Negwer Materials eliminates messy spreadsheets for tracking bids

“When I showed them how many hours I was spending just data entering and not estimating … clearly there was value.”
— Erich Ruhmann (estimator at Negwer)

Background

Negwer Materials is door trade contractor based in St. Louis Missouri that supplies and distributes custom and commercial doors ranging from ranging from hollow metal and wood doors to frames and hardware. With 4 regional offices, Negwer Materials primarily serves Missouri and Illinois, but ocasionally services other states as well, including Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania, South Carolina.

Messy spreadsheet, fickle processes

Prior to basis, the estimating team at Negwer Materials coordinated bids across 4 regional offices and would receive over 100+ emails per day ranging from new bid invites to addendas and RFIs. Like most contractors, Negwer used a master spreadsheet that was shared across all offices and all estimators. Each row in this bid log tracked a single bid and contained basic information like due-date, times emails were received, the general contractor and the assigned estimator.

Erich Ruhmann, an estimator at Negwer Materials was in charge of checking Negwer’s estimating inbox 3 times a day and updating the bid log. However, managing a 20-person estimating team and coordinating multi-office efforts through a bid log and manual process was error-prone, inefficient and caused problems.

  • Hours wasted on admin work hurt productivity because estimators tracked 100s of emails and constantly kept the bid log up-to-date, leaving less time for estimating
  • Poor coordination across offices caused the same bid to be called different names
  • Manual entry was error prone and caused some bid deadlines and project details to be entered incorrectly

“The biggest issue we were running into were multiple locations bidding the same project. We were sending a general contractor two different numbers and sometimes those numbers would be drastically different. It was very embarrassing.”

Clean and organized estimating

After spending years painfully adding lines to a spreadsheet, Erich immediately understood why basis was better.

“When you add 30 new bids, that’s 30 new lines that you got to copy and paste and make sure that it didn’t screw up the the cell formatting. I knew how tedious and how labor intensive the way we did it.”

Concretely, Basis helped in the following ways

  • Organized bids without manual-entry and wasted time: The email scraper functionality would automatically organize all bid-related emails and group them into a clean bid-management spreadsheet. No more mistakes from manual-entry. No more time wasted on entering in bids.
  • Cross-office visibility: Negwer had trouble coordinating bids across multiple offices and The ability to see which estimators is assigned to which job in an office-wide spreadsheet without manual input eliminated miscommunication and possible duplicate work among teams in different offices.

“We have not only been able to eliminate all of our old excel tracking documents but we have also been able to stay on top of our high-volume of bids and coordinating with multiple offices with much more ease.”

Championing the solution

Erich Ruhmann, the protagonist of the story

As with any great story, the story actually had a major plot twist. Although Erich saw tremendous value in the basis solution, estimating directors and VPs were initially skeptical. To convince leadership, Erich volunteered to run basis and Negwer’s old spreadsheet side-by-side for a month and the results were unequivocally in favor of basis.

“When I showed them how many hours I was spending just data entering and not estimating and not possibly bringing in projects for the company, they saw that clearly there was value.”

After a month of rolling basis out in one office, Erich became an internal champion of basis and initiated a program to slowly onboard the other offices. Today, all 4 Negwer offices are using basis.

About the Author
Andy Lee

Andy leads analytics and insights products at basis. He studied math at Swarthmore College and previously worked on self-driving cars for Uber before joining basis.