When it comes to commercial flooring and tiling projects in Winnipeg, Manitoba, there's one name...
How AI is molding the future of the Commercial Flooring Contractor
At the Starnet Autumn Symposium, from October 13th to 15th, 2023, in Louisville, Kentucky, commercial flooring specialists were privy to a glimpse into the future trajectory of their industry. This assembly, with its 180-plus member contractors generating an impressive $4.4 billion in revenues, annually congregates for the purpose of training and professional growth.
A conversation with Starnet's President and CEO, Mark Bischoff, shed light on the current transformative trends within the commercial sphere, providing insights into what contractors must be cognizant of as they navigate the forthcoming landscape. This dialogue has been succinctly edited for brevity and lucidity.
FLOOR Trends & Installation: Could you elaborate on the symposium's theme? Bischoff: The symposium’s motif was “Step into the Winner’s Circle,” where a myriad of subjects were broached with our members: from workforce cultivation, talent acquisition and retention, to the intricacies of technology implementation and productivity enhancement, both in administrative and on-site capacities. This goes beyond mere technological advancements; it encompasses innovative tools, machinery, and organizational methodologies.
Moreover, we delved into the complexities posed by artificial intelligence (AI) and its impending impact, not just within our realm, but also on allied sectors such as architecture, design, and real estate development. We pondered over its implications for the workforce and the necessary adaptations. Amidst the transition to office reoccupation and hybrid models, we recognize both the challenges and opportunities for our members to position themselves strategically to mitigate these impacts and aid their clients through these transitions.
FLOOR Trends & Installation: Are your members primed for these shifts? Bischoff: The journey ahead might be lengthy, based on historical patterns. The peril lies in complacency or indecision; waiting on the sidelines could spell disaster. The application of AI could revolutionize design processes, empowering a single skilled designer to perform the tasks of many. The potential for AI to generate copious design variations is staggering.
Consider a scenario where a firm boasts a team of adept estimators – a significant competitive advantage. A disruptor, lacking such resources but armed with AI, could drastically undercut costs and bid on an equal volume of work, even factoring in the AI's margin for error.
The conventional legal and procedural framework of contract work remains a constant. The focus is now shifting from minute adjustments within known parameters to leveraging AI for significant competitive edge. This involves more than just refining existing processes; it's about redefining the value proposition to clients, especially those not deeply entrenched in the construction and commercial sectors.
FLOOR Trends & Installation: How are your members currently embracing technological advancements? Bischoff: Many members are adopting technologies like Floorcloud for site monitoring – a platform that enables real-time, remote surveillance of interior floor conditions, along with secure data storage and communication. Some are exploring third-party and AI-assisted estimation. For those with established estimation teams, I advise comparing AI-generated estimates on new projects against traditional methods for a thorough evaluation.
FLOOR Trends & Installation: What steps are being taken to assist your members with these imminent changes? Bischoff: The focus is on the entire business spectrum, from contract review and estimation to field execution and project closeout. If AI can reduce operational costs significantly, businesses could see increased profitability and capacity for expansion. The key is to align and adapt business models to leverage these technological advancements effectively.
As for the future, we anticipate the Spring 2024 meeting to delve deeper into these topics, offering actionable plans and relevant product and vendor information.
FLOOR Trends & Installation: Could you share additional insights? Bischoff: A highlight is the strength of our Next Gen group, particularly in areas like succession planning within family businesses. The evolution of our members' businesses is notable – from modest operations to substantial enterprises within the $20 to $50 million range, reflecting the serious nature of their undertakings.
For more insights and industry updates, visit BMD Materials at 780 Bradford Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, or explore our resources at www.bmdmaterials.com
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