Founded in 2016, KBE-NY is one of the KBE Companies, which also includes KBE Building Corporation and New Valley Construction. Through this affiliation of full-service construction firms, KBE-NY serves its clients across the US in the residential, senior living, education, retail, entertainment, corporate, industrial and government markets. Overall, the KBE Companies employ more than 200 industry professionals and has an annual revenue of more than $750 Million. KBE-NY specializes in construction services for the metropolitan NY market. By deploying construction technology, like Autodesk BIM 360, they were able to see increased success metrics across their projects.
KBE-NY was started with Bruno Guarini and William Telesca, two seasoned construction professionals who have been building high rises in New York – a challenging market – for the last three decades. The company’s mission is building excellence together and operates under five core values: pride, innovation, integrity, dedication and adaptability.
Bruno Guarini and William Telesca, leaders of KBE-NY
Over the course of their careers, the pair have worked on projects that included a major renovation for the David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center; student housing at Columbia University; multi-unit residence towers at 1212 Fifth Avenue and Liberty Lofts, to name a few; along with the Tribeca Gran and SoHo Grand Hotels; and NYU’s Kimmel Center. Current KBE-NY projects include the extensive renovation at One Prospect Park West in Brooklyn; additional work at Lincoln Center; Make The Road New York’s new Community Center in Queens; and renovations at Central Synagogue’s Community House in Manhattan.
According to Michael Kolakowski Jr., Project Manager at KBE-NY, “The construction industry is one of the few industries in the world where you depend on so many people to make a building come to life. Whether it's the architect or the engineer, the subcontractor, the manufacturer, the vendor, or the contractor…there are a whole host of people that must come together to construct a building.” Because of this, KBE-NY is focused on doing it right the first time and has deployed integrated construction technology to achieve successful and predictable project outcomes.
With this new construction management platform in place across the full project lifecycle, KBE-NY has been able to:
- Transition to a paperless management process and bring new skills to contractors, subcontractors and trades that make project documentation more efficient
- Create consistency and transparency in project reporting
- Connect the field to the corporate office
- Sharpen systems to complete close out and project turn-over more efficiently
Going Paperless: Getting Old-School Contractors Onboard
KBE-NY took the plunge in early 2018, implementing Autodesk BIM 360 across its construction projects. “Implementing new software is challenging on any day of the week, but we were determined to show our trade contracting teams that Autodesk BIM 360 was different,” says Kolakowski Jr. “We needed to rip off the Band-Aid.”
When implementing a new system, everyone needs to work together, with top-down leadership setting the pace. In an industry where professionals have been doing things a certain way for years, it’s easy to imagine the pushback.
“Getting away from paper plans and shifting to electronic only on the field was a struggle,” says Kolakowski Jr. “The challenge was changing the perception among field teams that had little interest in using new technology.”
One of the biggest factors in enabling KBE-NY to make this major transition has been the commitment and focus of the company’s senior leaders in staying on the leading edge of construction project management, including work process improvements and construction technology.
The cost savings of construction technology: firms can save thousands of dollars per project just by investing in $200 iPads for their field teams.
KBE-NY took a one-on-one approach with its trade contractors to ensure teams were onboard and moving in the right direction. Their trainer sat down with the trade teams and walked them step-by-step through the submittal process using the new system. After the first couple of entries, everyone was shocked that it was so easy, and they were off and running on their own. “That’s one of the best things about Autodesk BIM 360. It’s easy to use, and you can readily access everything you need with a device as simple as your smartphone – and just about everybody has one,” says Kolakowski Jr.
The cost savings of going paperless was also a tipping-point for many of KBE-NY’s trade partners. With the average 24x36 drawing sheet costing $4 per page, excluding delivery charges – along with the need to keep updating drawing sets every time a change was made – it quickly became clear that firms could be saving thousands of dollars per project just by investing in $200 iPads for their field teams.
Consistency and Transparency with Reporting
Autodesk BIM 360 is a comprehensive construction document management system that provides everyone on the team with access to a single repository for all project documentation. The real benefit is having every piece of project documentation up-to-date and available to anyone that needs it, which has helped standardize reporting deliverables to track performance.
“We’ve always delivered status reports on projects, but up until we implemented the new system, each individual team had a separate way of reporting,” says Kolakowski Jr. “Now, we have continuity in reporting, so if you go to any of our 30 project managers and ask for a report, it’s going to look the same.”
KBE-NY uses BIM 360 to generate a series of reports that provide a summarized view of conditions, issues, field progress, etc. for the firm’s senior management. Through this standardized reporting, senior management can easily access the construction management platform to pull project information.
In addition to creating more transparency within KBE-NY, the new reporting structure also benefits the client. With clients requesting weekly progress reports and photos, KBE-NY creates a customized report with 10-15 progress photos with labels on project status. KBE-NY applies this approach to all projects – regardless of size – and it has created more transparency and confidence with project owners.
“Our clients like to share the weekly status updates with investors and other project stakeholders so they can see job progress. We’re still just scratching the surface of all the things that BIM can do for us, but from a client perspective, the photos are the biggest one." Michael Kolakowski Jr., Project Manager, KBE-NY
Connecting the Field to the Corporate Office
It’s not just the field workers that benefit from Autodesk BIM 360, but the marketing department as well. KBE-NY has a five-member marketing team that uses the construction management platform to track information and data for current projects. By having direct access, the team can gain visibility into construction project performance, and extract project data directly – reports, status photos, etc. – without bothering their busy field management teams.
“Our BIM Manager, Mark Livolsi, trained the team on accessing the platform without impacting or changing project data,” says Jonelle Lawhorn, Director of Marketing at KBE-NY. “It's an added benefit that we have that access, so as we prepare to bid on new work, or develop marketing collateral to promote our projects, we can go directly into Autodesk BIM 360, without bothering the project managers, who are strapped for time.”
Teams can access project performance, and extract project data directly, without bothering busy field management teams.
Sharpening Processes with Construction Technology
Through the implementation of Autodesk BIM 360, KBE-NY changed the process of conducting quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) from handwritten notes to digital punch lists. “Using an iPad, project teams can conduct high-quality QC checks from the field, which is faster and more effective,” says Kolakowski Jr.
During QA/AC, field workers pin photos to documents. Once a photo is uploaded, everything automatically populates into Autodesk BIM 360. “We are using this approach at a current project at the University of Virginia,” says Kolakowski Jr. “It has been a great success, enabling us to quickly identify – and address - any potential issues or problems.”
This method allows KBE-NY to track and manage the status of quality issues across the project, improving the result, while also mitigating risk.
KBE-NY recognizes the strong partnership with Autodesk as a key reason for the successful deployment of the new construction management software and adoption of new modules and programs within the system.
While change is often hard to embrace, KBE-NY’s staff has found that more and more of their trade firms are adopting and adapting to Autodesk BIM 360. They recognize the benefits of better document management, more accurate drawings and information, easy access to information they need to do their jobs, and savings in time and cost of doing business.