Anatomy of a Job Done Right

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.

Truck Mounted manure Spreader

A Manure Spreader

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).

Customers sign lighted for the first time

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.

Dock lights on at dusk

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.

The pedestals used on this project

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.

The trencher in service

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.


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

2 Responses to Anatomy of a Job Done Right

  1. loopyloo305 says:

    It is a good feeling when you accomplish what you want to and make the people you are trying to help happy! My husband does this quite often with people that want small jobs done, in carpentry, he will even work by the hour or do part of it and come back later and do the rest. Which is probably why he has not been out of a job in over thirty years!


  2. Exactly Loopyloo, when you can really satisfy something a customer wants, you end up with not only a satisfied customer but: a friend and supporter, too. Part of the reason I posted this is because, like everyone, I tend to think about the problem customers, one has to, of course, but one must remember the ones that go right also.

    Being flexible helps in so many ways, that one of the reasons we don’t want to get very big, the required bureaucracy would ruin that. There is my lesson in business (and government) theory for the day.


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