How a California family-owned firm uses Avontus Designer™ to land multi-million-dollar projects
Founded in 1999, Commercial Scaffolding Companies Inc. (CSI) provides scaffold installations and shoring systems out of four offices across California and Nevada. The family-owned business serves commercial, residential, and industrial projects ranging from $1,000 jobs to multi-million-dollar ventures. High-profile projects have included the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport and the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton.
For the first five years of CSI’s existence, the firm used hand-drawn sketches for all scaffold designs. The process worked well enough: It was quick and didn’t require computer skills, and the vast majority of clients were satisfied with a minimalistic drawing. But Jeremy Trask, the company’s Director of Safety, knew what was coming around the bend. Soon, the 5 percent of customers clamoring for a detailed computer model would multiply. And if CSI didn’t act, competitors could get there first.
“We’ve been in the digital age for some time now, and it was just a matter of time before it reached the scaffolding industry,” Trask says. “When software like that gets introduced to the market, it never goes away, and it’s important to stay in front of what the competition is doing.”
Around 2005, CSI began using its first scaffold design software. Trask felt the technology gave the company an edge when few others were using digital design tools, but the team found the software difficult to use. “To effectively use this software, it helps if you have a background in AutoCAD, which pretty much none of our employees do,” Trask says. “Eight people attempted to learn to use the software, but at the end of the day, I was the only one that retained the ability to operate it.”
The need for another technology solution came to a head in 2016, when CSI was bidding to provide access to rockwork installations for Disneyland’s 14-acre themed area, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened in 2019. The project was worth several million dollars, and company leaders knew they would need a way to provide sophisticated scaffold models in order to compete.
In late 2016, CSI purchased Avontus Designer with licenses for three users. “We saw how well it did systems scaffold renderings, and seeing how much simpler it was to use than [our existing software package] was definitely a selling point,” Trask says.
Trask believes the software was an important factor in CSI being selected for the Disneyland project, which was among the company’s largest. “It gave us a competitive advantage, because it showed Disney that we had fully thought through their needs and demonstrated how we would put the equipment together,” Trask says. “The folks we were dealing with were not scaffold people, so they would have no idea what the structure would look like until it was complete. Being able to provide them with a point of reference was massively helpful.”
Trask says crafting detailed 3D models in Avontus Designer has helped CSI beat out the competition to win other jobs as well, since it gives customers a clearer picture of what equipment will look like on site. “It’s a sales and coordination tool for us. We can take it to customers and say: This is what the scaffold is going to look like installed around your structure,” Trask says. “We’ve found it massively beneficial.”
Avontus Designer has also helped CSI erect projects more quickly and accurately. “On fairly complex or unique projects, it helps us build more efficiently,” Trask says. “It gives the foremen a good concept overall of how the equipment will go together.”
Trask knows there is no single reason that hundreds of customers have selected CSI to complete thousands of jobs. From safety to experience, “there’s a combination of factors,” he says, “and Avontus Designer is a piece of the puzzle.”