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#43563 10/16/04 07:47 AM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 79
I was just reading Dave55s post on cable reeling and he mentioned he works alone. I am very interested to find out how many of you, like myself, work alone. Either part-time, half the time, or most of the time. I'm sure we could help each other out considerably w/tips and war stories!

Thanx 4 your efforts,


#43564 10/16/04 09:27 AM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 697
I've worked alone for 20 years now, Steve. I should add that I do grab the homeowner, or whoever is around if I'm burning time and not getting in trying to fish a wire from the attic into a switch box and I've been up and down a couple times.

I grabbed a guy for a long pull of about six 12 ga wires. Now this guy knew how to pull wires (or so I thought). I left lube on the panel and asked him to keep the wires lubed. It's one of those 100' pulls, so I'm pulling and he's keeping the wires from tangling.

I pull about 75' and it's really getting tough and my fish tape is bending out of shape. My old back is complaining, so I look over and...of course...the lube is sitting on top of the panel right where I left it. I thanked him for lubing the wires and he said they didn't need lube because he was pushing the wires (stranded).

Now, I know you get what you pay for, but this is a guy I could hire if I hired help. I talk to contractors about their help and it looks good on paper, like you could make a bundle of money from hired help, as in:

I pay $20/hour...40 hours = $800/week
I get $75/hour...40 hours = $3,000/week
times 50 weeks = $110,000!!!

...but none of these contractors have said anything like "I'm netting $40,000/year from every one of my guys". They say things like "I pay them every week while I wait for the customer to pay and I'm taking money out of my personal account for my own paycheck".

Then, sometimes I read a story in the paper, like, a guy works for a couple and asks them for a loan. They refuse and he shoots them both. A little extreme, but disgruntled employees can rip you off at the least. I also see these employees work, and almost all of them work at about 50% speed when the boss isn't around.

Anyway, this was long, but that's why I work alone.


#43565 10/16/04 12:37 PM
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 597

I resonate with your perspective. I had a couple employees earlier in my career, and it never ceased to amaze me how clear and concise instructions could be permutated into something else, most often, something less than desirable. I returned to being a lone ranger over a decade ago. . .realized I just wasn't adult enough to handle an employee work schedule. There's a lot to be said for flexibility.

Al Hildenbrand
#43566 10/16/04 03:14 PM
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 269
I too work alone. Part time so I can't afford a helper. Next week I've got 4 10's to pull in 140 ft. of 3/4 PVC. I can see both ends but I expect to do some walking. [Linked Image]

#43567 10/16/04 05:45 PM
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 362
I work alone most of the time. Who needs starmaster when you can work alone [Linked Image]

Choose your customers, don't let them choose you.
#43568 10/16/04 09:08 PM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 79
Thanx for your responses fellas. I just got back from some more "old work", which I seem to specializing in anymore. Today went smoothe. I was pondering my post all day hoping for your input(s). Attic and back-----attic and back, then to the basement. Finally done, power back on, tools scattered all over the house and now I get to load the truck, by myself. We must be a different breed, but I'm not complaining..................or hear anybody else complaining either! ha

#43569 10/16/04 09:26 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 524
... When I started my own business 3 years ago,I too went out solo,..then came the bigger jobs,and I found out I could use a hand..I've had 3 employees since,and I'm down to just one guy now.Just him and me..I'd like to get 2 trucks on the road but finding someone reliable enough is a real headache.I've become "spoiled" now,and need someone to run to the truck for stuff.The guy I have now is green,and is slowly learning the ropes...Just today I asked him to go to the truck for a 1/2" K.O. seal,and I was busy doing something else only to find him trying to attach a threaded K.O. seal to a 1900 box,..I laughed and he felt dopey,as he didn't know that there were different seals for different types of boxes..I should have been more explicit I guess... [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

.."if it ain't fixed,don't break a Licensed Electrician"
#43570 10/16/04 09:27 PM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
I have an apprentice with me, almost always. I do service calls alone.

I'm an employee. My employer probably doesn't make any money off me when I'm alone on a small job. With wages and other employee overhead added to the cost of the truck, fuel and maintenance, there isn't anything left. The profit comes from the apprentice.

Having an employee allows him to bid larger jobs, where there is a profit, because the competitor is also paying an employee.

The unspoken benefit is that he can also take on really ugly work, without getting his hands dirty [Linked Image] We also have quite different backgrounds, so our range of work extends from residential, to data, to industrial. I try not to think of myself as a "starmaster", whatever that is.

I do agree that the employer-employee relationship is not what most expect. My employer works for me. His job is to find work, and look after financing and billing. He is free to make as much money as he can, as long as I get my hourly rate. If he doesn't do a good job, I'll replace him.

#43571 10/16/04 09:44 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 524
... Very well put, twh,..I couldn't help but smile as I read your post..I wish my guy had that attitude. [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]You seem to have a healthy understanding of what the employer/employee symbiotic relationship consists of..

.."if it ain't fixed,don't break a Licensed Electrician"
#43572 10/17/04 08:08 AM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 79
this is good stuff fellas, thanx! Our two sons have worked w/me on some things. I was having a blast "passing it on", but they could care less and always had their eye on the door. I also have two daughters, of which the younger one shows some interest, but she is only 7! I am almost 50, and don't know if Dad can hold out that long! lol It just seems a shame to have so much experience not to pass it on. But as you have already mentioned, it is getting extremely difficult to find anyone who will listen. Oh well...........

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