DD# 74: Notes from the Floor, World of Concrete 2015

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DD# 74: Notes from the Floor, World of Concrete 2015

A first-rate trade show such as World of Concrete in Las Vegas is one of the better investments we think a company can make. It’s an excellent opportunity to plug in to the latest and greatest tools, equipment, and technology that shape our industry. This year marks the 4th year of continued growth in attendance, coinciding with the continuing economic recovery in construction.

I spent most of my time in the technology section, (no surprise), in the Central Hall of the Convention Center. I was primarily interested in what our partners were doing, as well in checking out the show as a whole. It’s a daunting task to take in an exhibition of this size. Over a thousand vendors are displaying their best products, a dizzying array of attractions simultaneously competing for your attention. I attended only 2 days of the 4 day show this year, a shorter commando campaign compared to the full meal deal of past years. Back then I stayed the entire duration, affording the opportunity to take advantage of some of the excellent educational seminars on estimating, business management, and team-building, to name a few.

World of Concrete

Some quick highlights from the floor:

  • ProEst’s CEO Jeff Gerardi tells us ProEst added 390 new companies in 2014, its best year since being founded in 1978. One reason for their strong growth is that they’re listening to their customers, an all-too-rare attribute of construction software companies. The goal for this year’s release is to improve performance and make the software more user-friendly, according to Flavio Baltan, ProEst’s new lead software engineer. Specifics as to exactly what’s to be included wasn’t revealed. However, Manny Gonzalez, 30-year General Contracting veteran turned ProEst’s new database guru, is finishing up new Concrete and GC databases that will be included in the upcoming 2015 release.
  • Dave Moyer, AboutTime Technologies‘ Sales VP drew good crowds with his WorkMax presentations at the show. WorkMax is a powerful, easily-configured web app, that sets up quickly and offers an efficient, high-horsepower solution for contractors looking to get off paper or spreadsheet-based timesheets. The current AboutTime program is a great time capture tool, but we are even more excited about the elegance, power, and simplicity of WorkMax. CEO Mike Merrill expects the release early in the second quarter of this year.
  • Viewpoint continues its growth in the ERP sector of construction technology with the addition of ProContractor (formerly Maxwell), an all-in-one estimating, project-tracking, and accounting solution aimed at the smaller GC / Specialty Contractor market. I met & talked with Bruce Kenney, who joined Viewpoint last August as VP of Global Product Development. He’s excited about another acquisition that Viewpoint has made of an innovative new product from Wales. I spent some time with Jeff Hix checking out Viewpoint For Mobile (VFM), and also with Viewpoint Project Collaboration (VPC). Both are focused on improving the Operations side of the business, offering more efficient field data management (VFM) and smoothing workflow, BIM tracking, and project management, (VPC). One way CEO Jay Haladay is keeping up with Viewpoint’s meteoric growth is by nearly doubling its office footprint with new space across from the current offices on Water Avenue in Portland. It will house Viewpoint’s software engineering team in a brand new, state-of-the-art LEED Platnium facility.
  • eTakeoff‘s Bridge, which maps digital Takeoff to Sage Estimating was on display at Sage. Tony Merry of Ledgerwood Associates USA & I experimented with assigning WBS codes to the takeoff items auto-mapped into the estimate. Curtis Peltz and the eTakeoff team are looking to enhance that feature to allow pre-Bridge WBS assignments in an upcoming release.

No trip to World of Concrete is complete without spending time out in the parking lot checking out all the new tools and equipment. If I were still pouring concrete for a living instead of consulting, I would have spent most of my time there, checking out all the advancements in the tools of the trade in the fresh air across from the exhibition halls. Concrete polishers, cutters, manlifts, cranes, screeds, saws, hammer drills, and even bull float handles are all redesigned and refined. At World of Concrete you get hands-on experience running the new tools, and the contractors and tradesmen were out there hammering, drilling, polishing, and taking full advantage of the offerings in the Las Vegas high desert sunshine. Bosch, Hilti, Husqvarna, & Makita were among the larger displays in the acres of gear out on the lot.

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If your company has a concrete crew you should make sure that someone in the company attends this show. The educational seminars are excellent, and it’s a one-stop shopping opportunity for a good look at what’s happening in our industry. Who doesn’t like jumping on a 3-bladed whirlybird after checking out the latest estimating software? And a solid business case for dropping into Las Vegas for a couple days isn’t all bad either, especially in the winter months when our crews typically aren’t going all-out, and it’s cold up North. See you there next year!