'I Was Hoping I Could Die Before I Had to Learn How to Run Computers'

The second-generation owner (along with his two brothers) of Vos Construction, a commercial builder and remodeler in Green Isle, Minn., did everything longhand until three or four years ago.

August 31, 2004

 

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Accounting and Invoicing Software

Despite his wishes, Dan Vos didn't quite make it. The second-generation owner (along with his two brothers) of Vos Construction, a commercial builder and remodeler in Green Isle, Minn., did everything longhand until three or four years ago.

"I'm 55, and I fought it for years," says Vos, who is the company's secretary and treasurer. "We've been on computers for many years, but I fought the accounting side. I didn't integrate the business into it."

When he gave in and started using QuickBooks for accounting and invoicing, Vos realized computer software had big implications for his $3 million company.

"If you have a straight accounting program, it does a good job with your general ledger, but not with job tracking," he says. Seeking an integrated program that would help him with estimating, job costing, project management, change orders and progress billing, he settled on Master Builder, which he's been using for about two years.

"When I do a change order, whether to the subcontractor or owner, it automatically tallies up and keeps track of where you're at. We use AIA contracts and an AIA document for progress billing. It takes out your retainage right away," he explains. "When you do a budget, it integrates into a proposal. You click it again, it runs right into a contract."

Consultant Brian Wasserman, president of Leading Change in Burnsville, Minn., helped Vos make the difficult transition through one-on-one training sessions.

"The first implementation date came and went, with a decision to hold off until the end of the busy season," says Wasserman. "When the accounting portion was finally started, there were many accounts to transfer and balances to reconcile. Dan was most excited about the progress billing that was automatic within the system. What used to take him an entire morning now only took him a few minutes."

Using an integrated accounting program, Vos says, allows him to manage more jobs more easily, and has let the company take on some extra jobs. Vos now spends less time in the office and more time checking on projects in the field. He also appreciates the organization and professionalism that the software helps him to project.

Wasserman acknowledges that Vos Construction is not using all of Master Builder's capabilities but predicts the positive impact of the program on the business will continue to grow.

"For someone that didn't grow up with computers, it was pretty overwhelming," says Vos. "It's taken me a while to learn this, but I couldn't imagine doing it any other way now."

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