Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

 

May 19, 2017

SonesBy Keith Sones

Okay, I need to put something out there. It might make me seem shallow, shameless or otherwise morally deficient, but here goes anyway.

I like money.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about dreaming of swimming through endless seas of cash like a comic book scene from Scrooge McDuck (for anyone under 30, that’s Donald Duck’s uncle). Nor is my stated love for dollars the main driver in my life, kicking aside family and hikes through the mountains in the tireless pursuit of a bigger bank account. In fact, I should probably restate the whole thing, more in line with what my Scottish grandmother would have said. What I really mean is, I don’t like wasting money.

A few years ago my wife and I decided to do some renovations on our 25-year -old house. We didn’t have anything too exotic in mind — update the kitchen, splash on some paint and add a deck out back to cover up the rain beaten concrete patio. For a bit more insight, we lived in Squamish, British Columbia at the time. Squamish gets a lot of rain, and much of it comes down hard. The concrete had fought a valiant battle with the constant downpours, but ultimately lost the fight. It gave me a good understanding of how water carved out the Grand Canyon.

We opted to start on the deck. After calling a few local contractors, we chose one that specialized in classic west coast carpentry. We settled on a price and, after a few weeks, our back yard had been transformed. Kevin, the contractor, had done a really good job, so we figured that he and his partner would be a good team to tackle some of the other renos we had in mind.

It was now October and life caught up with us. Work, kids in school, weekend coaching responsibilities, and an increasing desire to hibernate as the days shortened and the Squamish monsoons arrived left us thinking of anything but renovations. It just sounded like too much work, even though we weren’t actually doing any of it.

By the time February rolled around, the subject of the kitchen came up again. After some considerations (and friendly “debates” with my wife, who it turns out is quite a bit smarter than me) about appliances, flooring and the like, it was time to call up Kevin. He happily came by the house one evening to discuss the plans.

I say “happily” because his work circumstances had changed dramatically since he completed our deck. His order book was pretty full in the previous late summer and autumn, so he was able to schedule and price projects in line with the hot market that it had been. In the depths of winter, it turns out that other homeowners had the same feelings of malaise that we had felt, which had turned off the project tap. Kevin’s backlog was pretty thin. Being a very nice (and honest) guy, he leaned across our aging kitchen counter and came clean.

“I’m happy to take on your kitchen job. Things are really slow right now,” he told me. “In fact, you and your wife treated us well on the deck job, and we need the work, so I’m willing to cut our rates and get it done right away.” He then said something that has stuck with me for a long time. “We’ll do all of the work ourselves” (fortunately an electrician and plumber were part of his team). “It will keep the cost down and we can control the schedule.”

Now, his statement wasn’t exactly the Sermon from the Mount, or even a decent political stump speech. Most people wouldn’t remember what amounted to a fairly basic, albeit nice to hear, discussion between a local carpenter and a homeowner client about keeping costs down. Pretty unmemorable really. A forgettable moment.

But I’m a contractor myself. So I wanted to see if he would perform as promised. For me, it was about three things. Would I get the nasty surprise later, when he might tell me, “We’ve had some extra costs that we didn’t expect.” Or would he perform as advertised? So it was an exercise in trust. Second, I wanted a new kitchen. And third, it catered nicely to my somewhat frugal nature. Hey, I’m not cheap. I just like a good deal.

The next couple of weeks saw the kitchen stripped down to the studs, flooring ripped up, plumbing rerouted and finally, a brand new kitchen. Cool! It featured the first new appliances I’d ever had, and I have to admit I was like a little kid. “Hey honey, the fridge has a cold water tap in it!”

What didn’t happen was arguably even more impressive. No big extra bill. No delayed schedule. Just great service at a very good price.

So when I had a chance, I asked my contractor friend (yes, when you’re cooking on a temporary stove in your bathrobe and the contractor is framing the ceiling above your head at 8:00 at night, you either want to kill each other or you become friends) the uncomfortable question. “You gave me a heckuva price. Did you make any money?”

He admitted that the price was tight but yes, he and his crew did make a few bucks along the way. “We did all of the work ourselves with no sub-trades. It allowed us to schedule things as we needed and we didn’t have any other prices to mark up. I told the guys that they had a certain number of hours to get it all done. So they did. All of us were motivated to get the job done as quickly and professionally as possible. If I had one guy on the job that knew he was just getting paid by the hour, the whole thing would have gotten out of control.”


Okay, that made sense to me. I had watched them work on occasion and the crew definitely wasn’t slacking. No long breaks, no time wasted with idle chatter, just work. Then, given I’m in a similar line of work, I had to ask myself, would the same kind of cost and time savings apply to a much larger project? Something where the costs are measured in millions (or billions) of dollars?

It turns out that the answer is yes. I tested the waters with a few of our own projects and also asked a number of people who work in the same electrical industry as you and I. The secret is not in finding the best people, or even grinding the contractor down to get best price. It’s somewhat simpler than that. The answer lies in what I also learned as a sports coach and parent. It’s motivation that will bring the results.

Now, before you run out the door to buy some colourful pompoms and leap into your next management meeting with a rousing rendition of your favourite college cheer, I have some advice for you. Don’t do that. If you do, you will miss the opportunity just as much as you would have missed the point. Motivation is much stronger when you set up a project to be contractually motivating.

Whenever possible, you need to set up your contracts so that they motivate everyone on the project to deliver the final product as quickly and at as low a cost as possible. The nuance here is the term “everyone.” If you pay one person by the hour, he/she will be motivated to sell you hours, not final product.

If you contract someone to perform a certain scope, but they are reliant on someone else (who is selling you hours) to do their thing first, expect the schedule to be longer than you wanted. In other words, all of us are motivated by the contracts we sign and the methods by which we get paid. Set this up well and you will be on your way to project success. And it’s not chump change you can save. Industry estimates point to savings at the owner’s level of 10-30%. That’s real money, especially when the budget is in the millions of dollars, or more.

I recently gave a presentation on this topic and it’s amazing how quickly people understand the concept. It’s one of those “that’s so simple, why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. Like the wheel, or inside running water. Or the Clapper.
All of us in the industry like to say we are in the people business, and I agree wholeheartedly. It’s just as true that we are in the motivation business. Not the “you can do anything” Richard Simmons motivational video kind of business, but the kind that comes from inside our own minds. How do I make money? How do I please the boss? How can we get more business?

It turns out the answers are right in front of us. Cut costs, reduce schedule, increase quality. Life changing things. Just ask yourself, “Do my contracts motivate people to do these things? Or am I actually motivating them to do the opposite?” Check the terms of your contracts and you’ll find out pretty quickly.

I always thought, “Wow, if I could do all of that, I’d be rich.”

And then my kids went to college. Oh well, someday.

Keith Sones is Vice President, National Business Development, The Valard Group of Companies.

 

Changing Scene

  • Prev
  Schneider Electric has committed to sourcing 100 per cent renewable electricity and ...
  Smart lighting start-up Gooee, the ‘data brain’ for building activity, has ...
John Sencich will be retiring on February 23, 2018. John has been an esteemed member of Thomas ...
  Prysmian Group and General Cable Corporation have announced that they have entered into a ...
ABB and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) have announced a strategic global partnership that ...
  IMARK Canada has announced that Jim Taggart has been appointed as company ...
  After 31 years of service with Rexel Canada, Rachelle Caron, General Manager, Westburne ...
  With a growing demand for non-polluting, energy efficient vehicles, ElectraMeccanica ...
  Mark Lloyd and the Board of Directors of the Electrical Contractors Association of ...

 

EFCElectro‐Federation Canada (EFC) and Cámara Nacional de Manufacturas Eléctricas (CANAME) of Mexico, have submitted joint recommendations to their respective governments to safeguard future trade in North America.

The recommendations call on the strong need for governments to retain, modernize and improve the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in order to increase market access, reduce business costs and improve global competitiveness.

Read more: EFC NAFTA Recommendations...

 

Codes and Regulations Brought to You by the CSA Group

  • Prev
In this article: Section 58 — Passenger Ropeways and Similar Equipment. Rule 58-000 ...
  Unauthorized CSA Group certification marks have been found on wiring by Triumph Cable ...
In this article: Section 52 — Diagnostic imaging installations. The CE code is a ...
In this article: Section 46 — Emergency Power Supply, Unit Equipment, Exit Signs, and ...
  In this article: Section 44 — Theatre Installations. The CE Code is a ...
CSA has published C22.2 No. 60947-7-3, the harmonized standard for low-voltage switchgear and ...
  Electric welders. The CE Code is a comprehensive document. Sometimes it can seem ...
  In this article: Section 40 — Electric cranes and hoists. The CE Code is a ...

CSA

Now in its 24th edition, the 2018 Canadian Electrical Code, Part I includes a number of significant updates and changes to better help electrical workers in the safe maintenance of electrical equipment and create safer electrical installations.

This edition features important revisions to many sections. For example, Section 26 now mandates the use of tamper-resistant receptacles in additional areas where children may be present. Section 62 now requires ground fault circuit interrupter protection for heating devices and controls in proximity to tubs, sinks, and shower stalls. Section 10 has been updated, reorganized, and significantly reduced in length.

 Read more...

 



Tools for the Trade

  • Prev
  IDEAL Industries has introduced Combination Drill Taps to its tool lineup. Combining the ...
  Stripping and crimping device, 100 - 240 V input voltage, for insulated ferrules with a ...
Professional all-in-one cutter/stripper for coaxial and twisted pair cables     ...
  Klein Tools' Coax Explorrer 2 tests coaxial cable and maps up to 4 locations   ...
  Ideal Industries' T-14 wire stripper s are ideal for all professionals working within the ...
  The ATS850 conveyor eliminates all types of electro static discharge requirements. ...
  Lorik Tool & Automation has the experience and ability to manufacture a variety of ...
  Ideal Industries' 26 piece insulated Journeyman kit is ideal for new electricians or for ...
  Klein Tools Deluxe Fish Rod Set comes in 19 pieces that when assembled can fish wire and ...
  BendWorks Software was designed to help electrical contractors adopt this new process ...

Product News

  • Prev
  Standard has introducts a new easy way to retrofit your existing recessed lights. ...
  Standard's LED Flood Light series includes a robust die-cast aluminum housing with a ...
  Tokistar Exhibitor Series is a wet-location festoon lighting system widely used in ...
  HomeWorks QS, designed for exclusive homes, seamlessly integrates the control of electric ...
  Eiko's LED Advantage Filament 4.5W is a great addition to any home or business. It ...
  Lighting systems from Philips help people feel comfortable, productive, and safe. They ...
  The WaveLinx Wireless Area Controller coordinates between the WaveLinx smart and ...
  The Luminaire Controller is a primary component of the Audacy Wireless ...
  SiteSync Lighting Control delivers flexible control strategies for reducing power ...
  The LCS 2-X-2 is a computerized lighting control systems utilizing microprocessor ...

 

Peers & Profiles

  • Prev
  Automation companies are drivers of innovation, and have penetrated near every industry ...
Total Electrical Solutions was founded in 2013 by Jeremy Herrington in Quispamsis, on the outskirts ...
Andrew MacLeod is a territory sales manager with Leviton Manufacturing of Canada in British ...
  Floyd Lau founded Amptek Technologies in 2002 as an end to end engineering design ...
Mike Marsh, President and CEO of SaskPower, has been a leading figure in Saskatchewan’s ...
Gordon MacDonald is a cheerful, driven individual who loves to be challenged, a trait that suits ...
  Most of us have a difficult enough time managing one job and a home life. However, some ...
  Since 2012 Barnstormer has advanced the abilities of their brewery with the installation ...
  Electrical Industry Canada was recently given the unique opportunity to see ...
  Vickery Electric has been providing electrical services to the Whitby area since 1923, ...

Copper $US Dollar price per pound

Prepping Your VehicleIf you use your own car or truck as a work vehicle — and routinely drive it to construction sites — it's important to treat it like any other piece of work-related equipment.

That's why many contractors as well as their employees make sure their vehicles are properly maintained and prepared to be on any job site. With this in mind, check out the following tips that will help keep your car in good shape on any and all job sites.

Read more: Prepping Your Vehicle ...

 

 

 

 

Kerrwil Publications

538 Elizabeth Street, Midland,Ontario, Canada L4R2A3 +1 705 527 7666
2016 All rights reserved

Use of this Site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy Policy (effective 1.1.2016)
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Kerrwil