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My First Blog…

Here we go, this is my first blog.  I really should have my daughter here coaching me she is great with blogging. Me, I’m just a plumber with bad handwriting. So let’s get started. I wanted to start by sharing who I am – past and present, why I’m blogging, what we’ll be blogging on and how can you get involved.

1 – Who am I? I am Michael Brown, President of 4Clicks Solutions. We are a Veteran Owned Small Business located in Colorado Springs, CO. 4Clicks develops estimating and project managment software.  It was during my 9 years in the Air Force that I got started estimating and dabbling in software development. Enlisted in Colorado Springs, went to Lackland for Basic Training, Lackland to Sheppard to learn how to be a plumber, then Sheppard back home.  I was very luck, just starting a family and my first duty station would be the United States Air Force Academy – GO FALCONS!  (not far from home in Colorado Springs, CO, thanks Dad)

It was there I was able to learn so much about construction and how the shops (Civil Engineering) worked, got to install some sheetrock, mud and tape the walls, paint – one coat primer, two final coats, glue down way too much cove base on the hill (Cadet Area) and even run a few peices of heavy equipment – now that was dangerous!   Transferred from the Plumbing shop to Planning, to the SMART team; with that million dollar bench stock, back to the Plumbing shop. They got tired of me and sent me far away to Kunsan Air Base in the Republic of Korea – Annyeonghaseyo!

There I went back into the plumbing shop, played war games, laid a lot of AM2 matting, working the planning shop then helped start a Self Help store. Even spent some time in the Red Devils Hooch. Made me proud to be an American!  At the KUN you can drink, work out, drink and work out, or hook up your computer with others and play F16 Falcon jet fighter. I remember my first PC, a self built 286 IBM 10MB hard drive computer, 128KB Ram and a 1200 baud modem, can I get a WOOT WOOT! I chose to run, work out and play on computers. Found out I had a knack for it computers.

Did my one year remote and moved to Luke Air Force Base. This is where it all started; it was really the beginning of 4Clicks. It didn’t take me long to love SABER and estimating, fallout can kill you or bring you lots of happiness and fun times. Yes some of us love fallout and still have fun.  Fallout for those who don’t know is when a lot of people get together in a short period of time and decide to do a lot of things in a shorter period of time.  I found out that I had a knack for estimating.  Along with my new found gift, I became aware pretty quickly that I could not read my handwritten estimates very well and it wasn’t bad eyes, it was horrible handwriting.  It’s really sad when you’ve worked all day on an estimate, get it perfected, well as close as you can and nobody, including myself could read it the next day.  So I came up with a bright idea of writing estimating software, I called it JOCEZ, an alternate solution to bad handwriting and way to much work, thanks Bill Trout!  This might have been the very first Air Force SABER estimating software of its kind. We started with a governments unit price book with 26,000 line items, now we are closing in on 400,000 items in the 2010 RSMeans Master Composite.

After careful thought, I decided to get out and find a job as a civilian, my BCE suggested working in SABER, I remember telling him, work for a contractor? So yes, I crossed the street and went to work as a Project Engineer, I just like you had bills to pay, it was that or stocking diet Pepsi at 7-Eleven.  I worked for a small 8A contractor that grew from 3 or 4 contracts to over 30 contracts in a few years. Wow what a ride it was and I sure did rack up a lot of frequent flier miles with Delta Airlines.   There I developed another estimating program called iqEstimator.  Went from DOS to Windows, just as quickly we went from no phones to cell phones.  It was during this 10 year period that I was able to meet some of the finest and best people in the business, many I still call friends today and I got to start working with Jeff and Amy, yes its been that long.

As in anything, things, times and people change, I decided to make a change and move back home to Colorado and start my own company.  Figured I needed to get away from the hotkeys and develop software that let people get to what they wanted in just a few clicks. Ya you know me, I am still all about the hotkeys, I even have Tom staying up with me on a few screens. I knew no matter how hard we worked we could not do get someone to get a line item in an estimate in 2Clicks so I saw this number 4 and a mouse and put them together for 4Clicks.  Jeff and I worked hard in a short period of time and were very blessed to have the support and confidence of David Price and John Vanscoy at Wright Patterson AFB, they were our first customers.  Worked with some great contractors, traveled to just about every Air Force base in the Conus (US), were again blessed to win some of them and started building a company, all I knew is that I was having fun and people were starting to 4Click.

I’ve got to thank our team, made up of dedicated professionals, each with a story of their own, all of them responsible for the success and blessing of 4Clicks.  Simply could not and would not want to do it without them. I want to thank Amanda, Amy, Bill, Chelsi, Dave, Jeff, Josh, Tom and our partners at RSMeans and Dave and John at eTakeoff for all they do. Just wait to see what we’re working on now for the next product!

In the future we’ll be sure to highlight more of the team.  Just to let you know who we are, what we do and perhaps a few funny stories.   This first blog is already way too long. Thanks for your patience; it has been 29 years of history to fill in these 1476 words I get to share with you.  BTW I am so glad I am typing on a computer and not on a piece of paper.

So here’s the wrap up, some people think that “Developed by Estimators for Estimators™ is just some catchy phrase, it’s really where we’ve been and defines who we are. From Cy Jary my first user, to Wright Patterson AFB our first customer, to the new users we are blessed to work with each year, you’re the ones that make this all happen.  You’ve helped us grow and we’ve collected over 100 years in estimating, project management and software development and were going to keep getting up each day and working harder and smarter so you can work faster and more efficiently!

2 – Why I’m blogging. I think this is a great way to share things we have seen, heard about from our time out there in the real world.  We do not claim to be an expert in all things, but we have amassed a lot of information. We also know a lot of really smart people who do what you’re doing and hope to share some of the lessons learned.  Who knows you might be the next small contractor that everyone is talking about or the next Chief of SABER or JOC.

3 – What will I be blogging on? About what we know, the DOD contracting world, from estimating, project management, business development, with JOC, SABER, IDIQ, RSMeans, SATOC, MATOC, BOA’s and POCA’s and whatever else you want to talk about. The goal of this blog is to help answer some questions, talk about what’s important to our business and share from lessons learned, as a good friend has said many times, it’s a really big pie out there, plenty for everyone to share.

4 – How I can leave feedback. Please get involved, let us know what’s on your minds, maybe you’ve just seen a great article we should share with your peers.  We’ll talk about City Cost Indexes, the good and bad line items, the next cool estimating features, of course we’ll keep you posted and want your feedback on how were doing with making your job easier and letting you grow your companies and manage your contracts.  So please, we ask of you, I encourage you to leave comments, give use your suggestions, your feedback is encouraged, appreciated and will fuel the growth of this blog, without you its just wasted space in the internet.

Thanks for stopping by, promise to keep the other blogs shorter!

All the best,

Michael Brown mbrown@4Clicks.com
President
4Clicks Solutions, LLC.

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