Information sharing has a primary impact on improving the level of trust that business partners have with one another – and collaboration gives each constituent the power to limit the number of financial, business, and operational risks to keeps jobs on track. Having that real-time visibility across transactions and materials creates greater trust among partners and benefits each partner’s individual operations as well.
In 1935, Blalock Lumber Company was founded by Charles Blalock and developed into what we know today as Blalock Companies. In 1950, Charlie built his first concrete plant that would later become Blalock Ready Mix. The plant, which is still in operation today, was constructed on the banks of the Little Pigeon River in Sevierville, Tennessee. In 1963, Charlie joined his sons in forming Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc., a new venture dedicated to road construction.
In the mid-1970’s, Charles Blalock & Sons had expanded to include an asphalt division, concrete structures division, and a utilities division. Blalock Lumber Company was selling ready mix concrete and concrete block, and Blalock Hardware sold other building materials and hardware to area contractors.
Today, Blalock Companies employs more than 700 people and their operations divisions include highway and bridge construction, site excavation and utilities, asphalt paving and production, ready mix concrete production, concrete and precast construction, equipment rentals, and building material sales.
eTicketing Essentials via CONNEX
When COVID-19 first reared its ugly head in March, the Tennessee Department of Transportation mandated, basically overnight, that jobsites be contactless in order to continue ongoing construction jobs. As many can imagine, this new mandate caused a great amount of stress and there was a sudden, profound need to come up with a game plan to comply with this new regulation.
Command Alkon was working on Electronic Ticketing and Electronic Proof of Delivery functionalities in CONNEX. Originally, these features were not going to be offered until June. However, COVID-19 expedited the release, and companies who had to act fast to stay afloat were able to onboard the platform and start eTicketing in March. Blalock Companies hopped on board right away, which happened to be perfect timing for their business. They didn’t have any concrete jobs with the DOT at the time of onboarding, so they had some flexibility with the implementation to get the functionality working the way that they needed it to.
The initial onboarding and setup was relatively seamless for Blalock Companies. This was a major benefit for Blalock Companies when talking with their suppliers and buyers to convince them to onboard the platform as well. The setup didn’t throw a wrench in their operations, which was a major win; especially during such an uncertain time.
“It's fast to implement and it doesn't change our process for dispatch. It just runs in the background.”
- Wes Blalock at Blalock Companies
As part of the CONNEX onboarding process, Command Alkon works with the company’s IT team to set up the DExA, which requires minimal effort and can typically be set up in less than 1-2 hours. Once DExA is set up, it runs in the background and does not require any changes to current business process.
Once tickets are shared to CONNEX, materials suppliers can set up ticket share rules, where tickets can be shared to other trading partners, including contractors, DOTs, inspectors, and more. This is the materials supplier’s data that is being shared, meaning they have full control over who receives tickets.
Sensible Concrete is a full-service commercial and residential concrete construction and pumping company. They offer a variety of concrete-related services and they are Blalock Companies’ largest concrete contractor in town. Blalock pours several hundred yards a day with Sensible Concrete.
Exchanging ticket data through CONNEX has strengthened the relationship between the two companies. There’s more transparency between them, and it has also given Sensible Concrete more insight into their own operations.
Casey Lawson, Project Manager at Sensible Concrete, said that once he received the invitation email to onboard the CONNEX Platform, it only took about 15-20 minutes for him to get familiar with it. After that, it has been smooth sailing ever since!
One of the biggest value points that he has realized from being connected is that he doesn’t have to make a million phone calls to schedule his orders. When concrete is sitting in the hopper, there isn’t much time to stay on the phone and figure out when the materials need to dispatch. With CONNEX, he can switch up the schedule without having to dial any phone numbers at all.
Exchanging eTickets through CONNEX has optimized Casey’s daily operations because he no longer has to spend time chasing down paper tickets or deciphering the chicken scratch that has been scribbled on the ticket.
“We poured 200-300 yards of concrete last week and it went to many different projects. We were able to link the tickets to the platform and login and make internal notes on individual tickets, saving me a lot of time.”
- Casey Lawson, Project Manager at Sensible Concrete
All of the information that Casey needs to make decisions can be found in one location, which can be extremely helpful, especially during the month-end reconciliation process.
“At the end of every month, I get about 10-15 tickets back with questions and have to backtrack, so the internal notes save me time, as I just go back in CONNEX and review them there, all in one place.”
- Casey Lawson, Project Manager at Sensible Concrete
As a Project Manager, Casey knows a thing or two about management programs; he touts that CONNEX is the easiest of any of the management programs that Sensible Concrete uses. He said that he believes people with little construction management software experience should be able to catch on to it very quickly!
Working Together for Share Prosperity
Effective supplier collaboration involves companies working together to meet each other’s needs. Trading partners become almost like an extension of each other to achieve the same goals. With collaboration, many discrete organizations work in tight orchestration together to meet shared objectives like quality, profitability, customer service, differentiated experiences, and increased value. CONNEX helps link disparate companies like Blalock Companies and Sensible Concrete together, helping them to stay committed to each other throughout the process and put their goals within reach!