Tyler Helget: How embracing tech changed my construction career
Stepping into the construction industry
From drawing houses in middle school art class, to working for apartment builders in college, I was always fascinated with the construction industry. I went on to graduate with a Construction Management and Science degree, and started my career as a Project Engineer at a premier electrical contractor in the Midwest.
While I had limited electrical experience, I was excited to learn all the complexities and challenges of this new trade. The biggest challenge in electrical work, shockingly, wasn’t calculating the proper amperage and wire size in a home run, but rather keeping track of project finances and documentation. During monthly billings, I spent most of my time communicating back and forth with the accounting team to ensure our invoices were correct and submitted on time. That wasn’t why I got into construction. The constant ping-ponging between departments was exhausting, and the sheer volume of documents we had to review every month would sometimes lead to misunderstandings or mistakes — which, in turn, led to constant invoice revisions, and even occasional payment delays.
Changing the game with technology
Luckily, our company had a forward-looking leadership team excited to experiment with new technology. As one of the younger employees, I had the responsibility of pushing the adoption and implementation of any new technology to the team.
One day I was assigned to lead the pilot for a new billing software tool called Siteline, a web platform that helps subcontractors eliminate common pain points in billing — consolidating pay app forms, keeping track of payment statuses and lien waivers, and communication between the project managers and the accounting team.
This was my first time encountering a tech company that focused on the financial side of construction. Siteline’s product was user friendly and easy to understand. It showed all our projects in one view, along with billing statuses that updated automatically, making it so easy to track everything. This was night and day compared to the manual process we were using before. Seeing how efficient and helpful Siteline was helped me realize how impactful software could be to the entire industry.
Siteline helped eliminate frustrating manual tasks, like chasing down lien waivers and backup documentation, which helped make monthly billing way less stressful. Traditionally, contractors combined all the required documents using Bluebeam or Adobe, and submitted for payments via email. On Siteline, we kept all the required financial documentation on one platform, automatically generated all the forms, and submitted with one click. This saved our team time and made communication with our financial team way easier, which allowed us to focus more on managing projects.
Experiencing problems first-hand
After five years at the electrical contractor, I took a job as a facility project manager at a large local hospital. I had the amazing opportunity to manage renovations and remodels with practically every trade of construction.
While it was exciting to work on new projects, I realized not every contractor was as quick to adopt new technology. It felt like I had traveled 20 years back in time: purchase orders were tracked in a binder, communication was scarce between project teams, and we worked off hand-created drawings for small renovation projects.
I missed the software tools like Siteline that had made our projects run much more smoothly — the contrast was painfully obvious and resulted in much more manual work. After working the “old way” for over a year (making modernizations where possible), I realized I could have a wider impact on the industry by helping introduce technology to many construction companies, not just one.
Enjoying what I do, every day
After being so impressed with Siteline’s product and team, I reached out and eventually joined as a Construction Solutions Manager. In my job today, I help subcontractors adopt Siteline’s technology to simplify their billing process, armed with the knowledge and experience in my previous roles. My biggest ambition for moving into construction technology is to help subcontractors move away from “the way we’ve always done it” and adopt technology that will reduce stress and help them grow.
I get to work with amazing customers and watch their energy change as they see how quickly and easily they can send out their invoices every month without having to jump around convoluted folder structures and out-of-date spreadsheets. I am humbled to bring my on-the-ground construction experience to connect with customers and grow new relationships. I am so grateful to get to work at a company that strives to make a positive impact in the construction industry — I can't wait to see how construction tech companies like Siteline continue to empower the construction industry to move in a faster and more efficient direction.