Focus Design Builders Adds ProEst to the Mix
Located in Wake Forest, North Carolina, Focus Design Builders is a commercial contracting company that specializes in design-build projects for a variety of private and public sector clients in North Carolina, and throughout the southeast. Founded in 2010, the company has twice been named to the INC 5000 list of fastest-growing companies, is a three-time Triangle Business Journal Fast 50 award-winner and currently has 22 full-time employees. A team of five ProEst users prepare and submit an average of 200 bids a year, generating approximately $35M in annual revenue.
Prior to the adoption of ProEst in the fall of 2019, Focus Design Builders relied on an all-in-one software solution for project estimating, project management and accounting— a product with limited capabilities and lagging updates that couldn’t keep pace with the company’s growth and increasing need for back-end efficiency. The company chose to replace the system with cloud-based Procore and Acumatica software for their project management and accounting needs, and following a brief internet search to determine available options, added ProEst as their estimating component. Although integration of the three products was part of the initial decision-making set, they currently maintain each as a separate system, mov- ing project data from one to another as needed. New ProEst users received live online training sessions from the ProEst implementation team, supplemented by feature-specific training videos embedded in the software itself.
Supporting a multi-faceted bidding process:
As a design-build specialist, Focus Design Builders has become adept at managing the complexity of projects that begin as an idea “on a napkin” and only become a reality months or even years later. Their extended build-from-the-ground-up process, says CEO David Williams, Jr., requires the company to perform multiple estimates for the same job— moving from an initial rough estimate performed by the sales team to a refined version submitted for executive review by company estimators. “A lot of our work is conceptual,” said Williams. “At the beginning, our clients are looking for us to give them advice and budget guidance. That kind of design-build estimating is done by our sales guys. Then, when there is a complete set of plans, that goes to our estimating department.” Each phase is handled by ProEst; the company has found that the software’s user-friendly interface is workable for members of the sales team as well as for full-time estimators.
Enabling new levels of bid collaboration:
In the early months of 2020, Focus Design Builders found ProEst to be instrumental in handling the disruption of Covid-19. Although construction work was always deemed essential in North Carolina, there was a brief period in which Williams and members of his staff chose to follow state recommendations and work at a physical distance; the team credits ProEst with helping them stay connected and keep projects on track. “For a while, we had staff members working in trailers on jobsites in order to minimize the number of staff we had,” he said. Amidst new and challenging conditions, ProEst’s cloud-based estimating platform allowed multiple project stakeholders to review, modify and share the same bids in real-time, supporting meaningful collaboration and helping to maintain critical workflows. “Being separate but still being able to collaborate was very beneficial,” said Williams.
Delivering on the corporate mission :
Williams and the rest of the Focus Design Builders team are serious about staying true to the company’s values and mission, which is to be a partner who creates worthwhile experiences by delivering more than a building, but a place that simply makes life better. Over the past ten years, the company has won the respect of clients who appreciate their ability to think outside the box and quickly resolve issues as they arise, and they have made deliberate choices about the tools they acquired to make it happen. With ProEst as their new technology partner, Focus Design Builders has gained a new ability to document projects as they develop in the estimating and pre-construction phase, a crucial part of maintaining positive— and profitable—client relationships. As demand for design-build services resumes in the Southeast, the company will have the support they need to generate winning proposals and maintain a positive growth trajectory throughout the remainder of 2020 and beyond.