Fresh off the heels of collaborating on the ambitious CityCenter project in Las Vegas, Felicia Ortiz and partner Mark Bodner decided to launch their own construction-software consulting firm, Cluster Construction Consulting, LLC. Only one year later, the company generated more than $1 million in revenue. Here, Ortiz shares how their gamble has paid off.
My last position as an employee was at Tishman Construction, where Mark was my boss. I was assigned to the CityCenter project, and, as deputy director of budget and controls, I helped design business processes and ensured they were configured in the software correctly. I was also responsible for training to ensure the project team members were using the software system correctly and consistently, and for developing many of the reports used daily to manage the project.
I grew up in the small ranching community of Rociada, just north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Mark grew up in Brooklyn, New York. We complement each other because we come from such diverse backgrounds. Our skill sets are very synergistic and we get along fabulously. It makes for a very positive working environment.
• Cluster has grown from 2 employees in 2011 to 16 employees in 2012
• Started from a home office
and kitchen table to current
offices of about 2,500 sq. ft.
• 1 client in 2011 to 6 clients in 2012
The Unifier software automated all the workflow and project-management processes on the CityCenter construction project and made it completely paperless, saving Tishman and its project team an immense amount of time, paper, and related costs. It also enabled collaboration, smooth workflow, and the ability to track the budget and other financials in real time.
We started in February 2011 with a single client in Alberta, Canada, often working at my dining room table. Today, we’ve got 14 employees and six clients, and we’re about to hire 10 college interns to help for a month on a project for one of our clients.
Our consulting services have expanded to include business management, business process design/reengineering, system configuration and support, training, and documentation. In many cases, we assist the client before they select project-management software, helping them define their business requirements and prepare a request for proposal.
We’ve gone beyond Skire’s Unifier software to include other industry software and serve diverse industry sectors, including oil and gas and higher education across the United States and in Canada. We’re looking forward to continuing to grow internationally and aligning with other management consultants strong in project-management best practices, but lacking expertise in bringing those best practices alive with technology.
Because of the collaboration aspect of the software we deploy, people are now successfully working in teams, so we create efficiency in the organization. And their skill sets are transferable so they can go from one area of the project to another without a big learning curve. New hires also perform their work the same way.
I initially joined ALPFA [a Latino business professionals organization of which she serves as president of the local chapter] because, coming from a small town, I had always been involved in my community. I felt like that was a big piece of what was missing for me when I moved to Las Vegas. My involvement in ALPFA gives me the opportunity to make a difference by mentoring others, giving back to the community through our community service events and developing business leaders. Those leaders have and will continue to become a pipeline for Cluster and other Las Vegas companies, so it’s a win-win.