Skender is a full-service contractor based out of Chicago, Illinois. A construction industry veteran with over 60 years of experience, Skender not only serves a diverse clientele ranging from Google to Hyatt, but also holds a prestigious ranking among the Top 10 Contractors in Illinois and the Top 30 in the MidWest.
We sat down with Ben Stocker, construction technologist at Skender, to discuss how technology fits into the ‘Skender Approach’ – wherein the people, and the relationships built with these people sets the foundation for all of their process-driven practices. As we further explored the employment of technology in the construction industry and Skender itself, Ben shared his belief in the importance of not only leveraging existing technologies to its maximum potential, but simultaneously broadening the horizons and introducing new technologies, at the right place and time.
"cmBuilder has greatly elevated the quality of our preconstruction logistics plans at Skender. Logistics plans were typically made in 2D because it was quick and easy, but now creating much more visually appealing and detailed plans are done just as easily in 3D. cmBuilder’s expansive resource library includes every type of equipment, vehicle, safety materials (and more) that your project needs, making it dead simple to accurately show exactly how you want to plan the job. cmBuilder also allows all parties to visualize the job site better, keeping everybody on the same page."
- Ben Stocker - Construction Technologist at Skender
That’s where cmBuilder.io, the recent addition to Skender’s construction-tech portfolio, comes in. Speaking of the critical elements Ben evaluates when assessing new technologies, he mentions that accessibility of the technology is a fundamental consideration he takes into account, to which he added, “that’s one of the reasons I loved cmBuilder right off the bat, because earlier we would make a simplistic 2D plan or outsource someone to make a custom 3D model, but now anyone can easily do it within cmBuilder itself, making it the type of accessible technology we want to employ in the company.” Furthermore, to keep in line with Skender’s collaborative approach, he shares his dedication towards bringing everyone on the team onto the technology, as he says, “when I can get something that is accessible, like cmBuilder, into the hands of the superintendent, he then not only approves but also organically promotes the technology within the company, and that’s where things really start to take off.”
Ben shared the following testimonial on how cmBuilder' not only provided explicit value in the form of a more visually appealing logistics plan that makes room for added details and creates a prominent impact during client meetings, but also provided implicit and intangible value in the form of the interaction it stimulated within the logistics plan through features that allowed the team at Skender to make more guided decisions.
“cmBuilder has greatly elevated the quality of our preconstruction logistics plans at Skender. Logistics plans were typically made in 2D because it was quick and easy, but now creating much more visually appealing and detailed plans are done just as easily in 3D. cmBuilder’s expansive resource library includes every type of equipment, vehicle, safety materials (and more) that your project needs, making it dead simple to accurately show exactly how you want to plan the job. cmBuilder also allows all parties to visualize the job site better, keeping everybody on the same page.”
This reflects on technology’s holistic role in a project life cycle, right from the assistance in securing a client, to assisting a contractor in their day-to-day operations like where to park near the site. Ben spoke about the underlying value in increasing the frequency of digital documentation of the job site, which he explains, has benefited stakeholders like subcontractors because now, rather than having an outdated satellite view of the job site, contractors are able to use updated drone imagery and a 3D map on applications like cmBuilder to organize their daily operations like where to park their trucks or where exactly the laydown area is for job-site materials.
“With our 2D plans, we are only looking at one point in time, but with cmBuilder, I love how it’s not just a rendered video or static images at the end, you can pause at any time and for example, zoom around and look at the backside of the building during a particular milestone, which simply allows you to get so much more context out of your job and in turn, prove your value to your client .”
- Ben Stocker
As we looked into what the future has in store for the construction-tech industry, Ben presented an insightful perspective on how recent AI tools like chatGPT have begun revolutionizing the usage and management of data, hence, highlighting the forthcoming potential of AI within the construction industry; he followed this thought with a strong example of how builders could leverage AI to be able to go over years of previous project data within mere minutes, and anticipate problems, questions, and trends that may appear in future projects, ahead of time. Ben is a true digital innovator and with the support of the extended Skender team, he is marrying the deployment of cutting edge technologies like AI, NeRF and web-based 4D construction simulation, with practical outcomes that bring measurable, quantifiable value to their projects and ultimately the end client.