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Fueling A Debate

I just wanted to drop you a note on how much I enjoy your magazine.

Your magazine is written to help educate as well as entertain. What impressed me is the importance of being a better businessman.

Learning about new products and “swinging wrenches” are good things to know, but getting paid and getting paid a fair price to grow your business is even better. I have learned a lot in the short amount of time since I discovered your magazine.

Unfortunately, I am not a plumber. I am in the heating oil business on Long Island. Two of your contributing editors, Dan Holohan and Al Levi, two giants in the local heating industry, understand the problems we are facing in our industry.

First, we gave away service calls, then we gave away boiler parts. Now we're giving away heating oil (100 gallons free).

We are capping the price on what we charge our customer base, and we call each other's customers to steal them away with these price gimmicks, but you can't make money doing this. I can't understand how people running these large companies can justify these efforts. This is being done at the expense of the future of our industry.

I call this to your attention because everyone I speak to just shrugs their shoulders and says the same things: If he stops, I will, too.

Joseph A. McNulty III
Hendrickson Fuels
Bay Shore, N.Y.

Our Interest

I just finished reading Jim's latest and greatest (“We Protect The Contractor's Interest,” November 2003) and want to thank him for his honest assessment of the industry. His editorial was well written and goes a long way in explaining the finer points of what's plaguing our industry. Keep up the good work. You are serving us well.

Tim P. McGuire
McGuire & Sons
Hopkins, Minn.

As a contractor who amplifies value and charges for it, this editorial hit home. We don't have anything more to offer our customers than good service. Price is what they pay, value is what they get. Giving the customer “options” is also great, something we preach every day. I will definitely be sharing this article at my next service meeting with the technicians. Thanks again.

Joe Marney
Stong Services
Chester, Pa.

I just read the editorial opinion in November PM. Amen to all of it, brother! Can I use Jim as an expert witness the next time I get sued for charging $49 to correctly diagnose a heating problem on Christmas morning? Seriously. Those of us who do our best to provide the best technicians at a fair price need all the help we can get. Too bad programs like “20/20” never have any interest in a job well done at a fair price.

Brian Bullock
Collin Air Conditioning Inc.
Plano, Texas

Help Wanted

I recently acquired an antique (pre-WWI) 4-inch mechanical pipe threader from the Homestake gold mine in Lead, S.D. I am trying to find information about the tool, as it may be of historic interest to a collector and fairly rare. The ident plate on it says:
    The Toledo No. 2
    Patent Jun. 28, 1904
    The Toledo Pipe Threading Machine Co. No. 23998
Can anyone give me any direction for locating someone who might be familiar with this type of old tool?

Thom Gollan

Editor's note: Mr. Gollan owns an airport repair shop in Rapid City, S.D. “As a matter of course,” he wrote us, “I go to auctions and collect antiques, including tools.” Homestake operated for 111 years and closed in 2001.)