HGC Teammate Spotlight: Spencer Thompson, Estimator

In this installment of the HGC Teammate Spotlight, we sat down with one of our Estimators, Spencer Thompson, to learn more about how his team supports our clients and keeps our projects running efficiently!

Tell us a little about yourself– how did you get started with a career in the construction industry and what led you to become a project estimator?

ST: My mom worked in the industry for over 20 years, so from a young age, I was riding with her to work and helping out where I could – filing papers, organizing documents … whatever they needed! During that time, I developed a relationship with the owner and her coworkers. Then, when I was in college, the owner gave me the opportunity to join the team and learn more about the industry. I joined HGC about a year and a half ago as an Estimator.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

ST: I usually get to work around 6AM, check emails and start working on my daily goals. When a new project comes across my desk, I immediately send all the construction documents to our industry partners, so they have enough time to review them and price out their scope of work. That gives them enough time to review everything and ask questions before I submit my proposal. I flip through the project plans one sheet at a time to familiarize myself with the project and client needs.

Once I’m familiar with the plans, I start working on calculating, measuring and quantifying our scope of work, also known as a takeoff. The program we use measures 3D for dirt and 2D for hardscape, erosion control and utilities. I run the takeoff through our estimating software which allows me to analyze a project’s cost, profit, and the big-ticket items the client wants to focus on. I review that and offer my expertise on what the client could possibly do to save money but still deliver the best product to their customers. From start to finish, the takeoff process generally takes about a week.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

ST: Collaborating with teammates. I enjoy talking through how we’re going to solve this jigsaw puzzle that is a construction project itself. There are a lot of moving parts, so I try to look for different perspectives to help figure out what to do and let my team suggest their ideas. I learn best when there are more people giving input and looking at things through a different lens than me.

What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?

ST: The toughest thing to manage is preparing for the unexpected. Having the ability to prioritize and pivot is critical to how you face a problem and ultimately overcome it. Every job is moving at a different pace, and everyone needs something different, so being able to understand what needs to be handled immediately and switching your focus can sometimes be a challenge.

How do the project teams help set HGC apart from its competitors?

ST: Resources, teamwork, and communication. We can offer the best solutions because every person on all of our teams is an expert in their area. Teamwork and great communication are imperative because you lean on so many people throughout the life cycle of a project to help you come up with the best possible solutions.

HGC has five core values – which one do you think is the most important?

ST: Integrity. In my experience, all the other core values could fall underneath this one. By having the highest level of integrity, you can more easily achieve the other four core values.

What would you tell someone who was considering a career in the construction industry?

ST: As with any industry, there are a lot of keys to success. Showing up to work on time, making good use of your day, and being the type of teammate you would want to work with. Also, remembering to listen more than you speak, be open to learning and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

What team/resource group at HGC do you think is the most misunderstood? How does your team partner with them and how do they support the HGC team?

ST: Our Project Administrators (PA’s) can sometimes be overlooked throughout the life of a project. However, they do so much for the entire team and are critical to our success. If you asked me what I do, I could sum it up with takeoffs, talking to clients and bidding projects. If you asked our PA’s what they do, it would probably be hard for them to sum up as easily. They keep our projects organized and more efficient than I possibly could! I wouldn’t be surprised if they said they were on the moon changing the lunar lander’s tires.

How has technology changed the way you do your job?

ST: Not so long ago, people would use scales and a pencil to find and draw contour lines. It was very labor intensive. However, construction technology has changed drastically. Digitizing boards eventually replaced scales and pencils and AGTEK software replaced those. Having gone to work with my mom growing up, I was exposed to the old way of getting things done. It has been a blessing being able to witness firsthand how the evolution of technology has impacted the industry … for the better! We can now operate more efficiently and precisely in a shorter amount of time which makes life a lot easier for all of us!

What do you think the construction industry will look like in 20 years?

ST: I think the industry will continue to evolve. I think we will have more automated machines and hope to see more women in the field!