The Cleary Way: How an HCSS Customer Tripled Their Annual Bids by Implementing Tech


“Technology has not always been around in my career here at Cleary,” he points out with a chuckle. In fact, the business began in 1985, a time long before cell phones, tablets, and even the internet. When Darren Cleary took over for his father as President in 2008, that’s when he knew the organization would need to keep on changing with the times.

“Once we got past the pen and paper days, we got into Excel spreadsheets. That was so much easier,” Darren says. “And then when you guys came along, we purchased HeavyBid. That was a big deal because we could roll right into HeavyBid to HeavyJob and track all this work. You no longer have to go to the file room and pull things. You have it all at your fingertips.”

darren clearyDarren Cleary, President of Cleary Construction, shares their journey of implementing technology.

Problem: Communication From the Office to the Field

It’s no secret that office-to-field communication is one of the greatest pain points in construction, especially with a single company juggling multiple jobsites across multiple states. Cleary has worked hard to integrate solutions that combat this distinct problem area.

“It’s very important for estimating to know what’s happening in the field. Something that we’ve done recently in the last couple of years is we started bringing more project managers into estimating,” Darren explains. “Before, we probably didn’t communicate very well, but now that we have HCSS HeavyBid and HeavyJob, it makes it easier. There’s so much more than meets the eye that we do between the office and the field. We use a ton of information and feedback from the superintendent level all the way back into the office and accounting. It’s just unimaginable what all this software can do for us. If something’s going off track, off the rails, we communicate that between the two departments.”

vanderbilt stadium construction clearyA full two-hour drive from their HQ, Cleary works on the Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN.

Solution: Speeding Up Operations

Now Vice President of Southern Utility Division at Cleary Construction, Dan Bryant was previously their Director of Field Operations. Having been with the company for 19 years, he was able to witness their digital transformation over the past decade.

“We were a paper-driven, gut-driven company,” he says. “Since we incorporated HeavyBid and HeavyJob in 2014, we’ve become much more analytical and data-driven. That’s allowed us to grow immensely.”

As Darren Cleary touched on earlier, there’s a huge obstacle faced by nearly everyone in this industry: distance.

“As we’ve grown, that new development for us – and being more technology-driven and able to make more timely decisions – has allowed us to expand our footprint, so we’re often far away from our work,” Dan admits. “It’s very important that engagement still be at a high level and that we be intimately involved with projects hundreds of miles away. The ability to take a look at what a job has done that you may be hundreds of miles away from – HCSS allows you that opportunity.”

One of numerous benefits that Cleary has been able to champion is speeding up operations, especially making sure they are never waiting around for a response while productivity suffers.

“It’s cliche to say this, but time is money,” Dan adds. “We all know that, and we’ve said it hundreds of times. HCSS gives us an opportunity to communicate with our field guys, much more efficiently than phone calls and emails. You can have real-time data, and we often work with HCSS to develop custom reports. We use it for incident reporting, equipment issues – all those things can be seamlessly communicated for us to be a successful company.”

Solution: Bidding More to Win More

These days, Cleary is able to get out over 300 bids per year, but this wasn’t always the case.

“Before HCSS, we were probably getting out maybe 100 bids annually, if we were lucky, and that was a stretch,” Darren Cleary says. “We had to beef up our ability to estimate more. Since HCSS came along, it’s made it much easier for us to put out more bids. And when we win, I think for some companies that would be the end of the story, but we communicate well in terms of knowing if something’s bid properly.”

Of course, this all ties into the mentality that fuels Cleary Construction from top to bottom, which is to never stop improving.

“This really is good information to know to get better,” he says. “It’s our goal to get better every time, every week, every year, to get accurate on our bids. HeavyBid [and] HeavyJob have really brought that all together for us, and the technology and the growth that we’ve endured is amazing. Through HCSS, we’ve been able to achieve our goals.”

Ryan Cornwell is the Estimating Director for Cleary Construction, and over the years, he has not only witnessed the transformation but also been a key contributor to the change.

“When I started out at Cleary, we were doing all of our bids by spreadsheets,” Ryan says. “We wanted that extra step to take us to the next level. That’s when we found HCSS and the HeavyBid software program.”

Always forthright by nature, Ryan can attest he was highly skeptical about the transition, but after adapting, the rewards have been plentiful.

“It was hard to make the move even after we purchased it,” Ryan says. “Our management was like, ‘We’ve got to start using it, and you’ve got these bids to get out.’ You’re familiar with the way you’re doing it. It’s hard to make that step, but once I took that step to do the first bid, I was like, ‘This is really easy! Why are we scared to reinvent the wheel when it makes things easier and faster?’ We’ve been able to increase capacity, grow the company, and just make everything flow a lot smoother than the way we did when I began.”

the cleary way office signThis mantra “The Cleary Way” is a testament to how their company operates.

HCSS Only Helps the Great Workers Who Make It Happen

When all is said and done, the use of HCSS software is only a fraction of what has helped Cleary get to where they are today, and Darren Cleary isn’t one to take credit but rather praises the phenomenal staff in his company who make it happen day after day.

“When you look back at coming from no work to where we are today,” Darren says, “I think it’s due to all the employees that we have. They’re greedy people. They want more in life. They’re never satisfied. And that makes us a little different from other contractors. I just think we have a great story. Based on great people, great employees, willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done on time, on budget, and make the owners, engineers, and clients very happy.”

Seemingly unstoppable at this point in time, we can only imagine how much more Cleary will have grown in another 10 years. We all look forward to checking in again then and seeing for ourselves.