The AEC Lens
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
Interview with Marc Goldman, Director of Strategy, The Blue Book
December 13th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
This is a transcript of Sanjay Gangal’s video interview with Marc Goldman, Director of Strategy at The Blue Book at the Autodesk University 2011.
Sanjay: Can you tell us a little bit about The Blue Book, and what does the company do?
Marc: The Blue Book is a 98 year old company. The first 85 years or so we produced directories – printed books that included everyone in the construction industry in the united states. The directory has grown to over a million classified listings, organized into some 550 different classifications. It’s our job to keep that data up to date. About 15 years ago we started to build some application on top of that data and put all that data online. Now we have tools to help contractors with their bid management, help architects and designers with product selection, help with document exchange, and we facilitate about a million messages back and forth within the design and construction industry in any given week.
Sanjay: Do you still print those books?
Marc: We still print the books. Every year we get more and more demand for them. We would love to save the trees, but people still like to open a book and find the listings, but certainly most people now are using our online solutions as well.
Sanjay: How many books are people purchasing?
Marc: We just now are closing out our year. We will go to print after an intensive quality assurance process, we’ll print roughly 800,000 books this year.
Sanjay: Wow. That’s quite a lot. So tell us what are you showing here at your booth?
Marc: This year at autodesk university we’re showing our suite of products. Which on the design side begins with BPMselect.com, which is a search engine dedicated to the building product manufacture industry. So we have taken google technology, which we licensed. We have pared down the world wide web to just the 14,000 or so U.S. serving building product manufactures. We deliver back results to the designer who is looking for products, and product information, and we take them directly to the manufactures’ website to find that needle in the haystack that they might be looking for.
Sanjay: Are you primarily in the U.S.A?
Marc: We are primarily North America and those 14,000 manufactures who serve the North American market. We also identify when they have products available for outside the U.S. because we know quite a bit of work today in the U.S. is actually projects that might be breaking ground outside of America.
Sanjay: That’s true. A lot of architects all around the world would love to have access to your BPMselect so that they could see parts from there.
Marc: Certainly. I know a fair number of people from India and China, and throughout the middle east use our system as well, because a lot of American products certainly are used around the globe. So that’s one solution and that’s like I said that’s on the design side, architects primarily using BPMselect.com. We’re also showing BB-Bid, which is our bid management application that taps into that database of roughly a million classified listings. A general contractor could use BB-Bid to go out and find the contractors in any of a hundreds of categories that they might need to go out to bid on, and use BB-Bid and SyncWare to exchange and share the design in construction documents and facilitate that communication between contractor and subcontractor as it relates to the bid stage. Those two products plus Vu360, which is our free pdf and multi-format mark up and take off application. We are showing that as well. We are also talking to some owners here about our construction concierge service where we help building owners find the contractors that they might need for ongoing facility maintenance services.
Sanjay: Can you go product by product and give us a little bit more in-depth information about each of your products?
Marc: Yeah. So BPMselect.com is the web based building product manufacture search system. Our next release is coming out in January will have the capability to not only search for products, but to store them, save them, and share them with your colleagues. Essentially creating a digital product library.
BB-Bid which is available from blueblook.com. is the application for bid management, document exchange, and communication between contractors, and our internal solution for owners called I-Group. That’s the group who is connecting owners to contractors for ongoing facilities management. Vu360 is our multi-format solution, for primarily pdf but also for html and tif type files, mark up and document viewing application.
Sanjay: Have you seen any hit in your business with the downturn in the building industry?
Marc: Certainly. Our best year was about three years ago, but we’ve seen growth since then. We look like we are hitting back the stride that we had from three years ago when everyone was doing great. But, we’ve weathered the storm, we continue to have a sales force in 30 regions around the country. We continue, like I said, to print eight to nine hundred thousand books, we have a million classified listings, and new products are coming out that are pretty exciting for us to be announcing.
Sanjay: Do people pay for the books?
Marc: No, so all of our services interestingly enough, are free for the end user. Our business model is similar to Google. Companies pay Google for exposure, for ads. Companies pay The Blue Book for exposure and ads. But, the bidding services we have, the viewing and mark up application, the BPMselect application I talked about, and the I-Group service are all free services to users. Which are essentially subsidized by an exposure based business model.
Sanjay: How can people find out more about The Blue Book?
Marc: TheBlueBook.com is the best place to go where you will find overarching information about the company. BPMselect.com is our building product manufacture search and soon to be store, share, and collaboration application. From our main website all these applications and services are available.
Sanjay: Great, thank you very much Marc for coming over and talking to us. Have a great show.
Marc: Thank you.
Category: The Blue Book