McCabe Lumber generates precise take-offs in half the time

McCabe Lumber is the envy of the Cincinnati-regional lumber and building materials industry. They have a stunning showroom, a long list of interior and exterior building products, and an in-house truss and wall panel component manufacturing operation. With a staff of 120 and around $40 million in annual revenue, McCabe serves several hundred regular customers, where McCabe sees a high concentration of custom and production home builders.

McCabe Lumber is a company that’s always trying to improve, and it recently solved a bugaboo that plagues so many lumber and building material companies of its size. Instead of focusing on sales and developing new relationships, McCabe’s 12-member outside sales staff was spending as much as 50% of its time creating estimates for home builder customers.

“Compounding that problem,” said Jerry Tepe, VP of Sales (with 17 years at McCabe), “many of the estimates getting turned in were inaccurate, in part because they were rushed. If the framing package or other material phases went out missing materials, we’d have to run the missing items to the jobsite. That’s time and money. Worse, if the estimate had overage, the unused materials would degrade on site, and we’d have an issue with the builder when material was picked up for credit, even though it was unusable. More time and money.”

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“Adding to the material accuracy problem,” added Dave Renchen, McCabe’s estimating manager (40+ years in the industry), “if the delivery staging wasn’t right, and there was bunching on the site, the framers would often pick from the wrong pile, or end up misusing the materials, like cutting up pricey lumber lengths for blocking. From the customer perspective, McCabe potentially looked bad by putting the right products on site too soon, or putting too much material out there, or even just putting the wrong material on site, where they’d be subject to return. It was a costly way to do business, and it hamstrung our ability to grow new business.”

Designed specifically to meet the needs of lumber dealers, SAPPHIRE Supply is a single-source BIM software solution that offers the most complete and accurate “digital structural frame” in the homebuilding industry. A wide range of structural products can be designed and specified into the roofs, floors, and walls of residential structures, including leading proprietary engineered wood products (EWP), APA-rated EWP products, dimensional lumber, and metal connectors.

A Better Way to Do a Take Off
The team at McCabe had to find a better way to create a material take off. The new approach had to free up the outside sales team to do what they were hired to do: develop relationships and sell. But the estimating method had to offer McCabe extreme accuracy and efficiency. A tall task, indeed.

McCabe Lumber has been a long-time user of MiTek’s SAPPHIRE® Structure software suite for designing and manufacturing roof trusses, floor trusses, and wall panels. A team of 10 McCabe employees was already working with SAPPHIRE Structure on a daily basis for the component operation. McCabe soon began using SAPPHIRE Supply, an integrated estimating solution.

McCabe discovered that SAPPHIRE Supply can also incorporate McCabe’s product SKUs to create a complete quote, including for non-MiTek products.

SAPPHIRE Supply: What it Does
Designed specifically to meet the needs of lumber and building material dealers like McCabe, SAPPHIRE Supply is a single-source software solution that combines complete materials estimating, EWP, and structural frame design. Just what McCabe was looking for.

Moreover, McCabe plans to use SAPPHIRE Supply to import its quotes with SKUs into their point-of-sale system, while performing analysis and design on a wide range of structural products, including leading engineered wood products (EWP), dimensional lumber, and metal connectors and hangers, even trim packages.

“SAPPHIRE Supply uses a single shared structural model, and that offers McCabe a unified solution for efficient, consistent and accurate modeling, estimating, and order fulfillment across their organization,” explained MiTek’s Brian McCormick. “SAPPHIRE Supply eliminates the classic problem of inconsistent sales estimating within an organization, because it delivers accurate modeling and estimating on every structure.”

“As we learn more about SAPPHIRE Supply, we are just now realizing the true power of SAPPHIRE Supply to change our estimating operations,” said Dave Renchen. “But two immediate effects are already evident: First, our sales team are not spending hours on an estimate; instead, they are selling more jobs and expanding relationships, often by using SAPPHIRE Viewer, a free download for reviewing SAPPHIRE models. And secondly, our material counts and delivery stages are so accurate that we see a clear path to reducing the error and waste rate from as much as 8% down to 2%, which represents more than 50% waste reduction. We feel that 2% is essentially near-perfect accuracy, because that’s how much unusable material is in the average order, even when the counts are perfect.”

“Best of all,” Jerry Tepe added, ”we are able to complete the estimates in SAPPHIRE Supply in half the time it used to take us to work up estimate through our old estimating process, and Dave’s team is working on the estimates, not the sales staff. We are really achieving impressive order processing velocity.”

“We are able to complete the estimates in SAPPHIRE Supply in half the time it used to take us to work up estimate through our old estimating process.” –

Jerry Tepe,
VP Sales McCabe Lumber

The SAPPHIRE BIM Model
“With SAPPHIRE Supply, we create lot-specific BIM models for every job,” said Dave Renchen. “If the builder sends us a PDF, or a CAD file, the conversion to a SAPPHIRE BIM model is really easy to execute, and once we have the model – not just the rough shape of the structure, but the model – that only accelerates our accuracy. With SAPPHIRE Supply, I can move from panels to stick frame with a click of a mouse. Plus, with a customer profiling tool, I can associate certain practices with certain customers, say, moving easily from 16 OC studs to 24 OC studs, depending on the customer’s preference.” By using SAPPHIRE Viewer, McCabe is able to show where every item in the quote is going to be used. This becomes a take off everyone can agree on.

Whole-House Estimating
Since SAPPHIRE Supply is based on the geometry of a structural model, the software can also generate estimates for nonstructural materials, such as drywall, house wrap and even millwork. SAPPHIRE Supply’s flexible formula-builder gives users the power to define their own accumulation rules to achieve accurate materials counts.

The automated framing tools also allow users to quickly evaluate alternative framing scenarios, since multiple structural product solutions can be simultaneously designed for the same framing member, leading to a choice among optimized solutions.

SAPPHIRE Supply also offers precision load distribution, from the ridge to the foundation, and it displays how those loads pass through the entire structure. Load paths can be visually traced in either 2D or 3D view.

As part of the SAPPHIRE Suite, SAPPHIRE Supply allows dealers who are suppliers of USP Structural Connectors and their MiTek component manufacturers to collaborate by sharing common Building Information Models (BIM).

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