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APEX Engineering Corporation

Centreville, MS

April 2011

Chelsae Knight, PEDesign Master Electrical Makes Success Fun for APEX Engineering

APEX Engineering provides a full range of electrical engineering services, from design to feasibility studies to construction observation. Recent projects include office buildings, medical facilities, churches, multi-use complexes, highway lighting, data centers, retail centers and restaurants.

Incorporated in 1997, APEX Engineering is based in Centreville, Mississippi with an office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The firm has three full-time employees and a number of part-time staff. APEX has received local and national awards for its engineering excellence.

According to W. Chelsae Knight, PE, prior to purchasing Design Master Electrical, calculations were done by hand and with spreadsheet programs developed in-house. “We’d mark drawings up and give them to a drafter. When we got them back we’d check everything as we ran calculations, then mark up the drawing again.”

“Anytime clients wanted to change lighting or add equipment, we’d have to re-do all the calculations affected by the changes, and then manually update the drawing,” Mr. Knight continues. “This made it hard for our small company to turn changes around in a hurry.”

“We finally got Design Master Electrical in 2005. I almost couldn’t believe that you could put receptacles and lights and so forth on a plan, and just by clicking on them automatically circuit them up to a panel board, automatically do a one-line diagram, and so on.

“We’d be hard-pressed to run our business now without Design Master software. And it’s very affordable – you can’t hire anybody that cheap to do all the work it does for us. It immediately became our main design tool. We were using it on projects in less than two weeks.

“Right after Hurricane Katrina we did quite a few projects in the ‘Go Zone’ that all had tight deadlines. We could turn around projects quicker than our competitors, thanks to Design Master. In fact, we picked up four or five new clients recently because the firms they’d been using couldn’t get to their projects.

“One time-saving feature I like is setting up the project database for lighting fixtures and receptacles. You can just pull that database into each project and pick what you want, without needing to re-specify that information. Or, if you want to show the client a choice of fixtures, it’s super-easy and you don’t have to re-draft the schedule.

"Design Master is so easy to use, it’s fun! We’d be hard-pressed to run our business now without it."
W. Chelsae Knight, PE

“Design Master is so easy to use, it’s fun! When you’ve been doing stuff by hand for years and you find this great, automated tool that makes everything so quick and easy… And the software’s calculations are very accurate – we’ve had no problems with errors or faults,” Mr. Knight relates.

“Several architects we’ve worked with are using Revit MEP. We’ve offered to export files from Design Master that they can import into Revit, but nobody’s taken us up on it yet. I downloaded a trial version and Revit is much harder to use than Design Master Electrical, plus it’s very expensive,” explains Mr. Knight.

“Design Master gives you a very high-quality presentation drawing that you can give to the architect so he can sit down with his client and explain the lighting situation with footcandle levels. Likewise, it’s easy to do “what-if” scenarios showing different fixture choices and so forth, which clients really appreciate,” Mr. Knight adds. “I keep one of the licenses on my laptop so I can make changes right in clients’ offices. We can make changes for architects same-day with just a phone call, which otherwise would take several days’ work.”

“Overall, Design Master Electrical makes us competitive with larger firms,” summarizes Mr. Knight. “It cuts our turnaround time way down, which helps us get more business. And clients love how we can respond to changes faster and deliver higher-quality work. Plus the software is very easy to use, and very affordable for smaller firms like ours.”