When Lutgen Companies was founded in 1983 communication was done one of four ways, either in person, via snail mail, fax, or a land line phone call. Communication took longer as it wasn’t mobile, and if the person on the other end wasn’t there you had to wait for them-something that is virtually unheard of today.
What this meant for a young John Lutgen is that everything had to be planned out ahead of time. The materials had to be ordered weeks-even months in advance. After the material was in it was time to line up dumpsters, deliveries, and the crews. This was one of the most crucial parts to keeping things running smoothly, because once they were on the way there was no way to contact them. If anything was needed during the day it meant leaving the jobsite to find a pay phone, and questions for homeowners often waited until the end of the day.
In 1989 communication took a leap forward for Lutgen Companies as John was able to purchase a bag style cell phone, which wasn’t the most convenient but allowed him mobility. It was set up so the horn on his truck would beep when the phone was called. This often led to a scramble off of the scaffolding, down the ladder, and across the yard to the truck. Needless to say, not every call was answered and production was interrupted in the process.
In the early 2000’s Sean Lutgen began to take over from his father. It meant making some big changes for the company. Including switching from hand written estimates and contracts to computer generated ones, as well as the use of e-mail. E-mail expedited the ordering and communication process. It resulted in fewer miss-communications when ordering materials and faster confirmations.
As the late 2000’s rolled around so did the modern cell phone, and eventually the smartphone. The smartphone catapulted the construction industry into whirlwind speeds. Communicating with customers, crews, and suppliers became instantaneous. Reaching someone via phone call or text usually results in an immediate response. On the job site e-mails are received and sent, plans are downloaded, and photos are uploaded.
The recent advances in technology have changed communication and production in the construction industry, as well as the world, exponentially. It has increased production and efficiency, but has to be monitored carefully so it does not become a distraction from the task at hand.