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Idaho State Capitol24-Feb-2009

PTI, with Advanced Concrete from Alpine, WY, is nearing completion of the concrete restoration proje..

World of Concrete Report24-Feb-2009

Josh and Tony attended the World of Concrete in Las Vegas; read about it in the blog. (http://www.pt..

2008 with a bang18-Nov-2008

Well, 2008 is going out with a somewhat unexpected bang. Thanks to great client relations and great ..

Boise Towne Square Completion18-Nov-2008

We are tying up the details on Boise Towne Square project. It was a successful project for us, and w..

Asbestos Abatement Blog

World of Concrete

Josh Woodard - Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Well, we made it to the World of Concrete and back.  It was a 9-1/2 hour drive, so not too bad.  The show was huge!  I haven't attended a construction-type conference like that before and it was amazing.

So, three things I liked about World of Concrete:
  1. Met some really cool people (thanks Jon Sandvik from SASE for the great food and free drinks),
  2. Got some really cool ideas (there is more than one way to skin a cat, and to remove mastic from concrete floors),
  3. Saw some really cool equipment (a remote control floor grinder?!!!).
AND, three things I didn't care for:
  1. Only a small percentage of the show was even remotely related to our industry (not surprising, or disappointing, just a lot of "noise" there),
  2. Almost all of the exhibitors were selling equipment (cool to see, but would have liked more system/training type stuff),
  3. Innovatech didn't even know who we (PTI) were (we own 3 Terminators, 3 Predators, and buy a ton of diamonds from them).
FINALLY, three things I loved about Vegas:
  1. Free Parking -- only city I have ever been to with an abundance of free parking,
  2. Good Eats -- the buffets were plentiful (though I was kind of cheap),
  3. Live Bands -- none of them were fantastic, but it was fun to see some pretty good musicians.
Overall, the World of Concrete and the trip to Vegas were enjoyable. I was glad to have Tony there as my guide, he is pretty good at getting around and finding ways to enjoy whatever is going on. Hope to see it again next year!

New Training Exercise

Josh Woodard - Friday, January 23, 2009
Today was a great day, the new training methods for setting up containments, criticials, lining a trailer, glovebags, showers, water filters, cubes and general room enclosures for doing an asbestos project, were set forth. There were three teams with 3-4 members, we rotated each team into the different areas. We also had a DVD training on safety and Josh held a class on why we have so many papers to sign when we start every abatement job. There were donuts in the morning and we all went to Idaho Pizza for lunch, this was a banner day for all who attended. Hope this knowledge will be used and the team work continue on the job!

Greater output, lower input

Josh Woodard - Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The concept of management (entrepreneurship, in particular) is to increase output and decrease input.  Fairly simple, right?  Increase revenue, decrease cost, and you've got more profit -- simple.  Well, I can think of at least one resource that, no matter what, you should not skimp on the inputs -- human resources.
We have been gearing up for a nice sized job in Arizona.  Doing asbestos abatement in any unfamiliar state can be quite complex, and that is why a lot of abatement companies choose not to travel.  Of all the things we have had to do to get squared away in Arizona, the most challenging has been making arrangements for the employees.  Here are few brief examples:
  1. Mode of Travel -- If you have ever planned a family vacation you know it is tough; try planning for 15 people.  Keep in mind you are trying to minimize travel expenses -- your goal is to take as few vehicles as possible.  Your employees' goal is to ride in comfort and avoid any personal costs.  What do you do?  EAT THE COST.
  2. Lodging -- So, your employees are going to be sharing rooms.  Do you put 2 or 3 in a room?  Do you get a room with a kitchenette?  Etc.  Your goal is to decrease the per person cost of lodging.  Your employees' goal is to get a nice room, preferrably alone, but at least with someone they like.  EAT THE COST.
  3. Work Schedules -- In town, employees like having time after work for hobbies and family, etc.  Out of town, the less free time the better.  You want to avoid overtime.  Your employees want to work as much as possible and get back home.  EAT THE COST.

Fact:  Employees are more productive when they are happy, healthy, and focused.  When you take your people out of town be sensitive to their needs and see how it improves your business.

Failing Ridgid Extension Cords

Josh Woodard - Thursday, November 06, 2008

Well, I have a little bit of a rant today.  About six months ago we bought ten 100' 10-AWG Ridgid Extension Cords.  We bought them with the express purpose of using them for a ceramic tile removal project at the Boise Towne Square Mall (150,000 Sq. Ft.).  We didn't mind paying a premium for the "best."

However, (you can see where this is going) we have been a little disappointed. My project manager pulled one out for some work around the shop and there was no ground on the male end of the cord. I told him to grab one with a ground. Every single one of them was missing the ground -- no, really, 10 out of 10.

I am only shocked because it was every single cord. I expect the equipment to take a little abuse as it gets used, especially on a big project like the mall. But, I expect a durable product that can handle regular use. We have cords that were far less superior in quality (and price) that have endured better and longer.

So, before I complain too incessantly -- I am going to post a thread on the Ridgid Forum website and see what response I get from Ridgid and from other purchasers. I am curious about whether other people have had the same problem -- I will let you know.

Differentiation in Competitive Bid

Josh Woodard - Monday, October 27, 2008

So, it has been a while since I blogged due to jury duty and catching up after jury duty, but I am excited to be back.  I have, what I consider a very challenging topic today -- Differentiation in Competitive Bidding.

I have been an executive in the construction industry for about a year. The general principles of business are applicable from all of my prior training and work, but initially low-bid threw a real wrench in my business practices. Here are three topics, and a little advice about each, that I find absolutely fascinating:

  • Friend or Foe -- I have worked with several general contractors, and I still wonder if they are friend or foe. In my naivete I thought that once we were awarded a sub-contract that we would be partners, friends, team-mates, etc. Boy was I shocked when one general created almost insurmountable hurdles for us. For subs it is critical to align your goals, as much as possible, with the general. They are your boss, and they are your customer (don't try and draw this relationship out on paper -- it's impossible). I will never start a sentence with the words, "If I were the general contractor," because I am not one. I respect that they have requirements and needs, and try to align with them whenever I can. When I can't, I take a deep breath and hope they are reasonable. Most have been.
  • Low-Bid/High Change Order -- Low bid was a completely new concept to me. I came from selling professional marketing services where differentiation was the name of the game. The goal was to thoroughly explain the "value" of your services, which should always exceed the price. When the value was sufficiently higher than the price, you made the sale. In many cases (not always) low-bid dismisses differentiation by assuming that bids are "apples to apples." I spent energy communicating value regarding particular projects, but found a less competent company was getting the jobs. It was so frustrating. Later, I found out that our competitor was low-bidding with inordinate amounts of exclusions, and then charging insane amounts of change orders. Here are a few things to consider:
    1. If you win all of your bids your pricing structure is probably too low.
    2. If you don't win any bids your pricing structure is probably too high.
    3. Cream rises to the top. Bid reasonably, do great work, and you will get signed contracts.
  • Strategic Partners -- We have done a lot of floor preparation for a regional tiling company. Since impressing them on one project we have done three more. In all three cases we were not low-bid, but we still got the job. In one case, the general contractor even denied us the project. When our friends (people like to do business with their friends) got the tiling portion of the project they told the general that we were the best. We did the job at the full contract price. The general was ecstatic with our work, and we expect to work with them again.

So, the point of all of this is, business as usual. Even when you are playing in the competitive bid game you have to be different, you have to be better. On a job-by-job basis you can demonstrate superior products, services, and processes, and in time you will develop an outstanding relationship. I am fortunate to work with veterans in the asbestos abatement industry, where our company is already recognized for excellent performance and reasonable pricing. Folks may be compelled to take the low-bid on a per-project basis, but be assured that over time your efforts to differentiate yourself from the competition will pay great dividends.

Multiple Venture Confession

Josh Woodard - Friday, October 10, 2008
My confession is that I am an officer at Pacific Technologies and a co-founder/partner at  Valitics.  Earlier today I had a meeting with a gentleman who saw the Pacific Technologies website, and asked, "who did your website?"  I was happy to pass the Valitics name on to the inquirerer, but it created an interesting challenge. Do I tell him my involvement with Valitics?  Should I attend the sales meeting?  Will this affect our business relationship either direction? Here's why it might matter to you -- I am happy to recommend either firm to anyone seeking their respective services because they both do fantastic work.  The fact that I am writing in a blog and working at an asbestos abatement company is evidence that I believe Internet Marketing really works.  My executive role at Pacific Technologies has helped me understand that in many cases Internet Marketing may not be the highest priority when I go in for a Valitics sales meeting. So, now that the secret is out, rest assured that both of the companies I am involved with deliver superior results.  In both cases, I am surrounded by specialists who know their field better than anyone else.  If you would like to know what Pacific Technologies does -- http://www.ptiasbestos.com/asbestos-services/ If you would like to know what Valitics does -- http://www.valitics.com/services.htm

Balancing Priorities

Josh Woodard - Saturday, September 27, 2008
Well, I haven't spent as much time writing in the company blog as I had optimistically hoped for.  That is largely a function of priorities -- my boss often reminds me, "You can't manage time; you can only manage priorities."  That is definitely a true principle.  So, for the sake of discussion -- what things have taken precedence over blogging these last several days?

Business Stuff

By business stuff I mean stuff like succession planning, company strategy, negotiations regarding the purchase of a strategic partner's business, and that kind of stuff.  For some reason, when there are ten minutes to spare these things have taken priority over writing in the company blog.

Human Resources Stuff

I don't know how other industries are, but in our industry scheduling employees is a huge undertaking.  To add to the challenges, not just anyone can do asbestos abatement.  Before our employees can go on an asbestos job they have to take a 40-hour certification class, plus some equipment and other training.  We estimate the hard cost of hiring an employee to be about $1,200 (that doesn't include overhead allocation or anything like that).  Anyway, as the peak season wanes we get smaller jobs in greater quantities, and that makes scheduling much more difficult.

Logistics Stuff

Well, a natural companion to scheduling employees is scheduling all of the other resources.  When jobs overlap our equipment (I will show you some pictures in a later post) gets spread out too.  Yesterday, for example, all five of our generators were out, and we were one short.  It can be pretty tricky to share equipment between jobs at times.  The other challenging one is trailers (dump trailers, cargo trailers, etc.), because everybody needs them.  Part of my job is to keep our equipment in full production as much as possible.  Sometimes, when jobs take longer than expected, it can throw the whole thing out of whack.  A lot of my time is spent problem solving -- finding creative ways to extend the use of equipment without hurting production rates, etc.  Kind of fun!

What about Blogging?

Exactly.  What about blogging?  Well, this blog is all about an experiment.  I have been involved with construction companies since my youth, and I have been involved with Internet marketing since I graduated from college.  The experiment is, "Is the Internet an appropriate medium for construction companies?"  I can guarantee that getting people and things where they need to be is critical for our business, but blogging's impact still remains to be seen.  I have not heard of a construction company successfully using a blog as part of their growth strategy (I do know of other industries that have successful blogs).  If you know of any really successful construction blogs please let me know!

Ike's Ripple Hits Boise

Josh Woodard - Saturday, September 20, 2008
In the last few days several notices regarding hurricane Ike's destruction have come across my desk from strategic partners and suppliers we work with regularly.  Turns out one of our poly (for non-asbestos folks poly=plastic sheeting) manufacturers/distributors was seriously affected by the storm.  Also, the place where we get our certifications in Texas called to let us know they are without power, but will still be holding classes. Granted, we do have ties with the Gulf Coast area, which makes us a little more susceptible to being affected by a storm that is 1,900 miles away.  Still, it amazes me that an asbestos abatement company in Boise, ID would feel such an impact.  In less than two weeks we will have a crew headed that direction -- perhaps I can get a personal account from one of them to post on the blog here. Our thoughts are with the good people of Texas who are out of work, out of home (did you see the traffic jams going to Galveston Island?), or have other difficulties as a result of hurrican Ike.

The First Asbestos Abatement Blog Ever (that I know of)

Josh Woodard - Thursday, September 18, 2008
Did you know the Egyptian concept of "every" is everything I know of AND everything I don't know of?  Well, I heard that it does, and in the case of this blog post I am not purporting to know of every blog in the world (there's only 120million, or something like that), but in all my searching I can't find anyone writing about asbestos abatement from an abatement company's perspective.  Most all blogs regarding the subject of asbestos are law and health related (just Google "asbestos blogs" and you get a smattering). So, that creates an interesting challenge.  I am not so foolish to think that everyone in the world wants to read about the specialty construction trade of asbestos abatement.  I will be the first to admit it isn't that glamorous or exciting, but the final straw driving me to this post was my discovery of the following web page:  http://www.habitatmag.com/activities/habitat_blog/asbestos_abatement. Unfortunately, there are no comments to this poor gentelmen's plea -- maybe I am the first person involved in asbestos abatement to ever read his post.  Or, maybe we (abatement companies) collectively don't want you to know about the black box that we have built (sarcasm). In order to avoid an unnecessarily long post -- let me close here with a statement about what I hope to achieve with this blog.  I will refrain from a sales pitch for my company and share with you the ins and outs about the asbestos abatement industry.  I hope to give our customers, partners, people who come in contact with asbestos, and other interested folks a realistic view of our industry.  If you think that is boring, just remember, asbestos abatement involves specially trained workers, it touches environmental issues, it involves the government, it requires strategic thinking, it impacts your health, it crosses your path at your favorite stores and restaurants, and it has a very rich history.