CASE STORY

Cedars Woodworking & Renovations

Steady Growth at Cedars Woodworking & Renovations Created a Need for a Professional Estimating Tool

When Cedars Woodworking & Renovations began to undergo steady growth as a residential contractor, they needed to reduce their reliance on Excel spreadsheets and to improve the speed and accuracy of their project estimates. 

Steady Growth at Cedars Woodworking & Renovations Created a Need for a Professional Estimating Tool

When Cedars Woodworking & Renovations began to undergo steady growth as a residential contractor, they needed to reduce their reliance on Excel spreadsheets and to improve the speed and accuracy of their project estimates. Cedars was looking for a new professional estimating tool that had ease-of-use and promoted better interoperability throughout the company than their current practice of using Excel.

Cedars Selected Sigma to Keep Up With the Growth of Their Business

Cedars stopped creating Excel spreadsheets for estimates and moved to use Sigma, a professional estimating tool. By switching to Sigma, they saw significant gains in speed and accuracy, and they were able to automate work that they previously toiled at by hand. Cedars now presents a much more professional profile towards their customers.

Founded in 1980, Cedars Woodworking & Renovations, LLC is a South Central Pennsylvania area contractor that specializes in residential remodeling projects.

CEO & Founder Steve Schmucker started a painting company as a means to pay his way through college. He built a loyal customer base early in his career by providing a high-quality product with personalized service. Fifteen years later, Steve purchased commercial woodworking equipment and built a modest shop out of his home basement. After fifteen years and two changes of location, Cedars Woodworking & Renovations took form and now they are completing $100,000 projects.

Network Television Has Created a Generation of Renovators

Steve thinks renovation shows on networks like HGTV drive many family decisions to spruce up the home. “The great part about HGTV is the ideas. However, our job as contractors is also to give people a reality check and help them understand what is possible in terms of their budget and vision for the project.” People tend to assume a project will have a similar budget everywhere in the country. “Waco, TX prices and New York City prices are completely different. It takes a lot of explaining to get people to understand how much things cost. That’s a challenge of my job that I really enjoy, and it’s one of the areas where a professional estimating tool makes a big difference.”

Sigma is kind of, I call it my bible. This is what the Bible says and this is what we have to follow.

“As a small business, if you can’t keep up with what people are seeing as the norm on TV every day, you will not stay afloat. That only comes with being able to tie in what you’re building to something strategically strong on the money side. Sigma is kind of, I call it my bible. This is what the Bible says and this is what we have to follow.”

“We needed something faster and more accurate than relying on your brain. That’s what Sigma has done, for sure.”, says Steve Schmucker.

Why Choose Sigma? Speed, Accuracy, and Ease of Use!

“From an operations side, we needed speed and accuracy,” Steve said. During the early growth stages of Steve’s company, all data was manually entered into Excel. “If I use drywall and 2×4’s, I want that in my library. I want to be able to put that in quickly instead of something that’s on Excel, where I can’t move it nearly as fast.” Sigma removes much of the manual effort, according to Steve. “We have a blank template for all of our jobs that have automatically pre-filled all of our general requirements. For example, if I need to build a kitchen project, I can use my cabinet library, which has my price structures there already. You name it, I have it all in there. I’m pulling from libraries that I have set up from previous work.”

If I need to build a kitchen project, I can use my cabinet library, which has my price structures there already. You name it, I have it all in there.

This professional estimating tool also instills more confidence in clients. “I think people like to know that we are using something that’s standard and strategic, not just what we think it’s going to cost. Our salesmen are more confident about what they’re presenting because we can make comparisons from job to job.” Cedars Woodworking ultimately chose Sigma because of its speed and accuracy, professional profile, ease-of-use, and familiar interface. “It’s what I learned on, which was great. It was definitely helpful having many years of experience in Excel and Microsoft Project.”

Favorite Features: Numerous Help Applications for Ease of Use

“Ease of use is definitely the best feature for my employees,” Steve explained. Most of my employees are able to get caught on to Sigma quickly. “Many of them are able to self-teach. There’s great help on YouTube. There’s a help desk that’s very helpful. If you’ve worked in Excel and you’ve worked in Project, it’s going to move very quickly for you.”

Ease of use is definitely the best feature for my employees. Many of them are able to self-teach. There’s a help desk that’s very helpful.

The summary tab is a key feature that Steve’s employees use regularly. It validates all of their entries, preventing any items from being overlooked. “From a validation standpoint, that was the most surprising thing to me. With a professional estimating tool, I feel like I’ve got some checks in place so that I don’t miss anything, like adding labor to a task etc. It’s virtually impossible to get that far unless you just don’t go to your summary tab and check your validation details. I found that to be refreshing when I started working in Sigma because MS Project can’t really give you that. Excel certainly doesn’t give you that.”

What Would a Day Without a Professional Estimating Tool Look Like?

“It makes operations choppy. We’ve actually had that happen,” Steve said, describing a day when the computers went down. “I would say you become math numb. What is our markup and what’s the percentage of that supposed to be? It reminds us of why we love using Sigma. There are just so many things that are automated, so it’s very, very helpful. We also wouldn’t be as profitable if we didn’t have Sigma.

We also wouldn’t be as profitable if we didn’t have Sigma.

You’re relying on mental math, and making sure that the person that sits in this role understands how to do the math, how to mark things up, get the right percentages, and add your taxes. Do we have contracting calculators? Yes we do, but we still have to punch those numbers in. You fat finger a number and you’re either way high or way low.”

About Cedars Woodworking & Renovations

CEO & Founder Steve Schmucker started a painting company as a means to pay his way through college. He built a loyal customer base early in his career by providing a high-quality product with personalized service. Fifteen years later, Steve purchased commercial woodworking equipment and built a modest shop out of his home basement. After fifteen years and two changes of location, Cedars Woodworking & Renovations took form and now they are completing $100,000 projects.

More information:

Cedars Woodworking & Renovations
Steve Schmucker, Owner
717-392-1736

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