep the extra money. If it is over budget, Stonewall must cover the additional costs. Stonewall will use any extra money to purchase additional heavy equipment.

The Carlene Boulevard expansion is a large project. The potential profit is much higher. It involves kinds of work Stonewall has not done before and would require it to expand its operation. Because of the overall nature of this project Stonewall believes it has a good chance of winning the contract. It is uncertain whether Stonewall can finish the project on time and within budget. Even if Stonewall exceeds time and budget constraints, it will gain valuable experience. If the project goes over budget, Stonewall will lose money.

My Essay

Stonewall Construction should bid on the Carlene Boulevard expansion.

If Stonewall Construction hopes to burnish its reputation among potential clients and expand its range, it couldn’t do better than to bid on the Carlene Boulevard expansion project, which it has a good chance of winning. In the best of circumstances, Stonewall would finish on time and under budget, providing a windfall of cash and a resounding demonstration of its competence when it comes to large projects. The company could invest its profit in more heavy equipment to increase its capacity for similar operations. But even if Stonewall were to lose money on the project, it would expand its workforce and gain valuable experience, improving its ability to handle large projects in the future.

The Hilltop Road resurfacing project, by contrast, has little to offer Stonewall in the way of profit, reputation, or expanded capacity, even if the construction goes well. Stonewall already enjoys a reputation for finishing small projects like Hilltop on time and within budget; finishing one more project on time and under budget can hardly be expected to make a difference. And though Stonewall might invest its earnings from the project into heavy equipment, the expected profit is meager. Finally, success on Hilltop Road would come with a cost, cementing (so to speak) Stonewall’s reputation as a company that only handles small projects. Construction firms that specialize in small projects find it increasingly difficult to win large ones. Given Stonewall’s large ambitions, it should avoid these small pickings.

Stonewall Construction has every reason to bid on the Carlene Boulevard expansion project, where success would carry huge rewards and failure would come with the consolation prize of valuable experience. Stonewall would reap meager rewards, on the other hand, from the Hilltop Road resurfacing project, and the best-case-scenario—finishing on time and under budget—would ironically lead to the worst result, typecasting Stonewall as a company that specializes in small projects and circumscribing its hopes for the future.

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