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And I was warned a hundred times.....Upon opening my Electrical company 4 years ago, I wanted to be a big time Electrical Contractor. It all seemed like everything was headed in the right direction. I solicited buisness like crazy. Went after it full steam ahead and before I knew it I had more work that I knew what to do with. What else right? HIRE MORE MEN.. 12 paid enemy's later, a $7000.00 payroll, Supply house bills raceing out of control.Jobs that looked like my 3 year old daughter did them and a bunch of screaming customers. It was a NIGHTMARE. Im finally all cleaned up from that mess. This is just a word of advice to those who have BIG dreams.. GROW SLOW. your company is only as good as your employees no matter how good of an electrician YOU are...
And many times your employees are only as good as you treat or train them.

Yes, I know some just plain stink, but all 12 where bad?

Totally agree with northstar.......

It seemed no matter how well you treated them, they wanted more, and/or stole more.

The best advise I ever took was from a great employer I had once.
He told me when I started out, you should expect to go through 100 guys before you find one who is loyal.

Till this day, that holds up.
"This is just a word of advice to those who have BIG dreams.. GROW SLOW. your company is only as good as your employees no matter how good of an electrician YOU are... "

And as you grow being a good electrician is only part of the job. Most of the electrician decisions will be made by your job foreman. Being a good manager becomes your primary job.

Just because you are a skilled electrician doesn't mean you will be a skilled manager. They are very different animals.
Good thread Northstar. I can relate to everything in your post.

Welcome to ECN!

You from Minn.?
Golf, I think you may have hit an very important point. My favorite builder says the biggest problem she sees from her trades is lack of leadership on the job. If the lead guy on the job is weak on the fundamentals (leadership or craft) it is reflected in everything the rest of the crew does. You really need to build teams.
That is probably a worse problem here where people get paid in sunshine and just skip around the trades working wherever they get paid the best. Right now, it seems, a lot of electricians are nailing down shingles.
I think you would find beter help if you payed more then $14.58 per hour
I don't get out of bed for less then $46
Thanks for the growth advice.
I do think about openen a shop but just want to stay small. Is that a choice I'd have I don't know?
I have to side with Bob (iwire) here.
Surely the whole lot can't have been that bad.
Northstar, to come in here like that and basically run all of your staff down as you have, tends to make me think that you have a lack of people skills.
Sure, it's only my opinion, but why do you call your staff "paid enemies"?.
I think a change in mind-set might be in order. [Linked Image]
Also, a $7000.00 a week payroll? With 12 employees? That works out to be an average of around $14.50/hour. At least a couple of these are licensed journeyman? Thats a pretty small pie no matter how you slice it.

Here in the northern Minnesota area where I live there are over 50-60 electrical contractors within a 25 mile radius. Why? I believe its because the few larger established ones don't pay well enough. Nobody can effectively live and raise a family these days on those kinds of wages, so they are all forced to go at it on their own, once they have enough time in for the master's license.

And its not like these low paying contractors couldn't afford paying better, most of them live in $500,000+ lake homes, drive around in brand new matching his and hers Hummers, and spend endless afternoons rubbing elbows with their cronies at the country club.

They cut every imaginable corner when it comes to the jobs they do, yet they charge the customer big city fees. But they have an established business, so the work keeps trickling in. They will make deals with apprentices to fudge on their hours so they can take the journeyman's test early, with the agreement that the guy stay there for a minimum number of years.

Before you go running down your help, take a look at your own lifestyle. Could you do with less in order to find and retain good, hard-working, honest employees?

[This message has been edited by Matt M (edited 03-27-2005).]
I will add that (3) men are with me today and have been for 2.5 years +, I hope that they never leave.(great guys, Hard workers, and responsible people). They are few and far between, (the good ones so I think I will hold on).Thanks Guys.. Happy Easter
One thing I will add here is the amount of talented people out there.

The labor pool in my area is small pickings.

The "best" guys, meaning loyal, hard working and those that take pride in workmanship that I have found are the guys/gals with with small families, 26+ yrs old. They seem to be more responsible.

The flip side are the single ones, 18-26. And the ones coming straight out of tech schools. I don't know why the instructors there constantly tell them they will make $45K if they graduate, but reality hits them real fast. The single younger folks seem to never make it on time, and the first thing they want to do when they do make it to work is wonder when "break time" is.

The biggest peave I have is the young mentality of "you pay me more and I'll do more".

I tell them, you show me what you can do, and I'll gladly give you what you are worth.
I worked 8 years for an EC with views similar to Northstars. For the first few years I was the only empoyee of a small mostly residential company. Busted my butt helping him to establish a good customer base and reputation as a good EC. And later with plenty of work he was able to hire 3 other guys, He got very lucky with these guys , they were clean ,well spoken,came to work eveyday on time and did whatever it took to get the job done. Installations were neat and professional, customers were happy with our work, our work passed inspections.( I'm sure any local AHJs here seen our work) Then I watched as he slowly sabotaged his own company with his mouth. when he came to the job site,you had to wait and see if you were talking to the good boss or the bad boss before you said anything to him. he was almost like a spoiled little brat that wasnt getting his way for some reason. He would even start arguments with the customers. later I found out he stopped taking his meds for his bipolar,so I guess that had a lot to do with it. One by one we left,now he has one guy that use to be a helper as a lead man and a drunk as a helper. good luck. what a waste of 8 years.
PS look at your own faults before you blame others
Northstar is mostly correct. I've gone through approx 200 employees in the eight years I've been in operation. I can count one one hand the amount of men who can perform what they listed on thier resume. Most do not even understand what the work they wrote down, it is something they remember from coffee break conversations.

As a note that 200 includes crewing up for projects. I always keep the good one from the project if there is room. I always pay top wages which makes me feel OK if someone is not cutting it.
As an employee of an electrical contractor, I will stick up for all the employees here. Most good electrical contractors, (other than one man operations) would be nothing without their employees, they might as well just pack it in without them. If you treat employees well, pay them well, train them well, they will reward you with quality work, if you don't treat them well, there's no incentive for them to work hard for you.
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