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Not Such A Bad Deal

I totally disagree with Frank Blau's opinions of subcontracting for the "big box" companies ("The UA's Missed Opportunity," June 2002). A small start-up company, which is how most of us in this industry start, would jump at the chance for the opportunity for this type of deal. In fact, this contract from one particular company has even caused various lawsuits. We managed to start a service department with this contract. It has been extremely helpful because we have managed to build our own personal customer base. Also, if you have an efficient service man who can get in and out, you will make money. My other opinion is in reference to Frank's comment, "In fact, I'm still waiting for someone who can show me how he's making money with a labor rate of $55 to $65 an hour." Well, we are. In fact, our service department is making well over half of the company profits. With the number of companies in this area, if you charge a hourly rate of $70 or more, you're going to get laughed at and hung up on. You have to stay competitive if you want to make money. I'm sure you know that.

Terry J. Barnes Jr.
Jenkins Plumbing and Heating
Falling Waters, W.Vir.

No Reason To Hide

Frank Blau is concerned about home centers' supplying materials ("The Impact Of Material Sales," August 2002).Why? The reason I feel guys like Blau hate materials supplied by others is simple - there is no place to "hide" the hourly rate that we charge and thus this puts a damper on their selling pricing programs.

As an independent person not pushing pricing programs, I can look at the great positive side of this. Here we have a great big box corporation willing to hold our stock pile and this way who ever works for the home centers can drive up like a gentleman to the job site with a fancy car and some hand tools. No more outlay of money for dead stock, our overhead drops like a lead balloon. No more big trucks to carry materials as the home center will drop all your parts as required. And if something is damaged, it's not my problem.

I knew all along those flat rate books were trying to hide "hourly rates." Now as a professional contractor I do "contract work" and I do repair on T&M and my hourly rate on both is about the same.

I could careless who supplies materials as I am not in the supply or hardware business. I make my money on my knowledge and skills.

Sylvan Tieger
S. Tieger Plumbing Co Inc.
Bronx, N.Y.

Why The Extra $10?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but somehow it doesn't make sense for the producers of the upcoming ISH show to charge $10 per person for people to enter the Exhibit Hall. I have been trying for over a month to preregister myself and my employees for the exhibit, but everything that I see is asking for $10.00 per person for an entry fee.

I will be spending $1,000-$2,000 so that I and my employees can attend the exhibit since I feel that it is a great educational opportunity. I pay for hotel rooms for the weekend as well as the day off, if they attend the show. Our business is closed for the day we attend (Friday). It gives all of us a day off, a weekend out of town and a chance to keep in touch with the industry.

I know that each of the exhibitors pay big bucks to present their messages to the attendees and the show can only be worthwhile if there are masses of people attending. Obviously in the greater scheme of things the $10 will not break anyone, but it is insulting when both the attendees and the exhibitors are already spending plenty to take part in the event.

At the last show in Toronto there were plumbers with their wives and kids, some in strollers. One of the reps told me that they didn't care if the wives and kids came along as long as the contractors were able to attend. Is ISH going to charge $10 for the kiddies or will they only be $5? What happened to trying to get the youngsters exposed to the trades to perhaps pique some interest an older kid may have?

Many times we have been sent free passes by suppliers, or manufacturers to encourage attendance. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I have never had to pay to attend any trade show. Why should I? I am there as a potential customer who has been willing to spend a few bucks and a lot of time to attend so that the exhibitor ( who has spent a lot more) will have the possibility of selling me something. That works for me and apparently for the exhibitor as well.

Joel L. Katz
Al's Plumbing & Heating Co.

Right On The Money

Al Levi's column really caught my attention ("Problems Become Opportunities" (Al Levi, July 2002). The key principles mentioned hit very close to home.

Our company has had to totally restructure internally in the past year. This has turned out to be one of the best events that has ever happened. We now have a sincere desire to create and adhere to sound business practices while giving much thought and preparation to the long haul.

Keep up the good work. I'm sure I'm not the only one listening.

John Abel
Air Works
Springdale, Ark.


In the August Pipe Trades Giants listing, John E. Green Co. (No. 14) should be listed as located in Highland Park, Mich., not Highland Park, Ill. We regret the confusion this may have caused.