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Do your estimators estimate, negotiate/sell and manage projects, or are they three separate people/jobs?

Editor’s Note: Once again, we don’t have enough room to publish all the answers we received to this question, but the final tally shows that having one person do all three duties is the norm for approximately 55 percent of our readers. In several cases, respondents from small companies say they do it all with one person—the owner—from start to finish. Those who split the work have it shared among two, three or more people, depending on the circumstances; however, many said that the estimators estimate, negotiate and sell while their project managers manage the projects. Read on.

Here at Fleck Exterior, the estimator estimates, negotiates, sells the projects and has a hand in managing the projects. Mainly the field supervisor manages the projects unless they need some info or some other type of assistance.

—David Fleck President/Owner Fleck Exterior Systems, Inc., Tallahassee, FL

The estimator does it all.

—Robert A. Coyle, Executive Vice President, Dayton Walls & Ceilings, Inc., Ohio

Our estimator estimates, our project managers manage projects and I, the owner, negotiate and sell the projects.

—Giles Turgeon, Green Mountain Drywall Co., Inc.

All one person, and that one person does the finishing … and that one person is me!

—Andrevich Drywall, Pennsylvania

Our estimator negotiate/sell and do not manage projects. Our project managers solely manage and do not estimate. Everyone from the field to the ownership is involved in selling work.

All the same guy—me. I am also pretty good at making the coffee, emptying the waste basket and cleaning the toilet. The other managers are good at flirting with the receptionist.

—Keith, Aries Contracting, Ottawa, Canada

Are there estimators out there who do all three jobs?

Estimators estimate, negotiate/sell and the management of the projects are normally left to field management within the confines of the estimator’s scope estimated. The estimator will work closely with field management since the estimator should know more about project than any other source. Some estimators are labeled “estimators” when actually they are take-off people and just count quantities required for projects.

We have had dedicated estimators and combo estimator/PMs over the years. Each way has its pros and cons. However, everyone is a salesman and is selling every day when they interact with our clients.

—Jason Gordon, President/CEO, Heartland Acoustics & Interiors, Englewood, CO

Small company—one stop shop!

Back when we were a much smaller company, our estimators used to do it all. Over time we came to realize that our best estimator wasn’t necessarily our best project manager. We now try to put people in positions where their skill set can best be utilized, and we let estimators estimate, project managers manage, and salespeople sell.

Our estimators sell and estimate. We have PMs that manage. We also have one person at each office who is a pure salesperson who helps the estimators sell.

[I] cannot afford the overhead of having separate individuals.

At our company we estimate, negotiate/sell and manage the projects we sell. Projects bid are a combination of invitations assigned by the company owner as well as invitations each of us receives independently, and subsequently approved for bid by the owner.

—Leonard D’Orlando, Estimator/Project Manager, Holt and Holt, Inc., Smyrna, GA

In reality of the construction industry it depends on the segment of construction you’re in. Large or small contractors. GCs, I see the break around the 50 mil/year volume and specialty contractors around the 20 mil/year volume. GCs and specialty contractors in the large group usually have the three segments as mentioned above: an estimator to figure the project, a GM or business development manager who sells the project and a project manager to bring the project to fruition. But in smaller GCs and specialty contractors, the estimator is usually all three of the above: chief, cook, and bottle washer! Just my take on this.

—Greg Jacques, Magnum Engineering and Controls, Schertz, TX

For my company it is the same person.

—Kevin, KL Drywall LLC

In our firm each individual estimates, negotiate/sells and project manages their own workload.

—Kevin Corcoran

We do it all!

—William S. Volk Jr., President, North Bay Builders, Inc., Brick, NJ

Our estimators go all the way through the project. It’s theirs until the money is collected. I believe there is no one more qualified to negotiate/sell a project or manage it than the person who looked at the drawings and has a feel for the whole job.

—Pete Dittemore, President, Sierra Insulation Contractors Inc.

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