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A Winning Reputation

At Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS), we have a reputation for winning. We can thank the DOT Estimating crew for playing a major role in achieving that reputation. This is one of our procurement teams that work behind the scenes to not only ensure ESS is the most competitive and qualified bidder on a project but to also ensure we are securing a backlog that keeps our crews busy and grows our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

From developing conceptual budgets years before a project sees its first turn of dirt to working hand-in-hand with designers throughout alternative delivery projects, estimators at ESS play a critical role in our company’s success.

Ultimately, our estimators are responsible for setting up our operations teams for a solid performance. This DOT estimating team is known for its ability to do just that, even on the most challenging projects. They are adept at diligently assessing project plans, precisely assigning costs, creating valuable subcontractor and supplier relationships, and developing extremely competitive and accurate budgets. Even when the plans require this team to sift through thousands of detailed bid items in short amounts of time – you can count on this reliable team to deliver precise estimates.

In short, this estimating team is the real deal. We sat down with members of this team to get their take on estimating at ESS and how they contribute to our competitive advantage. Let’s hear it straight from the source.

Larry Effinger, Senior Estimator, is new to the ESS family. He has been with us for a little over a month but has been in the industry for over 26 years. When asked what the key responsibilities of an estimator are, he said, “Utilizing plans, specifications, site data and other information to gain a thorough understanding of the required work scope. A key part of the process is identifying and mitigating potential risks, and also discovering unique ways to provide ESS a competitive advantage.”

Throughout the procurement process, it is crucial that estimators accurately assess every part of the job. Justin Murphy, Estimator, explained why accurate estimating is essential. “You don’t want to make a mistake that will cost the company a lot of money. We would hate to lose a job because we were off by a dollar or because one little mistake was made. So we stay focused and remain diligent in our efforts.”

Jeremy Bexten, Senior Estimator & Project Manager, also spoke about the importance of accurate estimating and the challenges that come with it. “We know that if we miss anything, it will cut into the bottom line and our ESOP dollars. I take great pride in the fact that our team goes to great lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’re committed to producing great results, The ESS Way.”

Extreme Accuracy

An estimator’s success is measured by their accuracy – it’s that important. This is especially true given that estimators frequently have to juggle multiple bids, under very short deadline constraints, with often only a couple of weeks to make sure there are no plan errors. We asked Vice President Chip Jones about the incredible challenges estimators face. He used a quote that Rusty Crane, retired Chief Estimator, had in his office for years.

“The definition of an estimator is someone who does precision guesswork based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge.”

Chip explained his interpretation of the quote by saying that, “an estimator only has a few weeks to figure out what a designer, who had several months to put a set of plans together, was thinking in order to put together an estimate to win a job.” This isn’t a knock on designers, but rather a reality of the fast-paced nature of estimating work, and the strained conditions estimators are required to work within.

While estimating clearly has its challenges, the crew shared how rewarding this position is as well. Estimator Ryan Wisch shared that the most rewarding part of his job is, “being able to see projects take shape. And the chance to drive over bridges that I had the privilege to work on.”

Joel Monnig also shared his favorite part about estimating. He said, “It’s winning!” On behalf of all employee-owners, we have to say we agree with you, Joel!

When asked about this team’s success, Chip Jones said that he is most proud of how all these gentlemen can work together as a dynamic group to tackle some of the most challenging work this company bids. “Each person can take a section of the project and break it down, then roll it all together to have an accurate bid that covers all of our cost. I want to give kudos to the entire team. It is truly amazing how each of them work together as a well-oiled machine.” We couldn’t agree more, Chip!


Don Abell

Senior Estimator
20 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Driving through projects that we have built and telling whoever is in the car, “we built that.”

Don Hillis

Alternative Delivery Manager
10 Years of Pursuit Management Experience

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with the DOT Estimating team?
A: This is the most dynamic team I’ve ever worked with. They find the most creative and innovative ways to approach projects. It’s impressive to see how hard everyone works to get the wins. They put everything they have into each and every pursuit. Even after big wins, this team is ready to go tackle the next opportunity. Our employee-owners are lucky to have this crew on their team.

Aaron Grothoff

Aaron Grothoff
Senior Estimator
15 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The satisfaction you get from driving through projects that not only benefit the communities that we live in but understanding the immense amount of work that goes into planning, designing, and estimating those jobs, even before actual construction can take place. Also seeing the impact that having successful projects can have on our company.

Larry Effinger

Senior Estimator
26 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Germany. How can a guy with the last name Effinger not want to!? Seriously though, I love to go fast and want to take a Porsche 911 Turbo on the Autobahn and hit 200 mph.

Jeremy Bexten

Senior Estimator, Project Manager
16 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: Do you have dreams about the bid “win” bell ringing?
A: Not really. At ESS, we win often enough that it’s not a rare feat! (touché!)

Joel Monnig

4 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
A: The ability to fly.

Trenton Holtmeyer

5 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: When pulling an all-nighter, what is your caffeine of choice?
A: Mountain Dew

Justin Murphy

2 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: What has been your favorite project you have worked on and why?
A: Really any team effort job. It’s like a puzzle. We all have different pieces to work on and I love putting all of the pieces together and seeing it all come together.

Randy Burke

11 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: What made you want to become an estimator?
A: I started out as an operator years ago and have progressed into this position. It’s very challenging, and I enjoy it very much.

Ryan Wisch

1.5 Years of Estimating Experience

Q: What’s the craziest way you’ve celebrated a big win?
A: Ha. No comment. (solid choice)

Published onPublicado en September 30, 2021
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