PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
Why I joined PlanGrid

Why I joined PlanGrid

Kevin Halter is a Cofounder and former President of Getable

About two months ago, I accepted a job at PlanGrid as their Director of Sales and Strategic Partnerships for the Western U.S. Here’s why:

Market opportunity

Construction is the largest industry in the world affecting people and physical infrastructure across the world, such as new roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals. It is the second-largest mobile, skilled workforce (healthcare is #1), with labor rates of $80–120/hour for a skilled electrician in San Francisco. Time is money.

Construction is the only industry that has not seen any productivity improvements in 40 years, because the workforce is rarely sitting behind a computer; they are in the field building the structure. The industry hasn’t been able to take advantage of computing productivity, compared to every other industry, because this industry is mobile-first.

Historically, construction has seen the lowest rate of technology adoption, because tablets & smartphones are relatively new and applications needed to be developed specifically to serve this industry and its use cases. In addition, contractors demand applications, which are easy-to-use and implement. They do not have the time to deploy an application, which takes weeks or months to learn — they need to sign-up and receive value within minutes. Any superintendent or foremen has to be able to start using your app immediately with minimal training required.

Impact

Contractors typically work extremely long, 12+ hr days, often times commuting long-distances and working outside in difficult weather conditions. The job is hard work, but very rewarding. Contractors miss putting their kids to bed, spending time with their loved ones, and too many hours stuck in traffic trying to get their job done. They put in long hours to make all of our lives better with beautiful, new, state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, offices, and airports.

One of my best friends builds new power plants across the country, so we can power our iPhones, iPads, flatscreen TV’s, and lights. He would commute in a van with his fellow co-workers to a remote job-site and they would take turns driving and sleeping to and from the site every day. If you can save these skilled professionals, like my friend, 1–2 hours/day, it makes a big difference in their lives. They can tuck their kids into bed at night, spend time with their wife or husband, and get a decent night of sleep for themselves. The ability to positively impact the lives of these hard-working men and women and their families drives me.

State and federal governments are constantly slashing infrastructure budgets and under-funding the necessary spending to keep the U.S. a world-class nation and economy. We see bridges literally collapsing on the 6 o’clock news and pothole-filled roads, which resemble a third-world country right in front of our eyes. If we are able to build new subways, highways, and schools faster and more efficiently with technology, we can do more with the same budget. We all can see our roads and infrastructure crumbling, so this is something we can all get behind and where we can have an enormous impact.

The product

Contractors LOVE PlanGrid! I had never seen a superintendent pay for software out of their own pocket, until PlanGrid. I had never heard a superintendent tell a project manager to buy a particular piece of software, because it is going to save their project time and money, until PlanGrid. I had never heard of a contractor wining a bid, because they used a particular piece of software, until PlanGrid. Superintendents are literally purchasing tablets just to use PlanGrid in the field, because they see the financial savings right in front of their eyes. Easy-to-use with instant and proven ROI — that has always been the secret sauce of PlanGrid.

Leading general contractors are using PlanGrid in their pitches to win new business and build stronger relationships with clients and subcontractors. Owners LOVE PlanGrid, because they are given increased transparency, real-time communication, and improved collaboration across all stakeholders. PlanGrid results in financial savings due to printing less paper, increasing labor productivity (people aren’t waiting around for the current set of blueprints), preventing re-work (there is one set of truth — PlanGrid’s current sheet), and removing schedule impacts with real-time communication from the field to the office and vice versa (receive an RFI or issue at 9 am, instead of 9 pm or later that week).

PlanGrid is mobile-first and field-first, where 90% of construction costs are spent. Field labor alone represents 50–60% of a project’s budget. PlanGrid is tackling and positively impacting cost and schedule, which leads to a project being on-time, on-budget, and profitable.

I watched PlanGrid grow from its humble beginnings on construction job-sites in Northern California to serving projects in 200 countries, becoming the largest online repository of construction blueprints, and being used by more contractors than any other mobile application. This success happened, because superintendents, foremen, and project engineers shared PlanGrid with their colleagues, their subcontractors, their general contractors, their architects, and their owners. As they say in construction, it is a small world with a powerful word-of-mouth — you either win or lose big.

One of my friends, a senior superintendent at Granite Construction, told me two years ago: “Kevin, if you ever decide to leave your own company, you should apply for a job at this company, PlanGrid. Their mobile app is amazing!” He was right.

Team

I have known Tracy, Ralph, Ryan, and Kenny, since the beginning of their company. They were impressive construction managers, who knew the industry and exact problems they were solving, and world-class engineers from Pixar and Purdue, who were experts in rendering and cloud technology. Tracy and Ralph were recruiting me for several years, but I would always say that I had my own company to run. They would reply, “it would be great to work together someday.” Those sentiments were mutual and never forgotten by me.

When I left my company, Tracy was my first call. Tracy and Ralph cleared their schedule and met me for a drink at a local bar. They supported me professionally AND personally. They encouraged me to take some time off to re-charge and to reach out, when I was ready to hop back into something.

After taking a few months off to be with friends and family, I reached out to Tracy, who cleared her busy schedule again. We met up and discussed a few different roles at the company and the opportunity to work for her VP of Sales, Bill Smith, who she adored and had been having a big impact ever since he joined the company. She asked me to bring my experience and skill-sets to PlanGrid and help make it an even stronger company. She knew my strengths, because we had gotten to know each other over several years. We had been at the same industry events and worked with many of the same contractors.

Tracy’s honesty and straight-shooting personality is what makes her so special — you have to be honest and transparent with your employees, potential hires, customers, and business partners or you will never build a large, successful company. Tracy is one of the primary reasons why I’m at PlanGrid. She truly cares about her customers (they were her!), her employees (I’m thrilled to finally be one!), and the construction industry (she worked for one of the leaders).

Career opportunity

Bill Smith, PlanGrid’s VP of Sales, is a primary reason why I’m here, too. He built Taleo’s midsize business from 0–200 salespeople across the nation, until Oracle purchased Taleo for $2B several years ago. PlanGrid’s active user count and revenue are both growing faster than Taleo, its total market size is larger, and it has been doing this without a nationwide salesforce! Bill has been there and done that. Most importantly, he cares about his people. When Bill joined PlanGrid, many of his former sales leaders joined the company to lead sales operations in the Northeast, Southeast, and throughout the country. They wanted to work for Bill again and build an industry-leading, global brand and company.

To positively impact the largest industry in the world is an opportunity of a lifetime. To work for, learn from, and be mentored by Bill Smith is as big of an opportunity. (By the way, we are hiring!)

My experience

The opportunity to leverage my prior experience building a company in the construction technology market and how to bring new innovations to this industry. The opportunity to work again with my friends and colleagues at general contractors, subcontractors, and construction software firms across the country and serve hard-working men and women building tomorrow’s infrastructure. The opportunity to lead the Western Region sales team to support top owners, contractors, and subcontractors with PlanGrid and help them deliver projects on-time and on-budget. The opportunity to lead PlanGrid’s partnerships and integrations with technology and service providers — truly build an eco-system of partners to provide even greater value to our end-users and customers together.

The opportunity to impact the largest industry in the world. The opportunity to save some of the hardest working people across the globe time and money. The opportunity to join the team that defined an entire new category of software — mobile, field productivity and collaboration for the construction industry.

Whenever you accept a new job, you want to know that you can have a big impact right away and for years to come. That’s the opportunity that I have at PlanGrid.

Define a new category

PlanGrid defined a new category of software — mobile, field productivity and collaboration to positively impact the costs and schedules of building new highways, bridges, hospitals, and schools.

It is a chance of a lifetime to lead a whole new category of software and define it for years to come. We are opening up our API to integrate and partner with other leading construction software providers to provide contractors and owners even greater value. We are building an eco-system of the leading construction software and service providers.

Summary

This was one of the biggest career decisions of my life. Since joining PlanGrid two months ago, I can honestly say that the market opportunity, product roadmap, leadership, team, and culture at PlanGrid is even better than I ever could have imagined. It has been an amazing first two months as PlanGrid’s new Director of Sales and Strategic Partnerships. We are actively hiring across all roles, so please reach out to me via LinkedIn, if you would like to join our team.

Please reach out to me

If you are a leading general contractor, subcontractor, or owner interested in leveraging PlanGrid to save time and money, please reach out to me via LinkedIn.

If you are a top construction software, hardware, or service provider interested in a strategic partnership, please reach out to me via LinkedIn.

If you are a proven software engineer, product leader, software sales executive, or are hard-working and passionate about the built world and technology and want to join PlanGrid’s team, please send your resume via my referral link or reach out via LinkedIn.


Originally published on December 7, 2015

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