How NCC leveraged the power of ProEst Cloud.
Before adopting ProEst in 2019, Neagley & Chase estimators were using a competitive product to prepare and submit their project bids. But growing frustration with the software’s outdated database and lack of system maintenance made it clear to Senior Estimator Steve Rollins and the project management team that it was time to go in a different direction. Based on Rollins’ working knowledge of estimating software, combined with an informal online search of available options, the company chose ProEst. Key to the decision was ProEst’s cloud-based platform, a feature that could readily accommodate off-site work and aligned well with Rollins’ personal preferences. Moreover, most of the company’s project files were already in the cloud, and Procore was in place as the company’s online project management solution. The fact that ProEst could link seamlessly with NCC’s other online business applications was an important added benefit.
Even before most Vermont businesses were subject to stay-at-home mandates in the first quarter of 2020, Neagley & Chase was committed to moving their business operations online to whatever extent possible. Their previous experience with an on-premise estimating solution had taught them a valuable lesson: freedom and flexibility for their employees would only be possible with web-based business tools, and being tied to desktop solutions had the very real potential of holding them back. With two multi-million dollar projects on the horizon, the company was confident in their decision to move to the cloud—and as more and more businesses in the region required employees to work from home, the benefits of an online estimating solution became increasingly clear. For Rollins and his co-workers, support for a remote workstyle was at the top of the list.
The main selling point of ProEst was the fact that they’re in the cloud.”
“ProEst fits with the way I like to do things,” said Rollins. “I like to get away from the office and work on my own hours. Going into a cloud-based system makes it so much easier to do that. You can work from home, work from the office, or even on a job site if you wanted to. Now, when I have a few hours of work that I really want to get done on a Sunday afternoon, I can work from home without making the commitment to come into the office.”
As a general contractor, Neagley & Chase takes pride in their ability to react to the market, providing whatever construction expertise that their clients want and need. According to Rollins, that currently means multi-family housing; and while NCC is not a “house builder” per se, they have taken on high-end residential projects in addition to commercial construction, with most awarded projects generally in the $4-5M range. What’s unique about Neagley & Chase, says Rollins, is that their collaborative approach to construction management and design-build projects typically require the preparation of multiple estimates throughout the preconstruction process, modified and refined as the job evolves.
“We do things a bit differently,” explained Rollins. “Most contractors will bid a job, hope they get the job, and when it’s awarded, go build it. That only represents about 25% of our volume. What we do best is negotiated work, where the customer comes to us because of our reputation or a prior relationship.” That’s a process, says Rollins, that requires as many as half a dozen “work in progress” estimates and extensive reporting—moving from a rough concept with very little detail in the earliest stages and progressing through design to a point where NCC can actively solicit and compare subcontractors bids. To that end, Rollins looks forward to working with ProEst’s recently launched Bid Day Analysis, which, he says, “has the potential to be a very useful feature.”
According to Rollins, NCC’s bid review process is supported in important ways by the ProEst online platform; every estimate can be readily viewed onscreen by teams that are working remotely, which is helping to restore the project pipeline and keep timelines on track. “As estimators, we sit down and walk the ownership group and the project manager group through the estimates before they go to the customer,” he said. “Basically, we build a consensus on it. For example, if the project manager thinks we haven’t given him enough time, he needs to speak up right away. We don’t want to hear about it after the project has started. The review process helps to get their buy-in when it’s most useful.”
The ability to review our estimates onscreen has worked very well for us.”
Rollins also appreciates ProEst’s firm commitment to technical and customer service support, especially during the region’s recent business shutdown. As NCC worked toward full ProEst/ Procore integration early in 2020, Rollins was able to rely on uninterrupted web-based consultations and troubleshooting from the ProEst team, even as other subcontractors and suppliers paused or disappeared altogether. “ProEst never missed a beat,” he said. Even for a tech company with all of the right mechanisms in place, said Rollins, the ProEst team went above and beyond to ensure that their needs were met.