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Mary Ludloff
By
February 19, 2019

Leading construction contractor chooses to build a no-code solution over buying Procore software

Front Range Excavating streamlined management and saved thousands of dollars using AppSheet’s cutting-edge no-code app development platform.

For more than 30 years, Front Range Excavating has provided construction, excavation, and environmental services to commercial property owners in Colorado’s Front Range region.  

Together, the company’s 35 managers, field employees, drivers, and mechanics complete around 25 major projects every year.

Loader_Home2There is little room for error in this type of environment. Even the smallest oversight can lead to injuries, project delays, and other negative consequences. Succeeding in this space starts with having a reliable internal management system that makes it easy to store data, share notes, and update team members on new development. To keep everyone aligned, real-time communication is critical.

Scott Nance, vice president of Front Range, has used several construction management platforms over the last several years. But he was disappointed with each one he tried. Platforms like Procore cost thousands of dollars per year but don’t guarantee a positive user experience. According to Nance, the team was frustrated with the lack of customization and flexibility each platform offered. Front Range required a solution that could meet their exact needs.  

“Most platforms are meant for general contractors or larger operations,” Nance explains. “They offer a lot of features. But most of them don’t apply to what we do as a specialized subcontractor. We wanted something that could go deeper. ”

Nance’s team needs to track things like labor and equipment, trucking, materials, and subcontractors on a regular basis.

“There are certain details within those groups that aren’t easily captured with standard apps—like tonnage or yardage when a truck is hauling items and load counts,” Nance continues. “Those details can be very tricky to record with generic software. The services we tried all required workarounds and none of them were very beneficial. They were also expensive.”

Since none of the existing solutions on the market met his needs, Nance decided to build an app himself.

Front Range discovers AppSheet

Nance stumbled across AppSheet’s no-code platform two years ago when he was building a form in Google. He was blown away at what he could create on his own with just a working knowledge of spreadsheets.

Nance, after all, does not come from a technical background. His experience is in construction.

Leveraging AppSheet’s renowned online community—and his wits—Nance was able to create a robust app that automates a variety of tasks like reporting, payroll, maintenance, and repairs. The app also provides email and text notifications, making it easy for team members to see important messages throughout the day.

“I started building some basic forms, then let my imagination run,” Nance explains. “At first, we started using AppSheet to quickly capture data from the field. But the more we experimented with the platform, the more features we were able to discover and leverage.”

Creating custom apps quickly

On average, it takes at least six months to build an enterprise app.

Thanks to AppSheet, it took Nance only one month to create a fully operational app that seamlessly captured every process in his company. The app can handle very large sets of data, which the company stores in a single Google file that has 30 different sheets. Each sheet has about 20 columns. Altogether, there are thousands of rows full of information.FRE App - Job Details   

Nance is still tinkering with the app today. In fact, he’s getting ready to release a major update.

Right now, there are about 10 employees using the app for backend management and equipment maintenance. For example, the company’s shopkeepers, mechanics, technicians, and general superintendent all use the app to schedule and track repairs. Each machine can be entered and tracked for needing repairs—like low fluid levels and inadequate tire pressure.

Front Range is in the process of scaling their app, though, and will soon roll the solution out to every employee in the company.

For example, the company plans to release a field app for employees in non-managerial positions. This app will provide access to daily schedules, contact information, time cards, vacation and reimbursement requests, and more—basically anything that relates to an employee on a personal level. This will be a smaller version of the company’s management app, which offers the same features along with advanced reporting and governance tools.

According to Nance, each department will have its own version of the app, tailored to their exact needs.

“The newest rendition will save us at least two days’ worth of administrative work in the office,” Nance said. “Our payroll alone will be cut from a full-day’s worth of work down to maybe 30 minutes. We also plan to streamline many other processes—like writing hourly tickets, managing personnel, calculating load counts, and more.”

The app also helps Front Range keep up with maintenance, repairs and numerous safety requirements mandated by the state and federal government.

“We have safety meetings that we have to hold periodically,” Nance explained. “With AppSheet, we’re able to record those and email those to superintendents the minute they happen.”

Front Range’s custom app also enables them track repairs in real time, which helps them see exactly which machines are getting serviced and what appointments are coming up.

“We’re now able to do all of those tasks on a phone instead of having to do them on a computer,” Nance said. “This means no more clunky equipment laying around the shop.”

What can you build with AppSheet?

We asked Nance for some advice to share with other AppSheet users who are just starting out.

Nance pointed back to AppSheet’s online community, which continues to inspire him.

“There are people posting some absolutely amazing solutions to various problems,” Nance concluded. “Search through there and start thinking of the different things you want to include—whether that’s advanced reporting, email notification, charts or graphs. Use your imagination. If you can think of it, AppSheet can probably do it. You just have to figure out what it looks like and how to go about it.”

Curious about what you can build with AppSheet? The short answer: whatever your business needs.  Take a look at these sample apps to get an idea.

Interested in exploring how AppSheet supports larger enterprises?

Check out KLB Construction's in-depth case study to learn how a Seattle-based company transformed their inspections, operations, and reporting systems for hundreds of employees and contractors. Or, get in touch with your specific needs.

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