Episode 42 – Vince Versace
Construction Podcasts Combine to Talk All Things Construction
Vince Versace is the National Managing Editor of the Daily Commercial News & the Journal of Commerce, Canada’s leading construction industry newspapers. Vince is also the co-host of the award winning, construction record podcast. In this episode Ciaran & Vince share their construction experiences, innovations and combine both podcasts to simply talk about all things construction.
What is the story behind LiveCosts?
Let’s use LiveCosts, for some of my listeners I may not be familiar could you tell them a little bit more about yours?
Sure. LiveCosts comes from, the way we best describe LiveCosts is we scratch our own itch. I mean, myself and my brother had our own contracting company in Australia and we had issues. I suppose understanding, I mean, we were definitely the small, smaller side, but we had issues understanding where we made money.
I mean, we could look into the bank account that we could say, “Oh, that looks okay. Let’s keep moving.” And the tracking of projects was we relied so heavily on Excel and accounting softwares and the problem with Excel, first of all, it doesn’t move, it’s open to the manual error and it records me going in there every the end of each day or week to populate information.
But by the time I put it in it’s probably gone anyway, the data has changed since the time we gathered it to the time we put it in. We really struggled with that Vince to be honest and we didn’t… We went looking for products that might be able to fix that for us and closest we found were accounting packages, but the accounting packages is going to be in build for your butcher, baker, candlestick maker, and they didn’t have focus.
Our, I suppose, solution to that was why don’t we build it ourselves. And we build a piece of technology for, just to manage some costs in our own company. I mean, when I say technology, I use that very loosely at the start.
We literally decided to take Excel and build on top of that, just keep building, building, building, building, building to a point where we said what our company started to look at what we’re doing, we’re interested in what we’re doing and we essentially sold that business and decided that it was time to commercialise what we were doing, because it was a real problem for the industry.
There wasn’t much software that could plug into an accounting software and fix the bits that they miss, I suppose, it’s the best way to put it. That’s what LiveCosts does it’s essentially a live feed of project data that you can view and the way we best described that is, a lot of contractors and companies we deal with what we would ask them a question and say, would you drive your car, your truck, without a dashboard? And the answer is generally no. And we would ask a follow on question to say, why would you drive your project without any type of dashboard?
And that’s what we think they’re doing, they’re the driving projects without any site of visibility about which way that project is actually going. And that’s what we do we just give them that visibility, give them that comfort, and that they know exactly where they stand. They know exactly how they win money, lose money, where they can make improvements, where they can just do better. That’s it and it’s really not that complicated.
Are €1m – €10m construction turnover companies being left behind in the construction digital transformation?
How do I get my crew to work efficiently so that I don’t end up having to … You know what I mean? To possibly shut down, even though the project may close successfully, right? And I think that’s what Barry and some of our other guests on the innovation stuff was talking about is, now’s the time. For what it’s worth even just, a little bit, nudge the innovation just a little bit. To find some kind of efficiency or technology or software, or just mode of operation, you know what I mean? Innovation isn’t just about creating a website and throwing up a bunch of PDFs for your company, right?
Yeah. I mean, Barry’s point was that he felt that it was a perfect time for small to medium companies because his words were, “To reset, how they do business.” Which I found really, really interesting. When you look at construction technology, it’s generally what I’d say a top heavy technology industry, whereby a lot of the tier one companies have great technology available to them. So what can we do as a construction industry do you think to ensure that say one to 10 million revenue companies are brought along on the digital transformation? That we don’t just leave it to these big companies to go and try forward and leave us smaller guys behind?
I think… I’m going to straddle because it is always “church and state” as a journalist. But I look at what our company does. I think as a provider, to the industry of a service, we’re one of those things that this industry needs. It’s us or people like us that are keeping in mind, the mom and pop shops, that really drive this industry. Like providing a real solution for them that isn’t just what their president thinks is really good or their procurement officer, but it’s everybody in their field of… Their chain of commands, can understand.
I think we need to provide better information, be much more transparent and create networks. My personal opinion, yes I’m going to my journalism side on, when I think about the stories we cover and the trends. You always hear about succession planning in construction, because the boomers are starting to retire here in North America.
So the next leadership tier, the guys that are our age, your age, my age, they’re the ones kind of ripe for the innovation or at least entertain it. That’s what the stories indicate. That’s what the industry tells us. That’s what our customers tell us. And I think that’s what helps it because you’re right, the big players, especially in our jurisdiction here. They’re always going to be well monetized, well capitalize for any type… They can afford to send two of their employees to get staffed up and learn about a new tech or a new software.
But how does a mom and pop shops… Once it’s running, they don’t really have an HR departments. It’s a institute changer to help people. And I think that’s what I’m hearing from folks. It’s like, make it accessible and keep it in context. Whatever industry, or change you’re bringing into the industry, keep it in context of what that company does or what that specific sector does.
Like I think back to that podcast, we were talking about. Noah Dolgoy, when I was talking to him, he’s the head of Tread. They created this app for, basically, the material delivery side of construction. Noah admitted fully, when he first came into the industry his like, “I’m going to show you how it’s all done better.” You know what I mean? Here’s the silver bullet. This is how it’s done. And they realized a couple of years in, it’s like, wrong approach. It’s not about us coming in and blowing it up. We need to understand how it works better and nudge it along to efficiency.
Yeah, it seems to be driven a lot. Especially when you get coming through the family business scenario. That you’ve got this younger generation coming through and they’re frustrated. They can’t understand, they scratch their head and can’t understand why we’re using the old processes. Why are we using paper-based systems here? Why are we collecting a lot of this information, key information, manually? Where’s the technology? And I think a lot of its been driven by that, sort of younger generation, that are now coming through.
Who are demanding a better way to do things. And that’s where I feel that the opportunity lies. And I do feel a lot of them problems will be solved by industry. I really, really do. I think a lot of it will come true. And I don’t just say that, coming from a point of someone coming from industry. I really do believe that you know, that the real innovation is going to be solved by the industry.