APF Engineering is a full-service electrical engineering consulting company based in Decatur, Alabama. The firm provides electrical plans for projects of all sizes in the commercial, industrial, education and other markets, including design/build projects.
According to Patrick Fagerman, principal, Design Master Electrical has been a critical element in the success of the business since he first purchased the software in 2007. “At the time I purchased Design Master I was working like a madman,” Mr. Fagerman recalls. “I needed something that would make me more efficient, keep me competitive and give me time to breathe.”
“Design Master Electrical has automation capabilities and code compliance features built-in,” adds Mr. Fagerman. “Demand vectors, load calculations, circuiting, breakers, those kinds of things… Design Master was built to make it all happen, and to minimize the rework.
“If you’ve got a little AutoCAD experience, that plus Design Master makes you a competent design team. Instead of putting something on paper, handing it to a designer and then checking the results, Design Master brings it all together so one person can do it all—and do it faster. My operation is so efficient now that we even have time to do some local pro bono projects.”
“Design Master automatically updates circuiting and other design elements when projects change,” Mr. Fagerman explains. “I can relocate things and it updates loads, revises schedules across the drawing, and basically manages everything for me.
“For example, on a design/build project I might want to specify what circuits relate to specific equipment or power systems or low voltage systems or fire alarm systems. Design Master lets me put all that on the drawings just by selecting an option on the schedule.
“What-ifs are really fast and easy with Design Master, too. If a customer asks how they can save a few dollars I can quickly see the impact of changing the location of the electrical room or repositioning some equipment. What used to be tedious tasks I can now turn around in minutes.
“Of course, all the automation in Design Master also eliminates the errors that can so easily creep in when you’re doing things by hand. Fewer errors also mean fewer field headaches and fewer comments or questions from contractors.”
“Presentation is a big piece of the product I deliver to customers,” explains Mr. Fagerman. “Design Master makes it easy to customize my drawings so they have a very high-quality look.”
Mr. Fagerman continues: “My symbols and standards for panel schedules and so forth are more consistent since I got Design Master. If a customer has symbols that they prefer to show on their drawings, it’s nothing for me to make my symbols look just like theirs, so the product is easier for them to review.
“When it only takes a few clicks you don’t mind doing nice things for customers. That way they don’t have to live with something they don’t really like, and I don’t have to try to pass costs on to them.”
“Most of my business is return work or ‘word of mouth,’” Mr. Fagerman offers. “My business has really been taking off and I now have quite a few loyal customers, large and small.
“That tells me that my product is well-received. It also reduces my advertising costs because I don’t have to advertise to the people who already know me,” asserts Mr. Fagerman.
“I use Design Master for almost everything, but I can also use other tools and techniques that work for me whenever I need to,” Mr. Fagerman explains. “For example, for awhile after I first got Design Master I still did single-line drawings manually.
“Design Master is intuitive and flexible so you can learn most of its capabilities in no time, and then pick and choose new things you want to do with it as your comfort zone expands.”
“I’ve only called tech support a few times over the years,” Mr. Fagerman relates. “Usually they talk me through my issue right then and there. It’s great how they can hop on my computer and look at my project: within moments they understand the problem and if they don’t have a fix or a patch on hand they’ll e-mail it to me shortly.
“I really appreciate that kind of backup. When so many projects have tight deadlines, it’s important to resolve problems quickly and keep working productively,” adds Mr. Fagerman.
“Design Master allows me to be more efficient and cost-effective so I can generate a good income. It also lets me spend more time with my family,” summarizes Mr. Fagerman. “It’s a secret I don’t give out to competitors.”