Earlier this week, we announced the winners of our 5th Annual Axe Contest. After seeing the inspiring photos from our 10 winners and finalists, we knew we had to learn more about the teams and projects they captured. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories from our winners and finalists in our “Behind the Build” blog series.
This week, we speak with Axe Contest winner, Matt Hoey, AIA, NCARB, Director of Business Innovation at Marx|Okubo Associates, Inc. Below, learn how a love for fly fishing inspired him to embark on now a nearly 20-year career in the construction industry and how technological advancements have allowed his team to excel in groundbreaking projects of nearly every type from coast-to-coast.
What first got you into construction?
The construction life for me began with saltwater fly fishing on Nantucket. Being a guide was a seasonal gig and left much of the year needing to find a way to fill my bank account from another source. One off-season I was presented an opportunity from a lifelong friend to throw my hat in the custom residential construction ring on the island. I had no specific agenda or career ambition with this other than making ends meet financially and hopefully understanding for the first time what lies behind wall paint.
I began as a general laborer and learned my way to a carpenter. A love for the crew and comradery was quick to blossom, while less obvious to me then was a burgeoning passion for the built environment. Fast-forward several years, I moved to Denver with my wife where I obtained a Master’s of Architecture degree while working for the leading national AEC consulting firm. Eventually, we moved back to the Bay Area where I became a licensed California architect.
What do you love most about the industry?
I love the connection I feel to people all working toward a common goal, even when some days that common goal appears less obvious. In the end, everyone’s efforts are meaningful and tangible.
Any thoughts you want to share with the next generation of builders?
Whether you’re in (or interested in) the trades, developing your craft or on the design or management side, there is space and a need for your talents (especially all you brilliant and strong women). Even if you’re like me at first, and you don’t know what you’re capable of yet–keep going!
How has technology changed the way you work in construction?
Technology began impacting my workflow in construction shortly after the release of the iPad, and once solid productivity apps began filling the App Store. Now, with mobile access to content pretty much solved several years ago, we are seeing technology continuing (and accelerating) to change construction from the open cloud-effect.
For the first time aggregation of all data created is possible, from project inception through operations, which can be integrated to allow project stakeholders and teams to gain insights that have not previously existed, and ask questions never thought of before. I’m not sure what form this next evolution of the construction industry will take as a result, but it’s a good bet that more change is on the horizon.
When and how did you first start using PlanGrid?
I first downloaded PlanGrid and every other available PDF document reading app in 2013, in my quest to find a way to engage a set of drawings on an iPad that was not maddening to use. I’ll never forget when that quest ended for me; I was sitting on a beach in Half Moon Bay with my wife and two young boys (not in my office) reviewing drawings for one of my projects on PlanGrid–end of story.
Communication is king in construction and PlanGrid has been the most successful tool we have used to literally be on the (right) same page with designers, Owners, subcontractors, and consultants–collaborating and solving problems from anywhere on any device.
What’s your favorite PlanGrid feature?
Until recently, it has been Tasks (previously called Issues) because it elevated PlanGrid from a good drawing referencing tool to a great construction communication platform that provides productivity gains at almost any point of the project life cycle. Then came Workspaces, which for me and my company is a game changer. It allows us to establish ownership of content for any project we are invited to. We no longer need to clone or duplicate our own project, divorced from the official project, to realize all the benefits of PlanGrid and maintaining a single-source of truth–super awesome!