Visual documentation in the construction industry is vital as it helps keep records for project tracking. It also supports remote-tracking by stakeholders who cannot be onsite and helps with protection against litigation and historical record-keeping, among other things. Site photography using 360° imaging, drone photos, and time-lapse imagery all help stakeholders monitor issues and track progress and performance. Using this method, stakeholders can supervise workers on job sites, monitor costs, ensure plans and site action align and increase their overall productivity.
In this episode of Built Different, Matt and Chris are joined by John Andres, Operations Technology Manager at ANDRES Construction Services.
Chris Jervey: Welcome to Built Different, a podcast by boots on the ground workers who are built different and liked to get site done.
Matt Daly: We're here to listen, question the status quo and continue to find better ways to build the world.
We are back at it again for another episode of the Built Different podcast. Joining me is our co-host, Mr. Chris Jervey and today's special guest, John Andres, from Andres Construction.
Chris: What's up, Johnny? Welcome to the party.
John Andres: Thank you for having me. Yes, we're excited to spend a little time with you today.
Matt: Yes, man. Let's jump in and get started. We're going to talk a little bit about your past and your journey into construction. We're going to talk a little bit about your experience with StructionSite and then we're going to talk a little bit about, circle back to Andres. This is the Built Different podcast, what makes you guys different? What makes you guys different than others that are out there? I think I know what some of those things are, but it's going to be good to talk to you about some of that stuff. Let's jump in with a little bit of background about you. How long have you been working in construction?
John: I've been working construction for Andres for seven years now. Started as an intern. The real internships are not what I was. I was a laborer with the title of intern. Back when I was 18, I started sweeping on jobs, keeping the parking lots clean of dirt, setting up handrails, they didn't even give me nails, I had to go pick nails out of boards to go for safety rails and stuff.
Matt: Is that for real? You actually were not given a box of nails, you were told to go scavenge for nails?
John: They gave me a hammer and said, "Go take the nails out of the ones that are sticking up in the boards and use those to put up handrails." I got a hammer and hammer holster for my tool belt. It was great. Later on that summer I graduated from broom to hammer with tool belt holster and then later on Bobcat promotion side. Start at the bottom.
Chris: It's got to have started before that. Tell us more. One of the things I love about this podcast, all two times of it so far, is really getting to know the person behind the professional. I know it's a family affair for you guys. Tell me a little bit more about, really early on, some of the formative experiences for you like. It's okay to get into Lincoln Logs if you have to, just go as far back as you can remember.
John: I love my Lincoln Logs. I loved my Legos. I was also a KNEX fan, if you know what those are.
Matt: Oh, yes.
John: Growing up being in the family business kind of thing on Saturdays. Saturdays were spent going to jobs. When I was little, it was smaller jobs around the neighborhood. We'd walk houses and do house tours, my dad would point out things. As I got older it was going to our job sites on the weekends. I always had a Hooters lunch afterwards that I'd be careful about going home and saying that we went to Hooters. My dad always educated me on that, "We did not go there." Great times growing up in the construction industry.
Matt: You guys went for the food, right? It was all about the food?
John: The wings are the best.
Matt: Great wings?
John: Yes, and it was just closest to the jobsite. Convenience.
Chris: I got you.
Chris: It was early for you. You got a lot of early-on experience. What about your dad? What do you think drew him to construction in the first place? Not to get too far off topic, but I'm interested.
John: His dad. My grandfather has been in construction his whole life. He flipped houses and did that kind of stuff to support the family back in his early years when my dad was growing up. Started really a construction company, sold it. It has now started the Andres. It's in the family. I'm third-generation Texas builder. It's cool to keep going with it. Sometimes that's a reminder that I'm a little bit more technologically savvy than they are. We got to get rid of some of their old-school ways, but we're working on that.
Chris: Still use a hammer and a holster though.
John: That was 13 years ago.
Chris: How long were you in the field? I know that there's a story here that I want you to share with our listener, about moving your way out of the job site.
John: To get out of the field as an intern, out as like a full labor, it was one Friday afternoon, a dark, dark day. Basically, it was me and one equipment operator and I was going to be the late guy, set up all the cones and all the lights and stuff because we were working inside of a hotel redoing the lobby in a hotel. Friday afternoons through Sunday, they would actually have people staying in the rooms that fed this area. Our job site would become public.
One day they were digging a trench and the as-builts showed the sanitary line at 14 feet so we weren't going to hit them. They were actually installed at seven feet, and we hit it clean, just straight, broke the pipe. Not nicked to the top of it. Ripped it through. There's nothing sanitary about a sanitary line, let me tell you. At that time, I didn't have the skills to just tell the guy like, "I'll run the equipment, you do that." I was the intern, so I-
Chris: You didn't have mad cache at the time?
John: No. I remember going and finding like a PVC pipe that was long enough and going to try to get it from one side to the other while we tried to get the hotel to stop because it was literally, as people were starting to flush their toilets when they got to the hotel room, it was just awful.
Matt: I want to ask more questions. What I'm imagining is like when someone were to stab someone in the arm, and it's just squirting out of the [unintelligible 00:05:52].
John: It was like a little bit and then it just kept coming.
Chris: Like a hotel announcement, "Please, everybody do not flush your toilets for the next 20 minutes."
John: It was awful. I think I stayed there about two hours late waiting for someone to come back to the job site to put a temporary fix on that. I finally drove home. I wasn't going to touch myself, let's just put it that way. I get home two hours late, and my mom looks at me like, "Where have you been?" and I'm just covered, dirt and other stuff.
John: Yes. I told her, "I've been in a hole of shit." That was the first time my mom heard me cuss. I'm sorry, mom, if you're hearing this again, but I had to tell the story.
Matt: You wonder why more people don't want to work in construction. This is awesome.
Chris: This isn't exactly a great way to like recruit young professionals.
Matt: This is the part where we don't, we're not recruiting right now.
John: This is why I guess you go to school, or bless the guys that want to be in the trades because man, it's a tough deal.
Chris: This is why you take pictures of your job [unintelligible 00:07:02].
John: Yes, this is why you take pictures.
Chris: So you know that it's seven feet and not 14 feet, so you don't dig and hit the damn sanitary line.
Chris: It's really just an endorsement of StructionSite.
John: Yes, if only they had StructionSite. Maybe that's the future podcast.
Chris: Those as-builts were not correct?
John: They were not correct.
Matt: Tragically incorrect [unintelligible 00:07:22].
John: It caused me a pair of jeans and a pair of boots too, so.
Chris: Your mother didn't really care for your language.
John: Yes. There might be a picture of that. I'll have to go look. I remember being so dirty that my-- My sister was perfectly clean and then there's me and it was like, "Look at my kids when they're at work." I think that exists. I got to go look for that one.
Chris: That's not the ideal day to take your kid to work.
John: The dinner table that night I go, "Hey, I think it's time that I joined the office life. I think I've learned enough in the field." It's stuck with me though.
Chris: It's a bit of a trip from digging trenches and sweeping to being in construction technology. What was it that drove you in that direction?
Matt: Besides the sewer pipe.
Chris: That was the obvious. I'm never going to work here again. Unless--
John: I was running from that. I went off and did my own thing after college, worked for a couple companies and then I came to work for Andres. Started from the bottom again, as an office engineer, was out in the field and people were just asking me questions for other job sites about how I was doing things. That led into just getting into this role of OpTech, which the coolest thing I ever did was, month two into my role I found Matt and Phillip at a conference and was like, "Whoa, these 360 cameras-" I wish I had one of the original ones, but, "-these 360 cameras, man, I wish I had that on my job."
I remember writing an RFI, specifically that was, "Hey, this pipe over here, it goes from this side, then goes across, and then goes back up over here and here's how the joists sit."
We had pictures from a third party company, which I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but we'll just say a third party company took these pictures and I spent probably four hours marking up pictures and saying, "Photo one is here and this is where photo two lines up. See, this is photo two, and then okay, here's how photo three gets the ceiling, photo four gets to this side. Now here's the opposite direction." It was the worst.
I was like, "Man, with these 360 cameras, you just take one picture and see everything in there and how it all works together." That was when the eyes opened and I was just like, "Okay, we're on the verge of something cool in construction. I think StructionSite really started taking off just all of our other adoption of things. We were already using Procore but we almost lucked into Procore because we've been using it for 12 years with what they have become, but definitely saw the vision with StructionSite early.
Matt: Yes, man. I still remember being at that very first Groundbreak and you walked out-- [crosstalk]
John: Yes, that's where it was.
Matt: Although I did not know that you were two months into your job at that point, you were really doing a good job of faking it until you make it.
John: Fake it till you make it.
Matt: Couldn't tell that you were brand new on the OpTech job. Yes, that was Groundbreak 2017 maybe? 2018? Maybe 2018.
John: It might have been 2017, man.
Matt: I don't know. That was our first trade show ever.
John: I think it was 2017. I laughed at you right at the beginning.
Matt: You touched on it like that was one very specific example where you had a nightmare RFI where you're trying to stitch together eight pictures to talk about something you could have talked about in one. Tell us a little bit more about life before StructionSite. I know that was probably a really dark time for you, things are very sad. You didn't have me and Chris in your life, so things were probably terrible. I understand. What's life like before StructionSite and before you have a little bit of that in addition to that RFI experience was?
John: Yes. If we back up all the way to when I was an intern, and that was when people were having digital cameras on a job site with SD cards that were this big and not that big to fit a little one in there. They were the giant SD cards. Photos never made off there. They literally never got off those SD cards. Who knows where they are today and where is image 00001.
John: Yes, .JPEG. IMG0001.JPEG. They say go take pictures and it's like, "Okay, we'll take pictures," but where are they stored? How is it organized? It was just like, "Hey, digital pictures exist, we should be taking those in construction." There is no process around how to do it, how to organize it, where they're stored. Eventually, it comes to service that solves that problem, and that was that third-party service. They came and took pictures as we scheduled them to.
It worked for a while, but we had issues with that too. Mainly, with scheduling and getting people to the job as we needed them because we'd finished something and it's like, "Okay, well, they need to come in and sheetrock that immediately." There wasn't that time, that buffer time to schedule and get someone out there. It's just one more thing to do of scheduling and keeping up with, Did they come? Did they not? Am I good to go?" Because they'd also have some lag time to getting the photos uploaded to where we could see them. Do we know that they're uploaded and they have them?
Probably the biggest thing was finding out that they had missed areas due to a scheduling conflict on our side or from-- Well, the last time they told me, it was that they accidently took pictures over the pictures on a project the next Monday. They came and took pictures on Friday of an area and then that photographer went and took pictures on another job and overwrote the card. They're like, "We'll come back and take those pictures." I'm like, "Yes, we've already moved past that, we poured concrete." We don't just undo concrete pours to take pictures of all the rebar now. It's over, we missed the opportunity.
Matt: One thing we like to think about here too, just to poke at that for a minute and pull on that thread is like, what's the impact to that? Either don't have the data, it's not available, or you can't find it, what happens when that's the case? Because I think it's easy to think about like, "Hey, it's great to have a record of what has happened and when, but what's the impact of not having that?
John: Kind of gets me into a story.
Matt: Oh, we love those.
John: Storytime. Our first project that we did with StructionSite, it was a small, little building. We're testing out. It was in Dallas in the farmer's market area. We had gotten to our second elevated pour, and the engineer comes out and says, "Hey, y'all are missing this on the pour." We're like, "Oh my gosh, did we include that on the last pour too?" The engineer goes, "Yes. Yes, I saw it. You're good." They're like, "Well, let's go back and check," because we took photos this time.
We went and looked at the photos, saw they weren't there. Then we're able to write the RFI, get the problem solved because we attack issues. We don't want to wait for them to come up later on so we attacked the issue, got the RFI solved. It costs a subcontractor a lot of money because he forgot it but it probably could have caused more damage and stuff later on. That's where using the photos during construction, we were able to get something solved during construction rather before we got to the top out and started getting all these weird cracks and things.
Not having that capture, we would have either relied on the guy who said, "No, I saw it," and then had issues later on down the road, or we probably would have had to go on an x-rayed every single location where that should have been to see if it was there. That's tons of money. Simple 360 camera can do it a lot for a job site and it's that peace of mind.
Chris: Yes. Those issues only compound, they just get bigger and bigger, the later and the later you get. I love that idea. It was just like, "Hey, we got to attack this issue." I love that phrase, even now, we're not going to wait around for this to be some huge problem for us down the road. We know that we got to figure this out, let's go figure it out now before it becomes a problem. The idea that you actually have some tools in place that can help you with that is cool. I feel a little bit bad for that subcontractor, but ultimately, don't forget to put that in.
John: Yes. Better to learn the lesson in the beginning of the project than to do it wrong the whole way through.
Chris: Yes, totally. That's a good story. Thank you.
Matt: Let's switch gears here. I feel like this is a topic that is near and dear to Chris's heart as our head of customer success, which is adoption. You're the operations technology leader at the company. This is probably one of your biggest challenges is not just bringing a new piece of technology to the field, but actually getting people to use it. Take us through what that process looked like for StructionSite.
What were some of the bumps in the road that you hit? How were you able to overcome those, and ultimately, operationalize this technology as something you guys are using across all your projects?
John: Initial rollout. I picked a couple of champions that were just go-getters with new things. I put 360 cameras in their hands and let them loose. We talked, "Okay, let's do this, this, this, and this." He laid out some ideas and we've just let them run with it. Having those champions let other people to go, "Okay, I want that too, what do I need to do to be successful with that?" That was the grassroots initiative to it. Then we had to get to a more systematic way of capturing.
That's where with Procore, we use inspections, that's pre-pour inspections, pre-rock inspections all the way through. At the bottom of every inspection, it says, "Did you take your 360 photo using StructionSite?" Every single inspection. It reminds people, "I need to go in and take that picture." They can't check that off without saving the picture because if I pull up that report and there's not a picture of that area, then they're pencil whipping it. StructionSite is now our way of stamping your name to that inspection. "Hey, I went in and did this inspection. Here's the 360 photo of all those things done correctly." It put a process to it. I think that's what you have to do.
Now, for getting people from taking photos on their iPhone Camera Roll and putting those into StructionSite, that is a daily battle, daily battle. Because some people, they don't think that it's going to be important. That one picture they took isn't going to be important later so why do I need to add it? But it is important. It possibly will be important to see that specific day of how some flashing was installed in the area because maybe there was water on it and they're wondering why mold grew there. Every picture is important to us and that's where our now big push is is to getting every picture on StructionSite no matter what.
Chris: Do you think your staff are figuring that out now? That's definitely a big part of adoption for us is really getting the people that are taking the photos to understand that there's value there. The process is valuable. Until you have that aha moment, it feels like an extra task until all of a sudden, you're using it for some coordination meeting or you're like, "Oh, shoot, that photo that I took actually is helping us figure something out." Do you feel like that's starting to stick with the folks that are there or is a slow process or--
John: Yes. The cool thing about construction is one of the first things we do is concrete and you can't erase concrete, you can sheetrock, just "Hey, is that there?" Old school way is just hammering the walls, look at if it's there, cables, patch it. You can't do that with concrete very easily and so the cool part is we take those pictures for StructionSite with concrete first and people see that value of, oh, I need to go back and look at that to see if we got that there, or is that embedded in place, or did the PT cables-- Actually a big one is electrical boxes. How the conduits run under the concrete people would be fishing, fish tape through those and trying to figure out where it popped up.
We follow electrical lines a ton of times in the slab. People see those benefits early on in the job site and because every time it's a new project, I don't care who you are, You're going to always forget how to do things. Just having to do it. You didn't do it for two years now. It's starting back over. You see the value again. Here's why I'm doing it. Pouring concrete in the beginning. Definitely makes it stick in their heads that they needed to capture stuff because you just can't erase it.
Matt: How much was creating a top down standard operating procedure and getting a bottoms up groundswell from the team where people are realizing like, whoa, this is something that actually is making my job better and pushing it bottoms up. What's the mix of those two things.
John: It was pretty even probably more so because I was pushing hard. I was like, this is super cool. We need to use it. Then there's the field guys where they're also like-- There's some guys that were like, this is awesome. You had the naysayers who were like, no, it was awesome. I could just have someone else do it for me. There are always going to be those people, oh, this is change. It's changed to me having to do something, but StructionSite makes it so easy that you literally just walk around with a camera and you're taking the pictures.
You got to walk in those units anyways, you might as well take a picture. Yes, it was both top down and bottom up, but the bottom up it's a little tougher because you have to find your champions. You have to find the people that are good at adopting things and sticking to it. That's the biggest thing is anyone can try something, but can they stick to it? You got to just push on and continue going with it.
Chris: Where do you see that headed? I'm take a little bit of a different turn here. It's super easy, but there are definitely going to be some advancements there, like we are always keeping our fingers on the pulse of autonomous capture and obviously anything that minimizes the amount of work that folks have to do and get the same value from it is a huge opportunity. Like where do you see that going?
John: That's a fun one for me, passive versus active capture because once you get to passive capture, you can start analyzing things safety and stuff like that too. When you're actively walking through with the camera, people tend to be a little safer, but hopefully that robot dog, when it walks by you probably looking at it right now, but are you looking at it and changing what you're doing or are you just looking at it because that's cool? We'll see.
I definitely want to get to the point and I believe we're on our way of just passive capture, constantly feeding the job site. It's really critical for us at the main office to see what's going on on the job sites, to know where they're at, to know what's starting, what's where there's paused work. Be able to check and make sure like they're using the right materials, just everything right for schedule.
I think COVID taught us a lot about virtual work and remote work and how do we stay up to jobs when we can't go onto a job? How do you just basically keep up with everything? My dad, he's a little weird sometimes and you might have to cut at that, but my dad will often think about construction tech in a way of if he were ever in a wheelchair, if you ever gotten a car wreck and had to be in a wheelchair, how would he continue to do his job?
StructionSite's one of those things where if you have that on your project, you can see everywhere in your project, because job sites aren't really wheelchair accessible. You can still walk the job, see what's going on, manage your schedule and that technology is going to allow our people to work on more projects. Superintendent can be on multiple projects now because he can see both projects, as long as there's daily capture, at least weekly capture, you start growing in a way that you couldn't before.
Chris: Yes. We talk a lot about that. I feel like I don't necessarily want to get too far off topic, but with labor shortages and being able to be in more places, making sure that your A team is on as many projects as possible. Like it's going to require that level of remote functionality to some degree.
John: Yes. Well, in Texas, in Dallas alone, we're supposed to double the size of Dallas or DFW by 2030 or something like that. Seems ridiculous in 8-10 years, you're going to double the size of an entire city, but that's with construction and we're going to have to build stuff. It's not you're going to have every [unintelligible 00:25:08] or all these companies just start hiring a bunch of other contractors. There's a limited number of people that are doing this, because those people that are moving here are going to be doing other things. How do you get more efficient at building in order to continue to stay up with the increasing demand for construction?
Chris: We've heard some pretty interesting things. Matt and I have been out and about traveling around for the last six months or so. We've heard some really interesting things. I think Matt, you've been talking a little bit about having an office-based project management team. It's got StructionSite and Procore or whatever construction management app you've got and it's like, you're managing it from a control center almost is some of the things.
Matt: This is Warren, your John's dad was actually one of the first people to ever pitch me on this idea of the super who's managing multiple projects with all these different technologies at their fingertips. Giving the people that have the knowledge, the superpower of being on multiple jobs and having enough stuff coming in now that you could actually do that.
I think it's going to be really-- We watched VDC as a function emerge in the past maybe decade or so maybe longer. I don't know how you feel about this, John. Do you see maybe another emergence almost of a function within a company that is kind of what your dad is describing, where you have a team of people who are looking for more flexibility in the workspace can't necessarily or don't want to be necessarily on the job site every single day?
This is an onsite industry. We'll never go away from not being on the job site ever, but how can we supplement that with another way of bringing the job site into the office so that ultimately you guys, as a builder, in order to meet that demand of DFW grown 2X-ing itself in a decade with are you going to get 2X the amount of people? I think that's the point you were making. You won't. The people that move there, won't all decide to show up and work in construction. You'll have to find ways of scaling up your company without scaling up your headcount one to one. Maybe talk about that for a minute, because it sounds like you guys have a plan and some ideas, how were you guys thinking about it?
John: We obviously are seeing as a lean, like we're on a lean journey. That's cliche [unintelligible 00:27:28] to say, but everyone says they're on a lean journey and in our lean journey we're thinking about that. We're thinking about how to centralize some of these jobs to where you can work on multiple things, submittal review. Why are we having guys that are going two years from now, they're going to go back and do the same submittal review.
They're doing concrete submittals today and then their job gets to framing and plumbing and finishes out. Then they start over again on their next project two years from now. They forget what they're looking at. It's something that they have to learn new versus something that you do every day. What are those things that we can do in construction that we do that you don't do every single day, maybe it's MEP review or framing inspections, those things where someone that does that often and it is really good at it. How do you empower that person to do that across more projects in more geographical locations?
Submittals is one, but just reviewing things for, hey, is this done right? Did we over boar all these holes for the plumbing so that the plumbing's not going to crack? That kind of thing can be done with pictures. That's where the passive daily capture where Spot robot dog is running around our jobs and feeding us all this information we're going to get to. I'm pretty excited about it. I think being able to have, well, one, it lowers your overhead because you're able to have fewer guys that are on that job. You're able to build people that are in the office at 50% of that job versus a 100% of that job. We can actually lower our overhead and become even more competitive in the market. Yes, we're excited.
Chris: It's crazy. How many inefficiencies there are. We talk a lot at StructionSite just about, I think Matt calls it the silent killer of just super inefficient. We're walking to the job site again, we're driving to the job site again. Like how much time there, isn't just like moving from point A to point B versus having a command center. Where you have access all this information right in front of you and you don't actually have to walk back over or whatever.
It's crazy to me, how much just COVID has actually inspired us in this weird way. One of the real benefits was actually we can do a lot of this stuff remotely. It actually fueled a lot of this. I think one of the boons to our business was COVID, it's such a weird thing to say, but it got people thinking we can actually do this for, yes. I really like the idea of a control center or a command center, like I'm right here. I can see what's happening, if you're doing daily capture, there's so much you could do just very next morning, or at the end of the day, when you're just seeing everything that was put in place or whatever. I just think it's just the world just changed a lot over the last few years. I think it's really inspired a lot of change there.
John: You can make people that are new to the industry pretty powerful with StructionSite in that control center way of, if you have the 3D model there, and you have daily capture, and now you can see, yesterday, they installed off the model, and if that daily capture, you've got a remote person that's able to follow where construction is they have on top of all that stuff. You don't have to be a 20-year veteran, you can be fresh out of college and go, "Hey, that's not for-
Matt: That doesn't look right.
John: That doesn't look right. Raise the flag, and then let the guys that are on-site solve it. The biggest thing I'm seeing now is the guys on site, we shouldn't waste their time finding the issues, they should spend their time solving the issues, and how can we support with technology to find issues and put it into their hands to go solve? Because I've said before, we need to take the emotion out of construction, keep passionate, but take the emotion out. Because if you've been on a job site there's always going to be a heated conversation between someone.
It's just a bunch of guys and girls out there, just it's a different world. Personality conflicts happen, and how do you work around personality conflicts? Someone might think that you're picking on them for finding these issues too often, "Hey, you're being too picky here, and this other job site doesn't do that." Take the emotion out, "Hey, this third party or this guy that's off-site, I don't even know him, gave me this list of all the things you need to do, I'm going to on follow-up and make sure you get that list done." It's so much easier to have that relationship with the person on-site when you're fighting that common enemy that's far away.
Matt: They found all your problems, but they're not there on the job site.
John: Someone else did this, it's not me, but let's get them fixed. It's a lot easier to have that thing than, "Hey, I found 20 things you did wrong. I can't believe you did this wrong, you need to fix them right now." It's a totally different relationship you have with someone when you're just saying, "Hey, here's what I'm being told that's wrong and we need to get these fixed," versus, "I found this stuff that you did wrong." Because immediately they're going to put up a wall. It's how we've done construction for a long time, and those walls get put up. People do a good job managing those relationships and managing through those differentiations of people's personalities, but it's got to be easier.
Chris: It wasn't even looking for it. StructionSite, I just found it.
Matt: It's the computer's fault.
Chris: [laughs] It's true, though, isn't it a little bit? Look, this is how it's supposed to get built, this was the plan. Here's what actually got built, this is incorrect. Don't kill the messenger, man. StructionSite found it or whatever, it's wrong, attack the issue, fix it. See how I'm incorporating that. I told you, I really liked that phrase.
John: Attack the issue not the person.
Chris: I'm going to start teaching my kids, attack your homework.
Matt: When the issue was broccoli on your plate, then just attack the issue.
Chris: Attack the broccoli.
John: Not a dad. I got the dad jokes, not the dad experience.
Chris: I know we're early in our podcasting career Matt, but I certainly would not have expected us to get to attack the broccoli this early, unexpected.
Matt: It's all up from here, Chris, it's all up from here. Attack the issues sometimes, not the person sometimes if you're a three-year-old, the issue might be vegetables.
John: Then you attack the person.
Chris: It very often is. Honestly, I think this is a really interesting point that you bring up John because it really is, we spend so much time fighting each other when really what we're trying to do is just build the dang thing the way it was planned to be built. I love this idea of just resolution between plan and actual. We want to get as close to that as we can. We want the thing to look as close to the plan as it possibly can. Don't yell at me, man, you put the pipe eight inches too high. It's not you delivering that information at some point in the future, it's StructionSite found that you're eight inches out, this is a thing, you got to deal with it.
I'm not mad at you. You didn't steal my girlfriend, I'm just trying to tell you the pipe is not in the right dang place, fix it. I feel like a lot of this, in a weird way takes, you're right, it really takes the emotion out of it, it takes the personal out of it and allows you to just get stuff done faster and minimize the total amount of crap you got to fix later on.
John: When you come with something you found, there's an excuse, "I'm not done yet, I wasn't done yet, I was still working that
Chris: Spot ate my homework.
John: Yes, [chuckles] Spot ate my homework. We do a lot of wood frame construction, they miss putting a door in, it's like, when it's all wood, you can walk through that wall, you can get to that room and stuff, but then some third party person says, "Hey, you forgot to put your door in there." If I was on the site and said, "Hey, you need to cut a door here." "I'm not done yet with that area." They might literally forget that they have to do that, and be something to do a little late, but their excuse is going to be, "Oh, I'm not done that area yet." If you have a list now someone that's back in the main offices say, "Hey, look, here's something you need to track," versus it just being back of mind on the job site.
Chris: I still don't see the door, I still don't see a door, I see you moving out, there's no door.
John: It's just something to track.
Chris: Intelligent project tracking is what it sounds like to me.
John: It does sound like that.
Chris: What do you think about that, Matt? We should hang on to that.
Matt: We're going to try.
Chris: Let's move to Procore. You mentioned that you fell into Procore, I doubt that's true, I'm sure you figured that there was something really useful about it a long time ago, and it's grown with you. I want to know a little bit more, one of my passions at StructionSite to be honest with you is workflow enablement for photo first workflows, things like an RFI, that look, "This pipe is wacky, I want to be able to generate an RFI right inside of a 360 photo." That whole thing that you were talking about earlier could have been so easy with StructionSite, you snap the photo back on your machine, you generate an RFI right in that photo.
It gets logged directly to Procore. Tell us a little bit more about your journey with Procore, where things are working in terms of integrations and where you see some of that going. You're a perfect person to ask this of. I don't think there's a piece of Procore swag that you don't have.
John: I'm pretty Procore. I'm embarrassed I'm not wearing anything Procore today. I won't said we fell into Procore, I say we fell into the fact that they're the best at what they do. We found them early on and helped them, like how we've been alongside you all from an early age standpoint. We're believers in finding tech early and failing fast and failing often, and getting something built that's going to help us and not try to just fit into something. That's another story.
With Procore integration, like I was saying earlier, it's having those pictures that you can speak to in RFI, makes the whole situation of the RFI that much clearer and not having to digest multiple pictures and understand how things go, and just being able to quickly do that from the instruction site. The steps that we're taking away from having to do, take this picture, download it here, save it here, upload it there. It's just a bunch of steps and people don't do that, because it takes too much time. We're trying to get these answers quickly, and so, StructionSite has been a real help there.
Another cool thing, I don't think about so often is because it's in the cloud, and I'm sitting in the trailer, and I've got a question. This architect's response to an RFI goes, "What does it look like?" Then I don't have a picture of that. You text the superintendent or assistant superintendent and say, "Hey, can you go to room 303 and take a picture of this that we're having this issue on?" They can take on their phone, or on a 360 camera, upload it, and then I can go full link and attach it right there.
Again, that's where you get into that control center deal. The guy who's writing the RFI doesn't also need to be the person that's going out to the field to take a picture. It's a team environment in construction, which is something that's really cool about construction is it is a team, so relying on your other team members to help you capture that stuff, it's wasting time to stop writing the RFI, go out to the field, take a picture, get back out. If you've got a material hoist that you have to wait on, it can be, we track that stuff.
Average time is about 10-minute wait time on a hoist on one of our 40-story buildings, so the lower ones, maybe it's a six-minute wait time, six minutes to get up and go take a picture and six minutes to go down, plus the walking time between, you're talking probably 20 minutes, 30 minutes for your project. Just go take a picture, versus someone who's already there, "Hey, just take it, put in the cloud, bada bing bada boom, that's a soundbite.
John: That's been a game-changer, something that you couldn't do with a third party, and you couldn't do with just regular old digital camera. iPhones and the cloud with StructionSite has changed how we do things.
Matt: What about, you mentioned earlier 3D model integration, basically saying there's a side by side thing you guys have going on, obviously, we've got an integration there too, what are you guys doing with that? What's been the feedback from it? We'd love to hear any good stories you have there.
John: That's probably the coolest integration out there, definitely one of the coolest and very, very, very powerful. We've rolled it out on a project down in Houston, and immediately, it was actually really funny, we're doing just a demo, I looked at something, I was like, "Wait, that sleeve is going this way, why is this happening?" I was able to go and talk to VDC and there's actually a clash after the fact and the floor that had been signed off. You can see that it was actually causing an issue in the field where they didn't know what to do.
There wasn't an RFI on it, and I was actually able to alert it to the product team for a demo before they even caught it in the field, before anyone raised their hand on the field and found it. It was actually something that was caused because they didn't model something correctly, and then when they sent their final model in, we included it, but didn't reflash it, but then I was able to show VDC, "Hey, look, there's this issue, and it's going to repeat on every floor, let's make sure we clash against it."
Luckily we caught it two floors behind where they were, so 40-something story building there's some real-time savings by catching yourself before you do it 40 times. It's just so cool that you have that. I wasn't even involved in the project, I had no project experience on that project to know what their drawings are about, to know how things interacted, and the outsider looking in was able to raise the flag and say, "Look, there's something going on here. What is it, let's fix it, so we get better." That makes it so powerful.
We've got people that are coming out of college that have zero construction experience, and they're going from 2D drawings or some other whole trade or something where they didn't know what a drawing was, and these people we're relying on them to go and find errors and things. Now you give them a model, the model is great, you can go and look at the model, but then you have to still look and compare and go, "What is that? What is this? What is that?" How its structured inside, if you just take the picture right there, you can actually see it side by side, it's way easier to do side-by-side comparison than it is to do this or even trying to hold the iPad up and do the thing.
Congrats Procore that that is an awesome tool, Dave McCool over there, shout out, awesome, awesome tool, but I think StructionSite definitely takes it a step further by being able to line those up side by side.
Matt: That's awesome. We're going to see more and more of that and it feels like the foundation of what we're talking about with respect to how do you get more people into this field that can help and that can move the needle, and that can help you guys scale your business without having to have a 20-year vet to do every new project. I think we're pretty excited about that, as well, and obviously, lots more to come in that vein. Chris, other questions you've got related to the Procore stuff?
Chris: No, I think, obviously, we're super excited about continuing to integrate, we're a part of a bigger workflow, and so, it's really critical for us to continue to think about how we move data freely from system to system. I think one of the things that really defines us is our openness and our willingness to partner with other organizations and other tools to make sure that data is flowing freely, and that we're really facilitating workflows and helping to minimize duplicate entry, things like that. I'm excited to see, obviously always excited to hear that that's really making an impact and that those integrations are working for you.
No, I don't think so. Actually only have about five minutes left, it's hard to believe we've been cruising along. Time flies when you're having fun, I guess or when you're attacking broccoli.
Chris: I want to talk about results a little bit. I know that one of the things that we want to try to get after here is really, ultimately figuring out where the rubber meets the road for you guys and where the value is that we're driving. I'd love to just ask you, where does the rubber meet the road for you guys? Where are we actually providing impact? I think touched on it a little bit, but anything else you want to talk about there would be super helpful.
John: I think something important to remember is that the photos have immediate impact into what happened last week before we covered it up, and then they're also going to have the long-term impact of, the owner is selling the building and you want to make sure things are waterproofed correctly, or this latent defect comes up, and I want to make sure I have documentation of everywhere that defect possibly could have occurred so that it doesn't compound and they say, "This water leak, this window, you've got 500 windows, and we don't have pictures of it flashed properly, so cost $1,000 window, $500,000, pay me."
We've had a few projects where we, let's just say we wish we had StructionSite on after the fact, it would have been something to just say, "Here you go. We know we did everything correctly, and we have that confidence," because we can see it. Versus relying on someone saying, "No, we did it correctly and we had people come out and look at that it was done correctly."
Like I said earlier, we had an engineer come out of the site and he thought that we had done it correctly just the previous four days. Now you're going to try to say, a year, five years, seven years down the line, "Oh, we did that correctly?" No, you got to have the pictures, so we definitely, that's our return on investment is our peace of mind. It's very, very difficult, especially in Texas, we have a 10-year statute of repose, so latent defects for up to 10 years. We've got to be able to prove that we did it right, and 10 years is a long time to sleep well at night. My dad is the risk manager and he's very happy to having these pictures, knowing that he can go back and look at anything anytime.
Matt: 10 years of good sleep. You heard it here first.
John: Then after that nightmares, because you don't have anymore pictures.
Chris: We have a final question for you. How are you, and Andres Construction built different?
John: Oof. I'm a little heavyset.
John: That's how I'm built different. [chuckles] I would say at Andres, we're built different by our technology adoption, and just by our culture, like I said, we're fast to implement things because we want to fail fast so that we can learn fast. I don't think there's anything wrong in saying that, we want to figure out how to do things the best way, and the only way to do that is to fail and fail quickly. I'd say technology implementation and culture, the culture of implementing technology is something that you don't see everywhere.
If any of our employees are watching this, I'm sorry that I sometimes put a lot on your plate, and I give you a bunch of stuff, but it's bettering the company. I think a lot of our employees see that. We're an employee-owned company now, 100% employee-owned.
When I tell our guys is the only way to increase the value of our company is to continue to be profitable, and the only way to be profitable is to make sure that we don't have losses, and the only want to make sure they don't have losses is to make sure we document everything correctly and follow these processes that we've implemented, which is going to lead them on to a really great retirement. It's that family culture, and we're not afraid to implement something that we see that there's going to be value.
Chris: That's awesome, man.
Matt: That's the startup way, and in a way maybe this existed well well ahead of Silicon Valley as a way of life and a way of running maybe a business or thinking about things but it's maybe build, measure, learn is what you would call that in the startup world. It is just about fast iteration, you can say fail fast, learn fast. You can call it whatever you want, but I think you're on the right track if that's the approach because it's all about what you learn and how you do the next one better. It sounds like we're doubling the size of the DFW Metroplex in the next decade you're going to be doing a lot of learning and a lot of growing in the next decade.
John: Of course, it's great fun, construction is always fun.
Chris: Thanks John. I think this is a wrap for this Built Different Podcast. Want to thank you, John, for joining us, super insightful as always, and enjoyable. Love attack the issue, I want this to be the attack the issue episode. Thanks so much. We're happy to have you on and have you share some of your thoughts with us.
John: Thanks for having me.
Chris: Built Different is brought to you by StructionSite. To find out more about us head to structionsite.com.
Matt: Make sure to search for Built Different in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen. Click follow so you don't miss out on any future episodes.
Chris: On behalf of everyone here at StructionSite, thanks for listening.
[00:49:37] [END OF AUDIO]