RedTeam is a software that can manage all aspects of your construction process and project management. As a contractor, you have to be able to manage your contracts, control the money, and have leadership and integrity in the field. RedTeam can help you in all those aspects and also solve the challenges that you have when it comes to field versus office. Join Eric Anderton as he talks to Michael Wright about developing software for the construction industry. Michael is the founder and Chief Strategy Officer of RedTeam Software. Learn that contracts are more than just written documents. Discover how you can have leadership and integrity in the field. Find out the difference between field versus office. Learn how to control money and much more in today’s episode of Construction Genius.
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How to Use Software to Bridge the Gap Between Field and Office With Michael Wright
What do you need to be successful in a construction company? Many answers to that question, but I would like to throw three at you here as we kick off this episode. Number one, your contract needs to be dialed in, not only in its final form but in all of the iterations that lead to its final form, and the forms that follow the final form. You need to be able to control the money in your business. You also need leadership and integrity in the field. All of those things we are going to discuss here in this episode with my guest, Michael Wright.
Michael is the Founder and Executive Chairman at RedTeam Software. The good news about Michael is that he is not a tech founder in a hoodie and skinny jeans with an ironic tattoo on his forearm. He is a guy who has deep experience working in a construction company. It is that experience that led him to launch RedTeam. His company ate their own dog food. He used that experience, saw the benefit of that, and began RedTeam as a result. We have a very interesting conversation about the origin story of his company. That story itself is very instructive because it will give you insights into some of the challenges that exist between the field and the offices, and how software can help to solve those challenges in a way that brings the field and the office together, and also benefits your customers.
He brings a framework that was new at least for me. I am very excited about that. He describes this in a little bit of detail, but I want to tease a few here. That framework is this. The field is outcome-oriented and the office is process-oriented. The conflict between process and outcome is what creates a lot of tension between the field and the office. Michael’s contention is that one of the ways to solve that is by the implementation of the right software solution in the right situation. We dive into that in quite a bit of detail. Enjoy my conversation with Michael. I like Michael because he is very thoughtful and very articulate about these matters. I know you are going to find this information helpful. Check him out at RedTeam.com to learn more about him. You connect with him on LinkedIn as well. I hope you enjoy the show here. Thanks. I appreciate it.
Michael, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Eric. I’m glad to be here.
You are unique in the world of construction in that you are a contractor by trade and you also are the Founder and the Chairman of RedTeam Software. Take us back in time to how you became a contractor and how you got into the construction business.
I was reluctant to get into the software business. As a contractor, the reason I got here to where I am was out of need. I was building a commercial construction company. There were things that I needed to run my business on a day-to-day basis that I could not find in the market.
Take us back in terms of how you got into construction in the first place. Did you begin your business? How did that all happen?
When I got out of college, I worked in finance and accounting for about ten years before I got into commercial construction. It was my roommate in college that reached out to me when I was at a point in time in my career where I was looking for the next thing. He suggested, “Join me and another partner. We are building a commercial construction company.” That is how I got in. I had no construction background other than the fact that I studied Architecture and Building Construction in college. Like a lot of college students, I bounced around. My degree was in Finance, but I did have some exposure to those other disciplines.
When you came into construction, were you working on the finance side of the business?
What did you learn on the finance side of the business? Not being a contractor by trade, coming out of the field, what did you learn about the construction business right away that surprised you?
One of the first things I saw was there is not a lot of use of technology. We are going back to the mid-‘90s.
I had a fax machine then.
Fax machines were still an amazing solution for contractors. Remember those return receipts that you print out from the fax machine, and how important those things were? We would staple those to the letters and put them into the file. That was high-tech.
I used to sell fax machines back in the day, so I always have a soft spot for those. As you were getting into construction, you are on the finance side of the house. You are seeing that there is not a lot of heavy adoption of technology. What were some of the impacts of that? What were some of the roadblocks that you were beginning to experience as you began to develop your time in the business?The only reason people use contracts is because it makes things easier to remember. Click To Tweet
One of the first things that I started working on in the business was getting something called bonding capacity. I am sure you and your audience know what that is. For a company that never had any kind of bonding capacity, it is a pretty big lift. You have to have the financial infrastructure. You have to understand your numbers. You have to have a very well-defined organization and a track record. A lot of my focus was there. We did not have an accounting system that was designed for construction.
I went out in the market and tried to find the best that I could find to handle what we were doing on a day-to-day basis. Much of what we did back then was manual, going back to the fax machines. There were not a lot of technology solutions for what we are doing. The thing that struck me about commercial construction was, “This is risky.” As I was talking to the sureties and understanding what personal guarantees and indemnifications were required to get that surety credit, it struck me that this is a risky business. Having not come from construction, it was eye-opening for me how much risk contractors take to be in this industry.
As you thought about that bonding capacity issue, was that because you guys were looking to grow and you wanted to increase your bonding capacity?
We were a relatively new company and we were working with some large enterprise clients. It is something that was important to them, so it had to be important to us.
It is interesting to think about that though because your ability then to increase your bonding capacity is related to your ability to get information from your company and present that to the bonding companies. Am I on the right path there?
Exactly, that is it. Because my background was accounting and finance, I had a fair amount of background in handling the financial issues, but then there were all the operational issues that had to be addressed as well. Operational issues become contractual issues because you are either compliant with your contracts or not. Contracts became a big focus of what we had to solve in order to be successful as a contractor.
That issue specifically, how did that then lead you into looking for an internal software solution?
One of the mistakes that people make when they think about contracts is they think of contracts as written documents. You make a copy, you scan it, you staple it together, and you put it in a file somewhere. In reality, the only reason we write down contracts is because it makes them easier to remember. The truth is what is contractually binding is everything you said and did up to the moment you signed the contract, and everything you say and do after you sign the contract. The truth is that contracts are living and breathing things, and they are changing all the time. What drives the risk for a contractor is all the promises being made among the contracting parties out on the job site, from the office and everywhere. Keeping track of all these promises is existential for the business.
That’s an interesting perspective there that one of your main jobs is to keep track of the promises. What was your biggest struggle with keeping track of those promises as you were in the business?
The unknown. People used to say it way back then. It is a sad testament to the integrity of the business at some point but people used to say, “It is not what you did, it is what you can prove.” I used to find that so frustrating because the way I look at the world, behavior matters and what you say matters. Losing track of those things creates uncertainty that is inefficient and it creates risks in the industry.
What were some of the other challenges that you were noticing that began to chap your hide and move you towards the development of an internal software solution?
The challenges around managing information between the office and the field, back in the old days, it was pretty simplistic. We used to get handwritten daily reports. High tech was figuring out a way to get an employee’s time in the field and back to the office so that we could create payroll checks. The expectation for information sharing these days is very high. The notion of sharing information between the field and the office is almost nostalgic. The expectation is everybody can share information in real-time, everyone to everyone. Our technology solutions are good at exposing information that way, but then how do you capture it and archive it so that you are protecting your business and your customers at the same time?
You were working in the business as a contractor in the construction business for a number of years. What was the first piece of software you decided to get developed?
I had an issue way back where I needed a daily report. Back in those days, daily reports were handwritten by our superintendents. Like most contractors at that time, one of the big challenges we had was getting our superintendents to do the daily reports and turn them in at the end of the week. At some point along the way, I am sure we said to our superintendents, “If you do not give me five dailies at the end of the week, you are not going to get your paycheck.” That is a harsh position to take, but when frustration gets to a certain point, people end up making these demands like that.
One day came about that I needed a daily report from a project. I need a very specific day. The challenge was I got to have somebody find this daily report in a file box in a warehouse somewhere. I asked someone to go and see if they could find this report. I was so happy that they showed up and found the document from that day. That happiness faded quickly because as I looked at the report itself, the first sentence was, “I am filling out this daily report to get my paycheck on Friday.”
The frustration for me was it was not what I needed, but I had to concede that my superintendent did exactly what I asked him to do. They were filling out these reports each day, but they knew that it was turned in, went to somebody in the accounting department, and then went into a file and nobody is reading it. One of the first things that we built with software was a way to capture those daily reports. In the old days, we used to make the superintendents come into the office and fill out the reports on the computer.
They were physically coming into the office at the end of the day, sitting in front of a terminal.
They key the reports into the system, but what we did was we fed those reports into our OAC meeting minutes. When we created the OAC for the owner and contractor meeting, we listed out all of the comments from the superintendent on the report.
Tell me what you mean by OAC.
Owner And Contractor. When we would have a meeting with our customer at the end of the week, one of the things we would review is all the notes that were taken by the superintendent over the course of the previous period.
When you began that with your owners, what was the impact of that upon them?
The owners thought it was great. The biggest impact was on the superintendent because all of a sudden, what they said mattered.
What do you mean by that?
They knew that whatever they were putting into their report was going to be presented, not only to the management team internally in my business, but also to our customers.
Did you purposely set it up that way to incentivize the supers or was that a by-product that you had not thought about?
I did. It is the project manager that would present the report to the client. I took away the ability of the project managers to edit what the superintendent wrote.In the field, it's all about leadership and integrity. You have to have a lot of control over the behavior on the job site. Click To Tweet
Why did you do that?
What happened was the superintendent and the project manager started talking a lot more because the project manager had to own the comments. He or she could not change what the superintendent had written. They would start talking and collaborating throughout the week to make sure that the issues were being addressed, and that no one is going to get thrown under the bus at the meeting in front of the client.
What was the impact of that then on the communication between the field and the office or that classic silo between the project manager and the super?
That was transformational. All of a sudden, the superintendent felt empowered because they felt important in the process. That is critical. In the field, it is all about leadership and integrity. You have to have a lot of control over the behavior on the job site. If you take that person’s documentation and you throw it into a file somewhere and you never read it, what does that say about how much respect you have for the role and the function in the field? By elevating that and highlighting it, that became the centerpiece of what we shared with our customers. It elevated the level of respect and the sense of importance for not only what is going on in the field, but for the people that are doing that very difficult work.
I find that so fascinating because I had not quite thought about it like that as a means of bridging the gap between the field and the office, as well as establishing credibility with your clients. That is super helpful, Michael. Going back to the bonding capacity issue, did that have an impact on that?
We get surety underwriters that suss out everything that they think is going to impact their risk. The attention to detail and the recognition of the needs of the folks who were in the field and building the projects distinguishes the organization from an underwriting perspective. That was certainly part of our story to build and grow our bonding capacity.
You began the internal process. You had the supers with their dailies. What was the next step that you took? Did you think, “This was cool. Let me try it on another problem.” What problem did you address then?
We expanded that to include pictures. Pictures from the job site would then flow into those performance documents that we would present to clients. These things were all built incrementally as we saw additional challenges to solve. At some point, it was clear that this was having a transformational impact on our business. We decided to spin it off as a separate company.
What year were the pictures being done?
The late ‘90s.
Was that a digital picture?
They were digital. All the software we built was on the web. We always say it is the cloud before the cloud. We had the distinction of cloud software back then.
Why did you do it that way? Did you have an insight? Is that from your background? Did you have some guru in-house who knew what was up? What was going on?
I had a very close friend of mine who was a technology genius in his own right. He suggested that. Given the challenge of managing information from multiple entry points, this is an appropriate application of the internet. Internet was still new at the time. I had nothing to compare it to, so it seemed like a good idea at the time and we did it that way.
At one point you saw the benefit for your company, and then you began thinking about spinning it off. Walk us through that process a little bit. As you were sitting in the room with your fellow executives, how did you reach that decision?
Part of it was the way our customers reacted to being able to see that information. My surety underwriters would want to send other people down from the surety to take a look at what we were doing. They thought it was such a novel approach to solving some of the day-to-day challenges of commercial construction. It was getting so much positive feedback from people that we decided to spin it off.
At the time we spun it off, I think it was originally in 2008, it was a bad time from an economic standpoint. Also, at the time, the software was not what I described as productized. A lot of work had to be done to create it into a product that we could sell. We had some early adopters, even in 2008, that were patient with us as we built out this infrastructure. Our real go-to market was not until about 2014.
That is quite a long time going through the build-out process.
It is a long time, but we are also in a global financial collapse timeframe. It seemed like everything was moving in slow motion at that time. A lot of contractors went out of business during that period. It was a struggle. It was a slow burn to build out that infrastructure. For us, I could not imagine running a construction company without that infrastructure. It was not a choice for us to keep it or not use it. We had to have it to run our business successfully. We continued investing in it even if it was a slow process.
You are eating your own dog food then.
I remain a partner in a commercial construction firm. I am still fully immersed in the construction industry. That is what keeps me having a pulse on what is going on in the market, how contractors are being innovative, what are the best practices evolving even as the economics change, and the way people do business change. The biggest challenge with owning software on a subscription basis is that the world is constantly changing and the software is changing. To me, one of the most important things when selecting a software vendor is finding people that you like and agree with that have similar operating philosophies because it is a relationship.
In the old days, you would buy software and install it on your computer, and you just let it run. One day, someone comes and says, “That is obsolete. You need to replace the whole thing.” The key benefit of the emergence of cloud software is that it is a business relationship. It is a partnership. Finding the right vendor is finding people that you connect with, and that you feel are going to be able to meet and evolve with your needs over time.
One of the challenges that I see with contractors, I speak quite a bit on this because it irritates me a little bit, is software folks come along and they have got the easy button in their hand. They are saying, “Press this and everything is going to be cool.” Contractors are like, “I want to focus on building relationships and building projects. Here, I believe you and let me now write you a check.” What they get in return for that is disappointing. That may not necessarily be all the software company’s fault. It may be the construction company’s fault because they have not framed their problem well. They have not set aside a team to implement it. You run a software company. This is a challenge. How do you sell your software and yet avoid the easy button pitfalls where people are setting their expectations too high? How do you make that sale? It is something that is very interesting to me.
The number one reason that software implementations fail is a lack of full engagement across the entire organization. Oftentimes, if you have got a leadership team that thinks of that as a black box, and that you are just going to write a check and it should fix all these things, you are going to be disappointed. The key to a successful implementation is engaging the entire organization. You have to have a strong leadership commitment to what is being done. Too often, because software is so integrated, they are inevitably involved. Leadership loves the field as they should because that is where you make money.
You make money based on people being successful and building the projects that you have to deliver for your customers. No doubt about that. Oftentimes, they think about the back office activities as a black box. They print checks and take customers’ receipts, and they spit out financial statements once a month. I think that is a mistake. If you own a construction company and you have a problem with a project, the first thing you do is go out and look at it. You put your eyes on it. A mistake that I have seen made is people do not want to look hard at the administrative processes.
The field and the back office and the office are very different places. The field is very naturally outcome-oriented. The office is very process-oriented. It is two different languages in some way. They cannot live without each other. Because there is so much focus on process in the office and so much focus on outcomes in the field, oftentimes, those people butt heads. One of our goals in building a platform was to integrate the office and the field so that we eliminate the butting of heads.Contractors think controlling the money is not their job. That it's the job of the accountant. It's not. It's core to project management. Click To Tweet
That’s a great frame there, the outcome-oriented aspect of the field and the process-oriented aspect of the office creating conflict. With that in mind, as you are approaching a company, your solutions are everything from pre-construction to reports, analytics, and financial management. Is it a smorgasbord? Is it one package? How do you approach a company that you are engaging with in terms of figuring out how to best offer your services to them?
First and foremost, we have to find out what is important to them. We like to start with the things that are going to have an immediate positive impact on their performance and the quality of their organization. Although, we are pretty insistent upon continuing and ongoing adoption of more aspects of what we do. I think it delivers the best solution for the business over the long term. I do not know that we have any customer that uses 100% of what we do. What we do see is that the more that they used, the better results that they experienced on the platform.
What do most people start with you?
Contracts. I have mentioned the importance of contracts. The contracting process is a critical part. I often describe it as the foundation of what we do. Our approach is not thinking about contracts as a document, as I alluded to earlier. We have this notion of contract formation. Contract formation is how from the very beginning of the relationship with your counter-party, you start negotiating terms and conditions in an online way. We produce the contract documents for signature but along the way, we capture all the commentary back and forth among the contracting parties. We memorialize all that commentary with metadata. We can tell the entire story of how the contract became what it was. We can tell the story of how it evolved over the life of the project. That is a much more robust way to think about the contracting process rather than thinking about it as a static document.
If I am thinking of it that way as opposed to static, what are some of the pitfalls that I am avoiding on a project or what are some of the benefits that I get?
The benefit you get is you understand what is expected of you. When your project teams start understanding that behavior, comments, and what they write are all contractually binding, you get a higher level of integrity across the organization. It goes both ways. It protects your customers as much as it protects you as a contractor.
Going back to that idea of outcome-oriented versus process-oriented or the field and the office, I do think it is so important to actually articulate that. I hear contractors whining a lot about field and office. It always happens. I would like you to explain the way you frame that a little bit more and give us some more color on that.
The first thing you got to do is you have to explain to people that they think about these things differently. For people in the field, it sounds absolute, but I always say the process is more important than the end result in many ways.
How do they respond when you say that?
Usually, the first response is, “What do you mean? I know what I am building. I know what I need to get there.” What I try to explain is, “The process is what people are going to remember. It is what our customers will remember. It is what our subcontractors will remember.” Maya Angelou said, “People will not remember what you said, they will remember how they made you feel.”
That is what customers and subcontractors remember. How they installed the mechanical systems in the building, all that gets lost in a fairly short amount of time once the project is completed, but they will definitely remember how they felt and how they were treated over the process. The process is important from a customer satisfaction perspective. When I say customers, I am also including subcontractors because we have to serve our subcontractors as well as we serve our clients.
For the office team, the process is important, but outcomes are really important. The office team may be struggling with, “Why is this project manager standing in my door, demanding that I cut a check to subcontractor X?” If they had the opportunity to take a step back and understand how important that transaction is to the business, to the success of the project, to the impact on the subcontractor or the impact on the client, they will have a different perspective on it. Part of it is revealing whether there are larger organizational objectives. When people know that, they can work together much more fruitfully.
In your experience, if the executives are articulate and clear in communicating the larger objectives, particularly to the folks in the field, what have you found the impact of that to be? In software, for instance. One of the things for software implementation is when you are going to the field with a new piece of software, hopefully, you got their buy-in to begin with. Sometimes there is a sell job that has to happen because you are asking them to do something process-related, which takes them out of their outcome focus.
You got to be able to make the case to them in such a way that it is in their interest, but also in the interest of the company. How do the best executives pitch and make that internal sale to the field, not in such a way that you described earlier where if you do not get your dailies then you will not get your paycheck? There is that bigger picture that is communicated.
I am a big fan of, “Show me.” If you can get the executive team in the same room with the superintendents and the superintendents are saying, “I do not like the way we have to take the picture here.” People say, “I do not like having to put an explanation of what the picture is each time I take a picture on the job site.” I would always say, “I am only asking you for three words, but those three words are golden. Otherwise, if I am looking at a database with 1,000 photos, I have no way to navigate that database and find the information I need. If you give me three words, it gives so much more depth and it gives me the ability to actually use those photos.”
If the executive team in the organization is willing to open the app, take the picture, type in those three words, and demonstrate a commitment to doing this, and explain why this is so important to the organization, you get buy-in. It goes both ways. We like to conduct our initial meetings with our clients with the entire team. We want the top of the organization. We want the people from the field. We want everybody in the room at the same time to talk about how important this initiative is to the success of the business.
For you guys at RedTeam, you have come in with the contracts that are starting points. Where do you go next usually?
Controlling the money. I always say there are three things that a contractor has to get right. One, you have to manage your contracts. Two, you got to control the money. Three, you have to have leadership and integrity in the field. Without any one of those three things, you are not going to make it. Controlling the money is an area where sometimes contractors think, “That is an accounting responsibility.” It is really not. It is front and center for the project manager. It is core to project management. You cannot run a project without controlling the money on the job. That is the general contractor’s responsibility to do that.
It is particularly important for general contractors because GCs tend to be thinly capitalized entities. Surety credit will give you twenty times your book value. If you think about that, it is like off balance sheet leverage. Let’s say you have a company with a book value of $5 million. They can be doing $100 million of bonded work. That is extraordinary. If you make a mistake and you screw up something from a cashflow standpoint, you can go under in a heartbeat.
We see it in the industry. We operate in a very fragmented industry. That supply chain is massive in the construction business. A lot of the companies are very small. It would be my prediction that as our infrastructure and our solutions like in RedTeam get better, we will see the emergence of larger and more stable organizations in construction. As a contractor, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people go out of business. I have not seen that in other industries where I worked.
Let me ask you about those larger entities. Do you mean you will see a company rolling up other GCs into a larger entity? Is that what you are saying?
I think contractors will emerge as larger organizations. I do not know if we would see a roll-up where contractors are buying each other, but I do think that we will see a lot more stability in the business.
I am sure you are aware that people have been saying that for decades because we all get frustrated when we look at the industry and think about how productivity has not improved. The complexity of the business is such that it fights against that productivity or that rationality.
We say productivity has not improved but safety has. I do think that is a counterbalance and we have invested in safety as we should. I sometimes think it is highly critical to look at productivity numerically and say, “Look at the construction industry. It has fallen behind so far.” Construction contractors are smart, innovative and creative people. They make the impossible happen more often than not. There are some software vendors in the world that think that they are the solution that is going to make contractors savvier and smarter. I do not think that at all. We are honored to be part of the solution. I look at platforms like RedTeam. To me, it is more of a quality of life solution than it is a solution to make “contractors” better.
What does that mean?
Contractors deliver projects on time and on budget every day. It is a tough business and there are breakdowns and failures, but it takes a toll on the people to get that done. I see our job and our opportunity to help relieve some of the stress around that process. We are not going to build the building for our clients, but we are going to help them get there in a way that is less stressful on them as business owners and less stressful on their teams.One of the most important things about selecting a partner to provide your platform to is knowing how well you connect. Click To Tweet
Do you think it is possible that there is one software solution for all contracting companies?
I do not think it is, but at the same time, I do think there are systemic advantages to utilizing platforms. We have seen in the last few years the adoption of many point solutions, and some of them are absolutely brilliant. At times, We do still create more silos of information. I hate to use the word integration because I think it is a horribly abused word.
Why do you say it is horribly abused?
Everyone has a different idea about what integration means.
What do you mean by it?
What I mean is that if we create continuous workflows without breakpoints, some software companies will say, “I got an integration. It certs the project name into the other system.” My response is always, “So, what? Tell me why that is good for the subcontractor or the accounting team or the project owner?” Part of the benefits of having a platform is that the continuity of these workflows is worked through. At the end of the day, we have to integrate our products with other products, but how we do it is a differentiator. It is not so much to say, “It is integrated,” and it is not a box you can simply check. What I would say to anyone looking at buying software pieces that they plan to integrate together is, “Show me how that works.”
You sell mainly to GCs. Is that right?
That is correct.
Do they then require their subs to be on RedTeam as well? How does that work?
The way we have architected the system is it does not require subcontractors to log in and utilize the platform. We have built it for external entities. In many ways, it seems to them that they are receiving and sending email messages, but all that is being captured in our platform. We do not want to create a lot of resistance and friction on people getting data into the platform. We want to make it as easy as possible. We are rolling out new tools for subcontractors that are beneficial to the contractors and the sub-trades that are performing the work.
As you look back on the start of your company as you move from working in a construction company to spinning off RedTeam and starting that, if you had to do it all over again, and I am saying specifically about the software company, what would you do differently?
People ask me that all the time. They will say, “Are you glad you did that?” Tongue in cheek, I said, “If I knew how hard it was going to be, I am not sure I would have ever gone down that path.” What I would have done differently in retrospect is in many years, I may have invested faster. The way we built it, we built everything incrementally. There was some mystery as to, “What will be the uptake for this functionality in the marketplace? Are people willing to pay for this?” The uncertainty of all of that had us be very cautious about how we invested in building out the platform.
Now that I see it, it seems obvious and evident that contractors are not going to go back to doing things manually. They may still have the fax machine in a closet somewhere in the office, but you cannot run a modern construction company without a platform like RedTeam to control the experience of all the constituents in a complex construction project. It is vital. I do not see how it can be done. Once contractors do adopt the platform, I think they’ll recognize this. They may find it frustrating that this is something that I have to have to run the business. They have known that about accounting for many years. No one would attempt to run a business without an accounting system. The construction platforms are as important as that.
As you reflect upon the fact that you would have invested more, I am assuming you are talking to your clients and getting feedback from them. How do you know now what to invest in?
Talking to clients is a big part of that. One of my things is I like to speak to a client at least once a day. Not a day goes by that I do not have a conversation with a client or a prospect. It is very important to me to keep that ongoing dialogue and connection with people that are utilizing our platform so that we have a clear direction on how to build out the future. As I said earlier, one of the most important things about selecting a partner to provide your platform is do you connect well? Do you have the same values and beliefs about the industry that are going to make you good partners for the business as you go into the future?
Let me ask you this. Let’s talk about the future real quick. Wave your magic wand and look into your crystal ball. Where do you see construction and technology in the future?
I think we will always be seeing new innovative point solutions. I think that integrating those point solutions into the platform is vital.
Tell me what you mean by point solutions.
Point solutions would be a piece of software that manages let’s say a drone survey on your job site.
It is addressing a specific issue.
It may be brilliant at solving that one business case, but that data is living in a silo as long as it is in that standalone platform and at the risk of using the term that I told you I do not like very much. It is our job as software vendors to make sure there is interoperability, and that there is integration across all these options because contractors have unique needs and unique focuses. They will have to have a number of point solutions to supplement their business operations. We should make it easy to integrate that information into our platform without necessarily having to recreate it. We should look at even competing applications and support all that interactivity.
Is part of your strategy as RedTeam to find those point solutions and then purchase them. I know some of the software guys, that is what they do. They find the latest and the greatest and they buy the guys out. Do you guys have that perspective?
That does happen. We have only done it once, to be clear. I do not know that that would be the standard operating procedure. I do think that there are functionalities that are core to the platform that it makes sense to maybe acquire a solution like that and integrate it into the platform. It is incredibly difficult to merge disparate software applications, especially web applications. The architecture of the platforms is really important when you look at a potential acquisition. Even if we were to buy something and integrate it into our platform, I still have the opinion that we should maintain our partner relationships with the competing point solutions.
Michael, you have been very generous with your time. Tell us a little bit more about RedTeam.
What is probably most unique about Red Team is the number of actual construction folks we have in the organization. We give everybody a hard hat and we make it clear that we are not a tech company. We are a construction company. I never want to lose focus on that. One of the things that we do spend a fair amount of time talking about is the amount of risk and the amount of stress that there is in construction. The quality of life is a very important deliverable for us as a company. I share my own horror stories from being on job sites in the middle of the night and having problems that I did not know how I was going to solve at the moment of trying to solve them. There is a high level of empathy for the people that we serve. I think that is distinctive about how we operate as a business.
I have talked with lots of folks about software and people in your space. I have never had someone frame it that way in terms of the quality of life. I appreciate that. You are out in Florida, is that right, Michael?
We are in Orlando, Florida. It is a lot of fun. A lot of things to do here.
If I am visiting Orlando because somehow I get sucked in by my kids to go into Disney world, what is the one non-Disney type restaurant I should hit to make myself feel better for that long journey? I am out in California.
I flew back from California. It was beautiful. I was in San Diego. If you come to Orlando and you spend time at the parks, either Disney or Universal, one of the things you may not know as a tourist is that that is not really Orlando. Orlando is about 20 to 25 minutes north-ish from the attractions. If you are going to go into Orlando proper, check out a place called The Osprey Tavern. It is a great place. I do know the owner. It is a fantastic restaurant.
If folks want to get in touch with you, Michael, how can they get in touch with you guys?
Why did you call the company RedTeam? I am curious.
Prior to being in the construction business, I worked in the aerospace business. Many of our projects were for the military. Red team is a war gaming term. I always liked the name. It is a cool name, but it is also a process of taking a hard look at your circumstances and figuring out how to exploit your advantages and mitigate your risk. The notion of red teaming is something that is a part of managing military infrastructure and managing military war gaming, but it is also a great business process.
Do you have any book recommendations around that process that you might want to give to the readers? If you do not, it is okay. I know I am throwing you a curve ball there, but it is interesting.
I am sure that somebody has written a book on red teaming. I am not sure I have read it though.
Michael, I appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for your generosity here.
This is Eric. Before you jet off, thank you again for tuning in. Make sure that you connect with Michael Wright on LinkedIn and also check out RedTeam.com for more information about his company. I deeply appreciate each and every one of you who tunes in on a regular basis. It is amazing to me when I run into people that I have never met before and they say, “Eric, I appreciate the show.” I want to say that I appreciate you. Feel free to share it with other people that you know who may benefit from the content. Give us a rating or a review wherever you get your podcasts. Once again, thanks for tuning in. I will catch you on the next episode.
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About Michael Wright
Michael Wright is the founder of RedTeam Software. He has had more than 25 years of hands-on experience in all aspects of commercial construction. Initially, Mike had an outsider’s introduction to a well-established industry historically underserved by technology. He took a unique path to remedy issues found in commercial construction. Mike got into construction in the mid-’90s after working in other industries, including computer manufacturing, and aerospace engineering, and spent time at KPMG where his focus was client service and ERP implementation. The software that ultimately emerged as the RedTeam platform was initially developed for his own commercial construction company. Wright developed RedTeam as a comprehensive cloud-based solution for construction project management, built for contractors by contractors. Together, Wright’s cloud-based technology allows for increased collaboration, communication, transparency, efficiency, and profitability, allowing RedTeam to meet the needs of the construction industry.