Most Important Tool

June 2005

What is the one tool you can’t live without, and why? (Feel free to use brand names, and remember that items such as computers, Nextel and digital cameras can count as tools.)

My Nextel radio, without a doubt. I used to work for a company that gave all the superintendents a pocket full of quarters every week so they could communicate via pay phone. Of course this was when cell phones were real expensive and Nextel radios were just coming out. Boy, have times changed. I now own my own company and perform drywall and metal framing work all over central Florida. I could not imagine trying to perform work more than a 5-minute drive from the office without the use of the Nextel radios.
—Jason Collins
Collins Construction
Ormond Beach, Florida

Dundee Company could not live without wireless broad band from Nextel. Nextel provides us with small cards for our laptops and PDAs. This service supports 1.5 down and 600k up. Our foremen are in constant real-time contact with our servers 24/7. The PDAs have built-in cameras that send photos from the field to anyone in their Outlook list in an instant. With the VPN we process and query all POs, employee hours, change orders, details, MSDS, product data, auto-cad, Doppler radar, etc., and it’s so fast you don’t even know you are using the Internet. Now if we could just control the weather. Thank you Nextel Broad Band!
—Marc Duncan CEI
General Manager
Dundee Co.
Raleigh, North Carolina

Scissor lifts. Drastically changed how we get around on job sites nowadays, be it interior or exterior work on the building site. Used to have to drag scaffolds around in the outside mud and use small movable scaffolds at the inside. This has now changed with the use of scissor lifts, since about early 1990s … makes the manpower much more productive and efficient.
—James M. Keller
Executive Vice President
Grayhawk, LLC
Louisville, Kentucky
My Hands.
—Mark Cline
Plaster Inc.
Garland, Texas

The tool we can not live with out is a cordless drill or cordless screwgun, along with the Stanley 30' tape measure.
—Tom Gertz
Carpentry Collaborative, Inc.
Rosemont, Illinois

The digital camera (linked to a laptop with wireless connect) has proved to be a huge asset. Our field personnel can shoot a picture of a problem (safety, bad detail, damage, etc.), e-mail it to the office, where it can be addressed immediately, and the response to the field is prompt, keeping the men working. In the old days, it could take days to communicate and resolve the problem. Saves us lots of time and money.
—Rob Aird
Robert A. Aird, Inc.
Frederick, Maryland

The one tool that I cannot live without is the computer. I depend on the computer so much on an everyday basis for my business that we could not do without it. Our business is very computer oriented. We use it for bidding, to establish, track and monitor performance, accounting, keeping track of appointments, client-related issues, communication through e-mail, etc.
—Carl Fernald
Precision Plastering
Ontario, California
My Pentel P207 with 0.7mm lead and eraser under the cap is the tool I can not live without. This tool is at the start of the bidding process through the AIA billing procedure.
—Mike Chambers
J&B Acoustical, Inc.
Mansfield, Ohio