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Challenges Facing our Industry

Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
I have always held the "let's be friends" posturing of what we all once thought of as some nice allegiance of vendors and wholesalers was shallow! It was assumed that by acting like our friends, certain wholesalers made more money. In my case, that was never the case!

I believe in my heart that all who are nice to me (in business) had ulterior motives. That being; getting into my pocket as much as possible. If you want to be my friend, give me the best prices on the stuff I buy. My family and my happiness is based on how much money you save me and my family. Not how many fishing trips you take me on, how many free pairs of boots I can get or how great the free software is you stole from somebody else anyhow...

I am a capitalist who engages the free market concept whole-heartedly - period. I worked for the money first. All the friends I made during the journey was from being a straight-arrow who consistently rejected "friendly overtures" as motivating factors, focussing on price of goods I chose from whoever would provide them at the best possible prices.

The reason we were able to retire when we did (age 62) was because of the excellent business practices we used from the very beginning (back in 1968). That practice was (and still is for my son who was the heir apparent) to buy goods and services at the lowest price possible. Service is important. Price more so.

Running a business profitably is hard. Running a business that is extremely profitable starts with the basic facts of that drive the stock market and profiting: "Buy low. Sell high." In our case, we found a 30% markup on materials was the perfect mix to maintain a profitable edge, and rarely be underbid.

A lot more went into the calcs. but buying at the lowest available prices was first among many things.

But then, you knew all that already. Didn't you.

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  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116
    Challenges Facing our Industry

    After a lengthy discussion with Wisconsin's current PHCC president I thought I would share our discussion and ask for your input.

    The number one concern was the cost of healthcare and escalating costs of fuel and subsequently materials.

    More startling and upsetting were the trends and behaviors of some of the manufacturers we all have been so loyal to over the years.

    Cash-Acme, Delta,Grundfos,ISE,Kohler,Moen,Nibco,Rheem/Ruud(Richmond,GE,Paloma)Ridgid,Sioux Chief, Trane,Watts and many others are selling there full lines at the box stores.
    This is not new as many have private labeled for years (ISE comes to mind) I could have swore I found Uponor piping under a slightly different name in an ACE not to long ago.

    Insult to injury was the recent disclosure that Kohler is special packaging and even coming out with box store only pricing and exclusive models (or series geared to the DIY market)

    Does this mean we all will become labor and install sources with little or no material sales???

    Will wholesalers,designers and engineers be bypassed along with the installers?(Most Lowe's and some HDs offer project management services and in-house design services)
    While most are pushing permits and inspections mildly, without enforcememt this effort just meets the retailing requirements until merchandise leaves the door. After that are the DIYs taking out permits???

    It seems that niche markets are alive and well, yet many contractors are avoiding expansion or adding help because of the above mentioned healthcare and benefit costs. Many shops that are merit shops have increased co-pays and deductables to at least offer healthcare. Others simply don't offer those benefits at all.

    With the advent of the Internet consumers are ever more savvy and informed (as our we). They use this tool to disect price structures to beat up contractors over hourly rates and charges. Consumers are still very insensitive to hard overhead costs after they establish ballpark material costs.

    So how do we professionals to counter or respond to these concerns? Do we come up with new and improved pricing tools? Go it alone and control labor related costs? Take the ostrich approach and hope these problems will go away?
    Can't beat em join em ??

    Home Depot tried wholesaling for a short time only to bail,was this because they simply were not good at it? Or did they realize that they already sell retail at costs less than wholesale(in many instances) ???

    This conversion was not about the still loyal manufacturers like Taco and others. This is about the ones who have basically abandoned us (slow at first and now at full force!)

    Is loyalty a rarity now instead of the norm?

    Where are the great business leaders of our industry regarding these issues?

    While we have had an overload of flat rate, upfront, T&M and other discussions we seem to ignore the above mentioned problems. It seems in fact that we use the systems above to band-aid those problems when we truly need some cures.

    Where is the incentive though when we are taught to know our costs and then apply profit. (Bigger cost numbers create bigger profit numbers Right?)

    We concluded that if we just add it to the price it will only pave a smoother road to the box stores,obviously many manufacturers already realize this!.

    Rich K.
  • Can't resist


    You raise an interesting and continuing dilemma faced by the manufacturers. With the exception to Trane, which is not available at the box stores, only marketed and installed by local Trane Dealer Partners, the rest are a list that continues to grow.

    At one time many manufacturers used to package their products under many labels for this purpose of selling through different channels. But now, with the changing times it has become more difficult to do so with the declining margins.

    Sorry to say, the contractor group as a whole is largely to blame for this name brand migration to the home stores as much as the connected intelligent consumer. The contractors for the most part never grasped the marketing and salesmanship side of their business. For example, ask a typical plumber to see a faucet brochure during a service call and see what he/she can produce. On the consumer side, we are stuck on name brands but more importantly we are an inpatient, got to have it now society. Today’s consumer wants to see, touch, feel and take it home today when they put their mind to it. Add in delivery, financing, delayed payments and picking up a gallon a milk while there and their plumbing buying experience is just too easy.

    Now on a different side, take a look at the contractors that frequent the box stores on a regular occasion. Could it be the many facets that attract them? Such as; extended hours, contractor credit or the extensive ancillaries of products required? How many times besides a ½” valve to complete a job does a contractor need a bag of cement, a piece of plywood and a few screws? All too many! Now I’m not saying it’s possible for the wholesaler to be everything to a contractor but, some of the successful ones I’ve seen keep that concrete on hand, a small selection of hardware, electrical, and sometimes 1/3 sheets of plywood to mount that tankless heater on as an example.

    Finally, I believe the loyalty has fallen and one reason is the treatment of contractors by the wholesalers. Wish I had a nickel every time a contractor at the counter was mistreated, intentional or unintentional. The caliber of distributor personnel has slipped, and who is it to blame? How many times has the average contractor asked or shopped for a lower price? Perhaps that’s what started the decline, after all China and Mexico wouldn't be thriving if we as a consumer didn’t want lower prices. This ripple effect starts at the counter and works all the way back to the manufacturer.

    Anyone remember how intimidated you felt the first time you stood at the counter of a wholesaler/distributor and needed supplies but weren’t quite sure how and what to ask for? Those same people today may be our new breed of contractors. You think they may feel more comfortable standing at a self service store looking for and picking out their own supplies, absolutely!

    Just my thoughts, walking in all the shoes mentioned above and now retired, stay home dad and happy!
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,796
    I wouldn't worry...

    ... the majority of folk out there will always call a pro when it comes to installing a pro, replacing a control, etc. since they know better than to get themselves into trouble. Those that want to DIY, will, always have, nothing anyone can do about it other than create strict codes, get an inspection system going (where there are none), and other such mechanisms that may or may not steer more work to the trades.

    I personally see nothing wrong with raising your labor rate to cover the other overhead charges that used to be covered by profits from materials. Make yourself immune to the source of the gear, heck, let the consumer buy it if he/she wants the points on their credit card.

    I also wouldn't put too much into mfgr. loyalty. It's a term that is thrown around so loosely, often, that it has become largely meaningless marketing speak. The bottom line is that manufacturers now change hands about as often as the average American changes house. The rules of engagement change accordingly.

    The trend to cut out middlemen is also not new. I wonder just how long it will be until high-value, high-density parts will bypass the wholesaler step altogether and be shipped overnight by logistics companies like UPS, Airborne from centralized warehouses directly to the end-consumer/tradesperson. IMO, it's just a question of time.

    However, all of these moves do not diminish the value your trade provides to the end-consumer. Thus, your profit margins shouldn't change either. Yes, you will have to deal with the folk who undercut, underprice, etc. but you have to deal with them now also.
  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116
    Part of the equation

    HD employee, I don't expect box stores to go away, in fact in our area Lowe's and Menard's tend to do a much better job than Home Depot (better merchandising,more tellers easier stores to shop)

    My point is,(and your response is extremely well written}that manufacturers tend to go where they sell the most of their product(s] The products are now being designed and packaged for easier installs with less skills.

    Does this mean that installers will be buying commodity plumbing and heating products from the box stores rather than the wholesalers???

    What liability does the box store assume for bad installs due to poor advice??? The glaring box store(s) achilles heel is salespeople or associates giving out questionable advice on product in favor of sales.

    Also some of those very same products you mentioned from China and Mexico are often not code compliant or approved. Did you or people in the plumbing department point that out to the consumer??? Did they point out the permit process and the reasons for obtaining them and inspections?

    Those of us with any amount of time in the industry understand the reasons for codes and the need for enforcement in order to protect the consumer!

    The box stores for the most part have left the permit part up to the consumer as an option not a mandate. We who are licensed do not have that option and know enough not to want it.

    It is one thing to sell to a homeowner who installs in his own home. It is quite another thing when Joe Blow handyman (without insurance, bonding or licensing)buys from your or the other box stores and goes about sellng himself as the jack of all trades. No permits, no inspections and for the most part isolated from liability.

    That liability then can then be put in the lap of the box store as they have deeper pocketbooks and assumed liability due to poor or incomplete advice at time of sale.

    Rich K.
  • Scott Kneeland
    Scott Kneeland Member Posts: 158
    Box store

    It use to bother me too but when I looked and I mean really looked at the quality of their product I don't worry. Most is Imported or not the same grade as we can buy at a "true " supplier. I won't install customer parts and people in the trade said I'm crazy not to. I need to make a margin on the part as well as the labor to justify my inventory and so far I still can't want for anymore work and it's not because I'm cheap I'm not. I also see most (not all) of the "contractors" that shop box stores pay cash and I know for a fact a large portion couldn't
    secure a open account with a local supply house. Don't worry the Auto Zone stores didn't close up the local repair shop.

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  • Leo
    Leo Member Posts: 770
    In the northeast

    In the north east at least in my area there was once a chain of Grossman's home centers who have since been replaced by today's box stores. It didn't stop the building industry as the auto stores haven't stopped the auto industry. Many business people forget we have a free society driven by capitalism. Would you want government protectionism telling you where to buy and what to charge? As an employee I have been with three companies since coming into this business, why? It took time to find the best all around fit for me. No way would I want someone telling me where I had to work and what the benifits should be. I like excercising my right of choice.

  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116
    No one...

    Yet has replied to the permit and code issue.One of the gripes of free market advocates is less involvement by the government. Yet without codes,permits and inspections who or what would enforce codes???

    European countries have mandates,strict enforcement and far better built and maintained buildings than we do as a whole.Without proper codes wouldn't attorneys have a field day with liability suits????

    Also backing up a bit why does that free market statement not apply to healthcare???? Where is the transparency and price comparison in healthcare??? How about bypassing that thick layer of HMOs,plan administrators etc and be a direct healthcare consumer with the providers??? Where is the pundits of one shop/direct shopping when it comes to healthcare????

    Wal-Mart has failed in only one market thus far and that was Germany. Once again they seem to have an infrastructure that puts value on quality of life instead of cheap imported goods.

    The let the market dictate price has failed big time in regards to our healthcare costs. Greed and corruption have crept into our business world and we seem content to allow it if the status quo presently works for us!

  • Leo
    Leo Member Posts: 770
    After posting earlier I found this

    I think it gives an interesting perspective of government influence.


    A sign that hung in many Bell facilities in 1983 read:

    There are two giant entities at work in our country, and they both have an amazing influence on our daily lives. . . one has given us radar, sonar, stereo, teletype, the transistor, hearing aids, artificial larynxes, talking movies, and the telephone. The other has given us the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment, the Great Depression, the gasoline crisis, and the Watergate fiasco. Guess which one is now trying to tell the other one how to run its business?
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,796

    I am not sure I agree with your statement that the EU as a whole has more competent contractors, better enforcement, etc. When our family lived in a multi-family building in Cologne, my father had to show the HVAC folk exactly what to do since the alleged super was usually out drunk. If the HVAC folk were not told exactly what to do, they'd usually spend a day noodling around before leaving, having fixed nothing.

    IMO, codes and standards mean little to nothing unless there is uniform enforcement, good definitions of the code, etc. Which means (among other things) requiring continuing education and testing for both installers and inspectors. Having left a high-regulation environment like Germany, I have to say there is something to be said for less regulation, since regulation in itself is not the solution, IMO.
  • Chas_2
    Chas_2 Member Posts: 104
    the real challenge

    The real challenge are those who parade around as professinals and know nothing except the all mighty buck ,they defraud all with there high rates and large fronts they put up advertising that they are the do all end of all mechincal things and they end up being just a hack and these are the licensced guys,they will do anything as long as there's a $ sign they do it JMAO peace and good luck clammy just venting
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    The BIGGEST problem our industry faces,,,,

    is that there are more people leaving the trades than coming in. Sure there are other perceived troubles, but who cares WHERE people are buying their sinks, faucets and toilets from if there is NOBODY around to put them in???

    Why do you think GM pays their mechanics $40 to 50 dollars an hour? And who do you think is footing the bill to accomplish THAT feat? We the consumer are.

    I am aware of some shops back east that got tired of fighting the labor battle and shut 'er down...

    The soap box is now free..

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • And many of those coming in

    are unemployable- substance abuse problems, criminal records- I could go on. This has been discussed before, but I would never send something like that into a customer's house. Period.

    Part of the problem is that the school systems track the slowest kids and the ones with "issues" into this kind of work.

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  • The real issue is economics. Why would someone with no experience want to install a boiler or remodel their home? Not so long ago in this country, most households existed on a single income. The way that the Federal Reserve creates money out of nothing dilutes our economy and that creates inflation. I would love to pay someone to fix up my home, but I can't afford it. Many are in the same boat. That is why the home improvement stores have been able to thrive- they have a demand. Who else would want to buy that sub-grade lumber?

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  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405

    First we need to become realistic about the true agenda regarding the supplier/manufacturer.

    Their job is not to become your partner, rather to make money. As it should be! In the past, the "partnering" approach served the marketing schemes of many manufacturers and the notion that - "we are in this together" were real, not merely schemes. Along came open competition, D-I-Y books and sales people and the truth became known; that being, PROFITS are the true masters of all ships. This too is how it must be.

    The feeling of betrayal, because of past contrived relationships that made us feel all warm and fuzzy have been terminated by bean counters with one objective in mind. We gullibly bought into something that now is lost.

    If it continues to "pay off" in profits, manufacturer's will continue the "warm and fuzzy" approach to contractors.

    Classic examples? Uponor, Moen and your supply house.

    The classic of yet another example - the PHCC! They found money and profit from the mid to large size contractors and threw all the small businesses under the bus. Anyone with an under 5-man shop was so ill-treated by PHCC it became the demise of the once great and universal trade prganization of the nation. Now, it is a predator to them. The result? They write code for one state instead of most. They have become a very over-paid PAC with no interest in protecting the very basis of their true national membership, the 5 and under shop hat needs them the most.

    Tragic ending to what was once the true voice of the PH&C contractor.

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  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116
    All those products...

    were the byproducts of governmet funded research and development for war time purposes!
  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116

    "Regulation in and by itself is not the solution "means that it is part of the solution, right?
  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116

    Your frankness is very accurate and easily understood. Our system has been taken over by bean counters who only look at bottom line and really don't care about how they got there (or who they trampled getting there) Your two examples very much paint the current economic pocture of our industry.

    As one who has retired (or semi-retired) do you look back and get upset over these money grabbing trends?

    I guess the only way to get all the answers is to follow the money that goes to the state capitals and Washington via lobbyists.

    Why did we (Us Americans) let this happen?? Were we simply not paying attention?

    Was dodging the "oloigarchy" bullet last Nevember just temporary?

  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116

    Many truths yet if I read between the lines I have to wonder are you licensed?
  • Steve Garson_2
    Steve Garson_2 Member Posts: 708

    As a very experienced DYI-er, there are plenty of jobs that I would never tackle, even though I could. I have a job, family , yard work and no time.

    I also will always have the contractor supply the fixtures and supplies, otherwise how can I expect him to stand by his work.

    I don't see the box stores really impacting the trades. It comes down to salesmanship. My contractor tells me he needs a 20% margin on all the fixtures and supplies. He tells us he doesn't care where they come from. His invoice shows the cost then a line item for his margin on the supplies. I like that approach versus seeing a high price for the fixtures.

    Most people haven't a clue how to do plumbing. I think the fears are overstated.

    Steve from Denver, CO
  • Chas_2
    Chas_2 Member Posts: 104
    no plumbing

    Rich i am not a lic plumber but started out in that field in 1982 ,i am epa lic for refregerants and carry liabality and workmans comp ,all my jobs are inspected and if a plumber lic is required i have about 4 or 5 plumbers who i help out who will jump at putting there lic # on my jobs,why because i always help them on trouble shooting and service calls and installs when there swamped ,i always give what i know to any body who kindly asks and last but not least i will always return to fix or repair any systemn i have installed ,i have been in the plumbing and hvac field for about 24 years doing just about everything from small splits to multi zone package units i have always been non union and have been working for myself for about 3 years i got tried of working for know nothing corner cutting bosses who live in million dollar homes ,my home is small and my life style is very simple ,i don;t lay my treasures where rust and corruption abound ,i don't advertise i just get by WHY? cause you can't take it with you and there's alot more in life then some number printed on a piece of wothless paper ,JMO not meaning to caome off nasty rich peace and good luck karma rules clammy
  • Ken Field
    Ken Field Member Posts: 127
    Old Days

    Years ago, I always bought from local suppliers where I had a commercial account and everybody knew my name. (Electrical, plumbing, hardware, etc..) The guys behind the counter were hired specifically because of years in the trade. As their recommendations were heard by the guys on the other side of the counter, I'd buy in confidence knowning that EVERYBODY knew I'd be back to report on the bad or the good.

    Most of these places are now gone. The ones that remain have no stock and are now basically order takers with zero value added. Although Home Despot and Lewds do stock a lot, they are staffed by rude teenagers who know zip and who could care less about your business.

    IMHO, I fault the USGOV, not the trades, manufacturers, or dealers for this situation. Weren't we taught that huge monopolies were fundementally a bad thing? Isn't having one company being the sole source dangerous? Wasn't price fixing once illegal?

    I think this is applicable to Wal-Mart and Microsoft as well.

  • Steve,

    You are the exception. I wish I could show you some of the very scary work that I've seen out in the field performed by homeowners. Here's a statement that comes to mind when a customer told me he put a plug in the relief valve when it wouldn't stop dripping and I said that was dangerous - His reply, "Well it didn't blow up or anything." If people had the money to have it done right, why wouldn't they?

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  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116

    are many fine mechanics who have pretty valid reasons for not having a license. You have good friends and must do work that is passable (otherwise your friends would not assume the liability for you).

    I would say that 75% of my best apprentices had difficulty with the technical side, yet they made better overall mechanics than the bookworms who fumbled with a pipe wrench or screw driver.

    At one time in the earl 70s Wisconsin granfathered in plumbers who had 8 plus years experience and passed a competancy test. Some with that added incentive went from their and got their Master's license the traditional way!


    Make Peace our Passion while Supporting our Troops!
  • Actually

    the transistor was developed in order to make telephone switching systems faster and more efficient. The electro-mechanical systems in use in the first part of the 20th century (Step-by-step, Panel, Crossbar and others) required a lot of maintenance and space. The transistor formed the basis for the analog electronic systems introduced in 1965, and of course the current digital switching systems as well.

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  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116

    You pretty much nailed it. Currently the main incentive is to grow bigger with a return to investors. Those of us who are small players in the market(stock) were put there to marry us to the system.

    The system is great for economic growth yet very questionable when it comes to quality of life,environmental issues and ethics. The tremendous growth of lobbyists in our state capitals and Washington are not funded by small business. They are funded by huge and well off corporations and special interest groups.

    This is troubling not only to me but for the nation as a whole.

    How do we recover influence for small business or individuals for that matter?

  • Chas_2
    Chas_2 Member Posts: 104
    Big Business

    Big business apparently also controls the FCC.

    There are now only (6) giant companies who own all the TV, Radio and Newspapers in the country.

    This is fundementally wrong as well.

    I am told they don't teach Civics in school anymore, let alone shop class.
  • Randy-Lee Braman
    Randy-Lee Braman Member Posts: 40
    Big box stores,diys and us

    Recently i got a call from a now good customer,could i please come to his house he was in need of help.The boys at the plumbing ailse had told him he could cut open his old cast iron drain with a sawsall,which the gladly sold him plus the blades.When i got there i found him amongst a pile of worn out blades and the cast barley scored.Out to the truck and a 4"grinder with a cutoff wheel and in a few minutes it was a done job.
    My point the guys at HD or Lowes etc. Don't realy care they are there to sell and if they are so knowledgable what are they doing there.
    I do have a contracters account at the local HD,handy at times but the mass of my materials come
    from the local wholesale house and there i will always go.
    They know me they know my prefrences and they beat the prices at HD lowes,etc hands down,and better quality.
    As far as DIY"S there are alot that can handle
    certian levals of projects,and then thereare the people who buy at the box stores and want tyou to install it.
    In my case the labor rate is higher,and if you did'nt get the right parts and i have to supply them then i will charge my normal margin,not the box stores prices.
    And yes i do carry catologs of fixtures,faucets
    and such all supplied by my wholesaler!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Partially OUR fault....

    for not going before the school boards and explaining to them and their students that a college degree is NOT a guaranteed easy path in life, and some people were NOT cut out for the college scene...

    Whatever happened to D.E.C.A.??

    Personally, I think we should be going to the middle schools and elementary schools to plant seeds. We also need to get involved with the schools as it pertains to math cirriculum and tell them to start using more realistic examples in their teachings, instead of the mundane "John Smith got on a train at 7:30 AM. The train was traveling at ..."

    How about, "John Smith needed to pour a concrete slab for his back patio. The slab was 30' by 12', and 6"'s thick. How many cubic yards of concrete will Mr. Smith need to order?"

    Make it REAL, make it interesting. Get involved, like Scott did with the Cub Scouts. It would be interesting to poll those young minds 20 years from now to see what kind of impact Scott had on them.

    Get involved with your high school educators and get the trades back into their teachings. Shop is a thing of the past... Without shop, I wouldn't be HERE today.

    ME (involved)
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • joel_19
    joel_19 Member Posts: 931
    Boundless oppertunity!!!!!!

    We have the ability to control our lives it is what we make it.

    "The number 1 concern was the cost of materials , fuel ,and health care"

    Lets take those 1 at a time, Materials: This is a no brainer
    if you now pay twice for copper as you did last year then you must charge twice as much for it. When consumers go to the big box store or your wife goes to the grocery store they pay more. So if you pay more why don't you pass this along like everyone else??? This is simple economics. surely the big box store you fear isn't LOWERING the price when they are paying more for material just like you are.

    Fuel: See #1 same deal everything shipped cost more your trucks cost more to run this must be reflected in what you charge. Now you can get smart and buy some Sprinters for your guys and a Prius for your sales guy (which doubles as great green advertising) and try to conserve in other ways.

    Health care: The tough one, these costs are out of control and as i see it the problem is passing them along because not everyone has health care. Many trades people simply do not charge enough to have it. This of course is stupid as you put your familly at risk and the majority of those you work for DO have health insurance.Now as the costs are becoming astronomical the gulf in operating costs are widening between firms that have and have not. To level the playing field i believe that a pre requisist to being in buisness would be to require all new HVAC firms to offer a health plan. Think about it you already must have vehicle,workers comp,and liability insurance. Just add health to the mix and people will not start thinking,"boy if i don't have health insurance I can be cheaper than the other guys" The quality of life for all trades people will go up and the cost will come down as there will be less uninsured flooding the emergency rooms.

    "customers are internet savy,informed consumers,they will try to beat you up on hourly rate"
    Isn't this great!!!! this is the best thing to happen in a long time. If you have an informative web site the world will beat a path to your door for WAY cheaper than what the Guru's would have pay for YP. They can now search out the best products in advance of you arriving you then simply have to get them to believe in YOU Vs the other guy. This helps eliminate Bubba selling Crapola. Consumers many times already know the difference and are willing to pay for it! As far as beating you up on hrly rate well of course that will only happen if you let them!!!Just say NO and don't feel guilty. Of course they don't know what the costs of doing buisness are how could they?? So for starters NEVER give them an hrly rate. What ever you tell them it will be "Too high" chances are you can't afford their house so why put up with their B.S about how much you make? If your Hrly rate is too much than whatever they are being payed must be really,really obscene right?

    Most folks want their problem solved this will never change . Those that provide problem solving services at fair prices will always do just fine. In many ways this is increasing as peoples every day jobs become more specialised. When I was a young whipper snapper we never installed air filters for folks they did that themselves. Now mostly we hear, "Filter? my system has a Flter?!" Sure they can buy anything they want online or at the big box. SO WHAT!!! they can also buy every autopart they need the same way. How many folks work on their cars to the point the mechanic is going belly up?? not many. My mechanic has a 600k house and lots of toys,oh ya he's hurtin.

    As systems get more and more complex the ability of anyone who is not trained to install or service them will continue to diminish. As house prices continue to escalate consumers want higher and higher quality. This is reflected in the amazing appliances,moldings,cabinets,bath fixtures etc they want. THIS is a good thing. There is no reason why we can not also take part in this revolution.

    We have boundless oppertunity to create boundless joy in our lives and those of our customers we just have to adapt with the times. Now lets get with the program and go create some Joy instead of crying about our lackof it!!!! forget the negativity about how things are changing,GO TEAM!!!!!

    Life is like a water bed you've got to roll with it or you'll never get up!

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  • Rich Kontny_5
    Rich Kontny_5 Member Posts: 116

    For almost all the answers Joel I have enjoyed this exchange and trust me I was not crying. I happen to have a passion for this industry and like to have issues discussed.

    I will pretend you didn't use that last 2 paragraphs, since I have also been in this a long time (39 plus years). In all sorts of positions in four different states. Never been unemployed,no workmen comp claims and trust me not a quitter!

    For the most part your post was positive, the healthcare suggestion simply won't happen for just one industry.

    Ever hear of Dale Carnegie? (It is never too late!)
  • Mark Wright
    Mark Wright Member Posts: 18

    We create our own dilema......we all think we have the answers. We all think we are worth 20, 30, 45, 75, 80 $$$$$ an hour. We think we have the {pumping away}, SEER #16 answers. What we need to understand is....that wer have forced the big guys into marketing themselves to the average homeowner. With the internet and all of the influence it has for the almighty answer....we have forced ourselves into corners we can't get out of. Thes box stores like Home Depot and Lowes...offer good things to our customers. There are now answers available that they can compare and contrast. Now you as contratcors and me as an HVAC teacher need to rise above and be smarter that the average Bear. So learn what you can and be as smart as you can....or you WILL be left behind. Make made in the USA mean something again.... be proud and smart and go forth to make the HVAC industry the leader in all areas.
  • joel_19
    joel_19 Member Posts: 931

    I'm Just trying to be positive. last week I was commenting about a competitor that had gone belly up and let 30-40 guys go. I thought "great we just got 30 more competitors,as these guys will all try and start their own deal"

    Another competitor said," No,no we just got 30 more potential employees and think of all those customers who don't have anyone to help them".

    He was reminding me it's all how you look at it.

    As far as the insurance thing we are moving in that direction. In Mass all are required to have health insurance it is heavily flawed but a step in the right direction.

    I have Dale's book a classic.

    IMHO illegal immigration is our biggest challenge regardless of the trade. How do we compete against those that don't even pay taxes let alone insurance?.

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  • John_162
    John_162 Member Posts: 35

    I read this whole thread and you know what came to mind.

    if no one dropped there price to get the job there would be plenty of money for everyone.
    think about this.
    homeowner 1 calls a plumber1 and gets a price of 75/hr
    then calls plumber2 and tells him he got a price of 75/hr please beat it and plumber2 drops to 70/hr to get the job. plumber1 starts lossing jobs and then drops his price to 70/hr to get jobs.
    when plumber2 finds out he drops his price to 65/hr to stay ahead of the compition.

    this senerio is real and happens all over the US and you wanna now why there no one wanting to enter the trades.

    most plumbers stab each other in the back for a job.
  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405

    It has been my experience that many competitors do this as well, not just the illegals. They work for cash, don't take permits (or they are not required to - as is the case here, in VT)

    You stated, "IMHO illegal immigration is our biggest challenge regardless of the trade. How do we compete against those that don't even pay taxes let alone insurance"?

    They are merely the largest target today. Yesterday and tomorrow will bring other challenges. Illegals are NOT the problem. Those who knowingly use them and fund their illegal existence are.

    Before we correct the problem, we must define who they are. Illegals are not the problem.

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  • Mark Wright
    Mark Wright Member Posts: 18
    Plenty of students!!!!!

    I teach HVAC at the Green Mountain Technology and Career Center in Northern VT. We have plenty of high school kids wanting to get into the trades. But they all have the idea it is easy to make big bucks in the trades.

    I try and teach the trades with humility. We should not be only interested in the big bucks. We should be proud of what we do.....providing an honorable service to our customers, at a reasonable cost to make ourselves a living and get repeat business.

    But this world has led to too much competition and get rich quick schemes. WE as a society have created this mess.
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