Software has helped Canandaigua-based Hammond Estimating & Consulting grow

CANANDAIGUA — In the early 2000s, Jim Hammond did something pivotal in his life. He decided to shift his highway and heavy civil construction career to begin working for the toughest boss he's ever known — himself.

And so Hammond launched Hammond Estimating & Consulting, based in Canandaigua.

"When I was putting my business plan together for my new firm, I was thinking, 'How can I best help my fellow dirt contractors succeed in their work,'" Hammond said. "I decided to focus on the necessary tasks that contractors need to complete before any heavy equipment hits the site. Calculating the exact quantities of dirt for cut and fill on earthworks projects can provide better cost estimates, as well as determine resource allocation and project time."

Hammond understood that contractors generally want to be working in the field, getting things done rather than running numbers in the office. For many, quantity estimating is a necessary evil — it must be done, but they hate doing it.

He first targeted smaller contractors that have limited staff to begin with, but still have the critical need for accurate data. Larger contractors soon followed, seeing the advantages of having an outside professional take care of the dirt quantities the projects required.

Hammond hit it right — dirt movers do see the value of getting accurate estimates.

Today, Hammond Estimating & Consulting has about 20 solid contractor customers ranging from $1 million to more than $100 million in annual project volume. Its contractor customers are based all over North America.

Hammond's largest project to date has been a $21 million solar panel manufacturing facility on a 40-acre site in Buffalo.

"Ever since I was a boy working in my Dad's construction company, I've been interested in computers and the technology that can make construction tasks easier," said Hammond. "With my interest in computers, I got thinking that there's got to be a program for quantifying dirt three-dimensionally."

Hammond started looking for programs and learned that Rochester-based InSite Software Inc. was developing its SiteWork Earthwork and Utility Estimating Software for calculating cut and fill, stripping, strata quantities, paving and concrete materials, topsoil respread, areas, lengths, trench excavation and backfill.

The software was being designed to be easy to use, with an intuitive approach, familiar terms site estimators use every day, and easy-to-use editing tools for revisions.

Hammond began working closely with InSite Software as the company was developing its SiteWork Earthwork and Utility Estimating Software and provided feedback and suggested refinements.

The software program has become integral to the services that Hammond Estimating provides its contractor customers.

"I use computer-aided take-off for its accuracy. It helps me ensure that my customers get the data they need to complete their projects on time,” Hammond said. “And I tell my customers that they do not owe me a nickel unless they are 100 percent satisfied with my work.”

Thanks to the program, all the calculations are accurate and supported by graphics, so the dirt-movers can visualize their cut and fill requirements on the project before they even start it, Hammond said.

Having that kind of production detail and backup has helped dirt-moving contractors win their cases when change-order work and costs disputes have occurred.

"As the years have accumulated since first starting my company, I've chosen to not grow my company beyond myself," Hammond said. "More than anything, I'm selling confidence — confidence in the dirt quantities I provide to contractors. I couldn't jeopardize that level of trust for the sake of my growth."

For contractors who work in dirt, the construction world has become more technological — everything is digital — with 3D site models, GPS machine control, and real-time field-to-office-communication and production monitoring.

"I've been in the dirt business for 40-plus years, and I wouldn't be where I am today offering my customers the critical dirt quantities and utility estimates they need to succeed without the relationship and support I receive from InSite Software," Hammond said. "I couldn't ask for a more mutually beneficial business relationship. I'm expected to continue working with dirt contractors for many years ahead."