Meet Jim Andrews. After spending the last 30 years operating and growing businesses and organizations, many in and around construction and development, Jim purchased American Ironworks & Erectors (AIE), a structural steel erector based in Spokane, WA over 16 years ago. Since then he has expanded AIE throughout the Pacific Northwest working now in the Puget Sound region, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana significantly increasing AIE’s market presence.
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Jim needed to address the pain-points felt by AIE. AIE needed a modern tool to replace its paper-driven management systems to empower more efficient field and project management. Jim found that field functionality was greatly lacking in the construction tech space where software functionality seemed to focus on the office needs first and then forced upon the field. Change that came to AIE and the industry as a result of the economic changes during the last recession, and the ensuing market changes coming out of that recession, is what spurred Jim and AIE to find better and more effective ways of managing processes and workflows. Additionally, most small to midsize subcontractors are dealing with a smaller and less experienced workforce as well as problems with succession planning.
AIE tried to implement a number of existing solutions, but found that the GC centric designs of these solutions and/or their lack of field-friendliness inhibited their adoption and effective use.
It created an environment where AIE was serving the software rather than the software serving the work and workflows of AIE. Jim tried multiple solutions only to find that they demoed very differently than they implemented and functioned. His feeling was that they were over-promising and under-delivering. In addition, most solutions were very GC centric so they were missing the nuances and specific workflows inherent to subcontractors. The needs of the subcontractor market have been incredibly underserved and underrepresented to date. While there are many solutions in the construction space, there are few field management and productivity solutions aimed at labor-driven subcontractors despite the fact that these companies provide the vast majority of the labor and work done in the industry.
After surprisingly finding that nothing met the unique needs of AIE’s labor-driven workforce, Jim Andrews began development of a solution that became SubHQ.
SubHQ, was specifically built to address the pain-points and needs of this underserved subcontractor market because they were also the pain-points and needs of his own company. Field-friendliness was built into SubHQ from its very inception. Based upon his own experiences, Jim made a necessary and conscious decision to focus on field friendliness first. He created the image of a foreman out of a conglomeration of his own foreman and called him “Mack.” Jim repeatedly asked in development “What would Mack do?” in order to hone in on SubHQ’s functionality. It is something that is a core value of SubHQ and will be the question to never stop asking regardless of the feature or technology being implemented. If the field cannot use it intuitively and effectively, then the technology will always be difficult to adopt and can be negatively disruptive in the construction process.
The workflows of subcontractors were either not understood or ignored, so Jim also sought to make sure features and functionality happened within the typical workflows of the project. WIth so many regulatory and compliance issues needing attention in the industry that are in addition to the needed daily requirements and tasks of constructing a project, SubHQ sought to create the workflows in it so that the ancillary requirements could be completed in the context of the recording of natural construction tasks and issues. By building SubHQ this way, all construction elements remain at an equal level of importance to one another and the efficiency of field leadership is greatly enhanced. No longer does safety and quality compliance have to take a back seat to the urgency of today's construction issues.
After successfully implementing SubHQ at AIE and finding quick adoption in the field, Jim found that access to real-time data for all projects company-wide allowed him to effectively take control of his company and address and improve efficiencies and workflows at AIE.
SubHQ was a natural by-product of growing a company that was experiencing growth with projects spread over a large and expanding geographic area. In addition SubHQ was built over a period of time where economies were experiencing times of both growth and recession, in an industry that is experiencing an increasingly smaller workforce, and in an industry that needs to continually address increasing compliance in safety & quality standards.
Jim spoke regularly with other subcontractors in other trades and realized they all share a common set of pain-points and needs. Other subcontractors began to notice their pain-points and needs could be addressed by SubHQ and they began asking Jim how he did it.
With a commitment to labor-driven subcontractors, SubHQ’s field-friendly-first platform allows for better data collection in the field, empowering subcontractors and allowing them to take control of their companies through better management of their projects. After seeing the impact of SubHQ on his own company, Jim stepped down from his role as CEO of AIE and gathered a team to bring SubHQ to other subcontractors who experience the same problems he experienced.
"We built SubHQ because we needed a solution for our own construction company.
We’re sharing it with you because we use it and it works."
Jim Andrews - Founder and CEO of SubHQ
SubHQ was built as a solution before it was ever considered a product.
THE SUBHQ STORY
What hardware devices support the SubHQ software?
SubHQ works on any tablet, smartphone, or desktop device with internet service.
What does “Field-Friendly” mean in the context of the software platform?
SubHQ prides itself on being Field-Friendly First. It was built into SubHQ from its very inception.
We found that field functionality was greatly lacking in the construction tech space where software functionality seemed to focus on the office needs first and then forced upon the field.
Based upon our own experiences, we made a necessary and conscious decision to flip this and focus on field friendliness first.
We created the image of a foreman out of a conglomeration of our own foreman and called him “Mack.” We repeatedly asked in development “What would Mack do?” in order to hone in on SubHQ’s functionality. It is something that is a core value of SubHQ and will be the question we never stop asking regardless of the feature or technology being implemented.
If the field cannot use it intuitively and effectively, then the technology will always be difficult to adopt and can be negatively disruptive in the construction process.
What does “Streamlined” and “Integrated” mean in the context of the platform?
We never want to throw tech jargon your way, but these words by definition truly define what makes our platform unique to subcontractors.
According to the dictionary, the definitions read:
STREAMLINED - Designed or organized to give maximum efficiency, stripped of nonessentials, to bring up to date.
INTEGRATED - Combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole.
In the context of SubHQ, we use these two words often to describe how all of your common workflows are:
1. Rid of nonessential redundant data input which in essence allows for maximum efficiency and a modern up-to-date approach.
2. Integrated in a harmonious way throughout your company operations and workflows. No data gets left behind or isolated. This is a more efficient and less redundant way of working.
We already use software to address Safety, Timesheets, and Change Management. Why do I need more software to do the same?
These are called “Point Solution” software. They address specific points of the job or business. They fall short with data aggregation, integration, and are cumbersome and redundant when it comes to keeping the data they collect in harmony with the rest of your workflows.
In other words, the data will not talk and therefore will require multiple data entry points and redundancy. Using safety, time, and change management workflows in SubHQ and in such a way that ancillary requirements are completed in the context of the recording of natural construction tasks and issues, all construction elements remain at an equal level of importance to one another and the efficiency of field leadership is greatly enhanced. This way, safety compliance, time, change management, etc. is integrated alongside all other important aspects of the project.
In other words, without proper integration of other important aspects of the project (a.k.a. siloed point solutions) isolated data points are created and overall data integrity is diminished.
We process our change management through the GC’s software. How is this any different?
There are several integral elements of subcontractor change document workflows that GC software, or any other software or solution for that matter, simply does not do.
For example, GC centric software along with all other point solution software do not allow for one single data entry point that intuitively and automatically aggregates time and materials, equipment and tools, notes, contract budget changes and more throughout the entire change document workflow and project. They do not make COR and CCP numbers sequential for the subcontractor making it easier to track, and they can be tracked in the office from the field in real time without waiting for the change docs to be submitted via software, to the office, or mailed to the GC at the end of the week.
All data that is inputted in change document workflows must be streamlined and integrated throughout a company’s overall data aggregation processes in order to be maximally efficient.
I am skeptical that technology in the field will be more disruptive than helpful and will not be easily implemented by our field workers and employees. How do I get my field workers to successfully adjust to this change and implementation?
The workflows and data that you are currently capturing in the field will not change for your field workers. It’s how this field data is being captured: Remotely via tablet, smart phone, or computer in a FIELD FRIENDLY WAY.
SubHQ was intuitively built with the nuances of subcontractor workflows and can be configurable to allow your field workers to input their data with ease, without disruption, and without redundancy.
Rather than inputting the same data in multiple locations, or in disconnected and siloed point solution software, field workers only have to input data once in order to connect and streamline all daily field workflows.
Simply put, your field workers will have 50% or more time to do their job and will be ecstatic to focus more on building (what they love) rather than admin paperwork. PLUS all can rest assured that this data will not get lost, tampered with, or corrupted.
What Devices can run SubHQ?
SubHQ can run on any tablet, smartphone, or desktop computer device using internet or cellular data in the field.
How configurable is SubHQ and will it work for our specific needs?
All of the following and more are configurable to your company’s current setup: Cost Codes, Zones, JHAs (Job Hazard Analysis), PTPs (Pre/Post Task Planners), Daily checklists, Bidding and Pre-construction Checklists, contacts, pay rates/classifications, equipment and tools management and types, and more.
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