Anatomy of a Job Done Right
November 25, 2011 2 Comments
We just finished up a job for a local Ag equipment dealer. As usual it had its challenges and problems but, it was instructive how when we were all working to a common goal, problems become molehills and things happen.
They talked to us about 4 weeks ago about putting some outlets along their fence, getting electricity to their sign and putting some lighting on their loading dock. OK, fine.
They sell manure spreaders and cattle feeders. If you’re not from our area, a current manure spreader is a 60,000 GVW truck (the size of a semi) on the interstate and throws manure about a hundred feet. The tractor towed units are of similar size, BIG.
The other thing is it can be very difficult to start diesel engines in the cold; nearly all of them have block heaters for that reason. Most of these take the same power as the space heaters you can buy your favorite retailer (1500W or a 20 Amp circuit just like your bathroom).
What our design here entailed was 5 stations where you could plug-in two vehicles each, another circuit to the sign and two more circuits at the dock, with the lights on one of them and a subpanel in the office.
The major sticking point on this project (we were the 3d contractor, about, to look at it) has been their corporate policy. A contract above a certain amount has to go thru their (and our non-existent) legal department, with 60 page contracts and miscellaneous horses**t.
The other contractors had all come in about $1000 over this limit, as did we. They told us about the problem and the limit and we worked together on it.
First they offered to supply the lights and pole for the dock, and I found a good used breaker box for it, that knocked about $600 off the price. Then I found a small manufacturer in Wisconsin that makes pedestals. These are what we use now instead of mounting boxes on fence posts and such. They cost somewhat more but install in about 20 minutes instead of 2.5 hours. These were about half the price I could find any other brand for and custom configured to boot.
We still needed a little to make their requirement so my partner and I agreed we’d personally do most of the work and just eat it. And they helped with material acquisition cash flow.
We’ve got just a few details (covers and such) to finish this morning, we made some money and they’re thrilled that after three years of trying they’ve got it done. It looks really good, too.
We had a few delays along the way to nobodies surprise. The pedestals were a few days late, the brand new trencher we rented blew a hydraulic hose (defective hose end) in the middle of the job, and such.
About that trencher, it’s a lower cost brand I’ve never heard of, it’s one of those you walk behind, but with a 4 foot boom and track drive and steerable, which most walk behind units aren’t. It was perfect for this job and is now on my acquisition list (not near the top but it’s on there). Now if they would put some kind of backfill blade on these. It didn’t matter here (and rarely in Ag work, most of our clients have tractors and blades), but you can have a ridiculous amount of shoveling; backfilling even a couple of hundred feet of trench.
This has been one of those jobs where because everyone was working to a common goal, it came together. If the customer had been hard to work with it would have cost him a couple of thousand dollars more, or never have gotten done. They’ve become friends and supporters too, which is even better.
I wish they all went this way.
- How do you fertilize with cow manure (wiki.answers.com)