Broad experience, tenacity and good communication makes a great estimator, but technology helps too!
Having been involved in the timber and construction industry since the 1990s, David Seymour has seen a massive evolution in technology; from dot matrix printers and vector-based drawings to 3D design, engineering computation software, and now artificial intelligence (AI).
As Head of Quality of Assurance, David is responsible for supporting and mentoring the BEDC estimating team, ensuring they achieve the high standard of work they are renowned for. While much of his role calls upon his years of experience and knowledge of best practice and regulatory compliance, he’s excited about how BEDC is using AI to change the game for construction estimation.
“I remember all those years ago talking about AI and how it’ll be a game changer for the construction industry. Now I’m part of a team that’s at the forefront of innovation and it’s so exciting to see the incredible benefits technology can bring to the process.”
On how tenacity and determination have shaped his career
David’s career started out with cutting timber in a hardwood sawmill, and progressed to using a specialized prefab saw. In this role he learned how to read plans and was introduced to estimating, which he then moved into. Being told he was too accurate but too slow to estimate, David took the opportunity to move into detailing and later on to a technical support role. You could say, when it comes to estimating, David has pretty much seen it all. And it’s this well rounded experience that David applies to his role at BEDC, performing quality checks on the more complex jobs as well as mentoring the team, offering advice and guidance when needed.
David says the biggest enabler of success in his career to date has been his ability to never give up, even in the face of adversity. “I’ve always been tenacious and determined. From early on I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, and I never gave up on those dreams. I’ve never been afraid to put myself out there and go after roles that I’m passionate about.”
On why good communication is even more important today
It’s been an extraordinary few years and certainly Covid has changed the way businesses operate. For David, it’s been a welcome reminder of what’s truly important, albeit has also introduced challenges to his day-to-day role. “The biggest challenge with Covid has been with everyone working from home and centralized offices almost becoming an anachronism. My background as an estimator and designer has helped me navigate these challenges - you tend to get well versed in a range of different communication methods. There is so much that can be misinterpreted in channels like email so it’s always good to follow up with a person-to-person conversation. We find Zoom, screen shots and diagrams of the message we are wanting to convey are all necessary in today’s landscape”.
On why FOMO is good for the construction industry
While technology is now playing an active role in transforming the construction industry, it has been one of the slower sectors to make the shift to digital. David’s view is that fear of missing out (FOMO) is actually one of the sector’s best catalysts for change. “Builders are notorious for using tried and tested techniques and being reluctant to change. As older builders have transitioned off the tools and into managerial roles, there has been somewhat of a flow on effect that has slowed down room for disruption because these people who aren’t keen to change are now in decision-making roles. But there’s been a changing of the guard over the past decade as the younger generation starts to mature within the industry and bring fresh perspectives and more of a digital mindset to the table. And now that the benefits of technology are becoming more widely recognized, everyone wants the newest tools to gain those efficiencies”.
One of the new technological advances David is excited about is panelized entire house systems and he thinks it’ll be one of the next big things in construction. “We have seen a great deal of success with floor cassettes in the building industry and now entire houses can be constructed in a factory, arriving on site in a ‘lock up’ stage rather than just sending out the bones. Once more people become aware of this option, I believe it will really take off”.
“Now, we just need more innovators like BEDC to step up and start promoting themselves within the industry.”
And finally, David’s advice for someone wanting to get into estimating
“Don’t take no for an answer, and if you get told no, don’t take it to heart. I was told early in my career that I was too good at operating the saw and that my employer wouldn’t shift me into an estimator role. But I didn’t take no for an answer and here I am today in a role I love.”
He also says you can learn a lot from your mistakes. “In the early days of estimating I used to write them all down and check my work for those mistakes until I got to the point where I knew them all so well and felt comfortable that it was second nature to me”.
And finally, his last piece of advice is to find a great mentor who can provide advice and guidance while at the same time allowing your own natural abilities and perspectives to develop. Says David, “It’ll make a world of difference!”
To find out more about how BEDC can help transform your estimation process, speak to our team today.