Imagine going camping off-grid for two weeks with a family of seven. Ponder for a moment the planning and packing of gear for every scenario: bears, rain, snacks, hiking, sleeping… and you get pretty overwhelmed, right? That would require weeks of planning, several supplies, and a lot that can go wrong. Most people wouldn’t be brave enough to try. But not Tommy Stanek, father of five and CEO and Founder of Graceful Management (GMS), but then again, he’s built a little differently. Not only is he up for camping with his family of seven, but plans and packs for it too. But more impressive, he is the genius behind solving the $177 billion of annual preventable losses in construction by developing a service that will revolutionize the industry. And that isn’t hyperbole.
The Graceful Management System (GMS) is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning service that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to learn from contractors’ project operations data, company financials and real-time feeds to autonomously optimize and adjust project costs, schedules, and estimates, resulting in a reduction of up to 20% in labor and material costs. More simply stated, it is a smart tool that uses all the data from past projects to predict future costs, autonomously manage scheduling, and, best of all, save construction companies, and therefore customers, a lot of money.
The construction industry has stalled. According to the New York Times, construction workers in 2020 produced less than those back in 1970. To give some perspective, Stanek adds, “In contrast, labor productivity rose by 290% in the manufacturing sector. So, that kind of shows you we’re falling way behind. And because other businesses are excelling, that gap is getting even bigger. And man, I’m excited to bring some fun, joy, and solutions to that.”
“The productivity struggle within the construction sector is real…” states a report by the Becker Freedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, “Given its place in the economy, this productivity decline has real effects.” In simple terms, the construction industry can’t get work done efficiently.
The spark for Stanek’s GMS service for construction came when he owned his own mortgage franchise. “The whole business was dependent on me. I knew how to do everything from start to finish. And if I had salesmen, I had to do it for them. If I had an administrator, I had to do it for them. And I was trying to figure out a way to duplicate myself. That was the beginning. That was the catalyst where I started writing out processes and procedures and delegating who did what, in what order, and how the handoffs had to take place.”
It wasn’t just planning processes and procedures; it was listening. “I started getting feedback from employees telling me that they were struggling.” He would fix that process to not only improve the employee experience, but that process also trickled down to the customer experience. “It really was fantastic because it allowed the employees to know that, hey, we’re at a roundtable. If you’re having a problem with something or if something is inefficient let’s figure it out. If you don’t have the information you need to successfully execute what you’re trying to accomplish, then let’s figure out how to get it. And let’s make it efficient.”
Tommy spent 11 years at A-Team Construction Unlimited, Inc. where he designed and maintained marketing systems and processes and where the idea for GMS began to grow. His inspiration came from three places: “constant complaints that I was unable to fix, and the others were inaccuracies in pricing and the challenge of scheduling.” Customers would complain that no one called them or showed up, and the price was different than quoted. There were a lot of unmet expectations.
He began by studying how estimates were being priced. They were more shot-in-the-dark than science, so he set out to solve that challenge. Pricing was based entirely on the owner looking at one or two previous projects similar to the project being bid. Tommy saw three problems: 1) no one could create a bid except the owner, 2) the owner is using a binder and utilizing only one to three projects as data points, and 3) the estimate was really a guesstimate.
Tommy explains, “So I was like, all right, there has got to be a technology out there that can essentially do what he’s doing. That was the beginning of my hunt. I had no intention of creating one. I started demoing as many contractor estimating softwares as I possibly could. None of them takes historical data and creates an estimate for you. This was the pre-concept, before AI and Chat GPT, because I started formulating the concept around 2017.”
Impressively, he wrote a CRM on Google Sheets. “It was far more sophisticated than you can imagine.” Simply put, he took the owner’s binder and turned it into a tool that factored in historical data on projects from five or more years prior, factored in changes in labor and materials, included margins and sales, and then was able to quote jobs. “It was so much fun. I’ve never coded anything.”
“I was like, why can’t we do the same thing for scheduling? I’m watching one guy who’s pulling his hair out, working 60 hours a week to manage the schedule. He’d spend his whole day setting this up, and one moment he is like, ‘Oh, it’s so perfect.’ And then it’s almost like somebody would bump the table, and all the dominoes would fall, and he’d have to start all over again.” But Tommy solved the scheduling problem with GMS as well. To simplify it, GMS schedules people who are great at producing various tasks that are needed. If they aren’t available, it grabs another worker, and if there isn’t anyone in the system available, it finds a subcontractor so everyone can stay on track. If an employee is sick ten days out of the year, that will factor into time and scheduling from the beginning. And most importantly, it contacts the customer to tell them what to expect.
‘Whether you’re a disappointed customer, a hardworking contractor with disappointed customers, or an employee with both a disappointed customer and a boss, the GMS will navigate construction chaos into a graceful experience. I’m proud of it and intrinsically motivated to stop nothing short of that.”
The $177 billion lost annually is attributed to a lack of communication and technology. Tommy shares, “It’s assumed that only half of this industry has embraced technology because they’re resistant, but my market research says otherwise. Nine out of every ten contractors that I’ve spoken to have applied to use our BETA release. Why? They are shocked to learn there is a software solution that doesn’t just store their data conveniently in the cloud accessible by the appropriate parties but one that captures their data to make autonomous adjustments in real-time to optimize schedules and pricing as your GPS does as you’re traveling.”
It will be exciting to see how Tommy Stanek’s cloud-based enterprise resource planning service, the Graceful Management System (GMS), changes the construction industry. It can reduce labor and material costs by up to 20% with AI-optimized project costs, schedules and estimates. And even better, it can potentially leave many people a lot happier. “I’m proud of creating something that will improve the quality of life for so many.” And who knows, maybe when he is done revolutionizing the construction world, he can create a planning service for those, like him, adventurously tackling camping with a family of seven.
Sign up to be a Beta tester today!
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.