Christopher Ronak is CEO of 4castplus.
Calgary’s Business: What is 4castplus and the story behind its founding?
Ronak: 4castplus is construction project cost management software designed to provide organizations with a centralized platform to run all their major projects and programs, including infrastructure, pipeline, construction, mining and oil and gas.
Users gain deep visibility, analytics and automation to achieve project certainty and success – replacing antiquated spreadsheet and paper. It’s a collaborative solution that integrates with other enterprise systems such as operational tools and finance.
4castplus was founded in 2008 when I was working with a tech company that sold project controls software to large and mega companies. During this time, I came across many mid-sized, project-driven organizations that were looking for project controls software, but they had a hard time finding a solution that fit their business needs. All solutions on the market were not only too expensive, they required a long and costly implementation process, and lacked an intuitive, easy-to-use interface.
In recognizing that clear gap in available software for that mid-size market, I pulled together a team to design and build 4castplus. After about two years of focused development, business planning, marketing plans and beta testers, 4castplus went to market in 2012, and has experienced steady growth since then.
CB: How has business been in the last couple of years with the economic downturn in Alberta?
Ronak: 4castplus has continued to grow and take on new clients despite the economic downturn in Alberta over the past few years. This is largely due to our ability to deliver solutions across the country, across the globe and into diverse market segments.
We have clients in industries such as mining, construction, infrastructure, oil and gas, and hospitality.
Globally, we have clients all over North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Middle East. Companies like Equinor (formally Statoil), Secure Energy, Sabina Gold & Silver Corp., DMC Mining, Garnier & Garnier (Costa Rica), DEME Group (Belgium),are just a few examples of global clients.
4castplus is also playing a critical role in the Crosstown Eglinton project in Toronto – the largest transit expansion in Canada.
Locally, we’ve recently seen an uptick in activity in the Alberta market as oil prices rise and the energy industry regains traction. Mostly that’s in the mid-sized contractor market (including pipeline contractors), but we’re also seizing opportunities with majors such as Enbridge.
CB: Who is your target client?
Ronak: At 4castplus, we primarily target mid-to-large-sized contractors in oil and gas, mining and construction. Most companies in that space are buried under a mass of spreadsheets that have emerged over time to manage the costs, activities and finances of their projects.
The majority of these organizations recognize that they need to change this, as using spreadsheets for project cost management on major projects is labour-intensive, error-prone, frustrating, and provides little visibility into real-time status of projects and programs.
We help these companies move forward to embrace technology as a clear way to improve their bottom line, reduce risk and compete aggressively.
CB: What are your plans for the company in the future?
Ronak: Our primary goal is to become a global leader in project cost management software solutions. To achieve this, we will continue to pursue the local and Canadian markets to gain the momentum and means to aggressively pursue global markets.
We’re continuing to bring on new clients both locally and globally through ongoing strategic planning for business growth, strategic marketing initiatives and social media campaigns. We are also growing our channel partner network in key geographies such as U.S., Europe and Australia.
At the same time as opening up new markets, we are innovating our product as we grow it to meet the expanding needs of construction-project-driven organizations. Some innovations include a mobile app, automation, enterprise system integration platform, and multi-organizational portal access.
CB: Do you see Calgary as becoming a tech hub in Canada? And if so why?
Ronak: There is unquestionably a lot of tech activity in Calgary and it certainly feels like it’s an emerging hub of tech. Once we achieve more tech diversity, we’ll be in a better position to be awarded that title, as the majority of tech I see locally is oil-and-gas related and primarily business-to-business service.
There’s a lot of local talent and a solid entrepreneurial spirit here that gives us the potential to be a great hub of technology. What Calgary needs to truly grow the tech sector, I believe, is a stronger investment community that’s eager to take risks on good ideas for both startups and established tech companies, along with investment in a wider range of sectors both commercial and consumer. Without the right investment, it’s challenging to compete globally.
– Mario Toneguzzi
Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.