The journey was an interconnected path, nearly 50 years in the making. Any one change could have dramatically altered the outcome. In the end I am happy with the path I took.
I started the business in 1992 out of fear that my full-time job as a specifier with an E-A firm may not exist. The early 1990s were not a good time for design and construction. Many were wondering what the future would hold. I wondered too, but made a decision to take control of my destiny.
With two partners, we began planning and marketing the business while continuing to work full time. After about a year, we signed our first contract. Two new elementary schools for a Delaware district. It was a good start.
The real break came when a friend, also an independent specifier, introduced me to an Atlantic City architect, David Jacobson. My friend was too busy to help David. The rest, as storybooks might say, is history. It was the right time and place to connect with an architect devoted to the hospitality sector. Atlantic City casinos were booming, renovating, and expanding. David was a dream client, a gentleman, mentor, and nearly a patron, providing many opportunities. David created the momentum for me to leave the E-A firm and become a full time entrepreneur. Having weathered the job market uncertainty, my then one partner stayed at the E-A firm, while continuing as partner.
Meanwhile, I helped found the South Jersey Chapter of CSI as an alternative to driving to Philadelphia Chapter meetings. CSI involvement helped me build a network that led to other local work - Tom Sykes for instance, a founder and the first "S" of SOSH Architects. SOSH had a diverse practice, but was predominantly hospitality too.
CSI involvement led to Region and Institute committee work - primarily in technical aspects and formats. I contributed to MasterFormat and UniFormat development.
Connections count. Thanks to Tom Sykes, I met Paul Lyons and Rafael Velazquez of Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo, a Southern California firm that collaborated on the Atlantic City Tropicana expansion. This opened the door to many future west coast and international projects directly with WATG.
I had a most memorable meeting with Paul some years later. Paul led the WATG construction administration team. He told me, "Dave, I don't care what's on the drawings. You give me a good spec and I will get what I want." The message stuck. I hope other CA staff appreciate our work.
In 1998, Charlie Carroll called and asked me to submit a proposal to help with SPECTEXT - the first commercial specification system. I had been using SPECTEXT for years, already. We won the contract to manage the SPECTEXT update being produced by National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). We orchestrated the review committee. As a result, Conspectus took over updating and maintaining SPECTEXT for 13 years until its sale to ARCOM.
As the business grew, I believed it would support 2 or 3 specifiers serving the south Jersey and Philadelphia markets. Then it finally happened. In 2000 I could no longer keep up with demand and hired my first employee, a roofer that I planned to turn into a specifier. It took time, but it worked.
My partner joined me full time working remotely in Pennsylvania. Little did I know I was training for COVID. Workload grew, so I hired my Fed-X driver and a horizontal directional driller and repeated the training process. I believe the key was finding curious folks that were willing to ask questions - lots of questions. Thinking about Fed-X, we delivered all our completed work in paper form. Delivery was by Fed-X or special delivery made by my children and wife.
In 2014 I was preparing for a presentation at the CSI National Convention in Baltimore. I sketched a diagram explaining how specifications could be written. It was the revelation for me. Instantly, UniFormat was front and center as the way to document design decisions and to create specifications as system descriptions linked to traditional construction specifications. I was propelled into a brand new project approach.
The revelation launched Conspectus Cloud - a new tool for a new approach to make specifications a decision management system. The vision was to allow all project stakeholders to participate in an transparent, collaborative process. The goal? Eradicate RFIs and value engineering by enabling full team participation in the spec process.
Now I am on a mission to eliminate word processing and DOC and PDF files for specifications. It is possible. I am committed to showing the industry how.
Along the way I developed many friends that happen to be clients and manufacturer representatives. And now I am positioning Conspectus for the inevitable - transition to new ownership - so the business will continue for many years. I am grateful to Elias Saltz and Steve Gantner for showing interest and stepping into a management role.
They, and all Conspectus staff, will continue the story.
Enjoy some of our memories.....