Minnesota contractor uses estimating software to expand business

Jan. 14, 2015

H&S Contracting Inc. of Moorhead, Minn., was looking for estimating software that would take the company to the next level. Its previous system, using ledger sheets and Excel documents created in-house, was outdated.

“It seemed to work well, until you change,” said Brent Syster, estimator and project manager at H&S.

H&S needed estimating software that allowed it to manage multiple bids on the same bid date and better manage subcontracting work. It was also looking to effectively manage last-minute quotes and cuts in order to close bids with the confidence that every item was covered.

It chose HCSS’s HeavyBid estimating software for a number of reasons, including HCSS’s   24-hour instant support, as well as its ease of use. The ability to send anything to Excel made importing and exporting information simple. HeavyBid also integrates with the HCSS job management software HeavyJob, which H&S would later implement. 

“Before we started using HeavyBid, we could maybe bid one or two jobs a week as a prime,” said Syster. “These would be large $3-4 million dollar jobs, and we couldn’t manage the quotes we were getting in from suppliers and subs. Now, with HeavyBid and the way it’s set up with the vendor system, we are able to take quotes minutes before we walk out the door and make huge changes to our bid. It’s been a benefit to us because we’ve been able to win more work by doing that.”

Importing bid items now takes just minutes. Copying from previous estimates saves hours of data entry, and sub and material prices are plugged in automatically to get a realistic estimate of cost. What used to take H&S several hours to put together now takes 30 minutes.

“It is not uncommon for us to bid five to ten projects per day on a DOT letting and be confident that we didn’t miss costs and items in our bid,” said Syster. “We can change anything in seconds and efficiently close the bid with confidence.”

The volume of bids by H&S has gone up 200 to 300% as a prime contractor since moving to HeavyBid, and it is now bidding 10 to 20 jobs per week.

“Last year, we did almost $500 million in bid dollars,” said Syster. “It’s up 300% more.”

Previously, H&S was a $2- to $3-million-per-year company, and most of that work was coming from Army Corp of Engineer projects. This year, it will be a more-than-$10-million-per-year company, thanks to HeavyBid.

“When we walk into a bid letting, people actually consider us a threat now,” said Syster. “They know we're going to be competitive. We are leaving less money on the table on bids won and expect it to improve as the system grows with us. We recently won our largest bid to date against a number of current contractors that use HeavyBid by less than a 2% margin.”

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