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Building a Foundation in Friendship: How a Boomer and Millennial Formed an Unlikely Friendship Through Construction Software

How PlanGrid Builds Relationships, Not Just Software

The holiday season always has us always thinking about relationships: family, friendships and those who mean the most to us. While we are obligated to spend time with people we’re related to during the holidays, there are other relationships we nurture by choice—friendships we’ve often forged by sheer coincidence.

As I reflect on my own experiences at the start of the holiday season, one relationship I formed with a customer comes to mind. So, here’s the story of one such unlikely friendship I forged with a PlanGrid Customer named Marty—a relationship that began as a random coincidence, but developed into a bond through our mutual love of mobile construction software and more.

Back in the Day…

In mid-2015, when I had been at PlanGrid for maybe half a year, I would walk past our neighboring building almost every day on the way into our office in San Francisco’s Mission District. This building was under renovation. And like most construction sites in San Francisco, there was a sign in front of the building with the name General Contractor, Plant Construction.

I would say one hundred percent of the company that worked at PlanGrid headquarters on Shotwell Street at this time definitely remembers the massive amounts of construction that was going on next door, and we justified the constant noise because we knew employees at Plant Construction were PlanGrid users, and that filled us with pride, so we happily put up with the sound of jackhammers during meetings.

Although we knew Plant Construction was using our software to digitize their construction documents and blueprints for mobile, the thing that made us all scratch our heads though was that there was a paper set of plans smack in the middle of the atrium they had set up on the Superintendent’s desk. We all saw firsthand this PlanGrid project progressing next to us, but with paper plans, it concerned us that they weren’t maximizing their productivity with our software. So one afternoon, when the talk of our neighboring customers using paper plans was buzzing amongst the office, I decided to get to the bottom of this and find out why a company using PlanGrid also had paper plans sitting around the office.

Meet Marty Shoemaker, Superintendent at Plant Construction and All Around Bad-Ass.

After entering the site, I walked up to this superintendent and introduced myself as his neighbor next door for the last 6 months and asked if he knew we were neighbors. Our conversation went something like:

Me: “Hey Marty, great to meet you. I work next door at PlanGrid.”

Marty: “Get the hell out of here, we use PlanGrid, you guys are really our neighbors on this project?”

Me: “Yup, and I’m actually stoked to hear you say that. We all walk past your site every day and see that paper set on the desk there and were all wondering if you all were really utilizing PlanGrid to its fullest.”

Marty: “Oh ya, that’s for whenever someone who doesn’t have PlanGrid needs to take a glance, but no one on my team messes with that now.”

After this initial discussion, we actually talked for a while about my motorcycle since I would sometimes ride to work and park right in between our two buildings; he subsequently told me about his motorcycle and Mustang. In a matter of no time, an instant friendship had been forged. Two guys, one 23-year-old just starting his career and an experienced and a weathered Super, bonding over the stuff we like to spend our paychecks on.

But before I said goodbye I also asked, “Hey Marty, you mind showing me PlanGrid on your iPad, just curious about how you guys are using it.”

I ended up asking him if I could also capture a quick video, as some of my colleagues were already curious what was up. One of my favorite quotes includes,

“The ease of use. It’s totally awesome. I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

You can also watch the video from our conversation:

…Fast Forward to Today

Over the course of these last several years, Marty and I have stayed in touch here and there, mostly connecting with our love for all things automotive. But nearly two and a half years later since our first meeting, I called Marty up and told him that we were looking to see how PlanGrid relates to its customers. I figured there isn’t a cooler customer than Marty, besides from being one of the hardest workers out there—and it was a good excuse for us to catch up in person.

So, Marty being the boss that he is, agrees to have me at his office to do an informal interview. Although the interview was only about 10 minutes long, the meeting lasted about an hour. We ended up spending the majority of that time talking about camping trips, a new RV, jet skiing, and all the things engine related. Sprinkle in some talk around our trucks (that’s construction related right?) and made plans to have lunch in a month, before saying goodbye.

What we did cover about PlanGrid was that the software is still helping their projects stay on track. You can listen to the whole audio from the interview or read some of my favorite highlights from our chat below:

Me: “What do you like most about PlanGrid?”

Marty: “Clearly, just the usability factor is helpful and I’m not packing 15 lbs of drawings around. The navigational portion has also gotten better and better. Everyone’s using it, my engineers, architects, it’s great.”

Me: “How does it help you on projects?”

Marty: “It does have the ability to take details and to discuss electronically back and forth, with markups. In the old days (before PlanGrid), we had to do a sketch or snapshot and then by hand, mark it up, fax it over, and then they would redline it, and send it back. There wasn’t any other way.”

I guess the biggest realization I’ve had from this interaction is that the end of the day, construction is a people industry. Although our software has helped build that office renovation project on Shotwell Street in San Francisco, state of the art hospitals around the world, world-class stadiums, and so much more, we do it all by building relationships first. And a lot of the times, those relationships turn into two dudes who typically would never know each other, into friends with a few years apart but with the same passion for hard work and enjoying life.

Saaman Entezarmahdi

Saaman leads PlanGrid's Western Business Development team, which focuses on connecting technology deprived contractors with the PlanGrid field sales team. He is passionate about serving the construction industry with efficient software and the internal sales team with opportunities to enable future customers. When he is not helping future clients connect with local PlanGrid pros, he enjoys restoring Honda motorcycles and dirt-biking in his hometown of San Jose.

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