Customer Spotlight

Madison, Wi

Headquarters

Electrical Contractor

Trade

450

Employees

Founded in 1931, Westphal & Co. Inc. is a full-service electrical and technologies contractor serving the Midwest and contiguous United States from offices in Wisconsin and Iowa. This full-service firm provides any and all electrical and technology construction services their clients require, from large industrial and institutional construction to residential service calls. For more information about Westphal & Co., visit www.westphalec.com/

GARY FUCHS

VP of Construction

Gary Fuchs knows electrical contracting from the front lines. Rising from apprentice electrician to service foreman, general superintendent, and ultimately Vice-President of Construction at Westphal & Company, Mr. Fuchs’ primary responsibility is meeting production objectives through  field personnel and project management staff . In addition to coordinating the timely and profitable completion of all contracted projects, he also supervises all project managers, general superintendents, field supervisors, safety and warehouse personnel.

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GARY's KEY TO SUCCESS

“Although new users can pick up the basics in just a few minutes, I knew I needed to really know the ins and outs of the program so I could train others. So I spent several weeks learning it, then taught the project managers. They showed other employees, and ultimately these internal demos really sold it across our organization.”

In-Depth

Prior to LaborChart, how did you manage your workforce?
We were using a combination of spreadsheets and a lot of email! We had tried to build a shared spreadsheet, but with everybody in there modifying the structure it was quite a mess. We needed something that would bring better transparency and manageability to our skilled labor force.
Who in your company manages the workforce?

We operate differently than a lot of contractors our size—we don’t use a general superintendent. We used to operate like that, but about ten years ago we decided to change the way we run our workforce and eliminated the general superintendent role. It just wasn’t working for us. There was very little scrutiny applied in that chain of command, the structure lacked accountability, and the cost of labor was going over budget too often.

So, our workforce is now managed and scheduled by the project managers.

That’s a big change! How did it go?

Well, we immediately saw a huge improvement and labor savings, so we knew we were on to something. However, project managers weren’t used to managing workers directly and didn’t like it. When you have a pool of labor, and an ever-changing demand for workers with various skills, you need a way to match up the supply and the demand. PMs were frustrated because they didn’t have the tools to effectively manage their project labor.

Had you tried other software or anything else besides spreadsheets and email?

I’d also looked into software for things like dispatching personnel from service departments, but nothing really fit our requirements for managing trade workers in a construction setting. By the time we found LaborChart, we were using a combination of a simple Microsoft Office contact database with all our workers—and a lot of email!

Well, we’re glad you found us. You’ve been on our platform for over two years now. How are things going?
LaborChart has fundamentally changed our company. It’s woven into everything we do, helping us in ways I never even imagined.

Our workforce is spread over 15 states and the ability to not only manage assignments but analyze the data for scheduling, job-costing, and resource planning on upcoming projects is tremendous. With LaborChart, we’re able to look at any slice of what we’re doing at any time and know we’re getting accurate information.

I’d rank LaborChart’s ongoing impact as comparable to our widespread switch to using CAD onsite in the mid-90s. LaborChart is doing for labor management what CAD did for building back then. Very few things come along in one’s career that change everything. Like CAD, LaborChart is one of them.
What’s the biggest difference since you rolled out LaborChart?
Where do I start? With LaborChart, we’ve eliminated all the slow and manual processes I mentioned. Now everyone can see what’s going on in our workforce in real time. We know exactly what job everyone is assigned to and can transparently communicate needs and available resources any time without sending a single email. We know the skill levels of all workers, what their available hours are, when they’re out sick, or when they’re planning to take a vacation. We can assign folks to jobs for any period of time, communicate assignments with text messages, and quickly move workers from one job to another if needs and availability change.
Have you looked at ROI or savings since implementing LaborChart?
We have, and it’s substantial. Increasing productivity to the value of one journeyman wireman (JW) saves $100,000 a year. We estimate that we’re already saving two JWs annually with LaborChart—and that’s being very conservative.

What it’s really done on a larger scale is make all our internal systems and relationships work better. Those savings are harder to quantify, but just as real.
Did you see a savings from the start, or was there a ramp-up period?

Though LaborChart as a technology was ready for what we needed to do, changing how people do things is always challenging. The habit of sending those emails to request help didn’t stop immediately across the board once the tool was deployed, so we scheduled a meeting for project managers and said, “You need to show up ready to use LaborChart and show that your projects are properly set up in it.”

Some people came to the first meeting unprepared, but by making it a regular weekly gathering we both drove accountability and made it a sort of support group where you can get encouragement and help.

Gary's Favorite Features

People Screen

“The people screen lets us view each employee’s qualifications, based on the tags we’ve applied for experience and credentials such as training. That way we can select the right workers for every job.”

Boards Screen

“The boards screen shows all the assignments in one place, giving us a comprehensive overview of where our labor resources are deployed.”