B2W Platform Helps Michigan Excavating Contractor
The management team of M&M Excavating had a feeling that their software solutions could be improved. This led Chris Churches, Estimator and GPS Manager, to B2W Software, and the pieces began to fall into place.
“It’s hard to replace something that’s not broken, but as we implemented B2W solutions, we realized how much we could improve,” according to Brandie Meisner, the second-generation CFO at the family-owned company based in northern Michigan. She says the visibility gained across workflows has also created more of a team environment, as employees have real-time insight into daily processes and can communicate more effectively.
Communication problems related to equipment are what first drove M&M to B2W, a NUCA Sustaining National Partner. “Obtaining accurate and timely repair requests and meter readings from the field to the shop presented a significant challenge,” Meisner recalls. “B2W Maintain appeared to be an excellent solution. We also realized immediately that B2W Track, a more robust field tracking application than the one we were using at the time, would allow us to fully leverage Maintain in the field.”
Considering B2W Estimate to round out the solutions suite was next. “We were generally satisfied with our estimating software, but the deficiencies became more apparent as we saw what B2W Estimate offered, and the value of a unified approach,” Meisner says. M&M saw a drop in responsiveness when its previous estimating software provider was acquired by a larger, accounting-focused company, and Meisner sensed that the supplier was moving away from its focus on the specialized needs of heavy construction contractors.
M&M was founded in the early 1970s, prior to wide-spread computing. “We were, of course, a pen and paper kind of company for years,” Meisner says, recalling a “dreaded, day-long Monday ritual” with two or three employees tracking down and entering field and payroll data manually into the Foundation accounting system.
The smooth integration between B2W and Foundation was an essential requirement for M&M, and has made that Monday data-entry scramble a thing of the past. Data now flows directly, with only minor validation required.
“We’re gaining so much time, and the foremen are taking more ownership of the process while gaining a greater appreciation for what goes into job costing and accounting,” she adds. Outside of the office, B2W Track and Estimate together provide those M&M foremen and field crews with complete visibility into their daily work items, as well as other areas of the company.
“The process of communication between the field and office, and field and shop, is so critically important, but can be so easily broken because everyone is doing their respective work,” Meisner explains. “The B2W platform is a facilitator: it provides the technology and communication tools to help us work together as a team.”
Equipment maintenance software presented a unique challenge for Meisner’s father, Mark Nowicki, who founded M&M Excavating with his brother, Matthew. A mechanic by trade, Nowicki makes keeping the fleet in top condition a personal mission. His own expertise guided the initial maintenance program, which was supplemented by meter readings collected every Monday and entered manually into spreadsheets. Meisner says B2W Maintain is allowing a smooth transition toward a more automated and systematic solution to help the next generation manage a growing fleet.
“Maintain, along with Track and Estimate, were a big step for us,” Meisner says. “People, with the help of equipment, make our company successful, but we realize there is no way we can be competitive without software to optimize both. Implementing this technology allows us to easily collect data and collaborate on the routine items, the day-to-day work; it also affords us the resources needed to identify and overcome the inevitable challenges that arise.
“B2W focuses on our industry and has the full range of ancillary products to solve our problems. The buy-in from our crews and personnel has been great, because the platform of software tools allows them to see the bigger picture. Crews are able to see how each task and jobsite fits into the overall puzzle.”
Additionally, using state-of-the-art digital solutions can help construction companies attract and retain top-notch talent.
“We need technology to attract the younger, tech-savvy employees to grow the workforce industry-wide,” Meisner says. “Young people don’t want to work in the dark ages. They’ve lived with technology all of their lives; it’s an inherent part of nearly every interaction in their day. We can’t expect to hand them a piece of paper and a pen when they come to work for a construction company.”
Her advice to anyone on the fence about software adoption and B2W? “Put in the time on the front end, align your processes, and it’s absolutely worth it.”