Brothers form happy fraternity

Aug. 19, 2002

Founded in 1983 by brothers Dan and Frank, Colacurcio Brothers Inc., Blaine, Wash., started out as a small excavating contractor. The company quickly grew and in 1986 Chris Colacurcio, now CFO/controller, joined his brothers in the family business. Licensed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, the core of their $14-16 million (annual revenues) contracting business is heavy/highway construction; utility, excavation and site work; and bridge and railroad work.

Founded in 1983 by brothers Dan and Frank, Colacurcio Brothers Inc., Blaine, Wash., started out as a small excavating contractor. The company quickly grew and in 1986 Chris Colacurcio, now CFO/controller, joined his brothers in the family business. Licensed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, the core of their $14-16 million (annual revenues) contracting business is heavy/highway construction; utility, excavation and site work; and bridge and railroad work.

“Three years ago,” said Chris Colacurcio, “we jumped into the commercial building market in a big way.” Adding a general construction division created significantly more paperwork. “But,” stated Colacurcio, “even though I added a whole building division, I didn’t increase my office staff.” With just six people in the office—including Cola-curcio—and an average of 48 in the field, this was possible, he said, “Because the sophistication and integration of my accounting software enabled my staff to handle the extra paperwork.”

When trying to track a lot of paper, one solution is to add more staff. Another is to give your existing staff better tools. “I’m a big fan of better tools,” said Colacurcio. That’s why, in 1999, Colacurcio started thinking about project management software.

“In today’s construction world, it is imperative to keep track of everything,” he said.  “The speed with which you are able to go through the paperwork process greatly affects the bottom line on jobs. After watching my project managers and superintendents tracking their jobs using spreadsheets, word processing documents, notebooks, binders and faxes, I began to search for a software tool that would help us integrate all of those functions.”

Integrated accounting

The better tools option is nothing new to Colacurcio, who initiated a change in accounting software in May 1983. “At that time,” he explained, “Colacurcio Brothers had clearly outgrown a general accounting package. We had turned the page on being a small contractor and it became necessary to either greatly increase our administration, and thereby our overhead, or find a better way to do the work.”

Colacurcio began a methodical search for new construction accounting software. “The first thing I did was find every construction accounting package I could. I quickly realized that a lot of what was out there just didn’t work for our situation. Others were eliminated because I wasn’t seeing the stability that I wanted.”

Once he had narrowed his list to a few choices, Colacurcio intensified his scrutiny with software demonstrations and discussions with actual software users. When it came time to make his final decision, Colacurcio chose Dexter + Chaney’s Forefront Construction Management Software (Circle 919).

“Everything I needed was addressed in the product,” Colacurcio stated. This included fully integrated modules for accounting, equipment management, remote connectivity, data sharing and reporting.

Divided by data entry

Just as it became clear when Colacurcio Brothers had outgrown its current accounting software, it also became apparent when it had outgrown its current method of project management. “Dealing with a lot of disconnected systems—the binder, mail, fax, spreadsheet scenario—made it tough to keep track of a big job,” Colacurcio said. The duplicate data entry this created was a huge drain on resources. In addition, there was a great divide between Colacurcio’s accounting department and his project managers.

“There was this constant rift between the two,” he explained. “For example, my project managers would say, ‘Here’s my change order.’ My accounting staff would then come back with, ‘It’s not coded right and it does not balance.’ I was constantly trying to get the project managers to reconcile with the accounting department.”

Colacurcio realized this divide was a significant factor in his decision-making process. Because of it, he said, “I wanted my project management software to integrate with my accounting system.”

Researching project management software in a similar fashion to researching accounting software, Colacurcio said,  “I went and looked at every project management system I could find.”

Many systems offered integration with accounting, but on a limited scale. “Things like phase codes and scheduling were integrated,” he said, “but everything else had to be manually entered from one system to another; the financial information didn’t integrate. This was not the kind of integration I was looking for.”

Even though Dexter + Chaney offered integrated project management software, Colacurcio explored all his options before making a final decision. Ultimately, Colacurcio did find what he was looking for in Dexter + Chaney’s project management software, which integrates with his Forefront accounting package.

In May 2000—nearly seven years after implementing Forefront accounting software—Colacurcio Brothers implemented Forefront’s integrated project management software.

Tending to the details

Project management software is ultimately a tracking device. “Issues come up on a job and as a result, documents get generated, you receive responses, you respond to them,” Colacurcio said. “The software provides a way of managing what’s been done, who’s been told about it, what’s still hanging on and who’s got it.”

Documenting job details as they occur has significantly expedited Colacurcio Brothers’ change-order processing. “The project management software helps us manage the change request process more effectively,” said Colacurcio. “We see a 3-5% improvement in margins on change orders as a result of using the software.

“Not everybody’s recollection is perfect,” Colacurcio continued. “Documenting an issue that comes up on a jobsite and getting the correspondence that relates to it out right away gives everybody better recollection. This means less conflict with the owner or subs and a smoother change-order process.”

From an owner’s standpoint, Colacurcio finds value in the overview information he now gets. “I don’t want to see every little correspondence that comes through,” he explained, “but I do want to see how many RFI’s are out there, how long it is taking to process them.

“Also, where are the submittals? How many have been issued, returned, rejected? The software gives me this kind of information.”

Although using project management software is common practice on general building projects, Colacurcio feels it’s equally beneficial when used to manage unit-price jobs. “On dirt projects,” he said, “you may not be tracking issues that turn into change orders like you do on a building project. It’s sometimes tempting to think that project management isn’t an issue.” Colacurcio suggested resisting this temptation.

“You have to deal with a lot of compliance issues over the course of a dirt job,” he explained. “Soil compaction, natural materials and types of pipe are some issues that generate correspondence between you and the engineer or owner. That information needs to be tracked and kept.” Project management software tracks that information and keeps it in a consolidated space that doesn’t get archived into a storage facility somewhere.

“A year down the road,” said Colacurcio, “if you’re trying to close out a project, you’re not digging in storage for documents or trying to remember who said what when. Even two years down the road if a warranty issue comes up you’ll have an easy place to find information.”

On any construction job, project management software gives you a single source to access job-related information.

“If you’re not using project management software,” warned Colacurcio, “then you’re at the mercy of your own filing system. I don’t like to be at the mercy of my own filing system, and I certainly don’t want to be at the mercy of my project managers’ filing systems.”

No more paper routes

Colacurcio Brothers will soon be adding Forefront’s document imaging capability to its integrated accounting and project management systems. “Document imaging is a great idea from the get-go,” said Colacurcio, who is looking forward to using document imaging so he can take advantage of his software’s electronic accounts payable approval process.

“Like any other company,” he continued, “we route AP invoices to this person’s box and then this person’s box or if there’s a problem, along a slightly different path. We send a packet of invoices around and in the world that we live in, things get lost.”

Document imaging will allow Colacurcio to scan invoices, time cards and other documents and attach them to transactions in his accounting and project management software. User-defined electronic filing cabinets will store documents that don’t relate to actual transactions. A simple mouse click will retrieve documents where—on screen—they can be viewed, annotated, printed, faxed or e-mailed.

“My staff will be able to go to their computers,” said Colacurcio, “pull up a visual of an invoice and do everything they normally would on the paper itself. Nobody will have to take an envelope full of paperwork from one place to another. And nothing will get lost.”

Feeling the same

Since implementing project management software, the divide between Colacurcio’s project managers and accounting staff has significantly diminished.

“Now,” he said, “they look at the exact same numbers at the exact same time, with no effort on my part. My project managers look at live accounting data for their jobs instead of spreadsheets or some other manual record.”

For more complete and detailed information on the I-69 project, you may check INDOT’s official I-69 website at Other related sites concerning I-69 are:,, and

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