His situation could not have been any more ideal for a startup company. Though the larger contractors in the WNY area generally had their own in-house GPS support — and still do — small to mid-size companies were lacking in that area.
“I started with a focus on building models for site work and concrete contractors, but quickly realized that, to succeed, I also needed to offer additional site support — construction staking, as-builts, etc. However, after I added earthwork takeoffs, as-built drawing prep, basically everything a contractor with GPS capability needed, I saw I was the only company in the area offering such support. My business was off and running.”
Quality in Quantity
Fast-forward to the present and Terratek has added staff, serves clients in virtually every part of New York state and surrounding areas, and has beefed up their capabilities menu even more. In addition to the strengths mentioned above, the company also offers CAD training, trains client personnel on Topcon equipment and, of late, has been focusing a good deal on quantity analysis. At the heart of that last push are two factors: many projects — and all DOT jobs — base payment on quantities, and a deeper dive into the engineer’s quantity estimates often uncover errors that can impact the bottom line.
“I have one client in particular that I work closely with on quantity analysis,” he said. “For them, we basically measure everything we do and report it all by item number. If there is an overage, we bill it and provide my drawings and the model as the necessary backup. That’s a valuable resource to bring to a client.”
Just how valuable, he found, can be staggering. On one job, the owner had a note in the drawing stating they would pay more if construction was done a certain way — digging for curb before digging for underdrain, for example. So, after swapping the engineer’s estimate from one item to another, correcting errors caused during survey, exposing some over digging, etc., Arnold’s client presented the owners with some revised numbers.
“After all the changes were implemented, the savings totaled around $400,000,” he said. “Obviously, given that, my client sees a lot of value in quantity analysis. Granted, the number won’t be that large on most jobs, but there are substantial savings out there if a company wants to look for them. And I can provide the tools to do just that.”
In addition to his survey skills, the tools to which Arnold refers, include an all-Topcon lineup including a GT-500 robotic total station, HiPer VR receiver, FC-5000 field computer and LN-100 layout navigator. His decision to use Topcon solutions stems from the fact that, when he started his business, so many companies in the Buffalo area — who he saw as potential clients — were also Topcon users. He was also won over by the company’s layout navigator (LN), the first instrument he purchased for his then-fledgling company.
“I bought the LN because it was the most affordable unit available to do the tasks I anticipated doing," he said. “Little did I know what a great tool it would turn out to be. It can do anything in layout, and, because it is fully enclosed, self-leveling and has no eyepiece to look through, it’s perfect for concrete contractors and the like. Just set it up and ‘see you later.’”
Supplanted since by the more powerful LN-150, the layout navigator streamlines the digital layout and construction verification workflows. Designed for ease of use, the tool’s inherent strengths increase productivity, accuracy, and bottom-line savings. “The LN was my go-to layout tool when I started and it still is today, four years later,” said Arnold.