New venture was inspired by tough times

Think it’s a tough economy, huh? Check out Bob Lewerenz’ story of how his freelance construction estimating business got started.

“I guess I should have been paying better attention when, in January 2009, I left my employer and went job hunting,” says Lewerenz, whose new venture is Bestimate LLC.

Lewerenz, who lives in central Wisconsin, delivered and mailed 102 paper resumes and submitted 20 or 30 on the Internet, snagging only two formal interviews. One wasn’t even in the construction industry.

Lewerenz’ 30-year background in estimating and purchasing, drafting and selling came from training in Star Steel Building school and SBS 1.0, an early introduction of a computer pricing program. That led to spreadsheet classes, computer aided drafting classes and database classes at a local tech school. Over the years he wrote spreadsheets that automated estimating, kept track of commodity pricing, set up a purchase order system, and other tasks.

Through the long winter, says Lewerenz, his friend of many years, Leo Souder at MPB Builders in Ripon Wis.,  used his services for a day or two at a time on a freelance basis. As summer approached Randy Wanta at Wanta and Son near Hatley Wis., a friend since “Star school” days in 1987, called Lewerenz with a freelance offer to help him buy steel buildings and material, revise plans, and help with three steel building projects.

“This brewed an idea,” Lewerenz says. “I wrote a ‘freelance letter’ and mailed it to contractors in central Wisconsin. Two more contractors called…and by midsummer, I was working four to five days a week.”

In August, Lewerenz and his wife filed forms and began Bestimate LLC.

Says Lewerenz, “We offer building and concrete estimating of material and labor, purchasing and expediting of materials and subcontractors for construction projects, checking shop drawings, orders, quotes, etc to verify information for construction, drafting in CAD and sizing of components for estimating, building-related consulting and budgets, customized spreadsheets to automate estimating, pricing, expediting building construction, and almost anything else a contractor might want.”

Lewerenz says he works nearly every weekday. His services, he says, “allow a contractor to try out our working relationship by allowing me to help with bidding a building project or buying materials or pricing upgrades with a minimal cost, and have me back for more if they are satisfied.”

Clients get their work done without adding an employee and the related expenses of hiring and training a staff member, insurance and other benefits.

“I help these contractors by estimating building jobs and changes to sold jobs, bidding building projects, getting quotes and buying material for sold jobs (including some interesting steelframe buildings), revising CAD drawings and some new drawing, plotting and organizing drawings, checking and submitting shop drawings and product information to architect/engineers,” and  tasks as needed.

Bestimate LLC joined the Wisconsin Frame Builders Association and exhibited at its show in January. Lewerenz says he aims to do a good job of helping his clients do a good job for their clients in the design, selling and  expediting of building construction.

For information, contact Lewerenz at Bestimate LLC, 714 East Ninth St., Marshfield, WI 54449;  715-506-0040 or bestimate@verizon.net. RB

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