Bear Construction - Interior Development
Determination will carry you far in just about any field, and when it comes to construction, a firm’s drive is usually its strongest quality. Since 1984, Bear Construction has relied on their resolve and technical knowledge to become construction experts in the Chicago area. They specialize in interiors for real estate, retail, hospitality, and institutional clients. They also have considerable expertise working on healthcare, industrial, and showcase projects as well, completing over 200 million square feet of tenant interior space in the past 30 years. Their determination shows no signs of waning either, with over 1,200 projects completed in 2012 alone and a current annual revenue of over $165 million.
Nick Minella, Senior Project Manager at Bear Construction, knows a lot about tenacity. When he finished up college about 10 years ago, he joined Bear and has been with them ever since. His primary focus is tenant buildouts in the downtown Chicago market known as The Loop, and with about $200 million in slated projects for 2017, he’ll be keeping plenty busy. Minella is responsible for managing a lot of different drawing sets, and Fieldwire helps him keep them all straight without any struggle.
“I use Fieldwire on four different devices, so you could say I’m a big proponent of the app,” says Minella. “It’s very convenient because I can take it everywhere and I’m not burdened with carrying around physical drawings and notes wherever I go.”
With the help of the ‘mobile construction app’ , Minella can collect all of the plans and data for all of his projects on a single handheld device, which is extremely efficient when it comes to juggling multiple jobs. Minella’s projects usually run on the shorter side, only lasting 8-12 weeks, but that means they have much faster turnover than a large scale endeavor. When Minella is running 12 different projects at once, it’s a huge advantage for his team to have Fieldwire in hand. Keeping track of everything becomes much easier to do.
“In the construction world, you have to be very specific about where to place all of the components you’re working on,” says Minella. “The ability to pull up plans and other files in Fieldwire while you’re on the phone with a client in a different time zone is great. You can discuss the specifics with each other while you’re both looking at the same information, so there’s no confusion or uncertainty about placement.”
Making information easily accessible to everyone on the project is one of the chief benefits to using Fieldwire, and Bear Construction makes the most of this on a daily basis. When inspecting site conditions or ‘creating as-builts’ }, Minella and his team can mark up drawings, attach photos, and leave detailed notes of their observations right there in the app in offline mode. All of this new data is then synced and shared with others once reconnected to WiFi, meaning the rest of the field crew can see it on their own mobile devices the next time they open up Fieldwire. This offline functionality bolsters ‘drawing management capability and helps Minella maintain an accurate representation of his many jobsites.
“Walkthroughs with the estimating team are a lot easier because we can upload drawings into the app and view them while on-site,” says Minella. “Everyone can take photos and make their own notes, logging all of the information for future reference in a centralized location. It’s extremely helpful.”
More Efficient Meetings
Storing all of your project content in one convenient place doesn’t just make on-site visits easier, it helps during peer review for all of that work as well. Rather than needing to cart around stacks of notes everywhere, Fieldwire houses them all in your mobile device so you can quickly pull them up to discuss details with your colleagues.
“Having all of the plans and files in one central location is great,” says Minella. “So when I’m going from meeting to meeting, I don’t have to first go back to my office and collect notes each time. My binder essentially became my phone, so when I need to bring up data and show it to others, I can do that easily from the phone I’m already carrying.”
This simplified system for sharing data with your team isn’t just useful in the field. Meetings can be streamlined significantly with the help of Fieldwire, as Nick Minella knows all too well. When attending various office meetings with upper management, Minella makes regular use of the construction app to highlight or explain project particulars to those who may not be out on-site each day.
“I bring my tablet when I walk the jobsite or attend meetings, and anytime I’m asked a question, I can just pull up the drawings and tasks on my tablet and quickly provide an answer,” says Minella. “Since we can upload as many files as we need to, I can include all of our submittals. I can also export drawings as PDFs to subs and clients. My assistant project manager and my field crew are also on the app with me, so I can get confirmation on everything directly from them via Fieldwire.”
Delivering vital in-app information to anyone along the project food chain during meetings can help curb mistakes and wasted time, and keep everything moving along so that work isn’t halted. Reducing dependency on paper also helps eliminate unnecessary costs and makes it easier to not just pass data along, but also take it with you to each meeting. Whether displaying content during a gathering or sending out comprehensive reports prior, Bear Construction runs much smoother with the modern management system in Fieldwire.
“We used to rely heavily on paper before Fieldwire,” says Minella. “My past projects are all stored away in large binders. I used to print everything out and store it in a binder, then create multiple copies and get it to my team. Every new note from the field had to be added to each binder. Now I keep all of my current projects organized on mobile devices thanks to Fieldwire. It helps make everything easier to access. It helps with closeout too. I can just create a full project report with all of the information without having to compile it all separately.”
Open access to data helps keep Minella’s crew in the know, which is especially advantageous when team members may not even be in the same state. Bear often incorporates industry leaders from around the country on their projects, so traditional communication methods can sometimes prove difficult given the great distances separating the team. Luckily, Fieldwire enables them to collaborate instantaneously with real-time update notifications, and clear timestamps for new activity help ensure accountability.
“On one of our current projects, the client is based in San Francisco, the architect is in Minnesota, and the job itself is in Chicago,” says Minella. “So being able to share data with all of them through Fieldwire, where they can login anytime and manage their work from their respective locations, is extremely helpful with maintaining momentum.”
The flexibility to use Fieldwire anytime, anywhere, combined with its ability to greatly enhance communication throughout each project creates an improved experience for all of the Bear crews. It’s an experience that’s hard to rival, as Minella had previously tried different project management solutions that left him wanting. Despite past disappointments, his perseverance led him to Fieldwire and all of the benefits that came with it.
“When using different programs on past medical projects, I had to request access to a particular file and wait for that approval, then go back to it in order to continue my work. But with Fieldwire, I just upload it and communicate with the team via email or in tasks, and everyone can keep moving without any delays.”
Bear Construction has become known for their top-notch, dependable interior work throughout the greater Chicago area, and as they continue to grow in both revenue and reach, Fieldwire will continue to support their diverse building efforts. Nick Minella and his teams have had a firm grasp on plan management and efficient collaboration since they adopted Fieldwire. With most of the kinks of handling so many projects now being smoothed out by the app, Bear’s determination can now launch them even further as new projects keep rolling in.
“Fieldwire eliminates a lot of housekeeping, which helps us stay very organized and save some time. I’d recommend the app for sure, just probably not to a competitor.”