electrical only

Rewire

Senior Member
Can we only learn from businesses that are electrical? Do non electriclal businesses offer any useful knowledge ? One of the most interesting conversations was with a grocery store manager on the subject of loss prevention and shrinkage. At first I did not see how dented cans and out of date milk could relate to my operation . What could a grocery store and an electrical service business have in common most would say nothing but that is not correct both deal with inventory.How many of us consider how much inventory we loose? How many wirenuts end in the trash can,how many receptacles get scuffed up being halled on the truch and how much copper walks off the job. I never gave this much thought until I realized that this was comming right off my bottom line and if I just took a few simple steps I could put these dollars back where they belonged and that was in my pocket.
 

JJWalecka

Senior Member
Location
New England
How many wirenuts end in the trash can
That brings up a question. Hypotheticaly, the jobsite is swept into a couple piles. Is it cheaper to throw away misc. hardware (wirenuts, screws, clips, nuts bolts). Or should one sort through the pile seperating good material? I'm just talking small stuff, screws, staples, wirenuts.
I was taught both ways. One guy swore it was cheaper to just throw the stuff away. Another would spend time sorting through the trash.

Thoughts?
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
At the end of a job we usually throw away most of the excess material. I'm talking boxes of brand new stuff that will usually total in the thousands of dollars in value. It's cheaper for us to leave it in a big pile then to pack it, load it onto the company truck, send it to be unpacked, sorted and stored. In this case it really comes down to what your labor costs are per hour and how much time will be spent trying to save a few thousand dollars worth of material.
 

fmtjfw

Senior Member
At the end of a job we usually throw away most of the excess material. I'm talking boxes of brand new stuff that will usually total in the thousands of dollars in value. It's cheaper for us to leave it in a big pile then to pack it, load it onto the company truck, send it to be unpacked, sorted and stored. In this case it really comes down to what your labor costs are per hour and how much time will be spent trying to save a few thousand dollars worth of material.
Find a local tech ed school, give it to them, get a tax write off, and further education in the trade.

They'll probably even pick it up.
 
When I was a first year apprentice one of my tasks was keeping the work carts clean and putting stuff from them back into the parts bins. I did the larger stuff like connectors, fittings and hangers, but put the small stuff like nuts, bolts, washers, etc. into a couple plastic buckets to sort out later.

One day I got done real early and asked the boss if he wanted me to start on the small stuff or do something else. He told me just to throw the stuff away, by the time everything was figured, it costed more to sort it.

99 percent of the stuff was stainless. There were also wall anchors, ground lugs......you can imagine the mess!

I asked if I could take it home rather than toss it. Boss said sure, just make sure the guards know you aren't stealing it. It took four lunch buckets for my share and I divied way more than I took out to the other apprentii.

Wow! What a treat for a first year apprentice! I still have well over half of the stuff. I think the payback for the boss was two fold. First, I finally felt that I was worth something (more than leftover nuts and bolts, anyway) and second, that stuff really has come in handy and I knew it would. I became a better apprentice as that move on my boss' part increased my feeling of self worth.

Over the years, if I hit some idle time on a job, I will go sort out stuff and put it back. I would rather do that than stand around. If there is no idle time, most of the time the more valuable stuff is grabbed and the rest gets discarded.

Materials have gone up so much in price lately that considering new strategies, like spending time to reduce useable waste, is something we need to look at. Something, for the most part, we never really had to do before.

Remember 'Better long than wrong?' While still true, we now have to be pretty close on our wire cuts or it gets costly.
 

PetrosA

Senior Member
Or contact Habitat for Humanity. They'll collect it as well, and someone can benefit from that. Throwing good stuff out just seems wrong on so many levels. I don't recycle copper or other scrap metals, but I do leave it out for a guy who drives around on trash day and gets it. As far as I know, he supports himself and his family from that. It might be a small contribution on my part, but it's something nonetheless.
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
The thread seems to have drifted to 'waste handling,' rather than the broader topic of: what business lessons are universal, that we can learn from other endeavors?

I freely admit that I learned most of my 'business' skills from operating mini-marts and brothels (the legal kind). Here's a few of the gems:

1) Err on the high side of the 'profitability' curve. Same profit, less work, than if you're a bit low;

2) It's the humdrum, daily deals that make the business work- think 'coffee and donuts' rather than the occasional sale of a high mark-up item;

3) A wide variety of 'draws.' That is, give folks lots of little reasons to stop in;

4) Be absolutely clear as to what they will pay and what you will provide in return;

5) Get some money first; and,

6) KEEP YOUR PAPERS IN ORDER.

What about the less attractive customer? Well, it's amazing how much aggrivation an extra $20 will cover.
 

Strathead

Senior Member
My take on this, anecdotally...

I was always very picky with my guys about how they conducted their actual work operations. If you accidentally drop a wire nut, pick it up. If you are on the ladder, try to remember to pick it up when you hit the floor. Of course, I have often been seen as anal, nazi, a$#@ole , etc. but I believe it serves several purposes.

When you are in the habit of this type work ethic, it is reflected in your entire job. Your work is neater, your work area is neater, if you work around customers they notice. Your work area is also safer without stuff laying on the floor. That is one pay off.

Another is that you don't have the trickle waste that is referred to in the OP's question. And it avoids a problem with sorting through the trash that makes me answer the first question with NO don't sort through the trash. On a construction site, I and many others will find a bad wire nut and throw it on the ground. Same thing with a bad screw etc. If you pick up stuff on the ground, you are inevitably ending up recycling bad stuff. It is much easier to enforce the habit of not allowing the carelessness in the first place.
 

__dan

Senior Member
The grocery store works on very low margins but they are focused on how fast something turns over. It's better to make 1/2% on something that turns over every three days than 10% on something that sits there for six months. They also do store within a store, where they rent out shelf space and endcaps, kiosks, and now bank and pharmacy counters. Walmart refined this by having the computers tell them what was moving how fast and to restock or promote it.

Worked on a job that threw out material. Got to a workspace and there was so much stuff on the floor I was afraid of stepping on the stuff and going skating or flying. Previous crews had just left their unused stuff everywhere and it had gone from the table to the floor. The table they were using was the customers new custom built cabinetry/counter, now scratched from the picture perfect pile of electrical stuff on it.

Asked about the mess and was told they had figured it was cheaper to throw it in the dumpster rather than pick it up for installation. I swept the space so I could work and filled a helmet and apron mounded up overflowing. At the end of the day I sat basically right in the middle of the trailer stairs so everyone had to walk around me, the helmet had its own spot on the stairs, they had to walk around that too. I wanted to see what was said, especially if they thought I was stealing material, it would go to blows. Jobs was 350 units of elderly assisted apartments.

On the third day of this the place was swept and clean. I was told the company owner had walked the job and had a hard time stepping around all his material on the floor, waiting for someone to throw it in the dumpster. Policy changed and they stopped storing material in trash piles on the floor.
 

GerryB

Senior Member
Can we only learn from businesses that are electrical? Do non electriclal businesses offer any useful knowledge ? One of the most interesting conversations was with a grocery store manager on the subject of loss prevention and shrinkage. At first I did not see how dented cans and out of date milk could relate to my operation . What could a grocery store and an electrical service business have in common most would say nothing but that is not correct both deal with inventory.How many of us consider how much inventory we loose? How many wirenuts end in the trash can,how many receptacles get scuffed up being halled on the truch and how much copper walks off the job. I never gave this much thought until I realized that this was comming right off my bottom line and if I just took a few simple steps I could put these dollars back where they belonged and that was in my pocket.
I always use my dented wirenuts anyway.:D
 

billdozier 78

Member
Location
Orlando
If it's on the floor and it belongs to our trade pick it up. That 5 cent wire nut could cost you 5 dollars in the end run. Or at least that's what I was taught and try to teach my helpers. Also clean up is 5 minutes before break and lunch as well at end of day. I hate a dirty,cluttered job!
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
One general contractor told me that he paid his guys a bonus if he made over his projected profit on a job. Yet he would walk the job site and just be amazed that if he dropped a $1 on the ground all of his guys would bend over and pick it up, but step over a $25 Simpson strap all day long.

I don't know how many of you do trac work, but I've walked tracs and you find 5 or 6 wire nuts per house and a couple of boxes, what's that $5 or so?. Now mulitply that by the number of houses, 100 house trac = $500. Then add in big loops of cable, 10" of wire sticking out of a box, etc. A receptacle here and a switch there taken home to fix moms house or do a buddy a favor. It all starts to add up.
 

Rewire

Senior Member
The thread seems to have drifted to 'waste handling,' rather than the broader topic of: what business lessons are universal, that we can learn from other endeavors?

I freely admit that I learned most of my 'business' skills from operating mini-marts and brothels (the legal kind). Here's a few of the gems:

1) Err on the high side of the 'profitability' curve. Same profit, less work, than if you're a bit low;

2) It's the humdrum, daily deals that make the business work- think 'coffee and donuts' rather than the occasional sale of a high mark-up item;

3) A wide variety of 'draws.' That is, give folks lots of little reasons to stop in;

4) Be absolutely clear as to what they will pay and what you will provide in return;

5) Get some money first; and,

6) KEEP YOUR PAPERS IN ORDER.

What about the less attractive customer? Well, it's amazing how much aggrivation an extra $20 will cover.
Number 5 should be in bold capital letters. Think retail, try walking out of Wal mart with a big screen TV and a promise the check will be sent.For a service business COD is a must we have brought our ARs down to less than 3% of our gross with a goal of 1% .
 

chris1971

Senior Member
Location
Usa
Can we only learn from businesses that are electrical? Do non electriclal businesses offer any useful knowledge ? One of the most interesting conversations was with a grocery store manager on the subject of loss prevention and shrinkage. At first I did not see how dented cans and out of date milk could relate to my operation . What could a grocery store and an electrical service business have in common most would say nothing but that is not correct both deal with inventory.How many of us consider how much inventory we loose? How many wirenuts end in the trash can,how many receptacles get scuffed up being halled on the truch and how much copper walks off the job. I never gave this much thought until I realized that this was comming right off my bottom line and if I just took a few simple steps I could put these dollars back where they belonged and that was in my pocket.
It adds up losing inventory. But, the lose would be made up in mark up of other material assuming we are talking about small dollar items.
 

Stevareno

Senior Member
Location
Dallas, TX
Regarding wirenuts, I've learned if you see a B-cap (don't recall the brand name) on the floor, don't bother.
Once it has been used, it becomes "streched out" and useless. (that's what HE said)
Since you usually can't tell new from used by looking, they're not worth picking up.
 
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