UDA Case Study
Experience the ConstructionSuite™ Difference

Accuracy and Consistency - Keys to Success
Florida General & Specialty Contractor Increases Margins with ConstructionSuite

Universal Design Solutions
Jacksonville, Florida

President of Universal Design Solutions, Vince Pessalano, is a Florida General Contractor with 11+ years under his belt. Universal Design Solutions does everything from Design-Build projects and Commercial Build-outs, to Project Management and Residential Construction.

Universal Design Solutions specialize in commercial design-build projects that vary from Specialty Grocery Stores to one-of-a-kind office building designs. "When a client gives us a concept, it's my job to design it, build it, and take it all the way through completion - It's my favorite part," said Vince. They recently completed a design-build project that was a one-of-a-kind Corporate Air Hangar with an attached 6,000 SF office building. It doesn't get any more unique that that and Vince is proud to say "there's nothing else like it!"

UDS has also found a niche in environmental modifications for handicap access, which entails going into a home and making it handicap accessible. These projects can range from small ramp additions to bathroom remodels and track lifts. UDS' niche market is unique and they've grown to be the leading provider of these services in the Jacksonville area.

Vince explains, "We got started in this market because people came to us needing this work done, and there was an empty spot in the market. Since we knew we could fill this void, we started working for Medicaid and became a Durable Medical Equipment Provider, selling ramps via prescriptions, etc. With this connection, we can buy the products, and then do the construction and installation of it as well."

Balancing their projects between handicap modifications and design-build projects is the perfect fit for Vince, as he truly enjoys the commercial design-build process to the very core, but also likes the rewarding nature of making someone's home or building accessible again.

The Shrinking Software Process - Downsizing from 5 to 1... and a half

To follow the process from design to completion, Universal Design Solutions needed help. "At one point, we were using four or five different products, including something I had personally written in house. We would have to use all of that just to get one thing done," said Vince. 4 or 5 products no more - now, UDS uses ConstructionSuite.

Using a combination of Outlook, CAPS, QS1, QuickBooks, and an in-house built system for estimating, Universal Design Solutions was putting in a lot of work to get the same result they get with ConstructionSuite. "We're now working on 1 programs," said Vince, "UDA ConstructionSuite, and QuickBooks - ConstructionSuite does the most of it so QuickBooks is no longer the workhorse."

Vince began the search for a comprehensive software system. "We wanted to get something that was fluid, something that would remove the need for multiple data entry points," explain Vince, "We wanted something consistent, that flowed throughout the entire process. ConstructionSuite does that for us."

"We keep everything in UDA ConstructionSuite and it runs so much cleaner and smoother now that we're just integrating the two programs," said Vince. "Before, we would have to put 100% of our estimates into QuickBooks, but now, the only things that go into QuickBooks are the active jobs."

"For us, we do 20 jobs, but may create 75-100 estimates per year," he explains, "That would bog down the system, but with the way ConstructionSuite handles the integration, it's clean, it syncs, and the information is 100% accurate."

The search wasn't easy though. "We went through a lot of product trials, including Timberline which is just too much program - too much of what we don't need. In the end, we all agreed upon UDA ConstructionSuite," said Vince, "ConstructionSuite works."

ConstructionSuite Helps Control Costs

Vince runs Universal Design Solutions with 3 licenses of ConstructionSuite Catalyst. Not only is Vince able to do all of his estimating, scheduling & calendars, contracts & document management, contact & lead management, and QuickBooks Integration in ConstructionSuite, but with the Catalyst version, he can take advantage of additional RS Means Commercial Costbooks, Advanced RFI Tracking, CAD Integration, Application for Payment & Cash Flow Reporting, and more.

One of the features Vince finds both convenient & consistent is the contact and calendar management. Vince explains, "With both the calendar and the contacts, we are able to sync backwards to Outlook, whereas before, Outlook controlled it. ConstructionSuite has become the primary hub for the entire system, and the best part is that it's consistent!"

When asked what ConstructionSuite has done to improve their business, Vince said, "ConstructionSuite has made us more productive, and provided consistency throughout the office. We have actually seen stability in our margins with using UDA ConstructionSuite because we are able to control our costs."

Estimating, combined with the QuickBooks integration help UDS bid accurately and track their progress. "ConstructionSuite helps us cost the project properly because we don't leave anything out," said Vince, "and being able to compare our estimated costs versus our actual costs helps us know committed costs. We can really see the difference between the two."

Ample Room to Expand with ConstructionSuite

Universal Design Solutions invested in ConstructionSuite during the midst of a struggling economy, and that critical nature is exactly why they got serious about finding a comprehensive program. "For us, we're bidding twice as much, to get half as little," said Vince, "We have to be very resourceful and careful on which projects you bid because that time you spend bidding could be spent on another project that you may get." Quick and timely estimating is crucial in this economy, and the speed with which UDS creates estimates helps them get bids out the door quicker.

Another way ConstructionSuite has helped UDS stay lean and strong in this economy is with Resource Management. "In estimating, we know, for sure, that every nut and bolt needed, and every person who is going to touch the project is included in the estimate, thanks to the resource allocation features," said Vince.

This helps even further because "1 - we know we're getting a good number out on the street, and 2 - if we need to sharpen a pencil, we know exactly who to give it to instead of just a random on the back end, giving it up on the profit," said Vince. "If you can do resource management well, sometimes the margins will increase and the price will still go down. We can do that with the resource management tools in ConstructionSuite."

With a little over a year since they invested in ConstructionSuite, Vince is certain that he made the right decision for his business. "Honestly, ConstructionSuite has been 100% everything we needed," said Vince. "A lot of times software works during the learning curve, but you outgrow it because the features aren't there for when you're growing and it maxes out before you even reached your full capabilities," explains Vince, "With ConstructionSuite, we've found we can still push it, and it's flexible. We know that it will continue to fit what we need and still leave us room to grow."

Quick Facts about Universal Design Solutions

Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Website: www.universaldesignsolutions.com
Industry: General Contractor, Specializing in Design/Build & Environmental Modifications for Handicap Accessibility
Projects per year: 15-20
Years in the business: 11

For additional questions regarding the 2010 UDA Innovation Awards, contact arauch@uda1.com

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