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Construction Insider: Snr estimator Martin van Balen shares his industry insights

Posted by Jim Fearon, Hays VP, on Monday, Mar 28, 2016

Hays Construct Canada thumbnailIndustry Insider: Martin van Balen, Senior Estimator, Graham Group


What do you love about your job?
I really like the constant variety. There are always new projects, different kinds of jobs, new problems to solve.
What are your career ambitions?
I would like to be a bid manager, right now I’m a senior estimator, but I would like to oversee the whole project – that’s in 5 years or so.

Read more from Martin in this month's
Hays Construct newsletter.

What changes do you see affecting the industry?
I think the 3D modelling we can do now is already having a huge impact, and that’s going to get more specific. The ability to take data points from the site, from surface measurements to radar and other techniques to determine exactly how much excavation will be needed, how much soil, and then to sync that with the machinery on the job site. It’s going to change how we approach jobs because we’ll be able to be so precise. It will reduce errors, which reduces costs.

The programs are complicated but it’s going to become a central part of the job.

How does the Ontario market vary from other markets you’ve worked in?
One thing I’ve noticed is that closings in Ontario are being finalized right up until deadline. In other places I’ve worked sub trades would have their bids in the day before deadline, but here sometimes those bids are coming in in the last few minutes of a job closing.

You need to be able to make a decision very quickly. This makes it very important to have an understanding of the sub trades and to have strong business relationships with those vendors. You have to be able to trust the numbers you’re getting so you can evaluate the different bids.

That all takes time, it’s not a skill that you can rush. You need to build your relationships and your industry knowledge so that when the time comes you have the tools at hand to make the best decision.

How did networking help you find your current role?
Hays gave me a platform to connect with companies that didn’t know me. This industry can still be about who you know, and Bob Bracalenti was able to be that connection to get me in front of the right person.

Hear more from Martin in the latest issue of Hays Construct. Request it now.

Looking for new work opportunities? See the listings below, or search the latest jobs. 

Job Title Location Job Reference
Estimator Vancouver 1027417
Senior ICI Construction Estimator Toronto 1045158
Chief Estimator Richmond 1044609
Estimator Hamilton 1043949
Mechanical Estimator Ottawa 1045778
Estimator Toronto 1043999
Cost Consultant Estimator Edmonton 1046347

Talk to Jim Fearon, Hays Canada Vice President, about the Canadian labour market.

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