Q: What is a way that you experience teamwork in your department or on the job site?
A: At a recent monthly meeting, we took a full chain and separated the individual links. They were then handed out to every superintendent, project manager and estimator. This concept represents there is no “I” in ‘Team”. As cliché as that sounds, we don’t just talk about it at TP Mechanical, it is a part of our work culture. We realize every role is just as important as the next and it takes a “full chain” mentality with every link functioning at full strength, in order to experience success. Our team is very committed and excited about every opportunity we have to build trust with a client. It takes everyone on board though, executing project tasks on time and above expectations in order to strengthen those client relationships.
Are you bored with getting your exercise by strolling around the neighborhood or running at the local gym? The U.S. National Park Services has preserved vast pieces of American land that are the perfect places to get outside and be active, whether it’s the majestic Yellowstone National Park in the West or the lesser-known Big Bend National Park in Texas with its hundreds of bird species.
The opening weekend of National Park Week is April 19-20, and both days are get-in-free days. Visit www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm to find a park near you or to plan a trip. With great scenery and many options, you can choose a park where you can enjoy a quiet stroll, a vigorous hike, a bike ride, or a horse ride. You can also find spots to go rock climbing and swimming.
With more than 400 spots around the nation, the national parks are some of the best pieces of American nature and history. What better way to get your family outside and moving in the spring air than by visiting a national park?
Communication has become nothing more than a few typed words or symbols. Our culture has the lost art of speaking and holding an actual conversation. Everything is communicated by sending an email or text instead of actually utilizing the telephone for what it was intended for. Out the door are the face to face meetings, to actually talk to a customer, peer, or friend. We have become too busy.
Too many people rely on writing a quick text or email to start a discussion, begin a relationship, or argue with someone. Don’t get me wrong. Typing an email and texting are perfect for many situations such as, confirming an appointment, making sure information got to the right person, setting up a meeting, making a quick point, or just sending a kind word to a friend.
If you truly want to establish a relationship however, talking is the best way to go. Many “textoholics” would argue with me (usually via email) that this is not the case. They say, “I can make many more connections and be more productive using the electronic art of communication than any person can spending the time it takes to make a call or a face to face visit.” I contend it is more productive and satisfying to pick up a phone, ask questions, listen, and form a bond. By making that initial call, you can prevent the receiving party from misinterpreting what you were trying to say. In an email, things can be misinterpreted which leads to a second or third text or email explaining the first one. Productive… I think not.
I also strongly believe that emotions can be better delivered with words coming out of your mouth than from any keyboard. You can get more information and “feeling” from a short phone call than from any two-sentence message smattered with capital letters (for emotional effect) that any attorney would be proud of. I also think any customer, peer or friend would rather “hear” from you than “see” what you have to say. It might be a little more of an investment in time. In the long run though, this makes more of an impression.
I am don’t believe that I am not the only one who feels this way. I am absolutely sure most people today do not agree with me however. For those of you, who think I am just an old-fashioned Neanderthal that needs to get with the times, send me an email and let me know what you think. If you agree with what I believe… give me a call. I’d like to hear from you.
Jerry Keller is a plumbing estimator in our Cincinnati office. He has been with TP Mechanical for 30 years. We recently sat down with Jerry to find out more about what his typical day is like.
Q: What is one of the first things you do when you obtain new specs for a project we are bidding?
A: First, I read through the specs and write down the front-end information that I will need to successfully bid the project. I find out what type of pipes, valves and fittings are required for the project. Then, I break down the drawings by counting and coloring all of the fixtures, drains, carriers, cleanouts and equipment. I repeat this procedure for each plumbing system, sanitary waste and vent, storm, acid waste, natural gas, domestic water, compressed air, medical gases, or whatever type of plumbing system is associated with the particular project.
Q: How do you record all of this information once obtained?
A: Once all of that is complete, I take all of the information and enter it into our computer system. Our system will figure the cost for the labor and material to properly bid the project. After the numbers are properly configured, they are entered in separate spreadsheets to send to our vendors for their pricing. Once the spreadsheets are complete, one of the leadership team will review the materials and send our final number to the General Contractor.
Q: Why is this important to the customer?
A: Accuracy in estimating is critical for our customers because it provides them with the most accurate information to make their bid award decision. We strive to deliver the best value to our customers, including innovative construction techniques like value engineering or prefabrication. Quality estimating ensures we can be competitive and efficient in the bid process.