My name’s Matt Epley, and I’m the owner/operator of Hardball Software in North Platte, Nebraska.
After 27-years of service in the construction industry, I’m proud to announce the upcoming release of my first mobile app “AggreGET”: a sand, gravel, rock, asphalt, and concrete estimation utility.
I’ve learned so much in my diverse career with Western Engineering, a general contractor who specialized in asphalt paving, and its sister company, Western Materials, who supplied sand, gravel, rock, bulk concrete, and concrete products, and with AggreGET, I’m making all that knowledge available to anyone with a smartphone.
I accumulated a wide variety of experiences with real-world construction materials and their applications. I’ve gained unique perspectives working as:
- Scale Operator for three gravel pits and one asphalt plant (simultaneously),
- Quality Control Technician for two mobile asphalt plants and one stationary asphalt plant,
- Truck Dispatcher for a fleet of flowboys, belly dumps, concrete mixers, and truck-and-pups,
- Tech Support, Database Administrator, and Bookkeeper for six gravel pits, three asphalt plants, and one concrete plant (again, simultaneously),
- …and, for the past 18-years, as Office Manager in the dead-center of everything listed above.
It all started in 1991 when my dad, the General Manager at the time, hired me to weigh trucks and answer phones. Back then I was just a 14-year-old who was happy to trade minimum wage for baseball cards.
As the 1990s progressed, my responsibilities increased. I worked summers and after school to help pay for college where I double-majored in computer science and mathematics and minored in art.
In May of 1999, I graduated from Doane College (now Doane University), but it was a bittersweet week for my family; my father nearly died after a series of heart attacks only days before I received my bachelor’s degree.
Dad’s prognosis was bleak. He was only 10-years away from retirement, but all the doctors told him to apply for disability ASAP…that he’d never work again…because that his heart was only functioning at a 40% capacity.
Dad ignored all those dire forecasts and was back to working 12-hour days within two months of his release from the hospital. He was a stubborn and relentless man to say the least.
In my first job out of college, I was a Programmer/Analyst who coded item processing software for Data Management Products, a subsidiary owned by First National Bank in Omaha, Nebraska. I lasted 11-months before I moved my family back home.
Why’d I move back home after landing a great job in the big city?
Bottom line…I wanted to work with my Dad for as long as I could.
Yes, he was a stubborn and determined man, but that didn’t mean he was invincible. I wanted an opportunity to see him every day because I honestly didn’t know how much time he had left on this Earth, and I wanted my kids to remember him before he left us for good.
My Dad, my work colleagues, and I communicated closely with city, county, and state agencies who awarded our company with multiple-millions-of-tons-worth (yes, literally) of paving and material contracts.
While our company earned most of its revenue from federal, state, county, and city contracts, the other 90% of our clients were small contractors, landscapers, and average-joe-homeowners…many of whom had scant experience with estimating construction material quantities.
Our staff fielded scores of customer inquiries daily. While most of them knew WHAT KIND of materials they wanted, few of them knew HOW MUCH they actually needed. Many didn’t know where to begin, how to order, and most didn’t even have a clue how much coverage 1-ton of gravel would offer. (The answer is “not much at all.”)
In the old days, each of our dispatchers could spend anywhere from 10-to-20 minutes with each client, on the phone or in-person, calculating by hand exactly how much sand a soccer mom needed for her kid’s sandbox, or how much gravel a plumber needed to fill a drain field.
But in 2003, my amazing coworkers (Shout out to Dana and Nina. Your influence and mentoring is written all over this app. I love ya and miss ya both.) and I put our heads together and designed a way to reduce the length of those long, clumsy phone calls by almost 70%.
Based on our needs and those of our customers’ as well, I designed a database and programmed a front-end desktop app where we could enter a combination of length, width, depth, and surface area dimensions for each project location, and it would estimate the equivalent tonnage for each material in our inventory based on each’s unique density.
I felt like I was finally able to put my computer science degree to practical use! I was finally able to help friends, family, and normal people with my skills, and not just banks and other faceless business monoliths.
Not only did we reduce the average time of each customer interaction, but we increased TOTAL daily customer interactions…you know…all because our phone lines were no longer as “busy”. Remember THOSE days?
That desktop app served us well for 15-years…until our company was sold and my adopted family of amazing coworkers parted ways.
So, what is AggreGET?
AggreGET estimates the Geometric-Equivalent-Tonnage for 57 different construction aggregates. G.E.T. “Get” it?
It’s the newest incarnation of that same 15-year-old, proprietary desktop app that I mentioned earlier, but now its even better than ever.
With literally 15+ years of live testing and customer/coworker feedback, it could be the most heavily tested aggregate, asphalt, and concrete estimation app on the market.
With AggreGET, you can:
- Enter the length, width, and depth of your driveway, parking lot, flower bed, rock garden, or sandbox, and quickly discover the estimated volume (standard or metric), tonnage (again, standard or metric), bag or bucket count, and truckload count of 57 different construction materials.
- …also, enter the surface area (e.g. square footage) and depth to find the same quantities.
- Enter the diameter and depth of any circular hole or excavation, and calculate the estimated volume (standard or metric), tonnage (standard or metric), bag/bucket count, and load count of 57 different construction materials.
- Find the calculated differences in volume and tonnage for multiple varieties of dirt, sand, gravel, rock, asphalt, concrete, and mulch.
- Measure, combine, and compare areas of, both, standard units (e.g. inches, feet, yards, and miles) with metric units (e.g. millimeters, centimeters, meters, and kilometers).
AggreGET also accounts for additional moisture percentages and compaction for many of those materials. THAT is something few other apps can boast.
AggreGET will be available for all iOS devices very soon on Apple’s mobile App Store, and for Android devices shortly after on Google Play.
So stay tuned!
While many friends and family considered my 1999 move back home “career suicide”, I couldn’t disagree more.
In 2007, my father passed away from another heart attack, but I was fortunate enough to spend each day of his final 7-years working, both, for and beside him. So much of what this app accomplishes is a direct reflection of his relentless effort, his iron will, his “Quick” steel-trap-mind, and his desire to empower everyone around him.
Dad, if there’s WiFi in Heaven, and you’re reading this, I want you to know that Hardball Software and AggreGET are as much your legacy as they are mine. I miss you…and I can’t thank you enough for the lasting imprint you left on our world.
“Let’s GET to work.”