Challenge: Commercial construction clients have specific schedules and tight deadlines. To provide the highest level of quality, Oakwood must continually evaluate and streamline their workflow. That includes selecting easy-to-use software that minimizes the time and effort spent creating estimates.
Solution: Oakwood continues to leverage Sigma for estimating because of the significant man-hours saved, features like templates and quick libraries, and short learning curve.
Founded in 1982, Oakwood Contractors, Inc. is a Chicago-area contractor that primarily specializes in carpentry for commercial, retail, and healthcare cases.
“Our work is compiled of a wide range of cases from locker rooms, dramatic entrances, to healthcare offices.” explains Matthew Morck, estimator and third-generation employee at Oakwood. “The company has been around since the ‘80s. My grandfather actually started it in his garage.”
Past cases include the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks locker room installation and a gut/remodel of the eleventh floor of Chicago’s Willis Tower. While Oakwood is primarily a subcontractor, they also do general contracting cases. “We actually are working on one right now, a pizzeria.”
One key differentiator that sets Oakwood apart from competitors in the construction industry is their focus on building long-lasting relationships. They have achieved extremely low staff turnover, with the average employee tenure at the firm lasting 15 years. They also pride themselves on maintaining a relentless attention to detail.
Those attributes make their way into every aspect of the business, including the choice of third-party software used to build an efficient workflow.
Why choose Sigma?
Oakwood continues to use Sigma because it eliminates the math involved with making estimates. “It does the math for you and that definitely saves a lot of man-hours,” Matt said.
Matt appreciates how easy it is to make quick changes to the estimate and determine the updated cost. “Clients can ask me how much it would be to put this specific product in. I’m able to go back into Sigma, go to that specific item, and tell them exactly what they need for it.”
Matt spends about 90% of his time behind a computer. He takes advantage of Oakwood’s finely-tuned workflow, which leverages several different third-party applications, including Sigma.
Information from Sigma easily integrates with the other applications Oakwood uses. “I go from one program to the other. Sigma streamlines the cost of it because it shows me in a quick, efficient way how much it’s going to be. Plus, because the interface is almost identical to Microsoft Excel, it was easy for me to understand.”
Would Oakwook Contractors recommend Sigma?
“Of course,” Matt said. “For someone to learn it quickly to be able to do their job, it’s definitely possible. If you really want an easy software to use, something that doesn’t get too complicated, this is something I’d recommend.” Matt explained the value of the time he’s saved using Sigma. “For a commercial contracting business, it’s something that I think definitely is cost effective. It pays for itself with one job.”
Support and features
“I like that I can see my summary, my labors, and my materials. [Sigma] can break down my labor into hours per line item per category. It can separate it all,” Matt explained, highlighting some of the features he leverages the most in Sigma. “I use the templates all the time. We built a template to use for breakouts of our work. We’re able to drag and drop the parts we’re doing into each category.”
Additionally, he points out how he saves time by using quick libraries. “That’s super nice to have. I like that I’m able to set up a quick library where I can set up labor hours for specific duties (i.e. shelving, base cabinets, upper cabinets, It can streamline the rest of your case.”
Matt says Sigma is even helpful with preventing mistakes. It’s able to validate the case, detect issues automatically, and throw up a red flag because it’s built specifically for estimates.
“If something doesn’t work right, the validation will tell you that something’s wrong,” Matt said. “Say I needed to put FRP in a kitchen and I forgot to input the dimensions. Or, if I put a unit in the quantity column, it would just tell me. If something didn’t work specifically, it would tell you what’s wrong and then you can correct it from there.”
Matt also appreciates how responsive the team at Sigma is in terms of support. “I think their customer service is really great. You can get in contact with a human being very quickly. It’s really easy for me to get some answers.” He usually contacts the support team to ask if it’s possible to perform certain tasks. “You can change the price of your whole case with one quick correction. I called and I was able to get a response without hassle.”
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