Case Study

Azimuth tackles labour shortage and prompt payments with Procore

To Address The Labour Shortage, A New Cohort Of Workers Is Needed

The Challenge

Azimuth Builders Ltd. was used to doing things “the old way,” says owner Gary Bizek. The company relied on spreadsheets and handwritten files, and Bizek “was filling out every invoice manually.” However, the general contractor wanted to embrace the best technology available and compete with larger companies.

The Solution

The company started using Procore to consolidate documents like drawings, photos and specifications under one platform. Procore also helped Azimuth optimize processes across tendering and financials across projects, with Bizek creating his own forms within Procore to standardize some of these processes. The all-encompassing solution allowed Bizek to oversee the company’s projects from anywhere.

The Results

Azimuth now has real-time insights into project financials. This allows Bizek to invest in the company’s growth instead of waiting for quarterly numbers to make decisions.

“I’ve been told by some trades that my tendering packages are as good as those put out by some of the top companies.”

Day-to-day, he always understands what’s happening on projects by reviewing the daily logs and photos uploaded to Procore by superintendents.

Procore has allowed Azimuth to be nimble, invest, and provide greater transparency to clients, who remain impressed with how much information about a project’s progress is available through Procore.

“A lot of companies like to talk about their longevity, being 100 years old,” says Bizek. “I like to say, ‘We’re the new generation of construction.’”

“With the labour shortage in construction, I’ve managed to expand my pool by hiring people comfortable with technology, many of them gamers. I can just give them a tablet or computer, and they go to town and eat up Procore.”

Gary Bizek

President
Azimuth Builder offices

Tapping a Wider Labour Pool

With Procore, Bizek can tap a different cohort when hiring superintendents. “With the labour shortage in construction, I’ve managed to expand my pool by hiring people comfortable with technology, many of them gamers. I can just give them a tablet or computer, and they go to town and eat up Procore. They message me about how much they love it. They don’t know what a slide rule is, but with just a few clicks, they know they can get a measurement in Procore. They can achieve the goal without having preconceived notions about how things should be done.”

Bizek says gamers have a facility with technology that transfers to the superintendent role as he envisions it. “I can train anybody,” he says. “Having that comfort with technology means Procore is a second language to them.” The rest, he can teach based on his own experience and provide on-the-job training. Bizek created a superintendent handbook which outlines policies, routines, and procedures. For example, it outlines the steps for submitting a safety incident report.

“They don’t need to have the knowledge because I’ve put it in there,” he says.

The Canadian construction industry is struggling to find enough workers. It’s a complex issue, but one of the ways to mitigate it could be filling positions with people who might not have been considered a few years ago.

Drilling machine on site

Better Communication

“Since implementing Procore, we can manage field work so much better,” says Bizek. “It allows me to see if the rebar is in the ground, if the vapour barrier is done, and hold off on a concrete pour until everything is completed.”

Detailed, real-time communication allows Azimuth to have a clear view of site activity. Superintendents upload daily logs, visitor logs, and photos daily.

“I can go through the logs and photos and pretty much feel like I’ve been on the job site the entire day supervising it myself.”

Real-time Financials For Real-Time Decisions

Bizek recently started working with a new accountant. “He doesn’t want to touch paper. We were just connecting Sage with Procore, so we’re all up to date. We’re both at a stage where we don’t want to look back at our quarterly reports six months ago, we want to see everything now, and now we can.”

Tendering management is easier. “It’s simple enough for me to view quotes side by side in Procore and award the contract right then. Procore switches it over into a commitment.”

Invoices uploaded to Procore by suppliers go into a project’s budget immediately.

There is no hesitation as to when and how to expand Azimuth. “Everything’s by the books, right down to the penny, and I can see exactly what my profits are. It makes me more comfortable about investing in the company.”

In fact, Bizek can now see a project’s profitability once he completes an estimate, so he can take on more projects. Before, he would find out whether a project was profitable months later.

The province of Alberta is introducing new prompt payment legislation for the construction industry that will take effect in August 2022. With the processes Azimuth has been able to put in place with Procore, Bizek feels prepared for the change.

“I’m not worried about it at all,” he says. “I’ve never felt more in control of the company’s finances.”

Aerial view of a construction site

Managing Projects Out Of Province

Despite Azimuth’s small size, the company has been able to take on projects outside its home province of Alberta.

“I had someone from Ontario say, ’What are you going to do, fly out and oversee the project?’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to sit in my office; I have everything planned.’ The hardest part is putting up a wanted ad for a superintendent in that location.”

At the moment, about a tenth of Bizek’s business is out of province, but he expects that to grow to between 50% and 60% within the next two years. By hiring local superintendents and sharing photos and other project updates with clients, he can manage all projects from Calgary. He’s eager to build a new kind of general contractor, one that values technology skills as much as construction experience and that can manage projects anywhere.

“I have clients who have been in the industry for a long time. When I show them how we work, they get so excited. They’ve never had so much insight into their projects; they know exactly what’s going on at all times.”

Azimuth’s transparent approach, enabled by Procore solutions, has won the company more business and helped it grow.

“I’m showing that a lot of the constraints that other companies point to aren’t real. I’m running my company in a new way for a new generation, exactly the way I want to run it.”

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