Locust Hill Tudor Lake Minnetonka, built with BuildTools. Image courtesy of Stonewood, LLC.
Since 1920, Stonewood has been at the forefront of custom-home innovation. A family business for four generations and currently led by J. Sven Gustafson, Stonewood operates out of Wayzata, Minnesota, and builds custom homes throughout the greater Minneapolis area.
The need: increase efficiency and volume, not headcount
“The construction business is one of information, organization, and management,” says Stonewood’s President, Sven Gustafson. When Gustafson took over the family business, he immediately recognized the need for organization, forms, and processes. His crew was spending much of their valuable time on tasks such as documentation, scheduling, budget adjustments, and reconciling information between all their separate systems. “We needed a framework that could bring together every little procedure, to organize all the information we were working with on a day-to-day basis.”
Stonewood was among the first companies to implement BuildTools years ago, and Gustafson has praised the software as the reason for his company’s resulting growth. By utilizing BuildTools to organize all its processes and communications in one common and accessible place, Stonewood has multiplied its efficiency.
“Within months we had grown significantly in terms of volume, but without increasing the headcount by one single team member. We went from doing $5 million worth of work to $25 million, without increasing our headcount. We’ve been able to grow without breaking because now we’ve got the structure to do it.”
It’s all about the structure
“In any given market, like ours here in Minneapolis,” says Gustafson, “the unrecognized truth is that, whether you hire me or one of my primary competitors, when you go watch your house being built, it’s probably going to be all the same guys—Joe, Steve, Mike, we all draw from the same pool of subcontractors. The same roofers, framers, and material suppliers.
The difference isn’t that I have better painters or cabinet makers and so on, the real difference is in our processes and how we manage them.”
BuildTools offers builders the structure to very simply centralize all day-to-day tasks of custom home building, from the initial quote to the final walkthrough with the client. Stonewood benefitted immediately, and increasingly over time, as the team adopted the system. “BuildTools has improved everything we do,” says Gustafson.
North Arm Retreat, built with BuildTools. Image courtesy of Stonewood, LLC.
Reclaiming productivity time
As BuildTools became the central hub for information, Stonewood was able to reclaim vast amounts of their team’s most productive hours throughout the day.
“Knowing that all the information is automatically organized and being able to get to any bit of it throughout the day has changed everything,” relates Gustafson. Tasks that used to require collection of data from five different sources was now as simple as opening a single project folder within the BuildTools app. Information can be shared instantly with team members, subcontractors, and clients by simply checking a box. “We’ve run jobs without ever making a call to schedule work.
We keep the online schedule updated and accurate and let the contractors know that they need to pay attention. It works, and we’re much more efficient as a result.”
Subcontractors love it, too
“I am surprised how well the subcontractors have taken to it,” says Gustafson. “They love it as much as we do because it saves all of us—the PMs, the subs, the owners—so much time day-to-day. It’s just plain efficient.”
North Arm Modern, built with BuildTools. Image courtesy of Stonewood, LLC.
When changes occur on a job, whether it be a change order, a schedule update, or any number of things that could create the need to send around new information to your crew, BuildTools automatically informs subcontractors of the vital details instantly. No need to make five phone calls or text messages, no more mass emails. BuildTools allows you to make the change and move on with confidence, knowing that the message has been relayed to the right people.
“All of a sudden we have to do less work for our subcontractors, and they’re able to get the job done without having to bother us,” says Gustafson. “We don’t need to rely on some paper schedule that someone has in the notebook in their truck anymore. It saves us all a lot of time.”
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