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FDM Contracting Finds Work/Life Balance with SharpeSoft

Updated: Mar 26

The Story

34 Guardsman Road. Thornhill, Ontario L3T 6L3

Founded in 1975 and based out of Toronto, Ontario, FDM Contracting is a construction firm that prioritizes civil construction, emergency water main and sewer repairs jobs. From working small municipal jobs on a daily basis to teaming up with Petro-Canada to commit work to an oil refinery, FDM has enjoyed a stable pool of regular customers while experiencing positive growth in recent years. With a new office opening in 2021 in Vancouver, FDM continues to bring its brand of hardworking service to the British Columbia area.


The Challenge

 Dave Fantini, President of FDM Contracting, is a child of the industry like many others in his position. Beginning as a laborer in the early 1990s under his father, founder Donato Fantini, Dave built years of experience while learning the ins and outs of the trade. When his father wanted to retire in the latter half of the 90s, Dave was given the go-ahead to take over.


“When I first started working with my dad–I started as a laborer, then I started learning how to use the equipment, drive the trucks, and do all that stuff–but when I first came on board, we were doing a lot of repair work and emergency callouts. More specifically, when I first started was with the city of Markham. So at that time it was more of an agreement rate, so the city would approach my dad at the time and say we’re looking for two contractors, because they wanted to split up the city into two sections, and they wanted local contractors.


“So my dad  would say ‘OK, we’d be interested in doing that emergency work,’ and the city would tell us what they feel is a fair rate for our crew to do the work. So I was doing that kind of work with my dad, and at the same time we were getting regular calls. At the time, my dad was kind of pricing the jobs out just by looking at it.”


But a change would be necessary soon. Though municipal work was consistent, and Dave was able to aim FDM at jobs he felt most appropriate for his crew, the situation couldn’t last forever.


“The push for a solution came when I felt that the contract we had with the city doing the emergency stuff was starting to get on me. The 24 hour calls. You work all night long, and then you go and work during the day. The money we’re making is fine, but there’s so much more opportunity where we can just go work a regular working day, and you don’t have to worry about giving up your life, basically. Because that’s what it had ended up being.”


“At that time, late 90s, when I took over…I was just getting married, so I felt that we had to switch it up. I didn’t want to be working all day and night and so on and so forth. So that’s why we kind of turned it around, and decided that we’d start bidding on the jobs.”


Previous solutions

 “I was basically doing it all by pen and paper. There was no Excel, there was none of that kind of stuff. It was ‘OK, here’s a water main at a townhouse complex they want to replace. It’s so many meters of pipes. Here are the valves, etc. Now figure out the price.’ So I kind of took on that role of pricing the jobs that way.”


Getting in contact

 “It’s funny, because we weren’t even really looking for estimating software.”


It was serendipity in fact that FDM and SharpeSoft came into contact. It happened one day in 2009, in which Dave called up a colleague named Tony who owned a shoring business in Ontario. Two children of immigrants who both inherited work from their fathers; Dave and Tony had a lot in common to talk about, including the inundation of work.


“I called him up and said there are so many jobs! He told me yeah, let me know if you need help with shoring boxes or whatever else I was gonna need. I then asked him who did his estimating for him? Who did that for you and your dad?  He said that he’d done it himself.”


Tony had been attending a trade show as part of his shoring business, when he spotted the SharpeSoft booth.


“He said Dave, you gotta call these guys. He said that he looked at the program while he was there, and he said it’s something that he would’ve bought right off the bat if he was still in the sewer business. He said it’s efficient. It’s so fast. You can bid for a job yourself, and it’s so simple.”


Interaction with SharpeSoft

With a potential solution to escaping the 24-hour grind while also expanding business into other areas of the industry, it didn’t take long for Dave to call up SharpeSoft to schedule a demo. Now a happy user since 2009, Dave and FDM are one of SharpeSoft’s longest current users.


“The support is huge. The support’s been so helpful for me, and being able to get a hold of someone on the weekend is huge. Oftentimes I’ll bid jobs on the weekend because there’s so much going on during the week, so being able to know that there’s someone at Sharpe that I can call when I get stuck is very helpful.”


Not only does SharpeSoft have a vested interest in supporting our clients using options currently available, we are also constantly on the lookout for additional features that may best assist users well into the future.


“They often ask what we’d like to see. In addition to the scheduling, there was also the ability to have a proposal in Word, and I know that they just changed that in the 2024 release.”


How has SharpeSoft Helped?


“I don’t think we would have taken on those bigger infrastructure jobs if we hadn’t implemented SharpeSoft. I think we would have probably just stayed doing call out jobs, or possibly working with another company doing a lot of that kind of work as a subcontractor.”


“We always like to control our own work, so we never really liked to do too much subcontracting work. But I figure if these other guys are doing it, why can’t we? There were so many jobs coming out, and it took so much time doing it by pen and paper, that you couldn’t do two or three jobs at the same time. I can do that now with SharpeSoft. I can bid two, three, jobs, it doesn’t matter how many I want to do at one time. Back then I could only concentrate on one job, because I knew it was going to take me so long to do.”


“It allows me to not miss anything. It’s only as good as what you’re plugging into it, but at the end of the day when you’re building a job, and the system won’t allow you to finish calculating it because you forgot something in an item–that’s huge.”


“A lot of the time, for me, I’ll look at a job and know more or less what the job’s going to go for, and it helps reassure you that what you think it’s going to go for is more or less correct.”


“I’m by myself too. I don’t have another guy that I can build a job for and then say here you go, and it goes down to like four other people, and then it goes to a head estimator to review it. It’s all on me.”


Would you recommend SharpeSoft to others?


Oh, 100%.

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