Revenue: $700 million
CIO: Sam Lamonica
Business Colleague: Rick Millitello, COO, Northern California
Working Together: Two years
Business/IT Challenge: Bring stability to a hodgepodge technology environment.
Upshot: Technology excellence led to improved service for customers, many of which are high-tech clients in Silicon Valley.
To prosper as a commercial construction firm in Silicon Valley, $700-million Rudolph and Sletten Inc. has to be as technically savvy as its customers. Among its innovative uses of technology is a database the company has created that records numerous project details. Using this database, Rudolph and Sletten provides preconstruction services, such as detailed cost estimates, site evaluation and scheduling, among other tasks, as well as general construction and management of subcontractors.
The company (which was to be acquired by Framingham, Mass.-based Perini Corp. on Sept. 30, 2005) has a strong reputation for customer service and for delivering high-profile projects. These clients include the Molecular Foundry, a nanotech research center at the University of California, Berkeley; Skywalker Ranch, the production facility for Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas; the Monterey Bay Aquarium; and possibly one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the country, the soon-to-be-built El Camino Hospital. Projects range in price from $10,000 improvement jobs to medical facilities costing more than $300 million.
In Silicon Valley, the source of a great deal of work for Rudolph and Sletten, clients tend to expect a certain degree of technology skill, particularly in the areas of communicating over the Internet or via project management software. "To participate in building projects for high-tech companies, you have to be high tech, too," says COO Rick Millitello.
CIO Sam Lamonica has championed an array of IT tools that contrast with yet supports the gritty construction industry. There are wireless-tablet PCs for field workers; a workforce management intranet; four videoconferencing rooms at the company's new headquarters in Redwood City, Calif.; customer relationship management software from Deltech; project management tools from Prologue; and even open source middleware to tie everything together. Under Lamonica's leadership, the infrastructure has become stable enough to free IT staff for customer projects rather than just troubleshooting Rudolph and Sletten's internal problems.
The construction firm's IT strategy comes mostly from Lamonica, who spent two decades at technology companies such as local data network services provider NorthPoint Communications, content management software vendor Macromedia and software platform provider Phoenix Technologies. He joined the construction industry only a couple of years ago. "It was always my dream to be able to take the knowledge and experience I gained during those years and leverage it in another context where those skills would be needed," he says.
By contrast, Lamonica's business counterpart is an industry veteran and a relative newcomer to the IT universe. Although Millitello views technology as a great enabler to the business, he admits, "Sam says a lot of words that I don't know ... but I can bring a concept to him."
This was first published in September 2005