2021 Groundbreaker of the Year
Procore set out to find the companies, projects and individuals that stood out for their bold achievements in construction. Among the 24 outstanding finalists selected, eight were named winners of the 2021 Groundbreaker Awards. This article is the fourth in an eight-part series spotlighting each winner.
Throughout her 20-year construction career, Tiffanie Artigas has been repeatedly recognized for her tireless dedication to building a better working world in the industry.
Artigas is Verdex Construction’s Manager of Construction Technology. Since starting at the company five years ago, she has twice received the “Build Something Better” award, Verdex’s internal MVP award given to outstanding team members. She also took home the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter’s Excellence in Construction award for high quality, a joint award for the entire Verdex team who worked on the company’s Central Gardens Grand Apartments project.
Now, Artigas will have to find room in her trophy case for her latest plaudit: Procore’s 2021 Groundbreaker of the Year.
A Passion for Teaching
Although her role has evolved to focus on construction technology, Artigas has had a passion for building since childhood. While many of her friends were playing with dolls, Artigas was erecting structures with blocks, building forts, or even helping her father build a deck on their home, power tools and all.
“I was always building something or improving on the way something worked. I was my dad’s only child for eight years and I was his buddy. He never treated me like a delicate little girl who wasn’t capable. He believed that I could do anything so I believed that too. He was my idol so I was interested in what he was interested in so I was his ‘boy,’” she said, laughing. “Lincoln Logs and LEGO blocks, not Barbie dolls.”
“I was always building something or improving on the way something worked. I was my dad’s only child for eight years and I was his buddy. He never treated me like a delicate little girl who wasn’t capable…Lincoln Logs and LEGO blocks, not Barbie dolls.”
Artigas has had a natural gift for technology from a young age and has frequently been a go-to tech support guru for less tech-savvy friends and colleagues. Her knack for explaining complex technical processes and technologies became intertwined with her career in construction, where she is now Verdex Construction’s designated Procore champion.
In her role, she not only provides essential support for training and onboarding new hires, she wrote Verdex’s SOPs for using Procore. It has become the foundation for the next project she spearheaded: the company’s Procore training center, a comprehensive training resource for all employees, which she built in just seven months.
“It’s got tutorials, it’s got training videos, and it’s customized for Verdex. It’s one-stop shopping for everything,” she said.
The training center has been instrumental in getting buy-in from 100% of Verdex employees when it comes to using Procore and a whopping 85% of owners and subcontractors.
“Even the less tech-savvy users who are one-fingering the keyboard know what to do. I train them on their specific tools that they need to do their jobs. They don’t need to be Procore experts; they need to be Punch experts, RFI experts, Drawing experts…etc,” Artigas said.
“Tell people just what they need to know to do their job and show them what the payoff is, which is an extraordinary amount of time saved, and they buy in. When it comes to the finance people, once you tell them you can guarantee their pay applications are 100% accurate, they don’t ask more questions except when they can start submitting invoices through Procore.”
“The Verdex Way”
Artigas’ training center ensures all new hires learn “The Verdex Way,” which, she explains, means to “act with integrity with all things you’re doing, give your all, do your best, and always work exceptionally.”
She solidifies this ethos and supplements her training center resources by hosting monthly workshops to keep team members engaged and continuously learning ways to be more efficient. Each session is recorded and uploaded to the training center for on-demand viewing for those who miss the session or want to brush up on something it covered.
Her innate instinct for effective training helps even the least tech-savvy employees understand how they can use Procore to make their lives easier. It’s one reason why her colleagues describe her as “everyone’s greatest ally.”
“People are more willing to accept programs and learn new tools when they see how much it helps others. She makes anything complicated more efficient, giving everyone the greatest gift: time,” said Lisa King, Verdex’s VP of Business Development.
As for Artigas’ advice for other would-be Procore training wizards, she says seeing is believing.
“You don’t have to be tech savvy to use it. You just have to make sure you present everything in bite-size chunks and pieces and provide targeted support and training. Show them how it’s going to save them time. Normally, when daily logs are filled out on paper, the sub has a blank form they need to make photocopies to fill it out, scan it, submit it, and it’s like, ‘this is ridiculous; let me show you.’ Literally, 25 seconds later, your daily report is done. The proof is in the pudding.”
As if building, maintaining, and overseeing Verdex Construction’s Procore training center wasn’t enough, Artigas is also generous with her time after hours. She has developed a five-week virtual course in partnership with the Palm Beach County School District. It offers Procore training to small and minority-owned businesses doing work with the district.
The hands-on sessions are held for two hours, and she even enlisted the help of other Procore champions at Verdex to help run the classes.
“It wasn’t just, ‘OK, you’re going to listen to me drone on and on for two hours. This is going to be hands on.’ I set myself up a Procore subcontractor profile and did all my demoing in that profile so they could see what it would look like on theirs. I would pre set-up tasks for them to do for that training,” explained Artigas.
“Last week was Financials, so I set up 50 commitments and 50 change orders, and then during the training, they set up their SSOVs, created their first invoices, and submitted it to me. It was interactive, and I think that’s what people really love about the class,” she added.
Navigating the Boys’ Club as a Woman
“Do your own thing, and don’t let others talk you out of what you’re doing and what makes you happy. Even if you don’t feel brave, just act brave. Hold your breath and keep going…odds are you’re probably smarter than them anyway.
As a woman whose career lands squarely in the middle of the notoriously male-dominated technology and construction fields, Artigas has had to fight many uphill battles against the old-fashioned way of thinking that permeates much of the older male segment of the industry, even to this day.
“It happens constantly. Some men can’t get it through their heads that a woman can be a PM, that a woman can be in charge,” she said.
Starting her construction career as a fresh-faced college graduate, Artigas said she was surrounded by experienced older women who needed to be “as tough as bulldogs” to gain credibility among their male counterparts. Over the decades that followed, Artigas has been able to take a different approach.
“Now, I don’t have to be a bulldog or a raging lunatic to get men to listen to me. I’m going to command the respect I deserve, and you’re going to do what I tell you to do because I’m in charge,” she said.
As for her advice to other women in similar positions, it is characteristically straightforward.
“Be brave, and don’t be intimidated by a man who’s telling you how to do something or telling you that you can’t do it,” advises Artigas.
“Do your own thing, and don’t let others talk you out of what you’re doing and what makes you happy. Even if you don’t feel brave, just act brave. Hold your breath and keep going. Try not to think about them; odds are you’re probably smarter than them anyway.”