In 1987, most computer users were still using DOS based programs. It was then that Lee Thomas, with help from Benjamin Powell Jr., created E-Z Estimator. At the time, it worked fine, though it was strictly character based. Its target market was the small heating contractor, but users included electricians and builders. For years, they wanted an update for Windows. Unfortunately, about that time Thomas was starting the process when he was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. Software development was delayed for two years, and thereafter Thomas' ability to concentrate on writing code was limited.

Today, development is complete. The typical user of E-Z Estimator would begin first using the program after a prospect calls with a request for an estimate on a job. Not unusual, the user would inspect and measure the site and determine what materials, supplies, labor and services would be required for the job.

Back in the office, the contractor would run E-Z Estimator. The program displays a sample form. The contractor types in the name of each item required, its cost and the markup he planned to add to the cost in order to make a profit. He might organize this information into a chapter for sheet metal, a chapter for pipe, a chapter for controls, etc. His permits, inspections, and equipment rental would be entered in the non taxable page and his labor items and subcontractors would be entered in the labor page.

With the data entry done, the contractor would save the file as a template. When he bids his next job, he will reload the template, select the items he needs, and add any required items not already in the template. With time, the template will grow to include all the materials he needs, so that his data entry task will shrink.

With the template for his job completed, the contractor would enter the quantity needed for each item. As each item is quantified, the total price of the current page and chapter are displayed. When all the numbers are entered, the user opens the View menu and selects Project Totals. If he has not yet entered his sales tax rates, he does so, and is presented with the total numbers for the job. The total extended cost, sale price, sales tax, profit and profit rate for materials, non taxable items and labor are displayed, as well as the grand totals for the job.

At this point the user can make changes to cost or markup numbers for one page, one chapter, or the whole job to adjust the bottom line. He then saves the project as a bid file, and enters information about the job including the name and address of the owner or prime contractor.

This information is included on the printed reports and is available for reuse if he bids future jobs for the same contractor.

Next, the program will display his bid proposal, complete with his name and address in his selection of color, font and size. It will include the name of the job and the name & address of the owner or prime contractor. It will include the bottom line, and optionally include a breakdown of materials, non taxable items, labor and sales tax.

The user can print the bid proposal, complete with signature lines for binding acceptance, or go back to the data entry form to make changes. If the bid is accepted, he can print a bill of materials to check against his inventory for ordering materials. If changes are made, he can print a change order for securing acceptance of the changes. When the job is finished, he can print an invoice with one line of terms and up to 12 lines of disclaimers if he needs to add conditions to the invoice.

Once the user enters the numbers, it does all the arithmetic. As the template grows, the data entry task diminishes until the user only needs to enter the quantities required. If his parts supplier has a catalog on disk with a compatible format, he or she can convert the catalog into a template to save even more typing.

Several users are retaining an XT to run Estimator under MSDOS while doing their other computer work on more modern systems. In addition, it has a graphic user interface. Data entry has been simplified and made more convenient for the operator.

A free demonstrator is available which can do everything except print the user's reports. It displays their reports, but prints stock copy developed during early testing. If the user is satisfied with the program, he phones the company with his credit card number and receives a password which installs the program as a registered version with full capability.

For more information phone 800-426-7130 or 231-533-8472.