Mann’s Construction is a family-owned general construction business founded by Stephen Mann in 1999. His daughter, Katrina Owens, joined the company at its inception right out of college and she and her father handle most of the estimating and project management for the small firm’s large construction projects.
Based in Monroe, Louisiana, this $20 to $25 million company has approximately 30 employees performing commercial construction projects in the state of Louisiana, as well as portions of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. For years, Owens and her father performed takeoffs and estimates with pencil and paper. The most technology they used was a calculator and a digitizer pen.
The firm had always been fairly competitive in the estimating and bid market, but their overhead was increasing and they knew technology would help them better manage their time. After evaluating a number of solutions, they selected Maxwell Systems ProContractorMX for seamless takeoff and estimating.
Mann’s Construction is using ProContractorMX for digital takeoff of electronic plans and digitized takeoff for handling traditional blueprints. “We have reduced our takeoff time from 2 weeks to just 4 or 5 days now depending on the size of the job,” says Owens. “And the takeoffs are much more accurate. The software gives me a way to track every item that I takeoff, so if I’m taking off concrete, I know every square inch of concrete I took off. There is no question of whether I picked it up in the estimate.”
Owens also uses ProContractorMX Earthwork to measure cut and fill quantities quickly and accurately.
Verifying accuracy is critical to the type of work Mann’s performs. “At the time we purchased ProContractorMX, we really liked the Visual Assembly feature,” explains Owens. “It is so user-friendly and a lot easier to use than other products out there.”
ProContractorMX’s Visual Assemblies and verification features provide a comprehensive graphical checklist of individual cost items that are stored within the firm’s database and help develop an estimate from one takeoff measurement. Previously, Owens explained that they lacked the confidence that they would pick up all the rebar or footings because they were looking at numbers on paper versus a 3D visual diagram of the object being estimated.
As projects are won, the handoff to the project manager has become much more streamlined. Previously, piles of paper would be handed over to the project manager who would have to dig through the paper files to figure out where to go from there. “We knew what was going on, but there was a lot of paperwork being circulated and we always ran the risk of losing documents even if we made multiple copies,” says Owens. “Now, being able to go into ProContractorMX and easily find information is a definite plus.”
As a small company managing large-scale jobs, effective project management is essential for Mann’s Construction to build quality projects, on time, and make a reasonable profit. The contractor leverages Maxwell’s web-based Construction Project Management (CPM) solution to provide seamless capabilities for bidding, budgeting, scheduling, field reporting, documents, resources, cost control, and more. Owens and her dad can view up-to-the-minute schedules and information to help keep their jobs on track.
“CPM is a great solution to manage any project,” says Owens. “We run everything from the bidding side where we send out and track bid invitations to all of our subcontractors to processing daily field reports, purchase orders, submittals, change orders, and much more. It has improved managing projects tremendously because there is never a question of whether something was sent or not or has been approved.”
She adds: “The submittal tracking in ProContractorMX is a dream. Before, we handled the transmittals and submittals through our accounting software, but it didn’t track dates, so we didn’t know when things came in or went out. A lot of things would fall through the cracks. Now, we have so much information that it is hard for anything to get lost. It has truly simplified our lives and has helped us to manage the amount of work we have much more profitably.”
ProContractorMX also helps the general contractor efficiently handle the workflow associated with change orders—preventing costly mistakes and capturing potential opportunities for profit. In the past, Owens would email out change order requests to all those who were directly affected by the change and would have to wait until all the numbers were received before putting it back in the accounting system. Now, she can simply go into the cost issue in ProContractorMX and send it to all appropriate parties. “All I have to do is click a button and it automatically creates a request for quotes. I can send it from there and the subcontractors can use the attached form to reply back. It helps prevent change orders from slipping through the cracks and ensures we bill for every change.”
“ProContractorMX has helped us become a lot more competitive in the bid market,” Owens concludes. “My bid record now compared to before using the software is much more successful. Right now, with the economy the way that it is, you have to make sure you pick up everything because you are bidding at much lower profit margins. ProContractorMX has also allowed us to retain one estimator instead of two or three and one project manager versus three or four if we were using the manual processes for the same level of work. The software has empowered us to bid more accurately, keep our overhead down, and be more competitive on larger scale projects.” ■
About The Author:
Mike Gillum, director of product management at Maxwell Systems, headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, can be reached at or at 800.688.8226. For more information on Maxwell Systems, visit
Modern Contractor Solutions, December 2013
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