How a family-founded Cincinnati startup is helping companies work safer and smarter amid the pandemic
In a year when on-site work and in-person coordination is more challenging than ever, how can construction projects stay on track and organized without putting people at risk? Cincinnati’s STACK Construction Technologies is providing an answer. Even in years without a pandemic, the analysis, estimate and planning of a proposed construction project is a cumbersome process that can ruin projects, delay work and cut deeply into the profits of the business. STACK, created by former contractor and entrepreneur Phil Ogilby and his son Justin, created software designed to help small businesses navigate through the difficult beginnings of a project, streamlining their process and maximizing profits. And this year, their mission is more critical than ever.
“At STACK, we have cloud-based takeoff and estimating software for building contractors that’s designed to help them find success,” said Phil, STACK’s CEO and co-founder. “Our software accelerates the pre-construction part of their process. We help them go from drawings to estimates, turn it into a quote and let them bid more work in less time. We’re really the first ones to do what we do in the cloud. Our software measures PDF blueprints, determines quantities needed and combines that with algorithms that help estimate the material and labor they’re going to need for a proposal.”
In the midst of the pandemic, Ogilby said he was as concerned about business as anyone else. But because their software focuses on cloud usage, unlike other programs, STACK has had a successful 2020 by helping companies stay virtual and distanced. Now, the company is looking forward to new innovations and continued growth in the future.
“Like everyone else, in March we were scared about what would happen; we had no idea what to expect,” he said. “But we put together a plan last year and we’re 20 percent ahead of where we expected to be. It seems that people are realizing the value of our software being cloud-based and not relying on old-fashioned desktop programs. Now, we’re adding new features like estimating and measuring blueprints as well as pushing toward mobile users and automation. We have some really exciting, game-changing things in the works.”
The Ogilbys founded STACK in 2015, with “computer genius” Justin writing the software and the construction-savvy Phil leading the organization. Since then, the company has grown steadily, helping a wide variety of businesses complete their projects more efficiently. For Phil, the work isn’t just about making money or running a successful company, it’s about helping those in the position he was once in.
“Commercial construction has one of the highest failure rates of all industries in the United States today, so a big part of the challenge for these folks is accurately determining the materials and labor required for a job,” he said. “That’s what our software helps them with. We were at a trade show in February and were approached by a customer who had bought our software two years before. He told us that we helped him grow from $600,000 in revenue to $6.5 million over literally two and a half years — that’s the kind of impact we can have and that’s the reason we’re here. I was a contractor, and it’s a personal passion of mine to help these folks succeed.”
Another personal passion for Phil is his southwest Ohio home. Though his contracting career started in Dayton, he’s been in the Cincinnati area for decades, where he launched his previous startup, a construction bidding and contracting site called iSqFt.com. Along the way, he credits Cincinnati startup organizations for creating a positive entrepreneurial environment for the growing region.
“I love Cincinnati because it’s home for me, but beyond that groups like CincyTech are having a big impact in this town and the whole region,” he said. “I’ve started a business before, so my journey wasn’t quite as difficult to get started, but it can be challenging for new companies and organizations like CincyTech are important for them and were a big help to us as well. Anybody that can come together and bring public and private resources to help a small company get started is a very positive thing, and that’s been our experience here in Cincinnati.”