construction industry is not known for its use of cutting-edge
information technology. Most builders are more
interested in bricks and mortar than bytes and
modems. Springtown Homes is an exception.
and Dave Di Pede are two home-building brothers that embrace
the latest technology. They take it on the road in 12-hour
jobs that involve endless visits to construction sites,
meetings with subcontractors and suppliers, conferences
with lawyers, and communications from buyers
two men are vice-presidents of Spring Town Homes, a small
family business in Mississauga started by their father,
Mario, when he emigrated from Italy and became
a bricklayer in 1953. Today, they construct 250 to 300 homes
a year, mostly in nearby Brampton and Woodbridge,
as well as owning and managing 24 industrial and commercial
buildings in the Mississauga area.
ideal portable office for them includes devices that are
small enough to carry and that have one or two critical
functions refined over generations of products
and learned over years of testing and use.
brothers' array of technology is virtually identical, although
their jobs are quite a bit different.
than laptop computers, which they have tried, they have
invested in Windows CE products that are smaller and suit
their business. They use them strictly for reference units
for spreadsheets and looking up files, as opposed to writing
letters or reports.
communications devices are particularly important for the
brothers, who stay in touch all day "almost instantaneously,"
of the most critical gadgets for this is the new RIM Interactive
Pager from Cantel, which they bought in December. It can
receive, send and forward not only numeric and alpha numeric
pages, but also E-mail, faxes and voice mail.
two have raised the issue of getting organized to a science,
working their way through at least eight electronic organizers
and PDAs in the past decade to settle on the REX Pro5 by
Franklin. It's the size of a PCMCIA computer card because
it is one, fitting into a computer to be updated using Microsoft
Outlook and then operating on its own to provide a
calendar, telephone book and to-do list.
men stay on top of the latest gadgets through magazines,
including Mobile Computing, Handheld PC Magazine, PC Laptop
Magazine and P3, a British publication that features strictly
gadgets. And they are not shy about ordering upgrades,
especially buying gadgets from U.S. mail-order catalogues
because of the lag time in the devices coming to Canada.
the brothers are doubling up for now on gadgets that perform
similar functions because each product has its own
two are careful to back up the information on each device.
Tony synchronizes his gadgets daily with his desktop PC,
does a daily tape backup of the office computer
network and, for safe measure, prints everything in the
system every four months. "I don't trust
agree that the most important gadgets in their arsenal are
their cellular telephones, which are improved by features
such as Cantel's "No Answer Transfer"
that acts as a forwarding service so they can be found anywhere.
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