When James Duncan and Darryl Edmonds started their careers in construction, they quickly picked up on what it takes to be successful as a general contractor.
Build strong relationships with your trades and pay them on time.
Watch your profit margins and financial balance sheets closely.
Don’t ask for more while doing less.
Armed with these lessons, along with years of experience on multi-million-dollar projects, the pair founded RITESTART in 2015. They knew it was a risk, but felt good about their prospects.
Their new venture paid off.
Today, RITESTART is one of the fastest-growing general contractors in Canada, named as one of the Top Growing Companies in Canada by The Globe and Mail for the past 4 years. With their focus on institutional, industrial, and commercial construction projects, RITESTART has thrived in the challenging construction market, earning eight figures in revenue.
With a mission to achieve a high standard of excellence and passion within every phase of a project, RITESTART put a priority on strong relationships from the start. Knowing that partnerships would deliver strong results, RITESTART wanted to target relationship-building— not only with potential clients but also subcontractors.
Rising Above Competitors with Access to Trade Contractors
When they started RITESTART, James and Darryl quickly narrowed in on the commercial construction space, having already successfully managed projects with varying degrees of complexity and scope. But as a startup, they quickly ran into an issue: they didn’t have a go-to list of subcontractors for smaller deals.
So in 2016, they decided to join a pilot launch of BuildingConnected, now part of Autodesk Construction Cloud.
“We hadn’t been able to find drywall trades, for example, because we were coming from doing $50 million jobs with our previous employer. Instead of $7 million drywall contracts, we were doing $25,000 drywall jobs,” James explains. “So BuildingConnected helped us find drywallers in that range.”
After joining BuildingConnected, RITESTART was impressed with the high quality of bids they were able to produce immediately, pushing them ahead of their competition.
“The platform completely revolutionized our access to trade contractors,” James says. “It opened doors to partnerships that, as a start-up, we might not have discovered otherwise.”
Building Relationships from the Ground Up
Using BuildingConnected helped RITESTART be more agile than their incumbent competitors, improving their bid management process and soliciting bids from the largest crowdsourced network of over 1.5 million construction professionals.
Initially, James was concerned about sharing his own list of subcontractors in BuildingConnected, potentially opening the door for competitors to work with the same companies. But he saw the benefit for RITESTART: exchanging his list of subcontractors for access for a much larger pool of potential partners.
James estimates that RITESTART has added over 700 vendors to its “go-to” list of trades with the help of BuildingConnected. RITESTART can get more competitive bids from more subcontractors, and subcontractors have the opportunity to win repeat work.
“Years later, we continue to collaborate with many of the trade contractors that we initially connected with through the platform,” James says. “BuildingConnected has been instrumental to our growth.” To James, the strongest part of the tool lies in the connection. If RITESTART runs into a situation where a contractor defaults, the company isn’t resigned to cold calling in their time of need. Instead, they now have a database of qualified electricians, HVAC contractors, plumbers, painters and more—with vendor information that is always up to date.
“Our bid binders are definitely fuller than they would have been without BuildingConnected, and it has saved us so much time during solicitations,” James says.
BuildingConnected allows RITESTART to be able to see which subcontractors have reviewed bid documents and who has accepted them. With this transparency, the team can follow up with subs who haven’t opened the documents yet. This process enables them to vet subcontractors even further and make better business decisions.
“Since we can see who hasn’t responded, we can focus on who we want to follow up with, instead of calling everyone on the list,” James says. “This process allows us to bid more and receive more accurate bids. Ultimately, it’s a one-stop shop for us.”
"BuildingConnected has given us more opportunities than our competitors have, and we get a lot of repeat business in the smaller job space."
Driving Growth with the Right Trade Partners
Over the past six years, RITESTART has achieved 25-30% revenue growth every year. Finding the right trade partners and awarding the best bids has been critical for RITESTART to maximize margins and reduce project risk.
RITESTART is now planning to open new offices in Ottawa and another Ontario location. They also started a drywall division, RITEWALL, where they self-perform that work. The company relies on tools like BuildingConnected to stay as lean as possible.
“BuildingConnected has given us more opportunities than our competitors have, and we get a lot of repeat business in the smaller job space,” James says.
Along with other solutions, BuildingConnected has helped RITESTART carry out its mission statement: on time, on budget and without deficiencies.
“If we’re not the lowest bid, we’re the highest value. We fulfill our obligation by performing the work that we say that we’re going to do, and we provide solutions to problems that pop up before our clients have to figure it out,” James shares.
“We understand that partnerships with our clients and stakeholders are critical to achieving sustainable planning, growth, and success. BuildingConnected has played a substantial role in our journey.”