John Michael Harvison, founder of AECDynamics, is a highway engineer by trade and inventor at heart.
"I've always had an entrepreneurial bend in me and been inventive," he said. "I'm more of an inventor than an entrepreneur but an entrepreneur is just an inventor of a business. I've been in highway engineering all my life. We use plotters a lot, which are just printers that are four feet wide. I spent many late nights waiting for the final pieces of my work to come off these plotters and it began to dawn on me as I stared at it at 3am that I could adapt them to produce beautiful works of art on a wall."
AECDynamics, in 2017, is building a prototype robot to automate construction.
"We're going to introduce a line of low-cost, mobile robots starting with the painting end of the market and work our way into harder and harder jobs to do. After we've developed the painting application, our next project will be an automated roofer to lay the paper, shingles and deck itself if required. It will be no more expensive than any other printer so that anyone can have the Last Supper painted on their wall if they wanted, or a 360-degree picture of their favorite vacation spot in their room. We are going in the direction of beautiful creations."
The productivity gains that have been realized in much of the modern economy through automation have not been so pervasive in construction. Harvison aims to change that.
"Most machines to date must be put in place first for them to do their job," he explained. "The machines I'm going to produce will be cheap, mobile and will put themselves into position. That’s the biggest differentiator between what we have and what the market has seen to date."
Harvison's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to seize the day.
"You're not going to find better time than today," he said. "You will certainly regret the things you do not do in life. You can't let anything stop you."