No one can say that being a part of the construction industry is easy. Building something out of practically nothing, managing massive and diverse teams and dealing with the changing nature of project conditions, all contribute to the day-to-day challenges of building. Throw in tight profit margins and schedules, and it can seem overwhelming for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, for some of us, the challenge is half the fun–and the reason why we stay.
For John Foster, Director of Construction for Patton AC, a Fresno-based HVAC contractor, the constant and changing obstacles of the industry keeps him on his toes. With nearly two decades of experience in the industry, he speaks with us in this week’s edition of “Behind the Build.” Below, he discusses the community-shaping project he’s most proud to be a part of as well as how technology has helped his company stay Lean.
What first got you into construction?
My family owned and operated a window covering manufacturing business in Los Angeles. Once I graduated from college, I started a retail business in the booming housing industry. I’ve now been a part of the industry for 18 years.
Why do you continue to build today?
I enjoy a challenge. The ever-changing and advancing commercial construction industry is a great place for that.
What do you love most about the industry?
I love that the industry is open to change and advancement.
There is never a shortage of industry leaders who are willing to take on these new challenges and opportunities.
Which project are you most proud of and why?
Looking back, I’m most proud of being a part of the Clovis Community Cancer Center. It’s one of California’s state-of-the-art cancer treatment facilities that will have a positive impact on our community for years to come.
What do you spend the most time doing at work?
I spend most of my time projecting, planning and coordinating manpower across our many projects and divisions.
What’s the most frustrating part of your day job?
The lack of information. We strive to be Lean within our company, and nothing is more frustrating than when you are not given the whole picture. Whether it’s gaps in scope, incomplete submittals or uncoordinated schedules, it’s a pain when information is missing.
Any recommendations or thoughts you want to share with the next generation of builders?
The time has come to embrace, not fear, technology. 3D modeling, digital technology in the field, Lean principles have all become the norm, and they’re not going away.
How has technology changed the way you work in construction?
Primarily, it has improved efficiency. In every way, the advancements in technology have streamlined the flow of accurate and timely information.
How did you first start using PlanGrid?
We adopted PlanGrid into our daily workflow here at Patton AC approximately two years ago. We first started with a trial account and quickly moved forward with implementing the technology across all of our divisions and employees.
How do you benefit the most from PlanGrid?
The technology has contributed to our elimination of waste. I don’t remember the last time that we printed a set of plans or submittals. Even greater than the materials savings is the immediate transfer of accurate information that is the true benefit and hard to quantify.
My favorite feature is Sheet Compare. Since things are constantly changing in construction, there is no better tool to track quickly identify and quantify what those changes are.