Why a superhero team and construction tech are essential with Adam Copenhaver

Today on “The Building Code,” Zach and Charley are chatting with Adam Copenhaver, co-founder of CopeGrand Homes in Charleston, South Carolina. Adam and his twin brother Ben founded the company in 2015, expanding to their second location in the Greenville, South Carolina, area in 2020.

Tune in to the full episode to hear about the formation of their superhero team and why project management software has been so instrumental in sustaining their company’s continued growth and success.

What is one of the most important aspects to consider when starting a construction business?

“That is the biggest item that a builder could focus on – just building as strong of a team of superheroes that you could possibly build. And what we’ve learned, too, is those people are worth their weight and some of them more expensive and that sort of thing. And as long as it makes sense for your client and your product and what level of fit and finish you’re going to do. You’ve got to go after those folks, and you’ve got to create an environment where they can grow and evolve and build along with you. And so, that’s also been one of those things that we’ve learned.”

Why should other builders choose Buildertrend to support their business?

“It’s actually added a ton of value to what we do. It’s been a huge resource for our clients and our sub base. And I’ll tell you, props to you guys. I’ll say this for most of the people that listen to the podcast probably are Buildertrend users. But those folks that aren’t, if you’re not using Buildertrend yet, you’re stuck way behind the times because I truly believe that Buildertrend is going to be the dominant software forever in our building industry. The rate at which you guys evolve and the rate at which you make changes to help benefit us, the rate at which you receive and make those changes from our feedback, has just been phenomenal.”

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Adam Copenhaver

Adam Copenhaver | CopeGrand LLC

Zach Wojtowicz:

Hey everyone. It’s “The Building Code,” Zach Wojtowicz.

Charley Burtwistle:

And I’m Charley Burtwistle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

How you doing today, Charley?

Charley Burtwistle:

I’m doing well.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Doing well.

Charley Burtwistle:

You know what we still haven’t talked about. So, I commonly like to bring up on the podcast that Zach and I worked together outside of the podcast.

Zach Wojtowicz:

We have real jobs, ladies and gentlemen.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yesterday, I’d love to get a poll, if somebody wants to comment and take my side here, I was in a meeting room, and it wasn’t booked at all. I checked, I walked in.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Let’s emphasize that.

Charley Burtwistle:

I walked in, I checked it. Nobody had it booked. I’m like perfect, nice little spot for me to work. And then Zach comes in, knocks on the window, real pretentiously. And it was like, “Oh, I have this booked.” And I looked, and he scheduled a meeting for like 9:15, and it was 9:15. And I’m like, you can’t just, you saw me in here, you scheduled a meeting to come in and then just promptly kicked me out of the room. And I haven’t brought it up to him once because I wanted to wait to get the content recorded. So, Zach, I did not …

Zach Wojtowicz:

You wanted a reaction on the hot mic.

Charley Burtwistle:

I did not appreciate that at all.

Zach Wojtowicz:

First off, ladies and gentlemen, let’s lay out the office here real quick. Where Charley was located was pretty far away from where we sit.

Charley Burtwistle:

Like 20 feet.

Zach Wojtowicz:

The way we schedule rooms is via Microsoft Teams. Don’t sue us for saying that word on air. And I looked, the room was available. I didn’t know who was in there. I walked …

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, just your podcast host and best friend.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I walked over there and then I see it’s Charley. And I’m like, well.

Charley Burtwistle:

Now it’s easy.

Zach Wojtowicz:

First off, I book the room without knowing he was in there, but now that he’s in there, what am I not going to walk in and say, room’s reserved bro?

Charley Burtwistle:

I get it. I’m the company soccer ball. You can just kick me around anywhere. So, I got that aired out. I’m glad we handled that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Very maturely.

Charley Burtwistle:

Now, back to the main event.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Can this just be a thing like when we have office monotony, and it’s just like …

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, we vent it. We air it out on the podcast.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I was walking in the office and Zach was in front of me. He just didn’t hold the door open for me.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. That sounds like a very real thing that might have happened.

Zach Wojtowicz:

All right. So, today on the podcast we have a very amazing guest. Someone who loves Buildertrend. We were talking a little bit pre-show and he messaged us about how excited he was. And I’ll be honest, I’m very excited to talk to him. It’s Adam Copenhaver out of Charleston, South Carolina. Have you ever been to Charleston?

Charley Burtwistle:

I have, one time with my dad for his birthday two years ago.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Really? I’ve heard amazing things. I’ve never been.

Charley Burtwistle:

It was beautiful. And looking at his website or CopeGrand Homes, their website, it’s incredible. The homes, obviously, are insane, but also all the pictures of the beach and the shoreline and everything is fantastic. But I’m very excited to talk to Adam. I feel like he was referred by three or four different people at Buildertrend that have worked with him. He’s done onsite. He’s done training. He’s working with us on custom reporting, and the guy’s just an absolute rock star. So, we decided to have him on talk about his business, how it’s functioning today, how he got there and really just dive into what makes CopeGrand Homes …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Just a classic building code episode. But in a way that I love getting to talk to our customers and as a business owner, if you’re listening to this and kind of seeing what’s going on in construction. So, let’s get Adam in here and let’s dive in.

Charley Burtwistle:

Let’s do it.

Zach Wojtowicz:

All right, Adam, welcome to “The Building Code.” We’re so excited to have you on today. We were chatting in the pre-show about you’ve been a long time listener, so we want you to pull in everything you can about how big of a fan you are to “The Building Code.”

Adam Copenhaver:

Guys, it’ll be easy. Charley, Zach, thanks for having me. This is going to be a lot of fun, because I am a huge fan of Buildertrend, and it’s every day, Saturdays and Sundays for us here, so I enjoy it.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. You were an easy one to get as a guest. Normally, we go through a whole list of people that we want to have on, and we had like three or four different people recommend you, including our good friend, Reese Barnes, who we were talking about beforehand. So, if he’s listening, huge shout out to Reese.

Zach Wojtowicz:

You better text. Tell Reese to check out your episode, so that he knows what we talked about, and he’ll love it. If our listeners, Reese Barnes sells our Onsite Consulting, he’s a bit of a character. He’s got a big beard, and he’s from central Nebraska, and he is just a big character. So, I just love that you already know him, and you’ve done an onsite with us and all that.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yep. It’s hard not to love everybody on y’all’s team. I mean, out of any other software I’ve ever used, it’s never been this easy to talk to people and get feedback and make some changes and revisions and learn how to do things that we haven’t been doing the right way. And so, yeah, Reese has been fun to work with. And then, you mentioned Onsite Consulting, which we just went through with Chloe, and she was a rockstar. So, yep, it’s been great.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Good. I love it. Well, enough about us. Let’s talk about your business and what you do. Tell us a little bit about CopeGrand Homes and your company and kind of just give us your story. We’d love to hear from our customers about typically your beginnings and how you kind of got where you’re at.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah. So, I guess a big part of our company is, well it’s 100% our team, which we’ve grown over the years. Thankfully everybody’s had a great market to be able to do so, but I’ve got a twin brother Ben, and he and I grew up Pennsylvania started tinkering and building stuff with our father, built a massive pole barn building behind our house, built a log cabin with one of our other friend’s dad. And we got into construction really early and just kind of fell in love with it growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with the Amish and those amazing craftsmen, it’s hard not to get an affinity for that. And so, that was the start.

Ben took a vocational route in high school and got some experience there. I’ve got my exposure to that. We had a lot of builder type of craftsmen friends that we had around. And then Ben chose a four year degree in building science and construction management. I chose architecture initially. And I don’t know, should I thank Uncle Jack? Uncle Jack, if you ever get to listen to this, he invited me down to Florida to his firm, and we walked through and just a short story, sat down the end of the day. He said, “Hey, you know why I brought you here?” And I said, “Yeah, to share your architecture world.” He said, “No, I brought you here not to be an architect.” And so, he changed my path, which honestly is for the better I think.

So, I ended up going to engineering school and graduated with a degree in engineering, which for anybody that’s interested in trying to figure out what they want to do in college, I would say that engineering is one of the top choices. It was a degree in problem solving, regardless of what you do with that degree afterwards, you go into construction, be a builder, land development, build roads or work in hospitals, it works for all of them. And so, shout out to Penn State for that. They had a great education for me there.

And after graduating school, Ben and I just focused on, we always knew we were going to have a business together. We always knew that we were going to be building homes. And so, we agreed to go work for the smartest guys that we could find in the business. And we both did. And we did that. And I remember when Ben graduated, he said, “Where should I go?” And I said, “Go to Charleston. I’ll see you there.” And my initial move out of Pennsylvania was to Virginia, worked for some really bright, great guys there. Actually, one of them, one of those owners in the company is with us now, which is, I mean, I’ll get choked up if I talk in detail about Bud, but he’s, see, here I go, he is an amazing blessing to our business, and it was pretty cool that after he retired, he decided that he wanted to come help us out, which is really cool. So, worked with Bud for 10 or 12 years.

And then Ben had started CopeGrand with a blessing of mine in Charleston. And I said, “Hey, listen, when you need me, just let me know, and I’ll sell my house and be down.” And he called me two months later and he said, “All right, I need you.” So, house went on the market, and I moved to Charleston, and we started building seven years ago, I guess, over seven years ago in Charleston. And it’s been a wild ride ever since. It’s been a great learning process. It’s been, I mean, just very motivating to do what we do and get to work with the people that we work with. And I couldn’t have picked a better outcome for what Ben and I had planned 25 years ago.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. That is fun to watch it kind of all come together. Huge shout out Uncle Jack and Bud there at the beginning.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah. There you go.

Charley Burtwistle:

And your brother. So, you moved down to Charleston seven years ago, started this business. Where is it at today? How have you guys kind of grown? Where do you primarily serve? What’s your company look like these days?

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah, so we serve the Charleston market and now also the upstate of South Carolina, which we can chat about that if you guys are interested. And Buildertrend’s been a big part of being able for us, being able to make that leap to a location that’s four hours away from Charleston. So, that area is the Greenville area, Lake Kiwi, Spartanburg area. So, we can chat about that if you guys are interested in how that relates to Buildertrend and how we do that.

But yeah, Charleston is our service area. We focus mostly on the beaches, the beach areas, which includes also downtown historic renovations. I think as a builder, I’ll say it again because I’ve said it for years and I hear it back again, us builders are just fools with egos, right? We just love building beautiful things, regardless of whether there’s money in it or not. And we’re a glutton for punishment, but the ego side of that is historic renovations. I mean, there’s a number of our guys on our team that would take that historic renovation over a new house any day. And so, we get involved with a number of those, which is always great.

And our team just started out with Ben and I about seven years ago and very quickly just grew. We had one of our best friends, his father was a very influential individual in our youth, specifically in construction. And when Ben and I were dreaming about having our own company in Charleston, Rodney had said, “Hey, I want to be a part of it, too.” So, we were six months into building houses or so, and he said, “Just let me know.” We called up Rodney and said, “Are you ready?” And there he was six weeks later, he moved down to Charleston and he’s been with us ever since. And so, Rodney was employee number one, still with us to this day.

Now we’re up to 12 employees across our two divisions, and we’ve reorganized a couple times through that. So, we’ve got project managers, and we’ve got project coordinators, and we’ve got a designer and our team is really focused into two divisions now, it’s pre-construction and construction. And that was a big shift brought on by the challenges that COVID gave to us. And just a learning curve, right? The evolution of how do you continue to do this better?

I was just talking to the team earlier this week and I said, “Guys, my biggest focus thing – I just lay in bed at night, just thinking about how to be the smartest builder that we can be as an organization. How do we do it brighter? How do we do it smarter? How do we communicate better?” Because that is the echelon that we want to be operating at because we want to mitigate the murphies in our business, which I’m sure everybody else might be laughing about that now because they’re cruel, and they’re everywhere, and they’re always looking to grab your ankle and stumble you up. And so, that’s been a big part of reorganizing the team and the pre-construction and spending so much time on that side.

I oftentimes use the analogy of dominoes. You really need to get all those dominoes set up either in a linear fashion or a very elaborate pattern. But if you don’t get those things set up from the beginning, at the right increments and in the right locations, you’re going to find every single place that you’re going to stumble upon. So, it’s been a unique adventure trying to make sure that all those dominoes are lined up, so that when you hit that first one, everything falls into place.

Now, the reality is in construction, they don’t always fall into place, but the more you do have in the right place, the better your opportunity for success is. And so, we’re focused on that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Wow. Well, first off, I love that you’re building like the Avengers of your friends, for down in Charleston, South Carolina.

Charley Burtwistle:

I call them up. He was down the next month.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Hey, you got to get down here, and I need you, and it’s like drop everything and do it.

Charley Burtwistle:

Sell the house.

Adam Copenhaver:

Zach, it’s the dream team concept.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I love it.

Adam Copenhaver:

We’re lucky enough to, yeah, actually the Avengers does resonate, too. But the one of our clients years ago, we’ve got a number of repeat clients, one of them is up to eight projects with us.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Wow.

Adam Copenhaver:

And that’s pretty fascinating in seven years, right? And they are big time projects, historic renovations, battery project, ocean front projects, those sort of things. And so, she came up with dream team Charleston. And so, I don’t know, some of our shirts actually have it on it. I can’t brand that because I think it’s infringement.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Charlie’s a big t-shirt guy. Fools with egos. I was like, t-shirt for sure, for anybody that comes on the podcast. I love that.

Adam Copenhaver:

And then we actually had one of our architects that we use and just mentioned that a few months ago, like he’s trying to build team Avengers, and we work with him a lot. We work with the engineer a lot and he’s like, “Yeah, we got the Avengers. We’re going to go everywhere.” I said, “Yeah, it’s great, Colin.”

Zach Wojtowicz:

Great. I’m not as funny as I thought.

Adam Copenhaver:

I mean, that is like the biggest, I think item that a builder could focus on is just building as strong of a team of superheroes that you could possibly build. And what we’ve learned too, is those people are worth their weight and some of them more expensive and that sort of thing. And as long as it makes sense for your client and your product and what level of fit and finish you’re going to do. You’ve got to go after those folks, and you’ve got to create an environment where they can grow and evolve and build along with you. And so that’s also been one of those things that we’ve learned.

We’ve tripped up a lot of areas and along the years, we’ll continue to do that, hopefully smaller and smaller, but that’s one of the things that’s helped us remain strong and diligent and has given us the lasting staying power that we’ve had.

In addition to, that doesn’t just mean our team members, that also goes into our subs and trades. And in an environment where everybody is super busy, anybody can go to any corner of the block and pick up work, and everybody wants to be more expensive, it’s really difficult to maintain those relationship or maintain those subs and trades that are great, except if you’ve got the most robust relationship. I remember in the beginning of COVID, I was talking to Ben, and for two weeks we went DEFCON nine. I was planning, like spreadsheet planning. Okay, what happens next? How long do we survive? And I didn’t take quite a week off, but I had a lot of time to think about it. And then like two weeks into it, that phone just started blowing off the hook, more calls than I’ve ever had. And that lasted for a long time. I mean, it’s still going on now to some extent, not like it used to be.

But I remember talking to Ben and I said, “Ben, you know what’s going to happen. Everybody is going to get super duper busy. And if we don’t have relationships with our subs, another builder’s going to call on them, and they’re going to go do their job before they come to our job. The only way I think that we can retain them in the way that we want to is get to them first and give them certainty and security, meaning, ‘Hey guys, we want you to know we’ve got a ton of work coming up. We can schedule you through Buildertrend. You can see all of our job schedules on Buildertrend. You can see when you need to be there. We can establish the budgets that make sense for you guys. You don’t have to go take work on with another builder just to grow and then find out that builder’s a jerk, and he doesn’t pay on time. And he doesn’t use Buildertrend, so he is not organized. And you can just do that with us. We’re incredibly organized. We’re incredible communicators, and we’ve got enough work for you to grow your business at the same rate or more than what we’re growing. How does that sound?’”

And that was a big game changer for us. We didn’t lose a lot of subs or have to worry about that through being all that busy and actually our relationships, we should have done that five years ago. Now, our relationships got so much stronger after that. So, COVID has been a blessing for sure.

Charley Burtwistle:

How long ago did you guys, so obviously you have a team of all stars and you have two locations now, how long ago did that second location kind of spin up?

Adam Copenhaver:

That one started up two years ago. We had a client that we had met through Charleston, and interesting story, that she had talked about building her house on Lake Kiwi in the upstate, which is just outside of Clemson there, which props to Clemson, I loved that area. And it was kind of, I’ll tell you what, I’ll probably talk about divinity a lot, but it was a divine thing that happened. And they had asked us, “Hey, would you come up to the lake and build for us up here there?” And my initial feedback was, “Thanks so much for thinking of us, but we really can’t. Four and a half hours away, logistics, can’t do it.”

And I remember, I think our story is a little bit different, but I remember that question being asked at least three times, and we had a good relationship with them and actually went to go visit the upstate on one of the holidays. And I remember she had taken me over to the property that she was interested in building the house at. And I thought she just wanted to pick my brain because I offered to be a resource. Of course, “Hey, I’ll help guide and coach and those sort of things.”

And so, we got over there and she said, “Adam, what’s it going to take for you to do this?” And I said, “Well, let’s just think about that. Let’s just entertain the idea of that.” And I said, “It would take first me trying to recreate this bad to the bone team of subs and trades with suppliers and relationships that we’ve been able to build in Charleston, number one. And then after that, it takes a bad to the bone Avenger, using that, right. An Avenger up here to help us manage it. And that would need somebody local that can be here full time because, obviously, I cannot be.” And she said, “Okay, well, do you think you could do that?”

Zach Wojtowicz:

Easy. No problem.

Charley Burtwistle:

Well, she probably heard all your other stories of, yeah, I just called up my buddy, and he was down here the next month. So, it seemed like a pretty logical next step for you.

Zach Wojtowicz:

You’ve got more buddies, just call them.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah. So, it was pretty interesting. So I said, okay, well, yeah, you ask your builder to do something and anyone with an ego, right? Going back to that is going to say, “Yeah, I can do that.” And so I said, “How about this? How about I try to put together that team? How about I start reaching out to some folks and seeing where it goes.”

And I love aviation. And so, I used the analogy. I said, “Hey, listen, if I get down this path, and I hit a headwind, I’m going to try to course correct. And if I keep on hitting headwinds, I’ll kind of bail out. But if I get a tailwind and this thing kind of works out, I’ll do it under one request. I’d like you to continue to interview your other builders that you’re interviewing and continue to go through that bid process and I’m happy to join the bid process. And the other requirement was, I don’t want you making a decision because I already know who you want. And I don’t want that to be an emotional decision. I want your architect to make that decision. So, you guys go ahead and review the quote and bid and the proposal and that sort of thing altogether, let him make that decision.”

And it must have been a great proposal because we got the job and then it ended up being the second job and then ended up being the third and the fourth and more and more and more. So, it is my goal to grow that division, just like Ben and I and the rest of our team have grown Charleston, which is just one small step, one relationship, one great project after another and not taking on too much that we can’t handle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I love the mindset. I mean, anybody that like, my reputation in the office is I’m pretty, like I’m a yes guy. Like how do we make it happen? So, I love that was your attitude and such adversity of this is four hours away. We know that finding subs that you trust to do the work is a challenge. We’ve had lots of guests come on and talk about that. So, props to you guys.

And there’s this other unique angle that I think is something interesting about your business, which is kind of this focus on conservation and sustainability, which means you’re kind of taking on additional challenges, like of how you’re going to go about your building process. I mean, what’s your perspective on eco-friendly building? Why do you adopt that mindset? I mean, how do you go about doing those things?

Adam Copenhaver:

I think, I guess it just comes I’m a tree hugger at heart, right? There’s no reason to be wasteful. The building industry is incredibly wasteful. So, sustainability part about it is just being conscious about the materials that you’re using and also making sure that those materials are friendly. Friendly to the folks that are working with them, friendly to the folks that have to live into the house afterwards. And so, there’s a whole myriad of things that we could talk about here, but we’ll maybe just skim the surface today.

It revolves around the materials, the way that they go in, who’s working with those materials. We use a lot of epay here in South Carolina for decks and exteriors and those sort of things. And those guys that are working with that and cement board, I’m pretty emphatic about making sure that they’re using proper respiration to help protect their lungs from cutting those materials. I’m at least asking them to turn their saw, so that the wind is blowing all that in another direction, which fortunately on the ocean front, we’ve got a lot of those windy days that we get to work with. But with those things, using low VOCs and that sort of thing, products that are more sustainable than the ones that are just creating a ton of waste, really is on the eco side of things.

And then with lumber, lumber’s taught us a really big lesson. Everybody’s shaking their head when I’m talking about lumber prices. It drove me absolute bonkers, just watching those things go. And it really didn’t feel like to me, and I’m not going to get into the political side of it, unless you guys really want to go there, about what drove all of that. But it forced us to be more conscious too, about making sure that we weren’t being wasteful with lumber. Number one for the cost. Number two, because I’m a tree hugger, and I don’t want to be doing that. So, we’ve gone to that level of detail from the design and thinking about the materials that we’re using.

And then the other thing that we really focused on, I guess more so in the past two years is indoor air quality. Long-term indoor air quality, near term indoor air quality. You’ve got high humidity in an environment that we build on southeast, that sort of thing. And we have to be very conscious about not creating environments that could potentially grow mildew or that bad thing called mold and that sort of thing. So, we do a lot of spray foam insulation, which means we make our houses like beer coolers, right? We try to make them more energy efficient to save money and not be wasteful for the environment. And then the other part about that is when you do that, you’ve got to make sure that you’re bringing in fresh air and you’re being conscious about that.

With that being said, we also take care of the COVID related, virus related, pet dust, dander, those sort of things with systems like Reme Halo systems or Phenomenal Air systems. And if you guys ever haven’t talked about that or the audience doesn’t know what that is, definitely check out Reme Halo, definitely check out Phenomenal Air. There are two bolt on systems that go into the HVAC system, literally bolt them right to the side of the duct work. You plug them in and they will take care of dust, pollen, pet dander. They’ll take care of a number of viruses like 98, 99% of them. And they’ll do that through ionization and UV protection. And so those ones go on a lot of houses that we build these days.

And if I were selling that product, shout out to you guys, really big time, shout out to you guys. If I was a salesman for you guys, I’d sell them for five or 10 times what you’re selling them for because of the benefits that they would give to our homeowners and many props again. I certainly appreciate it. I’ve got two Reme Halo systems in my house, in my office here. And I love them. Coming from my last house to this house, we’ve got two dogs, which are amazing, and those they’re labs and they shed, and they’ve got all this pet dander, I’ll tell you what, I don’t dust nearly as much as I used to. I mean, almost not at all. And I still run the dry mop through the house, because those things shed like crazy, but it’s been remarkable. I’ve seen the difference. I’ve felt the difference.

Those two systems are really great bang for your buck, through the roof. If you’re not using them or offering them I’d recommend doing so. I don’t know many other people that talk about them. So, it’s one of those things for us that we stay on top of design trends.

I’m a huge nerd when it comes to technology and innovation, and I enjoy learning those things and trying to out my own house before I offer them to clients. And so, yeah, those have been some things that we’ve incorporated from a sustainability, healthier indoor air quality that does return ROI 100% or beyond to our clients over the years. And we love making sure that we incorporate those into our homes.

Charley Burtwistle:

Well, dang. Do you have a referral code? I think you just sold me. We can link …

Adam Copenhaver:

If you guys teach me how to do that stuff, maybe we should do that. Yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s more of a question for our marketing team. We’re like, yeah, I Don’t know.

Charley Burtwistle:

Back slash Charley, try it. It might work.

Adam Copenhaver:

It’s a shame. I probably shouldn’t say it, but I’m a builder. I don’t really know how to sell on market things or do all that. I just know how to be authentic and talk about what we do and the experience that we have and that’s always been enough for us. And so yeah, maybe we should send it on to the marketing folks, and I can learn something.

Charley Burtwistle:

So, well, I mean you build beautiful houses. Zach and I were on your website before we hopped on here. And just in awe. I do have to admit you have a little bit of advantage just with your surroundings.

Zach Wojtowicz:

The location.

Charley Burtwistle:

A beautiful house on a beach will always be a beautiful house in South Carolina.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah, but I think the credit goes to our clients and the designers that we partner with and the architects that we partner with. We enjoy having that team collaborative effort to bring it together and yeah, sure, Charleston is a fantastic landscape. The upstate’s a fantastic landscape to build in. I learned that you guys do website design recently, earlier actually. And I was pretty engaged with that thought process or thought because we haven’t updated our website in a while and maybe some other builder are out there shaking their head at the same thing.

Instagram and the socials have been really good to us, and so easy to upload our most current stuff that really has just fall on the wayside to update our website. So yeah, it’s there. I’d love for you guys to check it out and send some feedback. Please don’t send me a bunch of emails. Hey, I’ll build you a new one. Because I’m probably going with Buildertrend for the next one. But yeah, it’s important to have that. Thanks for the kudos on that. But it really is due to our team and the rest of the partners we got.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I love your passion. I can just feel it, even though this is over Zoom.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, I’m getting fired up. I’m so fired up right now. It’s Friday at 3:30. I was planning on being done after we recorded here. I might go back to my desk and crank out some work.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Hit the Tableau. Yeah.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. Hit the Tableau, go after it.

Zach Wojtowicz:

One thing I wanted to ask you. You’re so introspective, you have such interesting story. I’d be really curious to kind of talk a little bit about any advice for someone who’s a newer business, they’re trying to get to your success. What is some, your number one thing of like looking back on what you’ve done over the last seven years and really your construction career that you could tell someone who’s maybe newer to Buildertrend or newer to the construction industry of, how do I grow my business?

Adam Copenhaver:

I really think with that, I would encourage everybody to start with themselves. It takes a deep dive into understanding whether or not you’ve got the personality and the work ethic and thick enough skin to be in the building industry. And here we all are all shaking our heads, like no doubt. And if you can’t do that with 100% honesty, super high integrity and an ethic moral code, you don’t belong in this business, hands down. And I know there’s a number of folks that don’t have those attributes that are in there, which is why we oftentimes find that these poor stories out there that didn’t work out with relationships through the build and that sort of thing. So, if you can’t start there, just don’t do it. If you don’t feel like you have that yet, then certainly do some outside focus on that and work towards it.

I’ve learned that the more authentic that you can be, the more relatable when you share your experience, understand your blind spots, share those, and have humility when you make mistakes and own up to those. As a builder, you’ve got to have the financial wherewithal and bank account to make sure that you can cover your mistakes. It’s never, we’ve never made a mistake and passed it on to our clients, and I’ll never do that forever. For us, that’s the biggest way to destroy your relationship and your brand in the market. So, yeah, sure, we’ve made no shortage of mistakes, just like everybody out there. And if somebody says that they haven’t done it, they haven’t been a builder long enough. And so, I would say that not just one thing, but I would say if it is one thing, start with yourself.

Charley Burtwistle:

There you go. I love that answer, especially because I feel like your perspective of someone who started or helped form this business and found it and is fairly new in the grand scheme of things. We have a lot of people that have been on here that have been in the building industry and had the company that they’re at for 20, 30 years. I guess, since we work at Buildertrend, this is Buildertrend podcast, I’m curious when you founded this business, how long until you adopted Buildertrend and what hole were you trying to fill with a project management estimating software?

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah. So, I knew that from the beginning, from the onset that we were going to need a software to manage our business. I guess it really came from, and this is a story about Bud again, but when I worked for Bud, I remember going to visit him and saying, “Bud, our software, we just really need to replace it. Give me a month. I’m going to go back up to Penn State. I’m going to build a team, and we’re going to build a software around our company that really serves us rather than us trying to figure it out. And we can’t change those big software companies, those sort of things. So, in our data age, let’s go ahead and just build it.”

And I remember him asking me a very important question, and this will stick with me forever. He said, “Adam, why would we replace our software?” And I went through it and he said, “Well, have you read the manual?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he just completely shut me down with that. Have you read the manual? Well, if you don’t know how to use our software yet, why should we replace it?

And so, it was kudos to Buildertrend, because that’s what I would’ve built back then. Absolutely. A platform just like this. It’s had a dramatic impact on our business. When I talk about it with our clients, we go a lot into the client portal, but I call it our online filing cabinet. Anything that’s project related, selection related, communication, plans, invoicing, all the documents, all the photos, everything is at their finger touch, on their phone, on their tablet, on their computer. And it’s the most amazing communication tool.

We’re bringing together 50 different companies to build a home. And so, how else could you do that? Trying to manage your business through smart sheets, spreadsheets, emails. If it’s not on one platform, it’s not as efficient as it could be. So, yeah, there’s a lot of things I love about Buildertrend.

Let’s see. And there’s a lot of favorites. Holy smokes. I think just being able to go on there and find all the documents related to the project is probably my number one resource that I use most often. Absolutely budget management and being able to track costs and see them and not have to worry about going to talk to your accountant about things is a significant advantage.

And I would say my other favorite thing is our job site photos. Our job site photos. We end every job, probably 2000 plus photos from inception to completion and on. And we go back to those photos all the time and our clients absolutely love them. Maybe 60% of our clients are from out of town. So, you can imagine they can almost be here daily when we’re putting up all those photos and having discussions about those photos. And if there is something that’s not right, a color of a tile or something else that shows up in that photo, well, holy smokes, you don’t need to wait till the whole entire bathroom’s done to realize that. Now, we have it right in the instant and we can make a change on it.

So, yeah, it’s actually added a ton of value to what we do. It’s been a huge resource for our clients and our sub base. And I’ll tell you, props to you guys. I’ll say this for every other, most of the people that listen to the podcast probably are Buildertrend users. But those folks that are not, if you’re not using Buildertrend yet, you are stuck way behind the times because I truly believe that Buildertrend is going to be the dominant software forever in our building industry. The rate at which you guys evolve and the rate at which you make changes to help benefit us, the rate at which you receive and make those changes from our feedback, has just been phenomenal.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Wow. We need to clip that. Put it everywhere, Marketing team.

Charley Burtwistle:

I was going to say …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Make the rounds.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah.

Charley Burtwistle:

Giving Reese a run for his money.

Adam Copenhaver:

It really is great.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Reese. Yeah. Reese really did a number on you, Adam. He really.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah. Well, what Reese helped me out with was Reese introduced me to our Onsite Consulting.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Chloe Hyatt.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah. Chloe Hyatt, props. Yeah. She was great.

Charley Burtwistle:

At least you didn’t have to, Zach used to be an onsite consultant. So, be thankful you got Chloe and not him.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah.

Charley Burtwistle:

Nothing but horror stories there.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I plead the fifth there.

Adam Copenhaver:

All joking aside, the Onsite Consulting just really took us to the next level too. It goes back to Bud telling, asking me to read the manual. Buildertrend has so many deeper levels of integration, and you can use it, I think I can use it the right way, but actually the way that it’s been designed was meant to be used a different way. Using humility and being humble, we are transitioning to POs, which I’m sure folks can be like, what you’re not using POs? It’s just been something that we didn’t have to use for so long, but realizing how many other benefits it has from using POs across the system has been a big game changer for us. And without Onsite Consulting guys, we wouldn’t be using POs for years and years and years. So, again, it’s getting that extra degree of service from you guys, which has been invaluable to us, to make sure that we knew where our blind spots were and we could do something with it.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. And as a data guy, yeah, using POs opens you up to a ton of really, really cool reporting, projecting out your cash flow and things like that.

Adam Copenhaver:

The custom reporting. Yeah, we’re getting involved with the custom reporting too.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I knew he was going to slide it in there. He couldn’t resist it.

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah. That has been a burden of mine. I’m sure this will also resonate, too, but I’ve got this big old spreadsheet keeping track of all of our cash flow. And it wasn’t too long ago, maybe several months ago where you guys were talking about some new modules that were coming out, new services. And I literally was out in my yard doing yard work with my Ear Pods in and I was like, wait for it, wait for it. And then you guys said cash flow. And I said, Yahtzee.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Where do I sign up?

Adam Copenhaver:

Yeah. So, so now I think that’s been a big, or will be a big game changer for us, too, because if there was a, it is difficult to track cash flow, depends on what level you’re at and who’s doing it for you. But again, if you can integrate that into the software that you’re using and it becomes mindless and unconscious and you just get to go on there and see the dashboard. I mean, holy smokes, that’s amazing. You got to make better decisions with data. So, Charley, props for being a data nerd.

Charley Burtwistle:

Hey, there you go. Men lie, women lie, data doesn’t.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And t-shirt or is that already submitted?

Charley Burtwistle:

I think that was, yeah, I’ve submitted that one before.

Zach Wojtowicz:

We have Nicole on us with us and she’s our new podcast producer. And so, we, she’s here in case Charley has t-shirt ideas. We can make it happen. Oh, all right, Adam, we are running up against time, and it’s been fantastic talking with you today and everything that you do as a business. Is there any last pieces of things that you wanted to touch on today here on “The Building Code”?

Adam Copenhaver:

No, I really appreciate you guys having me on. I get a ton of information from your podcast guests. You guys are great interviewers. Great, great questions. So, keep up the good work there. I hope that I was able to do the same and be a resource for a lot of our listeners. If they ever want to reach out to me and say, “Hey Adam, what mistakes did you make? Or how can I fix this?” I’m happy to entertain folks. You guys can message us or whatever on Instagram, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Just like I tell my clients, if I don’t answer, when you call me, don’t worry. I’m with somebody just like you or I’m with my family. And I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, but I genuinely really do appreciate being a resource for folks.

And for those folks that are not resources for other folks, if you don’t have builder buddies, go find them. That I encourage folks that don’t want builder buddies to have builder buddies because this trade can be so much more powerful and useful and valuable if we do share what we’re doing. It’s not unique. We all go through the same things. It’s a business that we all have to run. And so, I appreciate my builder buddies. They’re amazing. I wish I had even more of them. I’ll never have enough. But if you guys need one, if anybody needs one or anybody has any questions about things that we do, I’m happy to be a resource for them and help out.

Charley Burtwistle:

Love that. Well, thanks a ton. Again, Adam, this was, you did, you lived up to it. You were a fantastic guest. We really enjoyed having you on and looking forward to our invite out to Charleston to come visit you sometime.

Adam Copenhaver:

Well, here it is. Here it is, Charley, you guys are invited to Charleston. Come check it out, hang out. I will probably put you to work while you’re here. We’ll talk about, we’ll get further into Buildertrend. You can show me what I’m doing wrong. There’s not too many things left. We’re executing pretty well. But great place to hang out. Great place to visit and live too. So, the invites there. Just bring some of those t-shirts with you.

Charley Burtwistle:

Can do. That’s a fair trade. Thanks again, Adam.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Adam, you’re always welcome back.

Adam Copenhaver:

Thanks for having me on guys. It was fun. I appreciate it.

Charley Burtwistle:

See ya.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Mr. Charles Burtwistle, we just had Adam from CopeGrand Homes, amazing episode, amazing interviewer, somebody who just like, gosh, I just love his passion. And you feel it a lot from our guests. They really take their industry so serious. It’s so near and dear to their heart. I always just kind of gush and I’m not really an emotional person, but when I hear people talk about these things, it really gets to me, and I’ve talked about it before, but I just love the stories of these small business owners making a difference in their communities.

Charley Burtwistle:

Absolutely.

Zach Wojtowicz:

It’s just cool. What are your takeaways?

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, well, I was excited to meet Adam because I had heard nothing but great things about him, and he definitely lived up the hype. I also, I’ll be very curious to see how our editing team does this because we talked with him for another…

Zach Wojtowicz:

We have so much content.

Charley Burtwistle:

20 minutes after we officially stopped the interview.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Good luck editors.

Charley Burtwistle:

But it was good stuff. So, maybe we mix some of that in there. But no, it was cool. I definitely get why they’re able to grow at the scale that they do, why they’re able to open up new locations. They not only get building houses, but they get how to run a business and they get how to be genuine real people and yeah, just a pleasure to talk to. So, yeah, fantastic episode, I thought.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I mean, it’s just a testament to builders like Adam and others and people we’ve had on “The Building Code,” just doing amazing work, doing amazing things, really focusing on their own customers.

He got into the Buildertrend side as well, which I loved. I wanted to ask him, and I didn’t get a chance and maybe if we bring him back on, I’d love to dive deeper. And it is like, what was the implementation like? I’m sure he had to make some changes in order to make it work for him, but it really shows the investment to do that change management, paid off in big dividends and now he can’t even imagine a world without Buildertrend. And that’s what gets me excited is we kind of have this mission to change the world, change the way the world builds. And Adam’s a testament to that mantra that we kind of preach around here, and we’ll have future guests and that probably say similar things, but it never gets old for me to hear from their side of the perspective as the builder.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. And it’s funny because he mentioned custom reporting, and I always try not to dive too deep into rabbit holes.

Zach Wojtowicz:

But weren’t you talking to someone the other day, I was listening, I thought this was going to be 45 minutes of you talking about data.

Charley Burtwistle:

Exactly. But his cash flow report that he is talking about, it’s funny because I pulled it up before the interview because our team is building it out, and I was like, “Oh, he is not using purchase orders yet. So, he doesn’t have any costs in his cash flow report.” And then during the interview he is like, “Oh yeah, we’re starting to roll out purchase orders now. It’s like this new feature that we’re adopting.” And he’s going to be able to have like this beautiful dashboard of exactly where his cash is going and win and forecast that out.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yep.

Charley Burtwistle:

And so, even like this deep into his Buildertrend lifecycle, I thought it was cool that they’re still finding new value and doing new things all for the data.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Love it. We do it all for the data.

Charley Burtwistle:

All for the data.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And t-shirt idea.

Charley Burtwistle:

We had a few good ones this episode.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. We’re really on a roll on the t-shirts.

Charley Burtwistle:

And another thing you mentioned, which segues really, really nicely the next week’s episode is …

Zach Wojtowicz:

I was just about to plug it.

Charley Burtwistle:

Oh yeah. I beat you to it. He cares, you mentioned, he cares about his customers and the experience they’re having. We were having someone from the Buildertrend Customer Experience team, come on the podcast for another minisode. This is the one you’re not going to want to miss. He sits right beside Zach. So, if you enjoy Zach and I’s banter, I’m sure that there’ll be some Scott and Zach banter as well.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s a rabbit hole nobody’s ready for.

Charley Burtwistle:

But he is going to be talking all about how we get customer feedback, how we use it to change the product and how we’re really a customer first organization. Soc, check us out next week. Like, review, subscribe and have a fantastic day.

Zach Wojtowicz:

This is “The Building Code.” I’m Zach Wojtowicz.

Charley Burtwistle:

And I’m Charlie Burtwistle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

We’ll see you next time.


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