Florida Builder Hits Home Run with ConstructionOffice
Windstar Homes, Inc.
David Lesser, builder of custom homes for stars like Gary Sheffield and
Jorge Posada of the New York Yankees, is a devoted fan of Construction
Office. "ConstructionOffice has taken our business to the next level, from
AA baseball to the major leagues. We now have a world-class software package
that's integrated our entire company. I'm such a fan," says David, co-owner
of Windstar Homes, Inc. "If anybody wants to know, I'll tell them how
ConstructionOffice has made our company infinitely better."
Windstar Homes, Inc., of Tampa, Fla., builds high-end custom homes in both
Florida and the Bahamas. These multi-million dollar estate homes are some of
the finest in the Tampa Bay area and have granted Windstar Homes a bevy of
national awards. Windstar's Casa Linda residence, an 11,180 square-foot
beauty with a theater, wine cellar, and pool with swim-up bar, was awarded
the Make A Wish Foundation Home of the Year for 2003. A cocktail benefit
complete with an open house raised over $50,000 for the Tampa/Sarasota
chapter of the foundation.
Although Windstar Homes has enjoyed success since its inception, David notes
that "something was always missing." He goes on to say, "We've always been
one of the most organized construction firms I know, but we had difficulty
connecting various tasks and stores of information."
David was looking for something that refined the project management of
Windstar Homes into a well-oiled machine. "I used to use [other construction
software] for estimating and accounting," David says. "I spent tens of
thousands of dollars on it, and it stunk," says David, describing the
program as unfriendly, costly to operate, and difficult for employees to
The need for a better project management system was a pressing one for
David. "This business is not for the faint of heart," he observes. "You have
to be meticulous and organized, or you'll get eaten alive. I knew we needed
to make a change."
David's office manager asserted that ConstructionOffice was worth
considering as a solution, but, David says, "I shrugged it off because of
the price. It was just too cheap." David had thought he would need to spend
several thousand dollars for a good project management software.
Finally, when David had a break from building at Thanksgiving, he tried out
the ConstructionOffice free trial. Impressed, he bought the software the
same week. "I've studied a lot of construction software packages, and pound
for pound there's nothing like ConstructionOffice. The flexibility and ease
of use is incredible," David says. "I would have paid 3 to 4 times more and
never blinked an eye."
David started with a single-user version of ConstructionOffice Professional
XT. After he learned to use the software and implemented the system as part
of his business model, he upgraded to the 5-user version of Construction
Office Professional NT.
With ConstructionOffice, David was able to initiate and maintain a reliable
project management system for Windstar Homes. "ConstructionOffice helped us
bring all of our data together in one place, so it's more usable and
accessible than ever before," David says. "Estimating ties in directly with
proposals so I can't leave anything out of the total price. Then as the
build progresses, the strong estimating and scheduling integration makes it
easy to keep our cash flow on track."
With ConstructionOffice, users can automatically create schedules that
display estimated costs for each task. "This allows us to use Construction
Office schedules as draw schedules, instead of the old AIA forms," explains
David. "My office manager calls the project manager, verifies the schedule,
and then gets a draw from the bank. We get our cash much faster."
Thanks to their new streamlined project management system, David estimates
that Windstar will be able to build two additional homes this year without
adding even one more employee. "We're able to do things much more
efficiently," David says. "We create estimates and specs earlier than ever
before, which helps us close deals and facilitate the front end."
"ConstructionOffice took us to just where we needed," David says. "Now,
after only 2 months, I've integrated all of our existing material into
ConstructionOffice and made ConstructionOffice part of my daily system.
It's made my world a much better place." David plans to convert his
accounting system to QuickBooks so Windstar can integrate estimating and
accounting information as well.
For document and contact database integration, users can convert existing
company information into documents that work with the ConstructionOffice
system. "With Document Management, we can create letters that go along with
certain documents, set tasks for pre-scheduled meetings, automatically email
information, and import Outlook contact information into documents," David
says. "We have a 124-page homeowner guide that we now use as part of the
Windstar is currently using ConstructionOffice to manage the construction
of a 7,000 square foot, 3.5 million dollar home. "We will be able to
complete this home in 8 months, instead of 14-16 months. This is huge,"
"It's amazing what this system is doing for us-on the low side, I believe
we'll make an extra $1 million this year because of ConstructionOffice,"
David says. "We're doing things for our business with ConstructionOffice
that we didn't think were possible."
Quick Facts about Windstar Homes, Inc.
Location: Tampa, Florida
Industry: Custom Homes
Projects per year: 8 - 12
Years in the business: 9
Number of Employees: 12