Friday, October 7, 2016

STACK Construction Technologies (web-based Takeoff and Estimating) (SmartBidNet and iSqFt are mentioned in this blog-post)

First, a question for Reprographers.  If you offer a web-based planroom service, does your planroom connect to, is it compatible with, a web-based takeoff/estimating software technology?

In a previous post on the Repro 101 Blog this morning, I posted information about SmartBidNet.  On SmartBidNet’s web-site, they mention “STACK”, one of their partners.  I decided to check out STACK, and, so, this post is about STACK.  For those of you who heard about iSqFt years ago, the founder of STACK Technologies was one of the co-founders of iSqFt.

Here’s what STACK is (and it sounds to me like STACK (pun intended) well stacks-up against PlanSwift (PlanSwift was purchased by Textura Corp, and, later on, Textura was purchased by Oracle.)

 “STACK Construction Technologies has developed a collection of on screen takeoff and estimating tools for professional contractors. Our software is web based so it’s usable on MAC or PC on any browser with nothing to download or install. We give you the latest technology available to bid more work in less time from anywhere. All of our software solutions provide the same fast, easy to use interface that will help you increase bid accuracy and reduce errors.”

STACK Technologies offers:

STACK Estimating

STACK Takeoff

STACK Plan Viewer            

STACK Catalogs

You can read more detailed information about these products at this link:

From STACK’s “history” page (which I found especially interesting because I had no idea that the people behind STACK were co-founders of iSqFt):

Thanks for visiting and welcome to our site. We are dedicated to helping you learn more about our exciting new Cloud based technology for working with blueprints on screen!

A little history and the story of Buildware, and STACK Construction Technologies:

In the mid-1990s while working in the construction industry, my son Justin (then only 15) and I put together an estimating software program that we called Buildware Pro. Originally targeting the commercial roofing industry, Buildware Pro allowed you to measure paper plans using a digitizer, or even on your computer screen if you had a digital PDF or TIF file. We enjoyed success from the very beginning and by the time Justin was 17 we had sold 1/2 a million dollars' worth of our construction software!

Measuring on screen led me to a new idea… one where GCs could distribute plans in digital form to their subs and suppliers, via the Internet. During the same time frame my friends Al and Tracy Battle had started the first ever "Internet Plan Room" and partnered with the AGC in Atlanta to distribute plans for public projects to subs and suppliers in that market. Al, Tracy and I put our companies together and was born.

Justin, Jane Baysore and I left a few years back with the idea of making plans easier than ever to work with on screen and Cloud Takeoff was born.

We're very proud to announce the next evolution of our company STACK Construction Technologies, which includes STACK Takeoff, STACK Estimating, and STACK Plan Viewer.

STACK brings together the very latest in web technologies to deliver a powerful yet surprisingly easy to use, web based software as a service solution. We believe that STACK will transform the way the construction industry works, estimates and collaborates using digital plans. It is our mission to continue to improve, integrate with more and more plan rooms and to infuse STACK with additional sources of real time data for the benefit of all industry participants.      

Here’s a bit more history – from an article that was published in the Cincinnati Business Courier back in July 2015:

“Here's how a Cincinnati contractor became CEO of a fast-growing tech startup”

As the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and eventually you’ll be the CEO of a fast-growing tech company that doubles its revenue and employees from year to year.

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how the saying goes, but it worked for Phil Ogilby.

Ogilby pioneered software that allows contractors to use digital blueprints to estimate the cost of a project and the amount of materials they’ll need. This enables users to save time and provide better pricing quotes.

As in any industry, however, Ogilby’s technology moved faster than investors and clients, and it took hundreds of “no's” for him to get to where he is today at the plush Mason office where his current company, STACK Construction Technology, is based.

“It’s not for the meek,” he told me. “There was one point where I made 20 different visits to major cities to pitch to venture capitalists, and each one told me no.”

Ogilby’s entrepreneurial journey began in 1995 when he brought home his first personal computer. At the time, he was in the commercial roofing business, and he began using a spreadsheet program to estimate the cost of projects.

One day, Ogilby came home to find his 14-year-old son, Justin, playing a simple computer game he had created using code. That gave Ogilby an idea: What if he and his son could write a program that made estimating easier? So they went to the library and checked out all of the computer programming books they could find.

Three years later, they succeeded in creating a program they called Buildware Pro, which allowed contractors to measure blueprints electronically. They made more than $500,000 on the program during the next few years.

In 1999, Ogilby decided to partner with Al and Tracy Battle, the creators of the first Internet plan room, to start iSqFt, an industry information provider that sells project bidding news. Ogilby traveled around the country pitching the idea for the new company but was rejected at every turn.

“Everybody loved it, but nobody invested,” Ogilby said.

Finally, a Blue Ash real estate investor gave the team $500,000 in 2000 to get the business up and running. The next year, Ogilby brought on local business development expert Dave Conway, and the two raised the company’s first round of venture capital from Chrysalis Ventures and River Cities Capital Funds. Soon, they had large contractors like Messer Construction using their product across the country.

Ogilby and his son left iSqFt in 2008, but the company has continued its success. It merged with Chicago-based BidClerk in 2014 and was sold last December to Genstar Capital. iSqFt currently employs 550 at its office in Blue Ash and was approved in June for a 65 percent, six-year job creation tax credit. The company is considering moving its headquarters out of Cincinnati.

It took Ogilby and his son two years to develop the platform for their new business, but in 2010, they launched Cloud Takeoff, which offers a suite of measuring and estimating tools that allow contractors to bid and collaborate using digital blueprints. This design is a “return to roots” for him and his son, Ogilby said, since the first program they ever created performed similar tasks. They changed the product’s name in December from Cloud Takeoff to STACK.

Ogilby, his wife Jane Baysore and his son were the sole employees at STACK until 2013, when an expanding customer base called for hiring and another round of fundraising. CincyTech, a seed-stage tech company investor, helped the team raise $1 million. STACK raised another $1 million in private investment last year and received a $1 million loan from the state of Ohio.

STACK went from three employees in 2013 to 25 this year, and Ogilby said that number will double in the next year as the company hires more software engineers and support positions. The company’s revenue also doubled from 2013 to 2014.

STACK is currently in talks with several major manufacturers about integrating their products into the company’s software. This would enable contractors not only to view the amount of materials needed for a project but to order those materials with the click of a button.

It would also solve a lot of issues for manufacturers, who struggle to reach their ultimate customers. Currently, the best manufacturers can do is buy a lead, which tells them which subcontractors are working on a given project, and then attempt to contact those subcontractors.

STACK also is launching a new service called STACK To-Go for clients who are crunched for time and need their estimating performed by a third party.

Even after founding three successful construction technology companies and forging a career in software development, Ogilby still considers himself a construction man first and foremost.

“I really see myself still as a contractor,” he said.

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