Glen Builders grows with Carlson Takeoff

By Karen Cummings • July 25th, 2017
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Glen Builders’ business took off when they started using Carlson Takeoff. OK, that’s a somewhat corny play on words, but according to Matt Howard, V.P. of Business Development for Glen Builders Inc. in North Conway, N.H., that’s exactly what happened.

Matt Howard, V.P. of Business Development for Glen Builders Inc. in North Conway, N.H.

Matt Howard, V.P. of Business Development for Glen Builders Inc. in North Conway, N.H.

“When I started with Glen Builders 14 years ago, they were going with paper plans and digitizing everything. It was a slow, very time-consuming process,” he said.

Once he got them to switch over to using Carlson Takeoff, there was a big change.

“We invested time, energy and money into the software, a bigger computer, huge monitor, and my time and started doing our estimates with Takeoff and gained a huge advantage in the first three years,” he explained. “It increased the size of the site-work division department three-fold – we were doing $1 million a year and all of a sudden we were doing $3 ½ to $4 million and became a third of the company.”

Adding technology to Glen Builders
Growing up in the Mt. Washington Valley in New Hampshire, which is home to five ski areas, Howard had a variety of jobs in the ski industry before he started with Glen Builders, a general contracting business in New Hampshire and Maine, that provides construction, construction management, and excavation services for commercial and residential projects. In addition to a timing business that he still runs – for ski racing, horse racing and shows, and other athletic events – Howard was once the manager of the Black Mountain ski area in the winters and assistant superintendent at the local country club in the off seasons.

In his 30s, while still managing Black, Howard went back to school to get his business degree, after which he began working for Glen Builders. “I got hired originally to be the punch list guy to go out and make sure the grass was green and growing and close the jobs out,” he explained, “but after a couple of months, they decided that maybe my talents were wasted out in the field. Not that I couldn’t grow grass,” he added.

Glen Builders brought him into the office and that’s how Howard became the estimator. “When I first started, they didn’t even have email,” he recalled. “I had a digitizer and a bunch of paper and I went through boxes of colored pencils to highlight stuff before I even did anything – it would take me days.”

Then he talked with Tim Edes at Eastpoint Lasers who suggested he try Takeoff, Carlson’s cut/fill volumes and data prep (for layout or machine control) program that can estimate jobs using paper plan digitizing, PDFs, or electronic CAD files. He did give it a try, and even though he wasn’t a draftsman and didn’t have a design background, Howard was able to get relatively proficient with Takeoff after doing two or three jobs and “working hard at it.”

“We realized the value in it almost immediately,” he said. “I was able to turn around jobs so much faster and also have a lot of stuff in process. It all came down to productivity for me.

“When I started using it, I was the guy that was at the pre-bids saying, ‘Hey, can I have the CAD files?’” Howard explained. Initially, he got no for an answer, but after bypassing the engineer and explaining to the owner that he would be able to get better numbers using a CAD program than with pen and paper, he’d get the files.

Now, most of the engineers Howard works with understand what he does with the CAD files and they provide them. “I’ve learned how many of the draftsmen work so I know what I need to look for to clean up their drawing and make it usable for us,” he said.

Improving skills
As his expertise with Carlson Takeoff increased, Howard noted that they were bidding projects faster and, subsequently, got more business. More importantly, they were also making smarter bids.

Learning new aspects of Carlson Takeoff gave Howard and Glen Builders a distinct advantage in bidding certain projects. One that Howard recalled specifically involved being able to utilize drillhole data to calculate accurate strata cuts. The software had enabled them to figure out what was really underneath a proposed project where the engineer said that everyone had to bid using an assumed elevation for rock.

“I was able to make a better bid because I knew what was going on – there was way less rock,” he explained. “We knew ahead of time what we were going to get into and that we didn’t have to waste any effort on it.”

Historic projects
Currently, Howard is utilizing Carlson Takeoff on two major projects for Glen Builders, right in their own neighborhood.

One is doing all the site work and building the first phase of what will ultimately be a six-phase, $50 million complete renovation of the base area of Cranmore Mountain, a historic ski resort in North Conway.

The other is doing all the site work and concrete for the $14.3 million Glen House Hotel, a 68-room hotel located at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, the 7.6-mile road to the summit of the Northeast’s highest peak and our nation’s oldest manmade tourist attraction.

Construction at Cranmore

With the ski slopes and condominium in the background and a repositioned statue of Hannes Schneider, the “Father of Modern Skiing,” on the drop-off area at Cranmore, Glen Builders is using Takeoff to work on two aspects of their project.

At Cranmore Mountain as part of phases 1, an 18-unit condominium building, and 1A, a revised drop-off area, Glen Builders broke ground in the fall of 2016 and had to work around what is a very busy, year-round resort area.

“Cranmore lost a portion of their base area where they usually congregate people,” noted Howard. “We had to fence in the entire job site because they had so much foot traffic and had been sending people right through where the building is going up to get to their tubing park.”

He’s finding the phasing aspect of Carlson Takeoff especially helpful with the multi-faceted project. “To be able to delineate what is the building/condo part and what’s part of the drop-off area makes it easier,” he explained. “They are two different budgets. Carlson made it easy for me to just draw a line and separate them and create two different takeoffs for them.

“Also, I can zoom out to the whole project and see existing utilities that we might have to deal with two phases down the road, but want to consider now so it’s not a bigger job later.”

At the Glen House about 20 miles north of Cranmore, the initial plans called for a huge amount of fill to come off the site. “We did an analysis to see how far we had to raise the site to reduce that export because it was prohibitively expensive the way they drew it up originally,” said Howard, adding that getting into Carlson and adding the three-quarters of a foot alteration needed showed the money-saving benefit right away.

Still learning
Now Howard has taken on a new challenge – learning how to do the 3D modeling for machine control with Carlson Takeoff.

“My boss Dave Miller, president of Glen Builders, surprised me by coming back from ConExpo with machine control for the bulldozer and excavator,” he said. “Now I plan to devote a bunch of time into taking that step so that we can utilize all the power that’s in Takeoff.

“I realize that machine control is a huge help,” he added, “but it’s only as good as the data put into it.”Demo Takeoff

See more about Glen Builders’ Cranmore project and how they are using Carlson Takeoff:

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