Lloyd Boyd – Brock
A construction site is usually a place of controlled chaos.
Bringing organized calm to the storm is The Brock Group. The small-craft construction company helps large industrial and commercial clients with maintenance, turnaround and capital projects. This includes building scaffolding, installing insulation, fireproofing and applying protective coatings. In addition to working with clients, Brock partners with installers, maintenance crews, architects and engineers to keep projects on time and on budget.
However, with over 13,000 employees and more than 400 locations across North America, the company has had its own controlled chaos at times. Lloyd Boyd quickly discovered why when he joined the company as its chief information officer in December 2017. There was no centralized system capturing Brock’s labor, equipment and materials on a project.
Instead, employees manually entered data in Excel spreadsheets. With hundreds of concurrent projects, this involved contacting vendors, obtaining information about purchases and then tediously documenting it—everything from hundreds of feet of pipes to a single pair of work gloves. In addition to being inefficient, this made it difficult to share information with clients.
In response, Boyd’s team and partners developed the FieldFORCE app, which links to Brock’s enterprise resource program to ensure contract compliance and track job costs and productivity. FieldFORCE is part of a larger transformation the company is undergoing, Boyd says.
“I started this project about three years ago,” he told Toggle in May 2022. “We’d received feedback from our clients and discovered the major issue was their frustration with the inability to track parts of a project.”
Before Boyd and his team developed the app, they sat down with the business side of Brock. Together, he says, they hammered out what he says became the obvious solution: an application to replace Excel.
“It’s funny to think that we were somewhat ahead by industry standards with our spreadsheets,” he says. “A lot of traditional construction management companies provide a budget before a project starts and then struggle maintaining it.”
FieldFORCE provides clients with a digital dashboard so they can keep track of what’s happening across a construction site. For example, it can be used to determine everything from the scaffolding needed to the raw materials purchased. The app also allows clients to review progress that falls under Brock’s scope. This allows management to avoid delays due to labor shortages or bad weather.
“It seems simple on the surface, but a project could be 22 miles of insulation in varying size pipes with varying thickness requirements,” Boyd says. “A tool that could efficiently manage daily activity and provide quality measurements and tie those into our bookkeeping and customer communication simply didn’t exist, creating the need for the FieldFORCE app.”
Brock is using the app in nine locations and continuing the rollout across North America, using partners such as Neudesic for technology development, Infor for cloud applications and Focalized Networks to ensure each location has sufficient connectivity.
Eventually, through artificial intelligence and machine learning, Boyd wants the app to learn from information like weather, economic factors and other local details in order to suggest the ideal start time for a project.
“It means accurately forecasting project needs and lead times, which will help us keep our productivity high and be not only more competitive in the market but also even more reliable for our customers,” he says.
Try turning it off then on again
Before deciding to work for Brock, Boyd had given up his IT career, trading his keyboard for work gloves to launch Inspired Landscapes and Flamingo Custom Pools following a 34-year career in tech.
“I’d had some bad experiences in the corporate world, so I decided to start my own family business,” he says. “I loved making backyard environments and home oases with pools and relaxing landscaping.”
Soon, his wife and son got involved, as well, and Boyd planned to continue developing the business, then have his son take the reins.
Instead, while working on a project for a retired petrochemical executive, his plans changed. Boyd had recently been approached by Brock about leading its digital transformation, so he asked his client if he’d heard of the company. The retiree said he’d hired Brock to handle a regional project but felt that the company’s work was inconsistent, so he’d hired someone else.
“I was intrigued, because, like my businesses, it was a chance to break down and rebuild something long-lasting and beautiful, like the backyards we were building,” he says. “So, my wife continued sales and design and my son took over the operations of our family businesses, while I took over Brock’s digital transformation.”
Even though Boyd’s on the digital side of construction for the moment, he plans to eventually retire properly from the CIO part of his life. He’ll then return to his landscaping and pool businesses, but only in an advisory role, to let his wife retire and let his son handle the managing and heavy lifting.
“For now, the future is FieldFORCE, and The Brock Group is leading the way in bringing order to chaos,” Boyd says.
View this feature in the Summer I 2022 Edition here.
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