While there are plenty of construction estimating and project management tools available, many small to mid-sized asphalt paving companies have felt neglected when it comes to creating accurate, reliable proposals, handling bidding and all aspects of customer engagement.
Pittbos, a Boston-based startup, aims to provide a more approachable, budget-friendly project management solution for asphalt contractors. The software is designed to give field and office teams complete visibility into projects to drive better business decisions.
“We look at pen and paper as our competition. This is for the smaller contractors that have nothing,” says Pittbos CEO and co-founder Mark Peach. “A guy that has a $5 million business is not going to spend $30,000 on an estimating system that is really complex to use, requires a server and has software you have to update all the time.”
How it works
The cloud-based solution costs $100 per user per month and can be accessed via desktop or mobile device. Users get a real-time overview of key business metrics such as proposal status, remaining backlog, the total amount invoiced, recent project activity and the local weather.
Pittbos speeds up estimating by capturing and storing all of the user’s labor and equipment types, crews, material types, trucking providers and material suppliers. Once the initial template is created, users can apply quantity or production rates to each project. Branding, contract conditions and payment terms can be preloaded into estimate templates, and proposals can be sent directly from the system.
Once a proposal is sent, it is automatically logged into the customer relationship management (CRM) system. Follow-up emails and texts can be sent directly to the client, and sales representatives can enter status notes and updates.
If the proposal is accepted, the job is pushed into the backlog of active projects. The project information can be tailored to the information needs of both field and office staff.
“We strip out all of the financial information automatically and just give the crews their goals, where they’re buying the materials, how to contact the plant and how to contact the customer,” says Peach.
After the job is finished, an invoice can be sent from the system. The job is then automatically moved from the backlog and marked as complete.
Additional features include document storage for files and photos, as well as a notes section for tracking details such as measurements or progress updates.
Down the road, Peach would like the platform to become a seamless communication system between contractors and asphalt plants for more efficient ordering. “Inside the backlog, we want to provide the ability to order your mix, get a receipt back that it has been ordered and get into the scheduling with the plant and provide them with all of that information.”
From idea to reality
Over the past 20 years, Peach has held a variety of positions in the construction materials industry. His diverse experiences gave him a clear vision of what was lacking when it came to communication and business management throughout the asphalt and aggregates sectors.
“When I was a Benevento Companies, we had a line out the door every day,” says Peach. “It was great for the business but there were trucks that would get there at 7 a.m. and not get loaded until 10 a.m. I knew there had to be a better way.”
But it was a family trip to Disney World that sparked Peach’s big idea. “We were using fast passes and I thought, ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’”
Peach enlisted the help of a friend in the tech space and built a prototype to allow trucks to schedule their mix pickup times and reduce the amount of wasted time sitting in line. He began collaborating on concepts with Truckx and HaulHub while at Benevento, but ultimately decided to strike out on his own.
“I was always frustrated with estimating. I had 10 sales guys and two administrators that were constantly picking up their breadcrumbs and trying to put it together into a report we could all digest to read the market and make better decisions,” says Peach. “But it was so labor intensive, and I always felt like it was not very good. And meanwhile, we were working our butts off to get it.”
Peach says his goal is to make the product user-friendly, simple to input and the best experience possible. “We know the market. We know that if these guys get on there and find one problem, they’ll throw it out and move on.”
After a year and a half of design and development, the minimum viable product for Pittbos launched in January and currently has more than 20 active accounts. While the product has been self-funded, the company will be seeking investor funding soon.