Anderson Commercial Concrete
Despite a lagging economy, Anderson Commercial Concrete, based in Davenport, Iowa, has been experiencing steady growth with significant success in recent years. Bret Chumbley, vice president at Anderson has been with the concrete and small site preparation contractor for more than 25 years and has seen major changes in both concrete practices and in the technology available to streamline the company’s operations.
For its first 20-25 years in business, the company served both Iowa and Illinois by performing takeoffs and creating estimates manually. “The manual method was very difficult as odd shapes were tough to takeoff and it was challenging to get precise values,” explained Chumbley. “We needed to increase the number of takeoffs we were doing and it was tough because of the time-consuming manual process we used.”
At the time, Chumbley thought there must be a better way. Wearing many hats, he was not only handling estimating, but also doing some project management and at times worked on the crew. His time was valuable and the firm needed to find a way to streamline its processes.
Anderson Commercial Concrete evaluated a number of products in the late 1990s and selected Maxwell Systems™ takeoff and estimating software, now known as ProContractorMX™ to streamline its processes.
The concrete contractor was using a manual method to perform plan takeoffs, which was difficult to measure odd shapes and calculate precise values. The process was time-consuming and lacked accuracy.
Anderson Commercial implemented Maxwell Systems™ ProContractorMX™ as its takeoff and estimating software solution to improve accuracy and speed of their processes. Using the software’s digital takeoff capabilities, the estimators use electronic plans instead of costly blueprints to easily takeoff all aspects (footings, foundation, curbs, etc.) of any project, including generating accurate cut and fill quantities for sitework jobs. The estimators also find historical pricing on cost items using the solution’s cost databases tailored for concrete and sitework jobs, and use the 3-D Visual Assemblies to provide budget quotes on demand.
Maxwell Systems ProContractorMX helps Anderson Commercial perform takeoff with ease, speed, and accuracy, and then determine the materials, equipment, and labor for professional estimates. Ultimately, the contractor is able to tighten costs, win more jobs, and be more profitable.
The Power of Digital Takeoff
“At first we primarily used ProContractorMX for takeoff and it made a big difference in both speed and accuracy,” said Chumbley. “Since then it has really sped up our process and enabled us to develop very accurate estimates and more of them.”
The contractor now gets electronic drawings for potential projects and performs digital takeoffs using ProContractorMX. This saves them time and money because they never have to touch a set of expensive, bulky blueprints. Once the digital plans are imported, the Anderson team can easily takeoff all aspects of the project including footings, foundation, curbs, and more right on their computer screen.
On sitework jobs, Chumbley and his team use the earthwork digital takeoff capabilities of ProContractorMX to generate accurate cut and fill quantities straight from digital plans. They can efficiently takeoff existing contours, proposed contours, spot elevations, and any other sitework elements. Chumbley commented, “We simply load the necessary information directly from CAD files and can easily calculate how much cut/fill we will have to import and export and determine our machine requirements.”
Automating Estimating for Speed and Accuracy
Once the plan takeoff is complete, Anderson Commercial uses ProContractorMX to develop its estimates, figuring out what the materials, equipment, and labor will cost.
The estimators use the Notepad in ProContractorMX to conveniently keep track of all of their quantities and cost item specifications and use the valuable cost databases tailored for concrete and sitework jobs to find historical pricing on cost items.
When evaluating takeoff and estimating solutions, the ProContractorMX Visual Assemblies really stood out to Chumbley. These 3-D lifelike images provide verification capabilities to enable users to view the takeoff at a glance and ensure items are not missing or incorrect. “It helps us quickly provide numbers to contractors who request budget quotes,” explained Chumbley. “I’m not very technically savvy and thought this would be difficult, but the visual assemblies are easy and I’m even able to do them at home.”
He continued: “Over the years, Maxwell Systems has made many advancements in the product, specifically to its earthwork solution. It makes our job of figuring out earthwork so much easier. Once the job’s cut and fill quantities are determined, ProContractorMX efficiently calculates what all the equipment and labor for the job is going to cost and the 3-D View provides a realistic aerial view of existing and proposed elevations to ensure accuracy and prevent mistakes.”
Once all the data is collected and verified, Anderson Commercial’s estimators can use ProContractorMX to see all the quantities, measurements, and calculations from the takeoff in the estimate, which eliminates the need to re-enter any data. This automation enables the concrete firm to develop bids more quickly and more often, averaging about 20 bids a week.
ProContractorMX also enables project managers to easily identify change requests and track and manage change orders. If there are plan revisions, it provides an instant comparison between the new and old plans to help contractors capitalize on every change order and capture additional gains in profit margin. With these capabilities, the approval process is streamlined and potentially costly mistakes are prevented.
Striving for Increased Profitability
“Our four estimators wear many hats and have extremely busy schedules,” explained Chumbley. “Maxwell Systems ProContractorMX makes takeoff and estimating quicker, better, and easier, which is important when time is limited and preciseness is required.”
“When we used to do our takeoffs and estimates manually, we had the philosophy that ‘close enough’ was fine,” added Chumbley. “However, now, in a tight market where bids must be low, we are continually trying to tighten up our bids and if we can dial in our quantities within 1-2%, our costs will be tighter, and we will win more jobs, and ultimately, be more profitable.”