What I love most about my job is the time that I spend on the phone talking to readers, PR people, and manufacturers. It’s casual, comfortable, easy, and essential to writing good stuff for our readers.
A couple weeks ago, I spent the better part of an hour talking with Jon Antevy, CEO and co-founder of Ft. Lauderdale, FL-based e-builder.net (www. e-builder.net). I found him to be a very honest person and, above all else, a good businessman and true gentleman. Our conversation lead from one area of project management to another.
We talked at great length about how difficult it can be for building owners to choose the appropriate project management tools to integrate each member of the project management team. “What building owners need to understand is that their responsibility in organizing the project management team is kind of a dual role. First, to intersect all the different types of communication that take place throughout the construction process. Perhaps even more importantly, to choose a venue for that communication to effectively happen,” explains Antevy.
His business focuses on the building owner as the hub through which all decisions, changes, and verification have to happen. “In the majority of cases, it is the building owner who establishes what type of integrated software/Internet system will be used to coordinate and maintain the scheduling, change orders, budget information, permits and inspections, faxes, invoicing, and more. Having a system in place that is easily adaptable to each member of the project team is paramount to the success of the project,” he says.
Choosing a system that is scalable to the specific needs of the building owner rather than choosing a system that “does it all” is much more beneficial to the entire project team. A system with lots of bells and whistles doesn’t necessarily make it the best system for every application. Expandable systems offer building owners the flexibility to add on additional features as their needs increase. This also decreases the time that it takes users to learn the system and to successfully input and download the information stored there.
“Any building owner who is involved with a variety of construction projects year in and year out, vs. those who are only dealing with one or two, is real smart about construction and wants to know as much as they can about the building process and take a very hands-on approach to the process,” says Antevy.
I asked him about the history of his company with regard to his philosophy on building owner involvement. “We became incorporated in 1995. The first competitor came three years later and is no longer in business.” The biggest thing that went wrong for other companies like Antevy’s was that they expected the market to take to this technology a lot quicker. “My uncle is a contractor. He does about $5 million a year. I think that the real acceptance of this technology is still five to seven years off,” notes Antevy.
For Antevy and his partners – David Gruber and brother, Ron Antevy – everything was pretty crazy during the dotcom gold rush days. He explains: “For a while, we went to trade shows and saw advances in software beyond what we were doing. We were constantly getting press releases on new features being offered to clients and so we kept very busy just trying to stay one-up on our competitors.” That was a decision that Antevy believes could have eventually ruined the business.
“Ultimately, we made the decision to listen to our clients and realized that we already had what it was that they were looking for and we had had it for more than a year. That was the real turning point for us. I think that pulling out of the rat race was the best business decision that we could have made at the time. We’re still here, and business is doing well,” he says.
To-date, e-builder.net is a stable, steady-growth company with some of the most impressive open protocol features available through the Internet that I’ve seen yet. His reply to me when asked how competitive his niche in the industry is these days: “It’s a great time to be in business. The demand is certainly on the rise, but I think that there is plenty of room for healthy growth for everyone.”
Spoken like a true gentleman.Clara M.W. Vangen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is technologies editor at Buildings magazine.