Behind the Build: Interview with Matthew Keck, BIM Manager at Metromont 

Construction is filled with complex processes requiring the collaboration of multiple teams—including office, engineering, and trades. As such, communication is essential to the success of your projects; the lack thereof can lead to delays, errors, and increased costs. 

This is where Building Information Modeling (BIM) comes into play, and BIM managers are the ones tasked with connecting teams and improving coordination between them.  

As the BIM Manager for Metromont, Matthew Keck plays a vital role in the company's evolution, bringing the latest technology and innovation to the construction process. His journey from various trades in construction to become a BIM Manager has given him a unique perspective on the challenges faced by different teams in the industry. 

In this interview, we explore Matthew's journey, his role in improving collaboration between teams at Metromont, and the significance of BIM in the construction industry.

Let's dive in.

Tell me a little bit about Metroment and what you specialize in

Metromont specializes in producing precast concrete products designed, engineered, and produced here in Greenville, SC and surrounding areas. 

We are not a DOT company; we don't do bridges, we don't do highways. We do government buildings, warehouses, schools, and parking garages. If you ever go downtown and there's public parking, that's what we build. 

We're in a unique spot as a specialty contractor in that we not only provide the erection of those buildings, we actually design, engineer, and produce the precast products that go into those structures. We have about five plants that produce all our products used to construct data centers, government buildings, schools, parking decks, and warehouses. 

So think of your Lego blocks, which are made in the Lego factory. We put them together with instructions. That's basically what we do. We make our instructions, our Lego blocks, and some of our plants do their own in-house erection. Here in Greenville, we subcontract the erection, but we oversee it. So we have field PMs, and we're plugged in at every phase along the way. 

As for my specialty, I'm a BIM manager. My role is to manage what goes into it—the parts and pieces. We use Revit families to produce our assemblies and products. So it's my job to ensure those families all work how they should. Additionally, since we acquired Autodesk Build in December, My job is to enable that, or support the enablement of that, and of course, champion that cause. 

Walk us through your career and what led you to become BIM Manager

I began in construction in the early 2000s, predominantly in grading, dirt work with heavy equipment, and did that in both commercial and residential construction. I've worked in various trades in residential construction and then had a unique opportunity while working on a commercial project.

In 2009, we took a job that was supposed to take about nine months, and we ended up turning it into two years. It was right there during the downturn of the economy. I was doing grading originally but got brought on to help the site superintendent once the grading finished and went out of business. That's when the wheels started turning, I began to recognize the disconnects between field personnel, office personnel, and design teams.

I continued grading until 2015, then went to school for drafting and design, where I was introduced to Autodesk products and BIM. I had a knack for Revit because of my residential, architecture, and building background. So I picked that up and used it post-graduation. I applied it more in the residential space by doing house drawings and house plans, and learning the parametric modeling side for families. 

At that time, I was recruited by an Autodesk reseller, and I worked for them for almost three years. They tasked me with learning everything I could about BIM 360. 

There was BIM 360 Team, BIM 360 Docs, and more. So I learned all those pieces, and then, as NextGen BIM 360 Build rolled out, I learned all of that and the cost management piece.

Metromont was one of my customers when I was there with that company, and their CAD manager was retiring that year and I took the opportunity to replace them.I was able to bring all my experience here to push Metromont to the next evolution and help bring them into the modern cloud world we live in today. 

What is your proudest accomplishment in your career at Metromont? Why? 

We still have a lot of work to do, and I want to avoid getting into an area where I can get laid back.

That said, my time here has been full of great moments, particularly as you take what you believe in—in this case, the software—and apply it to a company's internal processes. Then you see people's lights come on. I think those are the defining moments. 

And then it all culminated last year in December when we pulled the trigger to subscribe to Autodesk Build at an enterprise level. We also added Autodesk Assemble which has become a huge compliment to our workflows. 

But so far in the evolution, that would be one of my proudest moments, albeit there is still work to be done.

As construction evolves, how do you see the role of BIM Manager changing? 

BIM Managers have evolved from the old-school CAD manager. We have taken the role of visionaries. Usually, the other BIM managers I see are all pretty driven; they love tech and do a good job bringing it to their teams. 

I think the core of BIM is data. I see the BIM manager knowing how to access and leverage the data that comes from the design models. They would know how to make direct applications with it and tie that data into other systems to leverage the information. That's where we're at right now.

BIM management today is absolutely full of opportunities for anyone who wants an exciting career that combines some of the coolest tech tools in design, engineering, technology, and construction. The BIM manager can become the kingpin that connects AEC company's processes.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role? How does technology help you overcome those challenges? 

The challenges that exist today are some of the same ones that we've faced since the beginning of time, and that's communication. You have that challenge of connecting project team members and stakeholders. The good thing is that technology can really close those gaps.

The other problem is training and adoption. You get a new system that has the potential to solve a lot of problems, but driving engagement can be met with a lot of resistance.

We're still in the age of transition from old processes and technology to new ways of doing things, from paper to paperless. 

Leading a team into new tech is a challenge; it may not do everything they want it to do (or they think it should do), so you have to show how the benefits of collaboration are bigger than some neat little feature. At the end of the day, people want to just come in to work, do their tasks, and go home.  

Why are you excited about implementing Autodesk Build over the next few months?

The ability to link an audit trail of issues, RFIs, and cost changes right to a PDF and a picture from a job site or back in the plant is really exciting.

And just seeing that all in one snapshot versus sifting through emails and Slacks trying to find all those bits and pieces. Having all that information right there, and then you show that to somebody, and their jaw just hits the floor, is incredible.

I've also watched field PMs and shop layout guys alike benefit from working in a more collaborative environment. They love to be able to open up the Revit model in the cloud viewer and get clarification for whatever they are doing. It's fulfilling to hand over new tools that are useful and watch people use them and eventually make them their go-to for project processes.

What made you want to partner with Autodesk on your projects?

This is a really good question and needs to be answered, not just for me but for any BIM guy who has seen the value of Autodesk. I get a lot of pushback from a few of the team members because of my affiliation with an Autodesk partner. Some think it's just because that's what I know, so that's what I want.  

The truth is, I've learned these solutions and seen how well they bring a team together into a singular environment for processes—including review, design, inspection, and collaboration. 

Sure, there are other solutions out there, and some even check a lot of boxes. But when you approach problems that exist in all companies—disparate solutions, document control, and issue resolution—having a solution like Autodesk, which has a well-developed platform and robust API, is powerful.

When you think about the future, what are your plans to advance innovation and productivity at Metromont? 

The plan would be to expand and build applications. There are several that we have on our list of what we need to have, as well as what we'd like to have. When all that's done, we'll create systems that leverage the Forge platform and model viewers. The possibilities are endless when it comes to what we could do with the system.

It's also worth noting that we're just getting started. There's so much opportunity to expand the usage of BIM in our processes, from scheduling our products to managing inventory and tracking production. I intend to bring innovation and outside-the-box thinking into every process, give everyone a single location for project documentation, and provide better solutions with more visibility within a common data environment. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of men and women entering and preparing for the future of the industry?

People coming into the industry must understand that this is very rewarding work, but it's not easy. 

My advice is to be ready to apply yourself. Know that there are opportunities at every turn. There is more here in this industry than any one person could ever learn in their entire lifetime. 

So, pick something that you enjoy and go in that direction. Never settle for good enough; always aspire to be better. There's plenty here to go around.

Kelsee Campbell

As a Senior Customer Advocacy Program Manager at Autodesk, Kelsee has the privilege of working with Autodesk customers to champion their stories on the Digital Builder Blog. Kelsee strives to create an engaging experience that amplifies customer perspectives, fostering a sense of community and connection.