Cleveland Startup is Bringing Precision to Road Crew Location-Finding

Tar road construction roadway renewal

How OnStation is modernizing road work and enabling major savings in the process

We all have several apps on our phone that can tell us where we are. We even have some that can tell us where others are. So why do road crews still have to use decades-old methods to determine where they are while they’re working on a project? That’s the question being answered by Cleveland startup OnStation.

“OnStation is an app for roadway construction projects — at its core, it tells everyone where they are during the project,” said CEO Patrick Russo. “If you’re building a house and you say, ‘Meet me at the kitchen sink,’ everyone can find that quickly. But if you’re on a six-mile highway and you need to find one specific guardrail, that challenge is a lot harder. So we call OnStation the ‘roadway location solution’ because it tells you exactly where you are within two to four feet.”

Locations on the job are known as “stations,” thus the app’s name. And when Russo and his team have introduced the app to the workers who will use it, the response itself justifies the hard work being put in by the OnStation team.

“When you show it to a user — one of the people out in the field doing the work — it’s the same response every time: ‘Wow, this will change how I work. This is way easier to do,’” Russo said. “So when you’re able to solve a real problem like that, it drives you. At its core, this is something that makes an impact right away. That’s the exciting part.”

Enabling crews to more easily establish locations might not seem like a lucrative field at first. But when you consider the efficiency being added by OnStation, it starts to make sense. The company’s case studies suggest savings of about $50,000 on a project thanks to its app

“The traditional way workers determine their location versus using OnStation was a savings of four-and-a-half minutes, and the average user needs to determine their location four or five times a day,” Russo said. “Our analytics tell us that the average user opens the app six times a day. If you start adding up all that time, multiplying it by the hourly rate, it starts to add up really quickly. It’s an operational tool that helps crews do what they do better. We’re taking the hammer away and giving them a nail gun.”

That means that the business side of OnStation has exciting potential. The company is working to add more organizations to its list of partners, and signing other businesses up to use the platform company-wide should help OnStation continue to grow in a field that has no shortage of funding.

“The opportunity is massive,” Russo said. “We spend over $300 billion a year on our roads and bridges. All you have to do is drive down the road and you can see the cones. So we’ve developed an app that anyone can download, which means the distribution is already there and the product is ready to go. It’s not like you have to keep building the product when you sell it. That’s the exciting part. “

OnStation has strong Ohio roots, as Russo was born and raised here. He returned from living out of state to raise his family in northeast Ohio. But that hometown connection isn’t the only reason Cleveland has been the perfect place for OnStation. The company has received multiple grants from the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise, mentorship from JumpStart and is an engaged part of the northeast Ohio startup scene.

“I’ve been all over the country, and the facilities, networks, schools and landscape we have here in northeast Ohio are awesome,” Russo said. “And the entrepreneurship community in Cleveland is here and growing. You can do it here, and do it affordably. We have a great office with parking and plenty of talented people, and we don’t have to pay salaries like they do in San Francisco. When you’re a startup and all your funding is so valuable, that all adds up and is important. I’ve found this to be a great area for a business. We’re advocates for the area, and we’re excited to get out there and keep building the startup community.”

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