With nine locations and 657 employees (including 55 designers and estimators), National Lumber sells 9,000 SKUs and turn-key construction services, generating $300 million in annual revenue.

With new estimating technology in place, National Lumber can compute accurate estimates based on BOMs of buildings in whatever form the plans are delivered to create highly accurate estimates. National Lumber’s estimating technology, which leverages a shared BIM model across its design and manufacturing divisions, goes far beyond the “drawn lines” and “rough counts” that are generated from other estimators, like Planswift, Estima, ProEst, and PrebuiltML, which offer nothing more than sophisticated guesses at quantities. National Lumber’s technology (MiTek’s SAPPHIRE Suite) draws material quantities from the actual framing model as represented BIM models, not just the “rough shape” or the geometric image of the structure.

“With our BIM modeling capability, we have a unified solution for rapid accurate quotes, and since we are working from project-specific models, and BOMs pulled from those models, we have consistent and accurate modeling across every aspect of our organization,” says James Anderson of National Lumber.

Precise Estimates

“We used to do estimating caveman style … figuring estimates with paper and pencil,” says Manny Pina, president of National Lumber. “But now, after really dedicated ourselves to the SAPPHIRE® Suite, we are able to generate extremely precise estimates, working from 2D PDF backgrounds we get from builders or that we create ourselves. After years of pursuing this vision, I can just taste it. I can finally see architectural plans coming in – PDFs, doesn’t matter – and our guys use them to design the components, spec the EWP, and calculate nearly everything else that’s going into the structure: Siding, shingles, drywall, insulation, pretty much everything, except the concrete, plumbing, and electrical.”

According to MiTek’s Steven McFall, since National Lumber’s estimating is based on the geometry of a structural model, the software can also generate SKU-based materials counts for non-structural materials, even millwork.

“National Lumber has 9,000 SKUs, and they are all available for inclusion into a project estimate when needed. What’s more, National Lumber’s estimating software has a flexible formula-builder, coupled with the power to define accumulation rules, and that results in accurate material counts to match how materials are actually supplied. Verifiable, traceable BOMs can be generated with exacting precision, all visually tracked within the 3D structural model. Customers can click on any item, and the software highlights the element in the 3D BIM to clearly show where certain items are to be installed. Users can zoom in to see the details. What’s more, the software even drives National Lumber’s automated saws.”

“All pricing from the material estimates comes directly from our ERP, where we keep a close eye on margins,” Anderson adds. “We have a single ERP for all of National’s products across all locations, so customers can’t inadvertently engage our various locations in bidding each other down. It’s all one big integrated system.”

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