Peoria Industrial Piping Co. has grown a lot since it was first established more than 50 years ago.

The $20 million company is a construction contractor serving central Illinois in the fields of site excavation, plumbing, fire protection, HVAC, process piping and sheet metal.

However, until recently, the company was perhaps a bit behind the times: they were still estimating by hand.

The sole estimator for the company’s excavation division was working with paper and pencil and then transferring the figures into Excel spreadsheets, which the company said was a slow and redundant process with a high potential for errors.

“Depending on the size of the job, it could take a couple days to two weeks to estimate a job,” said Kim Freitag, division estimator. “Our average job is about $500,000 and each would take about four to five days to complete.”

In addition to redundancy and the potential for errors, the manual process also didn’t allow Pipco to reference past bids when developing new ones.

Moving to automated

Freitag decided it was time to move away from the error-prone process and find software to automate takeoff and estimating.

After conducting some research, Pipco selected Maxwell Systems ProContractorMX.

“ProContractorMX was the only one that would let me do that and eliminate transferring data between two programs.” Freitag said.

He also said that the program allows Pipco to generate more bids in less time and with more accuracy. Increased efficiency has also been realized for Pipco’s civil projects, where ProContractorMX has helped ease the process of estimating these unique projects.

“On the civil side, calculating unit prices requires a lot less effort compared to our old methods,” Freitag said. “Most of our projects have individual prices, which creates challenges when calculating in overhead, an item that is not directly involved with the job, or a certain little piece of material. With ProContractorMX, we can allocate different expenses and distribute those costs among the unit prices. It allows me to set up the estimate and then determine where I want to include markups, instead of doing it all longhand and then moving the numbers around to reach the target total number for the bid.”