There’s nothing we enjoy more at Fieldwire than getting a chance to talk to the people that use our product. That’s why we’re particularly excited to launch this special series dedicated to highlighting the amazing companies we support and the incredible projects they work on every day.
Today we’re sharing our conversation with Mark Higgason from Encompass AV, a commercial Audio/Visual installer located in the Greater Chicago Area. They currently have 15 employees working on 45 active projects. Mark has been in the industry since 1999 (or as he says, almost his entire adult life), and is the VP of operations. We’ve also heard, but not confirmed, that he can mix vinyl like the best of them.
Mark, what does your day-to-day look like?
On any given day, we have up to 4-5 jobs running simultaneously with up to 12 people. Because we’re running so many jobs with different locations, it would be impossible to keep track of everything without the help of Fieldwire.
If you had to pick 2-3 projects that were your favorites, which would those be?
First, the latest Hyatt Place at O’Hare Airport. We handled all the low voltage needs. Every room, every system. And it was a snap to keep it organized with the tech at our disposal. The Chicago White Sox are a favorite, as I'm a fan and South Side resident. And of course the University of Chicago Harris School. It's the same building as the bulletin of the atomic scientists, which makes me nerd happy. It's an honor to work for one of the greatest schools in the country.
What’s your favorite part of working in this industry? What motivates you?
Taking the technological wave is one of the coolest things about my industry. I’ve been in it for 17 years now and I’ve seen it shift from basically musicians running the show to information technology people. It’s a great space to be in, but someday I’m sure I’ll be scared of it.
This is a great segue into talking about technology. How do you see technology changing your industry?
It’s hard to think of an area where it won’t change. Digital technology for our industry is still in it’s infancy, and as more systems become digital, the potential and applications are going to change considerably in the future.
What would you say are some of the challenges people in your industry have when embracing technology?
They’re used to less-than-great software and they think it’ll be complicated to train people on the platform. PC-based software is extremely complex and people don’t get how easy it is to just upload a pdf and start using solutions like Fieldwire. It’s great for my workers. When they finish a job, they take a picture and there’s a timestamp, so there’s no arguing. Sometimes when we work out-of-state, by the time we come back there’s walls and we can cover our backs because we have the proof with a timestamp.
Aside from Fieldwire, what are some of the technologies that you use in your line of work?
Waze is huge, we’re in Chicago and any minutes we can save from the commute is money in our pockets. Running 12 guys and saving 10 minutes out of their commutes every day x 5, it adds up pretty quick.
Google Sheets we use to keep track of our tools. When anyone moves a tool, they mark the new location on the tracker so it’s essential to keep track of 40+ ladders and specialized tools.
We use My Time Station as well, if you’re not familiar it’s a mobile punch card that GPS stamps you when you punch in and out.
Are there any technologies that are coming out that you’re excited to see in the next few years?
Big Data, we use Upserve and it takes all data from your point of sales and incorporates it with Google data, like weather. It then gives you contextual insights about your business, for example at 4PM your enchiladas sell great. Big Data for smaller businesses is something that I’m excited to see more widely adopted.
Last question, how would you pitch Fieldwire to someone in your industry?
Fieldwire takes the chaos out of construction, I’ve never had a more manageable view. I can only imagine how good this would be for a GC managing a bunch of trades in the field.