An Investment in Success: A New England Contractor's Story
S.L. Vonderhorst & Sons, Inc.
Keene, New Hampshire
In 2004, Kevin Vonderhorst made the technological leap with his Keene, New Hampshire company, S.L. Vonderhorst & Sons, Inc. But before he purchased any software, Kevin knew exactly what his company needed. "When we knew we were ready to incorporate more technology in our office, we needed software that was straightforward, easy to use, and reasonably priced," says Kevin. "That's why we chose ConstructionOffice."
Kevin's version of the software, ConstructionOffice Professional NT, is a network based system that allows multiple users to access a common set of company and project files on a server or peer-to-peer network.
"Our ConstructionOffice network version saves our company time everyday. It eliminates all the questions," says Kevin. "We can avoid the flurry of phone calls, messages, and wasted trips to the jobsite. Instead, anyone in our office can open up ConstructionOffice and get the information they need."
Kevin says that ConstructionOffice not only helps his employees save time, but it also increases their efficiency. "ConstructionOffice makes it possible for one person to do a lot more, so we are able to finish projects quicker and accept more jobs per year." Kevin estimates that the software is in use by him or his employees all day, every day, and he says that ConstructionOffice "is an integral part of our business process."
S.L. Vonderhorst & Sons has 15 employees, four of which use ConstructionOffice on a daily basis. The company was incorporated in 1988 and is an offshoot of Kevin's father's company which began in 1962. Kevin himself has over 20 years of construction experience. With approximately 4 million in annual revenue, S.L. Vonderhorst & Sons currently completes 10-20 projects a year, including new residential construction, light commercial, and specialty work for Motorola.
"While the heart of our business is in residential construction, we provide services for a variety of projects in the tri-state area, including light commercial, excavation, and metal warehouse distribution," Kevin explains. "We do a lot of specialized work for Motorola involving sitework, tower preparation, and excavation." ConstructionOffice Professional, with its complete library of project tools, was an ideal fit for S.L. Vonderhorst & Sons' diverse specialties.
"What I like best about ConstructionOffice Professional is that I can customize it for different project types," says Kevin, explaining how he created estimating templates for different types of residential, light commercial, and excavation jobs. He started with the residential master provided in ConstructionOffice to create his residential estimating template and then created his excavating template from scratch.
"With ConstructionOffice estimating, we can completely break down the building process," says Kevin, explaining how the detailed estimate ensures he doesn't lose money on the job due to small, but costly oversights. "My project manager, my draftsman, and I all start with the same estimating templates, so it's easy to manage and share our information," explains Kevin. "And now we don't miss the little things in our estimates that add up quickly."
S.L. Vonderhorst & Sons has built over a hundred homes in New Hampshire and the surrounding states, and Kevin is currently exploring additional ways ConstructionOffice can enhance his business. Specifically, he is seeking to partner with more architects in the area for custom home design. "When we talk to architects about the opportunities, we show them what we're doing with the ConstructionOffice system," Kevin says. "It builds credibility for our business."
"Before we began using ConstructionOffice, we were using QuickBooks and pencil and paper," remembers Kevin. "You know the little accounting analysis pads you can buy at the office supply store? That's what I used for estimating."
But the transition to a software based system was relatively smooth for people at Kevin's company. Because ConstructionOffice works with a variety of Microsoft Office applications, Kevin's employees found the software "comfortable and very easy to use," he says. "Our employees learned ConstructionOffice quickly and use it well. I was already pretty fluent in Microsoft Office, so I was able to pick up ConstructionOffice right away. Plus, the UDA staff was extremely helpful and assisted in set up," notes Kevin.
After using ConstructionOffice at his company for nearly a year, Kevin is convinced of the software's value. He says that "ConstructionOffice is probably the best single investment we've made in the last year, and that's the truth. It's been worth every penny and more, bringing new growth, more confidence, and better project management to our company."
To those companies who are still deciding whether incorporating technology will be beneficial for them, Kevin has this to say: "If you're still debating whether to bring software and technology into your construction business, it's time to take the leap," Kevin recommends. "Even if you have a small business, make the investment in ConstructionOffice."
Quick Facts about S.L. Vonderhorst & Sons, Inc.
Location: Keene, New Hampshire
Industry: Residential, Light Commercial, Excavation
Projects per year: 10 - 20
Years in the business: since 1988
Number of Employees: 15