Brinkmann Constructors is growing at a breakneck pace.
Founded in 1984 and known primarily as a retail builder, Brinkmann in recent years initiated a wide-ranging expansion into senior living, multifamily, and industrial development as the St. Louis, Missouri-based company’s national footprint currently spans from Richmond, Virginia, to Phoenix, Arizona.
Brinkmann’s skyrocketing revenues also reveal the company’s rapid growth. In 2022 alone, Brinkmann earned 33% of the revenues of the last five years in just a single year.
With the significant growth, Brinkmann has faced a common construction industry challenge: hiring the right personnel to staff up during its expansion and find quality subcontractors as business flourishes across the country.
The expansion has been an exciting time full of challenges and opportunities for Brinkmann, which is an employee stock ownership (ESOP)—something of a rarity among the general contractor community.
Making sure management of the company is transparent and as profitable as possible—for the sake of the organization as well as the benefit of all its employee-owners—requires efficient operations.
Samantha Cook, Brinkmann’s chief financial officer, and Jacob Grimes, the company’s controller, joined the company within a couple months of each other, Cook in November 2021 and Grimes in January 2022. They recognized that with expansion, Brinkmann was outgrowing its payment management system, and its data security wasn’t as strict as they wanted.
They also saw that the system’s Automated Clearing House (ACH) payment process would have had difficulty supporting the volume of payables, especially given Brinkmann’s torrid growth track. Cook recalls that the previous system was in place for three or four years before their arrival, and “it never really worked as they wanted.”
Cook and Grimes agreed they needed to “start moving the needle” toward a more efficient payment management system.
“This industry moves too fast; things happen quickly,” Grimes says. “You have to make decisions fast. And when we were told that ‘electronic payments will be placed in a trust for seven days’ … it just wasn’t going to work. People want to know when they will be paid, and with Oracle Textura there is transparency without delays.”
It’s a common story among Oracle Textura users. They use it as a payment management system at a previous job, experience how well it works, and then advocate for its implementation at their new employer.
Such is the case with Cook and Grimes. “We’re familiar with Oracle Textura in many ways,” Cook says. Grimes adds that he used Oracle Textura at both a general contracting and subcontracting level.
As they had conversations with Brinkmann’s executive leadership it was clear that it was time for a change in payment management.
“We were having conversations and I heard leadership say what they wanted. A lot of bells and whistles started ringing for me; I’m thinking, yep, Oracle Textura does this, and it does that,” Grimes recalls.
As they researched a better solution, Cook and Grimes felt choosing a system that was newer to the market could present challenges for implementation, onboarding, and scaling, not just stretching Brinkmann’s resources, but also to the thousands of subcontractors and vendors working with Brinkmann across the US. With Oracle Textura, they knew the solution was road-tested and proven, that most of their subcontractors were already using it, and (thanks to the support of the Oracle Textura account team), that Brinkmann would be well supported every step of the way.
When Grimes presented the information to Brinkmann executives, they decided to pilot several jobs and settled on Oracle Textura.
“When I went to our leadership, one of our big positives was you'll be hard pressed to find subcontractors and vendors who never used Oracle Textura. Many of our new staff members have used Oracle Textura, which really helps in that push to the subs who may be new to it.”
There's still a learning process for some subcontractors, he adds.
“Having people on our team who know it along with a good support system at Oracle Textura is an immense help.”
Knowing that Oracle Textura is robust with a help center, webinars, and learning tools is a huge benefit, Grimes says. “We're like any accounting group. We would love to have resources across the board but sometimes we need help from our partners. So being able to set these things up in Oracle Textura and have it working inside of that workflow really helps us.”
Cook adds: “Oracle Textura is well known and embedded in the industry. Others will promise you all these cool tools, but it’s Oracle Textura that delivers it all.”
Brinkmann manages lien waivers in Oracle Textura, including subtier lien waivers. Grimes says that convincing your prime subcontractors to get their subtiers to bill within Oracle Textura puts everything at your fingertips. You know how much the subtier invoice was, and what the lien waivers should be.
Therefore, it's easier to pay your subcontractor and get an unconditional after you pay them and return it to an owner.
“Oracle Textura creates the perfect-world situation for a general contractor,” Grimes says. “We’re able to get sworn statements and documentation moving inside an electronic workflow with Oracle Textura that we couldn’t in the previous system. We’re all working in the same environment.”
While managing ACH payments is among the immediate goals, building transparent relationships with trade partners is part of Brinkmann’s long play with implementing Oracle Textura. Getting payments to subcontractors is perhaps the most difficult piece of any general contractor’s operation. Compliance concerns, missing paperwork, and a constant flow of email questions from subcontractors was the norm while operating in their previous payment management system.
“In Oracle Textura, we aren’t experiencing the problems we had in our previous system,” Grimes says. “We want this to be turnkey. We want the money to hit our hands and go right out to the sub, and Oracle Textura helps us do that.”
The Oracle Smart Construction Platform combines our industry-trusted applications with a common data environment and an ecosystem of partners to help owners and delivery teams work together and continuously improve performance. The platform connects teams and data, synchronizes work, and empowers individuals to make informed, proactive decisions. Power performance with proven Oracle Construction and Engineering solutions for scheduling, portfolio management, construction project management, project controls, construction payment management, and more.
Read more about payment process management:
Lucie is an experienced technology marketing professional with a current focus on payment and cost-related products in Oracle's construction and engineering global business unit. At Oracle, her work in product marketing is centered on customer engagement and creating the right content to support our customers.
She has over 20 years experience in engineering, product management, marketing, project management, and sales. She holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MBA, from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and can be found most nights at the dance studio, prepping for her next ballroom competition.