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Friendly Advice

Jim Olsztynski asked whether he was wrong to extinguish someone's entrepreneurial fire ("My Friend Ray," November 2002). In one short answer NO! Never feel guilty about information you give to others unless you force them to follow it. They are always free to choose.

My father, one of the wisest men in business I believe there ever was, could run any business. It didn't matter what the product or service was; if the principles are followed, it works.

He often told me why he was never afraid to give all his secrets of success away. He told me that so few would ever apply the principles and perform the necessary efforts that he never had to worry about competition. And that if they did, our market would then reflect fair and truer market prices due to the more profitable enterprises joining our ranks.

Jim's information only showed your friend how to run an existing business, and he couldn't even do that with what you said he was doing. So is he OK now? What have you done wrong? Nothing, but kudos to Jim for preventing someone from a horrific disaster that could have affected not only a friend, but anyone he would have owed money to, especially his family.

Why is it that so many are afraid to cheat their customers (so they wrongly believe) yet without hesitation cheat their own family and friends and even their government trying to make a profit from what I call a barroom education of their uneducated peers? The biggest crime today in business ventures is people do not learn business before they attempt it. Would you try to run a math class without knowing how to add? No!

Let the truth be known: most customers have a false belief of what something will cost because they have unlimited wants but limited funds. And businesspeople should walk away from those potential clients who think it costs too much. We can be chained by false beliefs or be free in the reality of truth.

Owners of businesses cannot be afraid. We cannot fear rejection. We cannot fear failure. If we are too afraid to ask our price, we should not be in business. If we are uneducated about out business, we should not be in business. If we are dishonest, we should not be in business. If we are unwilling or unable to take financial and personal risks, we should not be in business.

The reason there are few leaders in business is that there are so few of us who can lead, succeed and take the risks without fear. The reason we have so little to fear is because we build and capitalize a plan; follow that plan and that plan tells us in advance what we can expect.

Business is the act of providing a material or service to someone who is willing and wanting to pay for it. Don't make the mistake of choosing how little your client will pay and never make the mistake of producing a product or service below what your net profit should be. Loss is what closes a business; profit is what keeps the business open for the next customer to buy.

Thanks for sharing the education of the literate. Imagine how many don't read or know math yet try to run a business. Now that's wrong.

Lance Bent
Melroy P&H Inc.
Baltimore, Md.

Women Speak Up

I just logged on to your Web site and found Ellen Rohr's article on how to know if you're a plumber's wife ("The Plumbers' Wives Club," October 2002), and just laughed my rear-end off.

I just wanted to thank Ellen for her great sense of humor and proudly wanted to tell everyone that I am a licensed plumber; a wife of a plumber; an ex-wife of a plumber; and the daughter of a plumber. I guess I was just meant to be in the plumbing business.

I have been there and done it all - factory jobs, secretarial jobs, hospital ward, you name it. Nothing beats being a woman plumber, who by the way made foreman (or is that forewoman?) last year.

I just love my job and Ellen's sense of humor! Keep it up.

Cindt Leahy
Harrell-Fish Mechanical
Bloomington, Ind.

As a woman Massachusetts Licensed Journeyman Plumber, I was delighted to read the article ("Women In Plumbing," November 2002). More women should go into the trades, if they can physically and mentally handle all the aspects of this hard work.

I am going up for my Masters so that my father can semi-retire. Jacobs Plumbing has been "A Family of Master Plumbers Since 1895." My father only had two girls, and I am the lucky one to work for and with him.

I agree with the women in the article wholeheartedly - it is tough work, and women have to use their brains sometimes a little more to complete hard physical labor. It can be done, but now add a husband and raising a 4-year-old son to the 60-plus hours per week of daily physical work.

It is tough, but so rewarding at the end of each day. Licensed tradeswomen should help the younger generation explore all trade avenues.

Susan Jacobs-Marshalsea
William Jacobs Plumbing Corp.
Westwood, Mass.

He Said, I Said

I happened to be in a home center this morning looking for some light bulbs when I came upon the plumbing department. A homeowner just happened to be looking for some advice and was asking the storeperson about pumps for his heating system.

The storeperson said, "No problem. Take this one."

At this point I had to say something and asked the heating salesman the following: Was this "pump" a centrifugal, rotary or reciprocating? He just shrugged his shoulders.

I asked if this was a centrifugal "pump" was it horizontal or vertical? He said, "Let me look at the box again." I then asked if it's a rotary pump, is it a vane, gear, piston, lobe progressing cavity, peristaltic or screw type?

He said, "Let me get my manager." A few minutes later the manager comes along with the storeperson and asks if he can help.

I said, "You sell pumps, correct?" He said "Yes." I said, "What types do you sell for heating?" He said, "We sell one type that fits most applications." I said "Do you mind if I ask you some questions regarding this one-size-fits-all pump?" He said, "No problem. That's why I'm here."

I said, "Fantastic. This one pump you sell: How does it know the TDH of the system and the required flow rate?" He asked me what TDH was, and I told him "Total Discharge Head."

I was faced with three blank looks.

Finally one said it doesn't matter because the pump "knows" what it needs to do. I said, "What about pipe loss and Hazen Williams formulas or Darcy formulas or the friction factor based on Reynolds number and laminar flow as opposed to turbulent flow?"

Then another store employee came over and said he was a plumber. I said, "Great. Where are you licensed?" He said he didn't need a license as he knows it from doing it. He then went on to explain why this great pump is automatic and can handle all kinds of water as it only draws the power it needs to move water around. I asked how fast does it move the water? He said a few miles per hour, with that I left the store saying thank you.

Now I am curious as to how insurance companies pay off claims to nonlicensed folks dabbling in very technical trades. Here we have stores selling "pumps" to anyone who walks through the door thinking they can get a crash course from these shopkeepers in blue jeans.

Let's make it mandatory that to buy this type of equipment that the buyer must require proof of a license to show they know what they're doing. I know when I went for my hunting license I had to show proof of taking a hunting safety course. It's a national disgrace the number of folks who die from bad installations that are done without requiring formal training by anyone tinkering out in the field.

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