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
This month, IDEAL is challenging competitors to draw an Electrical Power One-Line Diagram ...
EngWorks Inc. and the Alberta Electrical Alliance have announced a strategic partnership as of May ...
David Collie, ESA’s President & CEO, signs the new Leadership Accord, proudly committed to ...
Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) represents electrical and automation manufacturers, distributors ...
Demand for electric vehicles in Canada keeps increasing; 68% of Canadians will consider ...
ESA is warning on potential electrical hazards associated with the replacement of metallic water ...
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) has released its latest labour market information ...
The Ontario government is introducing new measures to help tradespeople get their certification ...
This ECAA Annual Training Day & AGM hybrid event will take place May 27th – May 29th. ...
Technical Safety BC has reviewed the 2021 Canadian Electrical Code (CE Code) to assess the impacts ...


 

ABB RoboticsABB Robotics is driving automation in the construction industry with new robotic automation solutions to address key challenges, including the need for more affordable and environmentally friendly housing and to reduce the environmental impact of construction, amidst a labor and skills shortage.

Robotic automation offers huge potential to enhance productivity, efficiency and manufacturing flexibility throughout the construction industry, including automating the fabrication of modular homes and building components off-site, robotic welding and material handling on building sites and robot 3D printing of houses and customized structures. 



Read More


 

Canadian Electrical Contractor Discussion Group: Can You Count the Deficiencies?

EIN CECD 400Have you ever been called to fix the work of a 'handyman'?

"Was supposedly done by a"certified ' electrician....told the homeowner that he got a $266 permit....no record at TSBC. Can you count the deficiencies?"

"There is a second panel change in the triplex also.......even more deficiencies. Think the guy was a glorified handyman. Ones not obvious: 240 BB heat hooked up 120....drier on 2p20....range on 2p50....water heater fed with 2c14 Bx on 2p15."

Go HERE to join the discussion

 


 

Smart GridHarnessing Canada’s immense clean energy resources requires transformational investments to modernize our electricity grid. The Government of Canada is investing in renewable energy and upgrading the electricity grid to make clean, affordable electricity options more accessible in communities across Canada.

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, today launched a $964-million program to support smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects that will lower emissions by investing in clean energy technologies, like wind, solar, storage, hydro, geothermal and tidal.

Read More

 


 



Trilliant Partners with the City of CowansvilleThe City of Cowansville in south-central Quebec is the largest city in the Brome-Missisquoi region, with more than 15,000 residents. Despite being a smaller-sized city, it is known as an economic and industrial hub.

It also has a strong focus on innovation and efficiency — as demonstrated by decisions such as the one it made in 2017 to use beet juice to help combat icy winter roads, allowing the City to reduce the amount of salt it was using, thereby saving money and decreasing the impact on the environment. 

 

 

Read More


 

Keith SonesBy Keith Sones

The writing was on the wall.  The closures would happen. But a lot of people were upset, and I was one of them. 

In the early 2000s, my family and I were living in a mainly rural (at least by city dweller standards) valley in south central British Columbia.  The West Kootenay region is known for its diverse outdoor recreation activities and as a great place to raise a family.  It has a proud industrial history, evidenced through the longstanding pulp mill, a massive lead zinc smelter a few miles away and several hydroelectric dams, all of it within spitting distance of the mighty Columbia River. 

Read More


 

Product News

  • Prev
6 functions in one pair of pliers. Multifunctional pliers for the electrical installation; to grip ...
With the ABB StarTeck® selector web app you can match cables with Teck fittings quickly and easily. ...
WPS Gen 4 wall pack series is a classic and familiar design integrated with modern LED technology ...
These new controllers offer indoor or outdoor ON/OFF, photocell, dimming, scene and color tuning ...
Eaton’s broad selection of Wi-Fi smart devices offer reliability with unbeatable ease of setup. ...
Albeo® ABV3 luminaires can be ordered with an integrated Daintree Wireless WHS20 sensor for a range ...
Lumenpulse has announced the release of two additional smaller sizes of the Lumenquad, a ...
Milwaukee’s 2-Layer Face Mask is designed to be lightweight and breathable. This MILWAUKEE® face ...
Wiha Insulated SoftFinish® Cushion Grip Pliers and Cutters are the standard for premium quality ...
Ideal for rough service applications, the A19 & PAR Series are engineered for high efficiency, ...

 

Lumenquad New VersionsLumenpulse has announced the release of two additional smaller sizes of the Lumenquad, a rectilinear projector for both outdoor and indoor environments. Developed for architectural applications such as lighting landscapes, highlighting details, pathways and monuments, the Lumenquad Small and Medium are compact, low-wattage, high-performance projectors, complementing the two existing products in the family.

The Lumenquad Small and Medium are the latest additions to a family of sleek, elegant, high-performance projectors that has already been validated with honours, including recognition in the PIA Awards in 2019, together with a Lux Awards for Exterior Luminaire of the Year in 2019. 

Read More


 

 

Wiha Lineman's Pliers and CrimpersWiha Insulated SoftFinish® Cushion Grip Pliers and Cutters are the standard for premium quality featuring ergonomic cushion grip handles for comfort and control, dual durometer construction for long-lasting durability, and handles directly molded to the tool steel for a permanent bond.

The grips feature a slip guard handle design for added protection at the front-end and raised rear-finger steps for easy opening at the back-end. Wiha Insulated SoftFinish® Cushion Grip Pliers and Cutters consist of premium quality tool steel for strength and durability and induction hardened cutting edges and jaws for superior sharpness and longevity. 

Read More


 

 

eLumigen Poultry Lamps - 2000K, 3000K & 5000KIdeal for rough service applications, the A19 & PAR Series are engineered for high efficiency, vibration resistance, shatter-resistance, elevated heat environments, and wet locations. These dimmable LED Lamps help reduce energy costs, labor costs, and the headaches of frequent lamp changes in tough applications.

eLumigen employs a unique 21-point validation process that goes above and beyond industry standards. Our lamps have been tested to survive levels of vibration exceeding 20G forces. Our unique temperature foldback design improves both safety and thermal management of our lamps. 

Read More


 

Peers & Profiles

  • Prev
From small construction to sophisticated industrial projects, House of Electrical Supplies has been ...
Kyle Manfredi is the owner of ARK Electrical alongside his wife, Shannon. Operating out of ...
Like most major events over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic put serious restrictions on the ...
This past December Jennifer Green was honoured with Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award for ...
“It was quite surprising,” said Stephanie Smith of being named EHRC’s Leader of the Year. ...
As an advanced networked lighting controls company serving the industrial and large commercial ...
Trilliant, an international provider of utility solutions for advanced metering and smart grid ...
For more than a century, ABB has been investing in Canadian technologies and products to support ...
Mackenzie Gillan, a bright young lady from Baysville, Ontario, tells us about how she learned ...
Energy Efficient Lighting is a LED lighting manufacturer with nearly 30 years of industry ...


House of Electrical SuppliesFrom small construction to sophisticated industrial projects, House of Electrical Supplies has been servicing clients in the industrial, OEM, entertainment, and construction markets across the Greater Toronto Area for just over 40 years. The company has earned a reputation for providing a high-quality customer experience.

As per President Austin Brennan, their experienced and knowledgeable team can be depended upon in any situation to deliver quick and efficient service. On top of their product solutions — ranging from electrical, automation, safety, lighting and portable power distribution — 

Read More


 

Copper $US Dollar price per pound

Kerrwil Publications Great Place to Work. Certified December 2019 - December 2020

538 Elizabeth Street, Midland,Ontario, Canada L4R2A3 +1 705 527 7666
©2021 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