Diverse by Design
Omega Building Company’s new niche: providing real-time construction product and employee safety monitoring
Brian Gaudiano describes himself as resourceful and agile, with an entrepreneurial spirit. A 22-year veteran of the construction industry, he capitalized on those traits in 2019 as he ventured out on his own to launch Omega Building Company (Omega).
Gaudiano, Omega’s President and CEO, was working as vice president for another construction company when he got the itch to move in a new direction. “I wanted to do things my own way. I’m a very strong Christian and, putting my faith in God, set out with no work. One week after I resigned, my phone started ringing from people I didn’t know and had never heard of, asking Omega to bid on jobs. And the phone hasn’t stopped since. I attribute that to God’s work in my life.”
A Leap of Faith and Bumps in the Road
Gaudiano was confident that, in addition to his faith, he had what it takes to be successful. He says, “Of course there was the fear of stepping into the unknown, but I knew I had the skill and ability. While I started from nothing, generating business wasn’t difficult because of relationships forged throughout my career.”
However, the timing proved to be tricky with the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020. “It was a crazy ride, with construction sites shut down, but it gave me time to lay the company’s groundwork—writing the employee handbook, developing company policies and designing a website. Then, when the country began to open back up, the floodgates opened,” he says.
Omega’s team has designed, built and renovated more than 5 million square feet of commercial and industrial space in the Pittsburgh area. While much of the current work includes multifamily housing developments, retail spaces, self-storage facilities and office space renovations, the Omega team’s breadth of experience also includes car dealerships, restaurants, hotels and industrial spaces.
Gaudiano says, “We are diverse by design so we can weather economic storms.”
A Turn in Another Direction
In January 2021, a friend in the Information Technology field led Gaudiano to the idea of a sister company. His friend introduced him to Finnish company eGate, which specializes in IoT (“internet of things”) or systems of internet-connected objects that collect and transfer data over a wireless network. The company has a mission to help the construction industry build better and safer buildings around the world through wireless monitoring devices and real-time cloud analytics. eGate launched a product line of remote sensor products in Europe five years prior and was searching for a U.S. distributor. An hourlong Zoom call later, Gaudiano was hooked.
The eGate sensor products can measure concrete temperature, moisture levels, dust, carbon dioxide and differential pressure between spaces, among other things. “There are already a lot of products that do that,” Gaudiano says. “Then he tells me eGate can monitor all of these things in real time through a mobile app and provide instant notifications if something goes out of parameter. No company in the United States was doing that effectively, and I wanted to be involved.”
The Omega team was ultimately chosen as eGate’s U.S. distribution partner, and sister company site bioTics was born with Ricky Wilson at the helm. Gaudiano says, “I knew I wanted Ricky to run site bioTics if they chose us. I approached him about taking this on, and he told me he already had ideas about the remote sensoring space—it was a perfect fit. It just reaffirmed my belief that nothing is a coincidence and everything is by design.”
A Smart Safety Program
In addition to remote sensoring tools, site bioTics offers paint products manufactured by Smog Armor that provide air filtration, carbon reduction and antimicrobial properties designed to reduce impurities in the air. The company is the only distributor for Smog Armor that offers installed services for its paint products.
Another product line is smart labels, powered by Nastro Technologies, which Gaudiano describes as more robust than QR codes with the ability to house unlimited amounts of data. In the construction industry, these can be used for safety and maintenance manuals and construction blueprints and drawings—a solution, he says, for easily and conveniently storing this information on job sites. For instance, when a mechanical contractor arrives to service an AC unit, he or she can simply scan the smart label with a phone and instantly pull up the equipment manual and previous maintenance log in order to quickly and efficiently troubleshoot a problem.
Using smart labels, site bioTics has developed a Safety Data Sheets (SDS) program for contractors as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Gaudiano says, “We can put labels on every product at a facility or job site that contains all of that product’s safety data and explains steps to take in the event of a spill or accident. When OSHA shows up, instructions can be accessed quickly and easily.” This can be particularly useful in, for example, a nursing home setting, where Gaudiano says fines for SDS violations are common.
A “predictive safety” component of the program allows users to input projects and tasks into a job safety analysis app to generate safety risk scores. The app instructs users how to mitigate risk with details tailored to a specific business, built from algorithms that learn how a particular company works.
In partnership with a local Pittsburgh software company, site bioTics will also offer a wellness program based on wearable technology that uses a sensor worn on an individual’s collar while at work. The sensor measures body metrics, such as posture and gait, and can help determine whether an injury occurred inside or outside of the work environment. “This helps tell employers where an accident happened and if it is, in fact, a workers’ compensation issue,” Gaudiano says. “There is simply nothing like it in the industry.”
Positioned for Launch
Gaudiano and Wilson explain that site bioTics will serve as the exclusive U.S. distributor for eGate products and offer installation services. Sensor products are expected to launch this fall upon approval by the Federal Communications Commission.
The Smog Armor paint products have been in the U.S. market for approximately two years. The safety and wellness program tools are expected to be available by the time of this article’s publication.
Wilson says, “Our goal is to create healthier, safer job sites and buildings, which is literally what ‘site bioTics’ means and how we came up with the name. We are creating environments that can be monitored for healthier, safer living.”
Building a Better World
Gaudiano describes site bioTics as a fully separate entity from Omega, but emphasizes that his team’s construction experience makes it well suited for the delivery of its IoT product offerings. “Construction experience is key to knowing what is needed in the field,” he says. “But our company is special because we are forward thinkers who live outside of the box. We don’t believe in being told we can’t do something or that there is no chance for success. Our ingenuity is one of our greatest assets as it affords us creative ways to get things done.”
He adds that his company is customer-centric. “If someone comes to us with something that needs to be monitored, we’ll figure it out,” he says. “We respond quickly and give the utmost attention to our customers. Our culture is centered around the customer, and relationships are the most important thing we cultivate and build.”
The Omega/site bioTics culture is also rooted in community service. Omega supports several initiatives for children’s education, hunger prevention and health and safety, including contributions to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides a free book to children each month for their first five years. In the future, he sees an altruistic role for site bioTics as well, with plans to donate healthier paints, with fewer carbon emissions, for homeless shelters and the painting of city murals.
Gaudiano says, “I want to look back and say we made the world a better place. If we can build a program that prevents workplace injuries or improves someone’s quality of life, then we know we’ve had a positive impact.”