ABC Connect Integrates ABC’s Products with Popular Roofing Software

ABC Connect is an online program that integrates ABC’s products and pricing with popular roofing software.

ABC Connect is an online program that integrates ABC’s products and pricing with popular roofing software.

ABC Supply Co. Inc. has created ABC Connect, an online program that integrates ABC’s products and pricing with AccuLynx and EagleView Technologies’ software, so ABC Supply customers can build estimates and place orders whenever it is most convenient for them. By integrating customer pricing information and product SKUs with AccuLynx, contractors now have the ease and convenience of running their businesses from the job site or the office, day or night. EagleView’s cloud-based software provides accurate and detailed aerial roof and wall measurement reports, which are then used to calculate bills of materials and product orders using ABC contractor pricing. Learn more about ABC Connect.

ModSolar Moves Headquarters to Philadelphia

ModSolar, a creator of technology solutions for the solar professional, has moved its headquarters into Center City, Philadelphia.

ModSolar has moved into the fourth floor of the Belmont Building, at 211 North 13th Street in Philadelphia. The company will occupy the entire floor—9,500 square feet—which is more than five times as large as its previous offices in Ardmore (1,800 square feet).

“We’ve come a long way since the birth of ModSolar in early 2011 from an office in my home, then a small office in Malvern, Penn., to our office in Ardmore, Penn., and now our move into Center City, Philadelphia,” says Mike Dershowitz, founder and chief executive officer of ModSolar.

“Moving into Philadelphia amid the growing technology start-up scene is a direct result of our continuing growth in employees, customers and revenues during the past three years,” says Dershowitz. “We are looking to hire more people this year and being in Philadelphia will be a great advantage in finding new people to join our team.”

ModSolar’s software enables solar providers to produce solar proposals and contracts in less than five minutes, including the company’s patent-pending software that enables placement of panels on an image of the prospect’s roof, as well as the calculation of the return on the solar investment. ModSolar develops software that dramatically reduces the “soft costs” involved in solar sales, solar system design, production of high-quality solar proposals, and all the paperwork surrounding solar installations.

The job growth in the solar industry nationwide is more than 170,000 jobs in the past two years, and is expected to continue in the near term. ModSolar has grown from two employees in 2011 to more than two dozen as of Feb. 15. The company’s move into Center City, Philadelphia will enable ModSolar to add several more employees this year in Philadelphia, as well as support the company’s growth in international markets including England and Germany.

“Prior to 2014, we were doubling our revenue every year,” says Dershowitz. “Our revenue in 2014 was 200 percent of our revenue in 2013, and we are projecting the same percentage growth again in 2015. We are adding more products and services for our customers, and we are adding some new team members in other countries, as well, with increased opportunities to grow ModSolar’s reach in the U.S. and internationally as the solar industry continues to gain prominence. And we continue to grow without any outside financing. Pretty good for a company we started with a $3,500 cash advance on my credit card.”

Currently, close to $40 million per day in solar contracts are being generated through ModSolar’s software platform, representing an estimated 5 percent of the solar market in the U.S. Thousands of ModSolar users produce more than 3,000 solar proposals each week. ModSolar’s corporate clients are major players in the solar industry, including SunEdison, Enphase Energy, GAF, Kyocera and Astrum Solar.

ELFA Reveals Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) which represents the $903 billion equipment finance sector, has revealed its Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015. Given U.S. businesses, nonprofits and government agencies will spend nearly $1.5 trillion in capital goods or fixed business investment (including software) this year, financing a majority of those assets, these trends impact a significant portion of the U.S. economy. Businesses will find opportunities presented by a steadily improving economy and favorable credit conditions as they make their decisions for equipment replacement and expansion.

ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, says, “Equipment financing is a critical source of funding for a majority of U.S. businesses, allowing them to acquire the equipment they need to operate and grow. It enables equipment acquisition, which plays a critical role in driving the supply chains across all U.S. manufacturing and service sectors. To assist businesses in planning their acquisition strategies, we have distilled recent research data, including the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s 2015 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook Report, industry participants’ expertise and member input from ELFA meetings and conferences to provide our best insight for the Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015.”

ELFA forecasts the following Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015:

  • 1. Investment in equipment and software will reach an all-time high in 2015. As the U.S. economy continues to improve, business investment is forecast to reach a record $1.484 trillion in 2015. As business investment grows, demand for equipment financing will increase.
  • 2. Businesses will invest in equipment not just to replace aging assets, but also to aid in expansion. The pent-up replacement demand that has driven equipment investment in previous years may be supplemented by long-awaited expansion investment as capacity utilization rates in some industries reach or surpass levels historically known to spur business investment. Industries poised for investment growth include oil and gas extraction and transportation equipment manufacturing.
  • 3. While some equipment types will see strong growth, others will moderate. In 2014, equipment and software investment increased 9.6 percent in Q2 and 9.3 percent in Q3. Looking ahead, growth in equipment and software investment is expected to moderate somewhat, as it is unlikely to keep up the strong pace seen in Q2 and Q3. A still healthy growth rate of 6 percent is forecast for 2015. Aircraft, trucks and other industrial equipment are projected to be among the higher growth types, while agriculture, computers and software are expected to see slower growth.
  • 4. Improving market conditions will continue to increase credit supply and demand for equipment acquisitions. As the economy steadily improves and business confidence continues to increase, credit standards should modestly loosen. The propensity to finance decreased in the wake of the financial crisis as businesses deleveraged and refrained from new business investment. Since bottoming out in 2010, the rate at which businesses finance their capital spending has grown consistently and will continue to increase in 2015 with steady economic recovery and shifts in Federal Reserve policy.
  • 5. Eyes will be on short-term interest rate increases. Expectations for the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates in 2015 should spur equipment investment as businesses seek to lock in equipment financing at lower rates. Despite rate increases, businesses will find that a highly competitive “buyer’s market” will continue to make financing an attractive option for acquiring equipment.
  • 6. Businesses will use financing for a majority of their plant, equipment and software expenditures. In 2015, 62 percent or $922 billion of investment in plant, equipment and software in the United States is expected to be financed through loans, leases and lines of credit. A majority of businesses—seven out of 10—will use at least one form of financing to acquire equipment.
  • 7. Advances in the use of technology will drive innovative financing options. Equipment finance providers are streamlining their business processes and improving customer self-service capabilities using digital technologies. At the same time, some end-users are moving away from traditional equipment consumption models and toward hosted or managed services based on usage rather than total ownership. To meet customer demand and address evolving technology equipment requirements, equipment finance companies will tailor innovative financial offerings.
  • 8. Several “wild cards” could impact equipment acquisition decisions. In what could be a breakout year for the U.S. economy, positive and negative external risks could affect equipment investment. Potential political gridlock, global economic weakness and geopolitical risks could be a drag on investment decisions, but GDP growth from low oil prices, a potential surge in the housing sector and sufficient capacity utilization could have firms ramping up capital expenditures.
  • 9. Nontraditional financing will continue to grow and play a larger role in the equipment finance industry. As regulatory scrutiny increases and some banks’ lending standards tighten for certain credits, nontraditional financing sources, such as investment bankers, venture capitalists, insurance companies, crowd funders and others, are exploring opportunities in the equipment finance sector.
  • 10. A final lease accounting standard will be released. The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board continue to work on the lease accounting project, which will change how leases are accounted for on corporate balance sheets. A final standard is anticipated in 2015, with a possible effective date of 2018 or later. The good news is that the benefits of leasing equipment will remain intact despite the lease accounting proposal.

Software Improves Safety and Makes the Roofing Process Transparent for Clients

Safety is always a major concern and, at Castro Roofing, Dallas, it’s one of our core values. In fact, we have a full-time safety manager and a third-party safety consultant who evaluate every one of our jobs from a safety perspective. On top of that, we also have monthly safety meetings with the whole crew where we discuss best practices and train on new equipment. Safety should be a top priority for everyone in our line of work. I’m sure most contractors are pretty familiar with this routine.

So is there anything new to say about safety? Well, we’ve found a secret weapon! This past year we implemented an Online Project Management (OPM) software system. It has been a game changer for us.

How the OPM Works

The OPM streamlines communication with our clients and workers by archiving photos and information for every single project we have—every day. It notifies the client, via email, five days before the start of his or her job to ensure the client is prepared. We can personalize this email if we choose.

Once the job begins, each client receives daily reports, which include 12 to 16 photos from the job site covering the entire workday. Of course, someone on your team has to take the photos, but the software is linked to your smartphone and an app makes the process pretty simple. Through the OPM, everyone involved is made aware of the entire construction process.

The truth is, our clients really only have three questions for us:

    1. When are you starting my project?
    2. What have you done so far?
    3. When will you be finished with the work?

Ok, maybe there’s one more:

    4. How much is this going to cost me?

None of these questions take into consideration the personnel involved. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but if we are losing workers because of safety issues, our customers’ jobs are not going to be completed on time. Implementing this OPM addresses all those client questions and so much more.

OPM and Safety

The OPM allows quick response times by allowing us to fix anything we see that might become a hazardous issue before the next workday. Increased communication is literally available at the click of a button. Plus, the OPM makes it possible to go back and review any day of a project for different factors, like weather, safety and material delivery—not just work progress.

For example, while looking through the photos of a job’s progress as it was getting started, we noticed that if we unloaded and set up the scaffolding in a slightly different way, the unloading would be much smoother. We are constantly adjusting our approach to each job.

A New Outlook

While the OPM has made our work available in a much more transparent way—allowing our clients an all-access pass—it has also given us a new way to evaluate the ways we are utilizing our resources and our human capital.

When we know that others are able to keep such close tabs on the work we do, it changes the way we run our business. Our communication with clients should be as open and honest as possible. And the work that we do should be safe for everyone involved.

It’s pretty easy to pay lip service to safety in a monthly meeting and check it off the agenda. It’s altogether different when we are able to evaluate our daily routines from a different perspective. Our clients love it because our process no longer feels like a mystery to them. We love it because we can take our attention to detail to a whole new level—a bird’s eye view, if you will.

Before the OPM, it was nearly impossible to include our clients in our workflow. It was even harder to quickly evaluate and make changes that make work safer and more efficient for our employees. Now, we really can’t remember how we got along without it. Isn’t technology amazing? The OPM has genuinely helped us work smarter, not harder.

Online Project Management Software

Castro Roofing, Dallas, uses LookOut Software.

Schedule and Alert Workers from Your Phone

Fleetmatics Work field services software

Fleetmatics Work field services software

Tired of running jobs, managing job sites and then going back to the office to manage the paper trail in the evening? Scheduling on white boards and paper is no way to run a business. The latest release of Fleetmatics Work field services software can help end all this madness and give you some of your time back.

Our latest update (which is free to existing Fleetmatics Work subscribers) is:

  • More powerful – giving you the hard data you need to make decisions. Want to know which jobs or customers provide you the most revenue? Where your customers come from? Fleetmatics Work can help you find out.
  • More flexible, so you can customize the system to your work process
  • Easier than ever to get started with live implementation support included at no additional charge and simple tools to upload client and job information

Manage Contacts and Invite Bids with Cloud-based Program

BuildingBlok's Invitation to Bid

BuildingBlok’s Invitation to Bid is cloud-based.

BuildingBlok, the cloud-based platform that helps small to mid-size general contractors better manage the entire life cycle of construction projects, announces the launch of new bidding feature, Invitation to Bid (ITB). With ITB, general contractors can easily manage contacts and send invitations to bid to subcontractors. BuildingBlok organizes bid info, helps the GC track every email sent to subcontractors and allows subs to quickly get bid info, download documents and submit RFIs and Bids. This cutting edge technology is entirely web based and is free to use.

Subcontractor bidding is an area where there is an obvious need for improvement. It’s currently a time-intensive and manual process, and requires a large degree of tracking. The system is designed to streamline the entire process, making it easier for contractors to find the right subcontractors for their project.

Specifically, with Invitation to Bid, general contractors can:

    ▪ Manage all documents quickly and easily.
    ▪ Manage all your contacts in one system
    ▪ Connect and collaborate with subcontractors .
    ▪ Track all communications and documents
    ▪ Award contracts and assemble teams of sub-contractors.

As part of Invitation to Bid, BuildingBlok is also launching the free BuildingBlok Network, where subcontractors can list themselves and their qualifications and general contractors can find subcontractors and add them to their contacts. The Network currently includes thousands of construction professionals.

Read-only Version of Roof Wizard Upgrade Is Free

AppliCad announces a major productivity enhancement with the V7.1 release: a Read-Only version that is entirely free to use.

AppliCad announces a major productivity enhancement with the V7.1 release: a Read-Only version that is entirely free to use.

AppliCad announces a major productivity enhancement with the V7.1 release: a Read-Only version that is entirely free to use. No additional licenses required. Load on as many PCs as you need for complete model and job checking functionality, including auto-dimensions, quantity summaries, pitch, line style and line length annotation and detailed quotation and proposal review. Create estimates without a model and add material or labor items while checking. All at no additional cost. AppliCad Roof Wizard Read-Only version only with an update to version 7.1.

Our new Roof Wizard Read-Only is completely free of charge with your upgrade to V7.1 – load as often as you like and anywhere you have the need to check your estimator’s work.

The latest release also includes other great productivity enhancements such as an image trace wizard which simplifies the creation of a 3D model from aerial images or a PDF; a new simplified menu system option that greatly improves ease of use as well as enhancing a new user’s learning of the functions. Many new tables and key text strings further enhance the creation of custom report templates, making detailed reporting possible – providing even more useful information to your suppliers, customers and installers without any extra effort on the user’s part.

Also new in V7.1 is the Roof Wizard Assembly Manager for commercial sites trying to manage thousands of trim and flashing combinations for roof and wall panel systems. Automatically create the correct associations between different systems that share similar or the same trim items. This new function improves accuracy and speeds up the creation of your material order lists.

With zone design tools for high wind areas, multiple language support; pitch measure tools and aerial image digitising; tool tips, filled planes, combined roof and wall functions, seamless integration with MS Word; one click plane fill, block-cut waste optimiser, terminology localisation and commercial assembly function, PDF underlay for fast digitising, combined Track and Digitising of building perimeters puts AppliCad’s Roof Wizard at the forefront of software for the roofing and cladding industry. Our ‘Smart-Roof’! technology puts Roof Wizard at the top of everyone’s shopping list.

Investment in Equipment and Software Expected to Grow

Investment in equipment and software is expected to grow 2.6 percent in 2014, according to the Q3 update to the 2014 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook released by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. The Foundation revised its 2014 equipment and software investment forecast to 2.6 percent, down from 4.2 percent growth forecast in its Q2 Update to the 2014 Annual Outlook released in April. The Q3 report expects equipment and software investment to have modest sector growth during the rest of the year after a weak start. The Foundation report, which is focused on the $827 billion equipment leasing and finance industry, forecasts 2014 equipment investment and capital spending in the United States and evaluates the effects of various related and external factors in play currently and into the foreseeable future.

William G. Sutton, CAE, President of the Foundation and President and CEO of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, said, “The Foundation’s Outlook report reflects a slowing in GDP and equipment investment growth due to a weak first quarter this year that resulted in part from the extremely cold winter. The rebound in Q2 is slower than anticipated, as recent data from the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s Monthly Leasing and Finance Index and the Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index reflect. We do, however, anticipate that equipment investment will rise in the second half of the year as economic conditions improve and business confidence continues to recover.”

Highlights from the study include:

· The U.S. economy is expected to grow 1.5 percent in 2014, revised from 2.8 percent.
· The downsides of the harsh winter, which included a 2.9 percent contraction in real GDP in the first quarter, should prove temporary, as the housing recovery, energy renaissance and accommodative credit markets support second-half growth.
· Equipment and software investment declined at an annualized rate of 1.8 percent in Q1 2014, following the 8.9 percent surge in Q4 2013.
· Credit supply continues to improve, and credit demand has held steady for all business sizes.
· Equipment and software investment is expected to steadily grow over the next 6 months across most verticals, according to the Foundation-Keybridge U.S. Equipment & Software Investment Momentum Monitor. The Momentum Monitor, which tracks 12 equipment and software investment verticals, forecasts the following equipment investment activity:
o Agriculture machinery investment will likely see slow growth, and potentially a contraction, through the rest of 2014, as both farm yields and commodity prices remain subdued.
o Construction machinery investment will continue to experience strong growth, and the year-over-year growth figures will begin to trend positive as multiple quarters of expansion take hold amidst the housing recovery.
o Materials handling equipment investment will experience stronger growth over the next 3 to 6 months.
o All other industrial equipment investment will likely see moderate growth over the next 3 to 6 months as the “re-shoring” of manufacturing continues to be a dominant economic story in 2014.
o Medical equipment investment will grow, but begin to level off near the end of the year.
o Mining and oilfield machinery will experience improving growth through the middle of the year but will begin to level off at the end of the year.
o Aircraft investment will likely experience about long-term average growth for the year.
o Ships and boats investment will likely rebound to an above-average pace through the end of this year.
o Railroad equipment investment will improve from its recent contraction toward modest growth.
o Investment in trucks will exhibit high-single digit growth over the next 3 to 6 months as economic activity improves and competitive diesel prices keep trucking transport competitive.
o Computers investment will remain muted in the short-term after strong replacement demand over the past few quarters.
o Software investment will be moderate in the next 3 to 6 months as companies continue to make investments in software and cloud technologies.

Upgrade to a Learning Management System

The first stone tools were made and used by early humans nearly 2.5 million years ago. As man evolved, so did the tools, transforming from blunt objects to precision equipment capable of greater rates of productivity and improved craftsmanship.

These days, tools aren’t the only advancements helping us do our jobs. During the past 10 years, safety training and compliance have evolved into a Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of training programs.

BENEFITS

Learning Management System

Click to view larger.


To better demonstrate the strategic value of an LMS, let’s look at the competitive profile comparing instructor-led training to LMS training. In the figure, the horizontal axis of the competitive profile captures the range of factors on which LMS and instructor-led training solutions compete. There are six principle factors:

    ▪▪ PRICE: The cost to set up and deliver an employee training solution.
    ▪▪ PERFORMANCE: Training that goes beyond introducing knowledge and generates behavior change, driving improved individual, team and organizational performance.
    ▪▪ ENGAGEMENT: Instructionally sound, visually appealing and interactive training programs that engage individuals throughout the learning.
    ▪▪ EASE OF USE: Easy set up and maintenance of the training and delivery system.
    ▪▪ CONVENIENCE: Easy employee access to the training, anytime and anywhere. This includes the office, the job site or even at home. Management can access records from mobile workstations without having to be in the office.
    ▪▪ MEASUREMENT: Easy and cost-effective learner tracking, measurement and reporting.

The figure shows LMS and instructor-led training score high for Performance, Engagement and Ease of Use. However, instructor-led training, relatively speaking and largely due to its inherent lack of convenience, is expensive (in addition to paying the training company, think travel and/or time away from the job for the trainees) and, therefore, it gets a low score on Convenience and Price.

In addition, LMS allows the employer the opportunity to automate the training process, deliver offline training and ensure continued compliance. To automate training, the employer creates a list of trainings needed by job description. These lists are then used to create a learning plan. When the employer puts a new employee into the system, the LMS will automatically assign the training content via the job description. The employer then monitors the system to ensure the employee is completing his or her training.

If the employer chooses not to use automation to assign training inside of the LMS, he or she can manually assign training courses one at a time through the system. This may be done to reissue a training course because of a workplace incident.

DID YOU KNOW?

More than 40 percent of global
Fortune 500 companies are
using some form of a Learning
Management System.

Pages: 1 2

Acculynx Moves into a Redeveloped Office Space in Beloit, Wis.

Growing fast and strong, specialty trade business management software leader Acculynx has moved into a 21,000-square-foot newly redeveloped office space in Beloit, Wis., as it tries to keep pace with the company’s expanding customer base.

“The good part of success is that you outgrow your office,” says Richard Spanton Jr., president and CEO of AccuLynx. “We’re so excited about what this new space will mean for us in terms of future expansion and in continuing to acquire the best developers in the country.”

AccuLynx, in conjunction with Beloit-based Hendricks Commercial Properties, chose the Ironworks redevelopment site, transforming a previous manufacturing location into a fun, funky tech space designed, in part, to draw first-rate IT talent.

“The best developers mean the best software. The goal has always been to bring the very best product to the marketplace … to save time, money and headaches for specialty trade contractors. This new space gives us the room and resources to continue to do that as we grow,” says Spanton.

AccuLynx cloud-based business management software gives specialty trade contractors a faster and better way to run their small businesses, from lead development to customer relationship management, project management to production scheduling, financial tracking to business analysis.

A formal ribbon-cutting event will be held in May once all finishing touches on the space are complete. Spanton has a personal tie to the building itself, too. He says: “AccuLynx chose Beloit and the Ironworks location in particular because the vibe is the perfect fit for our fun, funky culture. I am also extremely proud that our new office is in one of the buildings my grandfather worked in for 40 years at the old Beloit Corp. It’s so exciting to be putting a new heartbeat in this unique historical building. I like to think the new voices and footsteps we bring will honor those of the men and women, like my grandfather, who worked here before us.”

The new space features the original exposed heavy steel structure, a masonry exterior with modern amenities, including high efficiency LED lights and HVAC. The space is designed to optimize natural light in an open, fun, and attractive floor plan that includes a full kitchen, outdoor patio, shower facilities, game rooms, and a slide for employees to take from the 2nd floor.

AccuLynx will relocate 30 employees from its current headquarters in Rockton, Ill. The new space can accommodate an additional 70 people to keep pace with anticipated growth over the next three years. AccuLynx received aid from the WEDC as an incentive to move to Wisconsin. Working in conjuction with Hendriks Commercial Properties, the space was designed by Excel Engineering (city) and built by Corporate Contractors Inc. (city)

“We are extremely pleased that AccuLynx selected Ironworks for their new headquarters. They are a progressive company with a proven track record of success and a limitless future. AccuLynx will bolster the IT cluster that is forming in Beloit and will bring much needed living wage jobs to this community. The new AccuLynx office space is just the next step in HCP’s plan to totally redevelop and transform the former Beloit Corp complex that was once an obsolete, blighted building into a state of the art facility that is the home to vibrant and growing manufacturing, engineering and IT companies,” notes Mark Membrino Vice President, Hendricks Commercial Properties.

Hendricks Commercial Properties currently manages and owns over 15 million square feet of real estate properties in 39 states. Property types include industrial, office, retail, multifamily and development land. From vision to reality, Hendricks Commercial Properties applies integrity, experience and teamwork to create value in real estate development and management.