The Blue Book Building & Construction Network: The Building Industry’s Best Tool
- Written by: The Blue Book Building & Construction Network: The Building Industry's Best Tool
- Produced by: The Blue Book Building & Construction Network: The Building Industry's Best Tool
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
In 1913 a directory entitled “Society of the Allied Building Trades” was published. It contained a small classifieds list of construction firms in the New York City area, and established the forerunner of The Blue Book. From 1913 through the late 1920s revised editions were issued every few years. Today, exactly 100 years later, The Blue Book Building and Construction Network (The Blue Book Network) has expanded to provide print editions and an online database that offer complete coverage of the United States. From its national headquarters in Jefferson Valley, N.Y., The Blue Book Network employs over 500 people across numerous regional outposts, of which each region handles hundreds, even thousands of accounts.
Building Networks, Building Business
Of course, things have changed significantly over the course of the past century. The Blue Book Network has expanded its offerings accordingly, developing the largest online database and construction search engine at thebluebook.com, and providing cutting-edge software that helps industry professionals improve workflow, from design all the way to post-construction.
The Blue Book Network is the largest and most active network in the commercial construction industry with access to 430,000 subcontractors and suppliers, 74,000 general contractors, 77,000 architects and engineers, 51,000 building owners, 16,000 manufacturers, 39,000 real estate developers and property managers, and 30,000 government agencies. Through The Blue Book Network, project owners and architects can connect, then find the right general contractor, who in turn can connect with the right subcontractors and suppliers.
Incredibly, 1 million messages are delivered on average weekly through The Blue Book Network. Additionally, the published Blue Book directory is now widely distributed in 28 regions, each customized accordingly. The company is, in essence, the Google for commercial construction.
Streamlined Work Processes
Within the last few years, many new resources are available to members thanks to the fact that the company was standing securely on solid financial ground going into the recession that gripped the country in 2008. “The Blue Book Network had the insight to develop [several] new online tools and invest millions of dollars into its product offering during the recession, positioning itself to be very strong during the recovery,” explains Lisa Schmidt, an account executive in Orlando, Fla., who juggles 150 clients, 250 general contractors, and 50 architects in the Orlando market.
For example, The Blue Book Network now offers building industry professionals SyncWare, an application that allows architects, engineers, general contractors and developers to upload documents into a private plan/design room and also share them throughout the entire construction process. For architects, using SyncWare allows for simplified sharing of ideas and design-team collaboration during the design phase. During construction, SyncWare makes it easy for contractors to communicate project plans and specs to the project team. The documents can be converted from CAD files (on the architect’s end) to a PDF (for the general contractor and subcontractors).
Furthermore, the conversion to a PDF document through The Blue Book Network comes with an added bonus for contractors: each PDF document can range in size from five to 500 pages, and The Blue Book Network team internally labels and indexes each PDF. “It’s a huge time saver for these guys,” explains Schmidt. The general contractor then has a labeled and indexed set of drawings that is stored in a “plan room” and is continually and easily available for subs to access after the GC sends out invitations to bid across the easy to use The Blue Book Network communication platform known as BB-Bid.
“The idea in developing these products was to help people with their workflow and productivity … to not only help them connect to people in the industry, but to also save them time and money,” says Schmidt. Additional Blue Book Network resources available to industry professionals include search engines to find building products and continuing education courses, as well as Vu360, a free universal digital document viewer (with built-in web browser) that enables easy viewing, takeoff, markup and communication of construction documents.
Several different offerings provide industry professionals – contractors, subs, architects – with tailored solutions like Project Source, AEC Solutions and ProView in order to provide tools best suited to their needs. The Blue Book Network also reaches out to suppliers and manufactures to encourage them to become members, says Schmidt, who reinforces, “We have the resources and tools available to them [as well] which they can utilize to help grow their business.”
A Personal Touch
Schmidt, whose background is in marketing and advertising, has been with the company since 2005. She joined the building industry after being recruited by The Blue Book Network. She hadn’t heard of the company previously and called an old college roommate, one with a degree in construction management, to verify its industry standing. Schmidt recalls, “I said, ‘Have you heard of The Blue Book?’ and she quickly responded, ‘Absolutely!'”
In addition to her work as an account manager for The Blue Book Network in the Orlando market, Schmidt works tirelessly to support The Construction Underground Inc. (TCU), an organization that provides free networking events for building industry professionals in Florida. One of her clients based out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Speedy Concrete Cutters, reached out to ask her to help grow TCU, its subsidiary, in Central Florida. The match seemed natural, as Schmidt exhibits her skills as an expert networker continually considering The Blue Book Network is, as she says, “…the largest commercial construction network in the country.”
So far things are going well. One of four women on the Central Florida TCU board, Schmidt is “beyond excited to host free networking events at really unique venues that people in the industry are going to be drawn to attending.” Directly in support of her work at The Blue Book Network, Schmidt is enthusiastic about helping people streamline their workflow, connecting them with the people and products that can help them save time and money. The best part of TCU, says Schmidt, is found in the genuine, personal connections it creates within the building industry.
Things are personal for The Blue Book Network, as well. The company is now employee-owned. Mr. O’Malley, whose family has owned the company over the years, has just sold it to his 500 employees (through a transaction known as an ESOP – an employee stock ownership plan) in order to ensure that his passion for its continued success carries on. Offering a comprehensive range of online tools and smart software, The Blue Book Building & Construction Network is building on its own proud century-long history in the industry to assist professionals to reinforce their own legacies.
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