Exclusive Interview with Industry Innovator

Transforming Construction Management with ConCntric®

Discover how Steve Dell’Orto is revolutionizing the construction industry through innovative technology and expertise.

Steve Dell’Orto

Steve Dell’Orto, the visionary founder of ConCntric ®, has over 26 years of experience in construction management. His career includes leading major projects like the Golden State Warriors arena, Salesforce Tower, and the Seattle Convention Center expansion. Steve’s deep industry knowledge and passion for innovation led him to create ConCntric ®, a platform designed to streamline project planning and execution. In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures, Steve is a venture partner in construction tech-focused funds and an advisor to multiple startups, continually pushing the industry towards modernization.

At some point you take all those learnings and the insight and the knowledge of all the pain points and go do something about it.

Tackling Construction Industry Challenges

The construction industry faces numerous challenges, from project delays to budget overruns. Traditional methods often fall short in addressing these issues, leading to inefficiencies and frustration. ConCntric ® offers a revolutionary solution by providing a comprehensive platform that enhances project planning and execution. Our tools help mitigate risks, improve collaboration, and ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.

With ConCntric ®, you can overcome the common hurdles in construction. Our platform leverages cutting-edge technology to provide accurate data and insights, enabling better decision-making and resource management. By streamlining processes and fostering a collaborative environment, we help you achieve greater efficiency and success in your construction projects.

Show Transcript

HENRY: Hello, welcome to the show. Today we have Steve Dell’Orto on entrepreneurs, business and finance podcast. Hello, Steve.

STEVE: Hello, Henry. Thanks for having me on today.

HENRY: You bet. You bet. Well, your business, as we can see in the background, is ConCntric ®. I like the logo and the creative way you’ve gotten that name, and I’m very interested in your business because we do have a lot of people that are interested in construction, and we also have people that might work on auxiliary aspects of construction that might be able to refer you to someone.

And then a lot of people that just might want to hear, you know, what is going on because it’s a, you know, The whole world right now, but construction also is rapidly changing with the new technology that’s coming into the marketplace and we had a fellow past person come on the podcast and he was talking about all the things that his company is being provided by companies like yours with options.

And you’re located a little bit north of.  San Francisco kind of Marin County area.

STEVE: It’s just on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

And your marketplace is really worldwide because you have no limitations. Currently U.S., which is a big enough market, although, hey, International would be good too.

STEVE: We’re going to be getting there pretty soon. So yeah, the world is our oyster, as they say.

HENRY: And so why don’t you talk a little bit about your experience and background 1st, and then we’ll talk about how you decided to start this company. What gave you the idea of the initiative? Because I know you had some tremendous career at the highest level of some of the largest general contractors, construction companies in the country. And so you must have had some insight that others didn’t have to to start this business.

STEVE: Yeah, I think that’s pretty accurate. I spent 26 years actively in the construction management in the non-residential space. So airports, hospitals, multifamily apartment buildings, you know, everything of that sort.

And in those 26 years, you know, I was able to grow my career and really refine my skills, not just at the project level, but then just how do you start and really grow a business? And You know, invaluable but be able to learn a business so completely from the inside and then have the opportunity.

You know, at some point in the career to then go on and really take all those learnings and the insight and that intimate knowledge of all the pain points and go do something about it on an industry scale has been it’s been thrilling of late.

So but, yeah, the career being spent in construction, you know, construction…

HENRY: I’m going to jump in here just to give you an idea of folks, some of the projects that you’ve done and I’m reading from your bio, but, you know Golden State Warriors arena and development Salesforce tower, Facebook, San Francisco tower, Seattle convention center expansion, Manchester, Grand Hyatt, L.A. County museum, art expansion and on and on.

So, part of the perspective here is these are not simple, you know, department rehab, or not that that’s always that simple. But, you know, I, I had, we had our house remodeled recently. It’s not a remodeling a house. These are very complicated projects. So there’s a lot more that goes into it and hence the need for ConCntric ® because how long does it take to build 1 of those projects?

And what’s the lead up to 1 of those projects? Yeah, on average,

STEVE: Any of these projects are taking anywhere from. 20 months to 3 years to actually build. But what I saw in my career,  especially in the last 10 or 15. Years the the planning stage or the gestation period before you actually go and break ground and start building is as long and in some cases even longer than what it takes to actually physically build the building.

And your analogy to remodeling a house is one that I would commonly use for anybody who hasn’t really spent time in the industry. Anybody who’s done it, you pulled your hair out. You really did not have any certainty of where the budget was going to end up.

You had changes that, you know, it’s like, okay, I’ve got no choice. Very frustrating experience, even with the best intentioned people involved. Take that and magnify that by a hundred or a thousand because it’s the same process. It’s the same lack of certainty of outcome. And yeah, we may have 3D modeling and design software involved, and you don’t have that when you’re remodeling or building a house.

But from a planning and financial certainty perspective, your plight in that scenario is exactly the same plight as all the customers and clients we were serving and not unique to us. This is common throughout the industry. And it’s equally as vexing for the contractor, because you’re just trying to do your very best, but you know, everybody’s got two hands strapped behind their back cause they’re having to move so fast with, with such thin margins, but there’s no technology and there’s no data at your fingertips.

To really do what is needed to be done and do it in a way that it would be consistent with modern solutions in the 21st century. It’s quite baffling how antiquated and behind the times we’ve allowed our own industry to get to at this point, but we’re here to change that.

HENRY: You’re actually changing it beyond this one business because you’ve been a investor and a venture partner and construction tech focus funds.

And I admire that. My 1st job was in home building and sometimes customers wanted to change things and just everybody was very resistant to change. Well, it’s been done this way. We know this will work and, but that’s inconsistent with the rest of the world. And, you know, we didn’t have these things, you know, and so why is the construction not keeping pace?

And, you’re evidently committed with your vision to helping it keep pace.

STEVE: Yeah, I’ve been fortunate in that when I did step out from the traditional general contracting role that I had, I think. And what is valued by our customers is the fact that you’ve got a company and a solution being built by somebody who has had many decades and has mastered what they do for a living and has walked in their shoes as opposed to somebody coming outside of the industry, construction industry, that is, and trying to solve somebody else’s problem that they just really don’t have any knowledge about.

And so same thing with the two venture capital funds that I am a partner in is that they saw the same value that I could help and they could give me an opportunity to influence things industry wide, leveraging my knowledge and background. So that’s been an absolute joy and just yet another thing to learn, but how to, how does investment play a role in bringing our industry into the 21st century when it comes to technology?

And then there are eight startups that I do advise. They’re at different stages of their own journey and just paying it forward. I had a lot of people go way out of their way to help me as I was trying to figure out how to launch a software company as a startup, and I was just blown away with how many friends and strangers went out of their way to help.

And so, I feel that it’s my duty and it’s something I’m going to do where I can help others.  Do what I’m trying to do in my own right. You know, I’m just trying to, like I said pay it forward because people did that for me.

HENRY: Is there a trigger point or a moment or was it a gradual evolution?

Sometimes in business school, they talked about precipitating event. When someone might become an entrepreneur. And sometimes there’s that and sometimes it’s Kind of always wanted to or a gradual vision.  Do you have a specific moment or development and you’re thinking that that led to this?

STEVE: You know, it wasn’t I would call it like a slow boil. It wasn’t a simmer and it wasn’t like the pot was boiling over after one event, but, you know, in my role, having grown an organization to over Two Billion dollars a year. You know, that’s 3 dozen projects that are active and then you got 3 times that that are in this planning stage and the pattern I just kept seeing and it was getting I don’t want to say worse, but it was getting more intense in that you had younger people involved with less experience. You still had no data at your fingertips. But the time that a project needed to be delivered to market just seemed to be getting compressed more. And there’s just all these pressures just. You know, just surrounding the team surrounding the stakeholders trying to make these projects successful and the best you could do is really throw the very best talent you could find at these projects and hope for the best.

And that’s just, you know, when you’re talking about a 1.4 trillion dollar industry and 10 to 14 trillion dollars globally, that’s insane. And I just got tired of being on an airplane fighting more wildfires than I need to be fighting at the time when I knew that all of that could be cured if the table was set for success from the beginning because all the issues that people were struggling with, those issues manifested themselves early, early on. They just didn’t realize it. So if you could really, really drive at a greater degree of accuracy, we have a ton of data streaming through our fingers, but it’s doing just like water through a sieve, capture that, start structuring it, and then digitizing the workflow so you can get away from all these ad hoc disparate spreadsheets to do the 40 different planning tasks in pre-con. Pull all that together. Now you’ve got something that has a great deal of power to make you far more accurate, more collaborative, and just more unified in effort to try to get these projects delivered. And so I just cannot do it the old way anymore. And I looked around and I knew there was nobody else coming in to solve the problem. And I knew I could, so I just said, time for me to put my money where my mouth is and make this happen. And that’s. That’s exactly what I did.

HENRY: So people in construction would know this, but you can go into some detail if you like. Imagine building a billion-dollar project. You don’t just wake up and start clearing the land. Everything has to be planned ahead. Everything has to be permitted. Everything has to be budgeted. Everything has to be accounted for. So, as you say, a huge part of success on the job is all the pre-planning. And that’s what your company focuses on. Because if the plan is all lined up, it’s going to be a whole lot better. And what’s involved in pre planning and maybe how your company helps that. Sort of in layman’s terms and then construction terms.

STEVE: Sure, you know, it’s really the size of the project isn’t as big of a driver of this planning to make a job successful, whether it’s a 5 million dollar project or a billion dollar project, there’s a tremendous amount of commonality but there’s a lot of steps.

And again, back to the analogy about you know, remodeling the house. You needed to have an architect, you needed to explore what you, you needed to find what you want, you needed to explore the design options, but you also had to balance that with the funds in your budget available. And ideally you the architect and contractor having some good open dialogue about that in a proactive way, such that those decisions can be made.

And you can move forward without having to go back and redo because you find out that the design is more expensive than what you can afford and now you got to. Go back to square one and rip it all apart and start over. I mean, time is money. And that’s the thing that you don’t have in construction. So you can barely afford the time or the money associated with the time to do it right the 1st time.

You sure as hell don’t have it money and time to do it again. So it’s all about getting it right the 1st time out of the gate. And the more you plan and the more you dig into the details and the more you collaborate, the greater chance you have of. You know, nailing it and that’s what we, in layman’s term, that’s what we do.

We’re just creating a single environment in which the owner, the designers, the builders can come in into this collaborative environment and there are tools, workflows within the platform that they utilize to do all those different planning things, whether it’s the schedule, whether it’s figuring out the logistics, how to approach the project taking the estimate of the design just published, but then numerous different studies of how to drive value into the project or maybe reduce costs.

All of that is in one place. And the beauty of that is these tools all complement each other. These aren’t mutually exclusive efforts. And if you can get the data in the platform, if you can have the data flow from one to the next, you can leverage old data to inform the current project. Then you have a lot of data that can help forecast the future.

So you can’t do that with, you know, a bunch of different point solutions or apps or different spreadsheets tied together with band aids and bailing wire. You need to have a more sophisticated, technology driven backbone to support all that. So that is what we do.

HENRY: Simple to because I guess  you’re right and I know you are because you’re an expert, but of course, 5 million dollar building, 5 billion dollar building steps are going to be similar and all these same tools are going to be just as important to the owner or principals and vice presidents, whatever that supervisor of that small, relatively small building compared to this monolithic size building.

And Your product can help in both accounts. And so what would be steps of your clients? How does it all get started? They hear about this, they watch this, they hear about you from a friend, from some of your connections, and they reach out, what, there’s a phone number, email, contact page, and then what happens?

STEVE: Well, we introduced them to the platform and while the platform is big and has a lot of horsepower with the 13 different solutions we’ve built to date it’s very intuitive and on purpose. You know, my experience in construction, the technology that was delivered, you know, largely from 2000 to 2012 is what I saw a lot of new technology coming into play But the user interface required so many different steps and clicks. And it just literally was creating more work for the project engineers and the project managers and all the people that had to use it than it did if they just did it the old fashioned way. So that’s just a recipe that does not work.

Technology needs to be taking load off of people and reducing and eliminating the mundane steps. And freeing the human up to do what the human does best with relationships and planning and creating. And so I just set out, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right. And we’re going to do it in a way that makes our platform as easy to use as an iPad or an iPhone right out of the box.

You know, I was blown away when my then 18 month old daughter had an iPad that she’d never touched before. And within two minutes she was swiping and getting into photos and  pulling things every which way. And you’re like, oh my goodness, every other piece of software I’ve had to learn had a manual. You had to like go through this stuff, step by step.

And we said, we’re not doing any of that. I sat through too many of those training meetings. So the way that you engage with our team, we introduce you to the platform and we’ve done it in as little as a day or two of like a couple of one hour meetings. And then they were off and running.

We take it meet our customers where they’re at and we just walk through it at the pace that they need us to, you know get them, you know on boarded but it doesn’t take much at all. But it’s not easy. I mean, it’s a commitment on their part. It’s a commitment on our part. But we come together in a very organized manner.

And before you know it, you’re up and running with new projects and then we can also help bring in the old data into our platform. So that way you can have a more enriched view of the current project, leveraging your old data. But it’s pretty straightforward and simple. And the best way to connect with us is through our website at https://concntric.com. And you can arrange time with our team and we take it from there.

HENRY: Well, that’s really good to hear you say that because I think most people’s Initial reaction was, oh, my God, one more thing I’ve got to learn and I should say training meetings and manuals, but. You know, it is easy. It is intuitive to swipe and do things on the iPad.

And we do have software that are easy. And if you’re doing all the same stuff, anyhow, and if a relatively short period of time, it can be much, much easier than, of course, you should go down that path. And that’s it’s nice to hear your focus on that, because I can’t think of anything more important than getting someone, you know, to move forward is this isn’t a year long training session.

STEVE: Well, it’s easier said than done. I mean, what it really boils down to is a great design and we have an amazing team and, you know, simple is hard and our team works really hard on challenging everything we do to just strip out every step, every bit of complexity to boil it down to what people need to just get their job done.

And it it shows. We’ve just gotten so many compliments on how intuitive it is to use, how easy it is to consume and digest the information that’s being presented. And in construction, you have a lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds and you really have to speak in a language that everybody’s going to understand and be able to digest the critical information because they need to make decisions.

They need to be apprised of the status of things and things are happening quickly. So you just can’t afford to make this anymore laborious than it needs to be to understand  where’s the project today, where’s it been, where’s it going in the future, and what can I do about it. And so credit to my team.

They’ve just continually design and build an amazingly easy to use, but massively powerful platform.

HENRY: I like that, your customer is going to have happier boys. They’re going to be less stressed. Their customers are going to be more satisfied. They’re going to be more profitable. It’s, it’s a win win for everything around.

I mean, just take a simple example of the bail of a lot of simple remodeling projects, but also commercial projects, change orders.  They so easily cause fights with, you know, misunderstandings, which can become fights because it wasn’t all tracked properly. And there’s a misunderstanding. Something was done and now the client doesn’t think they should pay for it, or they felt like they weren’t given proper notice or vice versa.

And no contractor wants that because everybody’s at odds or it’s, you know, the contractor and the subcontractor that are arguing because it wasn’t communicating properly. So if I were just to look at this schedule and say, they just say, if they just get their eliminating problems on change orders it’d be well worth it  without all even the other stuff and it does 100 times more than that.

STEVE: Yeah, I mean, there’s a direct relationship with the level and depth in which you go into the planning of a project. All people included owner, the designer, the builder and change orders. If you do no planning, you don’t do anything to really control the quality of the process, then you’re going to have documents and designs out there that people are trying to build off of with big errors, omissions and gaps.

And then you have change orders. So the best way to affect the trust and transparency and the relationship on the job, which gets tested and frayed over change orders and issues of dispute is like solve it at the root cause and the root causes plan better, deeper, and you’ll find those things virtually or before they occur, you know, when it happens in construction, that’s the most expensive time to try to solve the problem. You have people standing around, you’ve got a retrofit something, you’re sacrificing the quality of the design of the functionality of the asset, you name it.

The more you can do up front pays dividends in the in the future,

HENRY: It seems to be a really good area to wrap up. Unless there’s something else that you want to talk about, we could talk about if your daughter is now, what, 10 years older, 20 years older and still using computers, probably better than  better than us. I don’t know. Maybe not. You’re in the business.

STEVE: My daughter, I have 2 fantastic, amazing daughters and the oldest one is about to ship off for college.

So, yeah, that 18 month old that was swiping. The iPad is now going to be you know, starting her life as a college student, so very proud of them both.  But yeah,  new stage in life for her and me.

HENRY: Well, and I know you’ll be sad to see her, you know, go in one respect and proud in another respect.

One of the things that is always amazing to me is that  you have been thinking about this a very long time. And you said that, but that story captures it. And that’s why I wanted to ask how old she was, because I had a feeling that you know, she wasn’t three years old now, and I didn’t really know, but this is something that you’ve been thinking about wanting to prove frustrated over passionate about  for a long time.

Yeah, because and that is somewhat the nature of the industry. There are times when it’s with my experience, and it can be frustrating, but. The constant battle to solve that. And it was really, really neat.

STEVE: Well, who better than, you know, who better to solve it than somebody who’s lived and breathed it for so long.

And that’s, you know, I’m proud. I’m proud of being able to do that. And I also take it as a, an immense responsibility that, you know, I want to do this for the industry. And what I mean by that is all general contractors, the architects. And we definitely want to get it right, but I don’t think this is a problem anybody from the outside with just a pure technology background with no construction domain expertise or experience pre con is a unique animal. And I don’t think anybody really can come in from the outside and do it. And if they do, it’s, they’re not going to be able to do it nearly as well as what I know our industry deserves.

And so it’s a great opportunity, but I also take it as an incredible responsibility to lead the charge. And I have several other friends who are founders of startups that are doing, stepping out as industry veterans to go solve a particular pain point. And you know, many different areas and we have this built by builders informal network.

And that means something. And when we talk to our customers or anybody that we’re just generally talking to when they stop and think about it, they go, yeah, that does really make a big difference for us because you know, who else would we trust to build something that we  will find useful that will work for us, that, that does exactly what we need it to do without all the guesswork and, and it just makes complete sense.

So you know, we are, I think onto something very important and very big. And so it’s, it’s a lot of fun, but we’re giving it hell every day.

HENRY: That’s terrific. Congratulations. Thank you for coming on the podcast today, Mr. Steve Dell’Orto, ConCntric ®, and we will talk to you soon.

STEVE: Appreciate it, Henry. Thank you for having me today.

HENRY: Thank you so much.

Transform Your Construction Projects with ConCntric ®