Photo: courtesy Bright Ideas by Martinec
What began as a limited test in 2012—using just one iPad for carpenters to record their hours—has grown to become an integral part of the way Bright Ideas by Martinec, in Big Flats, N.Y., does business. Now each of the remodeling company’s five lead carpenters has an iPad, which they share with assistant carpenters. The tablets are used for a multitude of things from tracking hours to documenting projects.
The initial test expanded to involve more uses when the company started work on a lakeside project located more than an hour from its office. On that job, which was designed and managed by Alex Martinec, the company’s residential designer, the team needed a way to improve communication between field staff and the office. IPads came to fill that role, offering a way to work smarter using technology.
The tablets have now become an essential tool and accepted practice on all the company’s jobs. And, Alex Martinec says, the iPads are here to stay: Bright Ideas by Martinec just upgraded to the latest model.
Some of the lead carpenters were unsure about the iPads at first, Martinec says, but they’ve become familiar with them and now rely on the tablets for the following:
Time tracking: Whereas in the past Martinec used paper tracking—with all of the misplaced info and decentralized setup that entails—it now uses iPads to enter hours into Excel spreadsheets that the office manager has set up in Dropbox.
Trades tracking: For subcontractors, iPads are used by leads to monitor the hours each trade spends on site, and to make sure that trade contract agreements are honored and trades stay on task and on track.
Plans: IPads allow easy, immediate access for on-site carpenters to any addendums and plan updates made in the office, so the whole process is faster and there’s less room for miscommunication.
Documentation: At the end of every workday, lead carpenters take photos, which are automatically uploaded to Dropbox job folders. The designer can then review what’s been done on site that day, assess job progress, and proactively flag potential issues before they become actual problems. This helps communication and streamlines the production process, Martinec says. Carpenters also use iPads to take pictures of the electrical rough-in and blocking so that they have something to refer back to once the drywall is up.
Presentation: The quality of the photos taken with the iPads is high enough that they can be used in presentations to clients and for awards entries. (The “before” photos that the company uses are shot with an iPad, while “after” photos are taken professionally.) Wendy Christmas, the company’s marketing director, is currently working on converting Martinec’s sales presentation from paper to digital so that salespeople can use iPads when they meet with prospects.
Meetings: Lead carpenters use Apple Facetime or Skype to hold meetings and communicate directly with the office and the designer to provide updates and address concerns. There’s also the potential for using Skype to communicate with distant clients—a big plus in rural New York—although the company’s staff currently prefer to keep things personal and meet face to face.
Reference/resource: IPads are handy for looking up specifications for materials and watching YouTube videos about product installation.
Employee perk: Leads can take the iPads home and use them during their personal time.