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Hill Electric Company

San Antonio, Texas

December 2005


Richard Dennehy works for Hill Electric Company. We asked him a few questions about the company's decision to purchase Design Master Electrical.


DM: Describe Hill Electric and the type of work that you do.

We are a new electrical contracting company that just opened our doors for business in July of 2005. Our core team of five worked together at another company for quite a few years. When our supervisor, the vice-president in charge of the division, decided to open his own business we all asked the same question: "When do we start?" One of the team members worked for the old company for over thirty-two years, having started while still in high school. I was there for seventeen years and was giving retirement serious consideration since I have been in the electrical construction since 1958. The other team members' tenure range from eight to thirty years. We have been together as a team for about twelve years. All of us have such a tremendous respect for our owner that we could not wait to assist him. He has always encompassed the team concept of operation which is why we were the most profitable of the seven divisions of the other company. We are targeting the service and small commercial construction arena ($15,000 to $300,000), since this was our forte at the other company.

DM: How long did it take for you to become proficient with the software?

RD: I wouldn't really call myself "proficient" with the software. I believe that the fact that the system is so "user-friendly" is what makes it seem so easy.

DM: What features of the software are most useful to you?

RD: I use to develop my panel schedules, fixture schedules, load calculations in Excel and Word and then import them into my CAD drawings.  When (not if) the architect started making changes, I would go back and make the changes in the various schedules and re-import them. The features of the software eliminate this.

DM: How do you feel that Design Master differs from other engineering or CAD software?

RD: The number one difference is cost. Most of the other programs are over-priced. Also, some of these programs seem to require a degree in physics to be able to use.

DM: Can you describe a situation where Design Master has made your job easier?

RD: It normally takes me anywhere from forty to sixty man-hours to prepare  and print CAD drawings, including fixture schedules, panel schedules, load calculation, etc., for a two story building. I then print them so that I can review them for errors. If there are any errors I may have to redo the load calculations, fixture schedule, riser diagram, or feeder schedule. This takes me anywhere from six to ten man-hours.

Using Design Master, I did a three story project over the Thanksgiving weekend. It took me less than sixteen man-hours to have the drawings ready for printing. After the review, it took me less than three hours to have all the errors corrected and ready for final printing.

DM: Do you see the industry using these types of design tools more often in the future?

RD: I have always considered myself basically an electrician. I only have a high school education and have had no formal training in computers or AutoCAD. I have basically taught myself. Design Master is so "user-friendly" anyone can utilize it.

To be cost effective in this day and age, you have to use everything available. I can remember when I first started estimating and design work I had to sit with pencil and template to draw each receptacle, light switch, light fixture, each circuit loop, each panel, each motor, etc.. With Design Master it is now basically "point and click". My father always told me the smart man finds the easy way to do his job and that the smart man is the one who will keep his job. And he quit school in the seventh grade. Unless you want to be left behind, you have to avail yourself of every aid that will make you more efficient and productive.

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