Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wrapping Up

Six months ago I inherited 2 jobs with a specific general contractor (GC) when my department was downsized.  I also had just been awarded a project with the same general contractor before the downsize.  Two projects were run by the same Project Manager (PM) but different job superintendents  (JS) and the third had a different Project Manager and job supr.   All three jobs were at hospitals, installation was included but each had different quantities of doors.  The smallest job has 11 doors and the largest 45.

Amazingly all three seem to be finishing up at the same time which is making my installer and myself time challenged. It has been very interesting experiencing how the different PM's and JS run their jobs though working for the same GC.  I also have other projects that are in mid gear, though not iwith installation, thankfully.

Something I find hard to juggle is being able to quote new projects while wrapping up existing projects. Most of my day is spent fielding phone calls from my installer or the JS's looking for material at the last minute, research to determine that yes the material was signed for back on __, and change orders to get new material that is needed at the jobsite asap!   It is hard to be able to concentrate on a new project, yet if I don't make the time to quote there will be no new work.

For this week I have put quoting any bid work on hold while still being available to my end users and other customers.  It will free up sometime so I can wrap these three projects up - hopefully! 

How do you handle it?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Highs and Lows Part 2 – Take Care

I will be the first to admit I do not take care of myself.  I am overweight and don’t exercise.  I have no clue how to fit it into my day to be honest.  Five years ago I was working out with a trainer, could run up and down stairs and do a lot of sit ups.  When I had to tighten up the budget and let my trainer go she showed me all the ways I could continue doing the same exercises at home – and I don’t think I ever did any.   

I don’t eat chips, doughnuts, or snack food.  I drink maybe 4 diet cokes a year.  I am all about water but do have the occasional glass of wine.  Breakfast and lunch during the week I am pretty good.  Dinners and weekends I am terrible.  When I plan I do well but for the longest time if it was easy – say popped in 3 mins (popcorn) – that was dinner.  

Well all that came to a screeching halt last week.  I had been having chest pressure for a few weeks that increased when I walked across a parking lot or walked up stairs.  My left arm was very uncomfortable and felt tingly.  I started having indigestion which is highly unusual for me. 

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling very poorly but went to work.  The pressure was really bothering me and heart attack did float through my head but of course it couldn’t happen to me.  I texted a friend who is a nurse practitioner to see if she could stop by my house on her way home from work to listen to my heart.  She asked my symptoms and when I texted back my cell phone started ringing.  I was on the phone with a customer and didn’t pick up so she texted me – fast and furious.  I finally got a second and called her and she scared the crap out of me.  Nothing short of going to the ER was going to work for her and I should have thought the same but didn’t.  But I did promise I would go immediately.  I have been to the ER one other time in my life and that was for a terrible cold that was affecting my asthma.  I felt foolish and honestly was worried about money.  I informed work what I was doing and left.

Hearing how long a person can wait in an ER I called a friend who lets my dogs out twice a week to ask if she would be around for a just in case.  B insisted I pick her up on the way as she was equally concerned and felt someone should be with me.  I was instructed my NP friend to tell the ER I was having chest pains and let me say they whisked me inside.  I was stuck and hooked up to machines before I had a chance to run. 

What I didn’t know is the hospital I went to has a requested 23 hour watch program if you have chest pains.  Apparently the enzymes can elevate at 6 and 8 hours after an attack.  Even though the EKG, chest x-ray, and first enzymes blood test were normal they admitted me.  I was an unhappy camper.  I have never stayed overnight in a hospital for me.  Thank goodness my friend B came with. 

Every cliché I ever heard about a night in a hospital were true except I didn’t see any ghosts.  The medical professionals were amazing, having never been in a hospital before I asked about EVERYTHING.  If they wanted to give me meds I asked what it was – what it was for – and refused many.  The nurses were great even though I was a pain in the ass.  Don’t assume they know what is best because only you do.  Speak up!  Being on the cardiac wing I had special food apparently.  I was shocked when I was brought processed white bread with my turkey sandwich.  Seriously?   B kindly went down and brought me a salad, piece of rye bread and ice cream from the cafeteria.  Once I knew my dogs were at my friend L’s I could relax (relative).   

Allowing your body to rest and reset itself is one of the best things a person can do to recover.  A night in the hospital is not conducive to rest.  Personally I feel everyone should have a private room.  The Dr. made a sleeping pill available if I wanted it but I didn’t.   When the nurse came in at 2:00 am and asked why I wasn’t asleep I told her I was used to sleeping in the dark and with quiet.  My roommate had her lights and TV on though she was snoring away.  The nurse kindly turned both off.  I think the only hour I didn’t see was 3:00 am. 

The next morning I was up early waiting for the treadmill stress test.  Thankfully I was the first one in.  I had the distinction of being the only patient who had sneakers on to walk on the treadmill.  Think about footwear before checking into a hospital.  The cardiologist watched my heart and gave me a clean bill of health.  I did not have a heart attack and my heart was not damaged.  Big sigh of relief.

What was it?  Acid reflux!  WTH?  According to the cardiologist both mimic the exact same symptoms.  People that have had heart attacks can’t always recognize the difference.   It also explains my many bouts of laryngitis last year.

What is the point of this personal post?   Take care of yourself – really.  I scared a lot of very wonderful people and myself.  If you find yourself in the hospital ask about everything they are doing to you and giving you.  Don’t assume the medical profession knows best.  You know best about you.  Don’t eat the hospital food unless it comes from their cafeteria.  Eat right and exercise.  The eating right I am doing but I am still trying to figure out the exercise.  People love you and they want you to live a long time to share laughter and joy.  I am grateful people love me too.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

30 Minutes

I am always on the lookout for new products for my customers.  I have a few hospital end user customers so whenever a door company says they have manufacturered an indestructible door I am all over it. 

Maiman recently came out with a thermally fused door that is supposed to hold up to tough environments.  The doors are fused to a substrate core using high heat and pressure which creates a durable door that will not delaminate or telegraph.  The key word for me was durable so I called and asked if they offered a try me door and thankfully they said yes. 

The door arrived and my customer hung the door in a soiled laundry room.  Well darned if within 30 minutes someone moving one of the large blue fiberglass carts scratched the door.  I couldn’t believe it. 

I emailed my Maiman representative the next day and told him what happened.  Apparently Maiman has a repair kit that will help with most scratches, similar to a furniture stick.  The repair kit finally came in and last night the very wonderful rep and I went out to the jobsite and gave it a try.

The door was a custom finish to match the hospital standard so none of Maiman’s standard color sticks were an exact match and a darker color stick was sent.  Next time it might be better if both a dark and light color stick were sent.  We worked on the scratch for about 30 minutes and while it certainly isn’t perfect it did look better. 

I will be honest I am not completely sold on the Maiman door.  The pro - it is reasonably priced and except for the 1 scratch the door looks good.   The con – it only took 30 minutes before it was scratched.

Here are before and after pictures of the scratch - what do you think?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barter – Haggle – Bargain – or just ask…

I don’t know about you but these days I seem to have less money and everything from services, merchandise and just general stuff, cost more.   

I was trying to close a project a year or so ago when my customer said to me:  I really want to buy this material from you, your service is excellent but your price is a bit high, can you do anything?

I could have argued that my excellent service is worth that “bit high” but it wouldn’t have mattered I wouldn’t have closed the sale. How I choose to look at it was my excellent customer service gave me the opportunity to for the customer to pick up the phone, call me and give me the choice to close the deal.

It gave me pause to think about people and businesses where I am the customer – how well am I treated?  So I thought I would experiment and when presented with a situation where I thought the price was a bit high I started asking is that really your best price?  I have been amazed at how many times the price was dropped when I asked the question!  

A perfect example is what happened to a friend of mine this past weekend.  Her a/c went out Friday evening and in Florida, during the summer, that is a major issue!  She waited until 8:30 am Saturday morning to call the company she purchased the a/c unit from 6 years ago as she had a warranty that covered parts.  A service tech would be out between 1-4 pm that afternoon.  My friend called me at 9:30 to share her woes because she knew I had just experienced the same thing.  She was very concerned about the price.  I suggested if the price seemed high she ask THE question: is that your best price?  The technician showed up, replaced a part in less than 30 minutes and told her the part was covered under warranty but the labor was $240.00.  She was stunned because you know that less than 30 minute thing!  And before you ask no there wasn’t an extra charge because it was Saturday.  My friend tentatively asked if that was his best price and darn if he didn’t drop it to $170.00.  That is a $70.00 difference!   My friend was thrilled and I was shocked he dropped the price that much.

That said let me also share that I use that same guideline when the customer service I receive is excellent and the price seems low.  Case in point I have an excellent lawn care company.  I used to mow my own lawn but with a ½ an acre it took me most of the weekend and I still had to clean, grocery shop, cook and oh have maybe a bit of fun.  Three years ago this lawn care company was recommended to me and the owner has been fantastic.  Always doing extra things as he sees them and never in three years has he raised his price.  When my strapped finances eased up a bit this year I gave him a raise. It wasn’t much at all.  When he saw me after a few months of receiving the small raise he asked why.  I told because he did a great job and deserved it.  He said I was the first customer to ever do that.  

So pay attention and if a price seems out of line ask if that is the best price.  If however the price was low, service excellent and it works with your budget throw a few extra bucks their way.  If it doesn’t work with your budget a kind word to the person or their boss goes a long way too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let’s Blog Off – Summertime blues

Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic.  This week LetsBlogOff asks the question:  How do you relax and recharge?

Summer in Florida is hot, humid and buggy.  For my business it is also the busiest so I have learned not to vacation during the summer.  A week at the beach would be quite lovely as would a week in Italy but alas I am a true American and don’t do a good job at making it a priority.  I do have a vacation in the mountains scheduled for October though.

In the meantime I settle for yappy hours, lots and lots of ‘em!  Yappy hour is when my friends and their dogs come over; we break out food and beverages and chat while the dogs play.  Similar to children’s play dates only we aren’t changing diapers.

Laughter and hilarity ensue while the dogs run to and fro, makes for tired dogs and very happy adults.  I would share more but what happens during yappy hour stays in yappy hour ;)

Throughout the day the list of participants will magically grow, please check back often for your reading pleasure.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Highs and Lows Part 1- A real high!

Last week was an interesting week of highs and lows.  This post is going to be about the high.

I went to my very first opera with none other than Paul Anater of Twitter and blogosphere fame.  You can read Paul’s blog post about the night here.

Month's ago Paul was sharing with me how much he enjoyed the opera during a conversation and I mentioned I had never been.  He immediately offered to share the experience with me the very next season.  Paul is just that generous and honestly it kind of blew my mind.  His love of opera just bursts from his very soul. 

When the St. Petersburg Opera Season rolled around Paul contacted me and said Puccini’s Madama Butterfly would be perfect for a first time opera attendee.  Since the opera would be sung in Italian Paul suggested I read and learn about it ahead of time even sending me links to You Tube.  Seriously, what a generous person!   I love to be swept away with music so I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to listen to the music ahead of time.  I thought perhaps the surprise factor would be best.  I did however, download the libretto to my Kindle and read the story. 

Let me just say Madama Butterfly does not show American servicemen in a very good light and I was quite dismayed.  I had never given what our servicemen and women do in the many different ports that they are stationed, in all corners of the world, and felt very sad and angry. 

Working in the building industry my everyday dress consists of blue jeans, a-fabco polo shirt and jeans which isn’t exactly what I should wear to an opera, even one in St. Petersburg on a Tuesday evening.  I decided to take a half day of vacation and get a little girly having a pedicure and manicure which I haven’t treated myself too in a few years.   It was very nice.

I drove the very long (in my head only apparently) way to downtown St. Petersburg in all of 45 mins.  Sixteen years in Tampa and I have never explored this fabulous city.  Paul is very lucky to live just a few blocks away.  We ate dinner at Bella Brava and caught up on how much Paul’s life has changed in a year.  I asked many questions and he graciously answered them.  Then we walked a bit around downtown.  I would like to go back when I don’t have heels on.
Soon it was time to head to the Palladium and start the show!  First let me say the building is beautiful.  It began as a church and still has many of its original lighting fixtures and moldings. The lights dimmed and the orchestra started and my mind was swept away.  Everything was spectacular!  I had no idea that there was so much acting in an opera and yet there is.  The voices were just incredible and it didn’t matter that I didn’t understand the language, sub-tittles were displayed for convenience.  I thought opera’s were only sad and tragic and don’t get me wrong this one is but it had many funny scenes too.
For me the best judge of whether I liked something or not is if I would do it again – and I would definitely go see an opera again.  Thank you Paul for such a lovely evening and sharing this beautiful music with me

Monday, June 13, 2011

I need an app!

When someone creates an app that can do the following – I will buy an iPad.

Here is what I need and would be fantastic for both the commercial and residential door industry.  I go out to measure doors at an end users facility all the time.  I might measure one door or forty.  I would love an app that I could use to write all the measurements and necessary information at each opening.   

This is what I currently carry when I measure a door:

Tape Measure
Clip Board
Work Sheet 
Smart Phone to take pictures with

I also have to carry my keys and business cards.

An app would need to allow me to draw the opening with my finger or stylus, insert all the measurements, take a picture of the existing door and then repeat for the next opening.  

That shouldn’t be too hard, right?  Get to it please!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My boys

Can I get an ice tea please?

 I thought I would introduce the two dogs that always make sure I always have something to do!

This is Duncan.  I had his named picked out before I met him.  He was a birthday gift (requested) by my BFF.  We searched high and low for him when I was ready for another dog.  At the time my BFF had 4 kids under her roof and I thought they would be a good judges of characters.  We went to a Rescue in Bronson and met puppy after puppy.  The kids were having a great time but none of them grabbed my heart.  

Because I knew Duncan's name I had a very specific picture in my mind of my dog.  I wandered over to some cute black and white hounds but they were all female.  My first dog was a male and I wanted another one.  One of the volunteers mentioned the boys of the same litter where inside having just been neutered.  I checked them out and in the very back of the kennel, groggy as all get out, was this little black and tan hound mix.  This was Duncan!

I couldn't bring him home that day so it was arranged that my BFF and the kids would drive down the Friday before Memorial Day and drop Duncan off as they drove through Tampa.  That way I would have three days to introduce him to his new home and me.  When the van pulled into my driveway I rushed out to great them.  The kids presented Duncan in a basket with towels smelling horrible. Poor little guy had been car sick the entire drive down.  I am forever indebted to those 4 kids for being so loving to a dog that was SO sick and smelly!

Fergus came into my household because I had no idea that when I picked a beagle/hound mix they were such pack animals.  My lab had been perfectly happy being the only dog in my household.  Duncan was not.  After much thought I decided to get a 2nd dog and went with another beagle. 

Ready for water!
I contacted the Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue group and filled out the appropriate paperwork. I was approved and invited to the next social at a local dog park.  I brought Duncan with me as I was hoping he would pick his new mate.  I had informed my BFF what I was up to and she and the kids were on standby.  There were many cute beagles but again none immediately struck my heart.  Duncan didn't gravitate to any specific dog either.  I was on the phone with my BFF a lot (thankfully she loves me).  Finally I started noticing a cute red and white beagle (didn't know there was such a thing) who kept trying to get any dog to play with him.  He went dog to dog but no takers.  I snapped his picture and emailed it to my BFF.  The kids approved.  I introduced Duncan to the little guy and they seemed to get on.  Fergus had a new home.  It took about 6 months for Duncan and Fergus to become inseparable but it happened.  

In case you were wondering about their names I picked them from one of my favorite books Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon.

If you are thinking about getting a dog please do a lot of research about which breed would best work for your household.  I would also encourage you to contact a rescue organization to find your new mate.  A dog will be your best friend for all it's life. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Please close the door!

Doesn’t seem to matter what type of building I am in they all have one very bad habit in common.  The top hinge on wood doors with closers is always damaged due to the cleaning staff, or someone, sticking something just above the top hinge (typically with a broom handle) to keep the door in the open position.  Is it inconvenient to have to constantly open a door when a person is repeatedly walking through the opening?  Yes it is, but tough.

Any time a door is fire rated Code states it MUST BE self closing and self latching!  Period, end of discussion.  Fire rated doors in the closed position prevent fires from spreading into other parts of buildings.  Not rocket science people and yet it happens every day.

In 2002 a fire killed 4 people because a stairwell door was left open.  It has continued to happen throughout the years, just in February of this year 20 firefighters were injured and 1 person died  because “and left the door propped open when they left”. Full article found on Lori Greene’s blog: If You Dig Hardware .  It is now required that all fire doors be inspection annually to try and avoid more loss of life. 

Please, if you see a door with a fire label on it propped in the open position, CLOSE IT. If the cleaning staff in your building or company hold open fire rated doors with a stick, door stop or trash can tell them to stop. Not only will you save money by not having to replace the door but you may save a life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Let’s Blog Off – Guilty Pleasures – What’s your favorite show on television?

Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic.  This week LetsBlogOff asks the question: What’s the show you’re hooked on but are kind of embarrassed by?

Three years ago I watched a lot of TV.  I had 100 channels to choose from and the TV was on A LOT!  This partly comes from living by myself and liking background noise plus the dogs don’t bark at every little sound.  Then my budget became much tighter, like a lot of people and I had to cut corners, one of the hardest was the DVR and all but basic cable.  Basic cable is up to the History Channel, no Food Network, no Bravo, no SciFy and no ESPN. 

Honestly in the beginning it was tough but you know what?  I survived!  In fact I am reading more, listening to NPR and doing more projects around the house.    Now all that doesn’t mean I don’t watch any TV because I do but I am good if I miss an episode too.

I really enjoy Glee.  I love the singing and dancing but especially feel the cast represents all facets of people and some of the subjects have been eye opening. Admitting I watch Glee doesn’t embarrass me.   I like Bones too. It’s funny and the artistic creativity of getting the bodies to look as gross as possible is amazing.  I am not embarrassed to say I watch Bones, at least not yet.  It is getting repetitive though.

So what do I watch that is hard for me to admit?  Well since OWN came into being I have been watching a lot of it.  Especially some of the celebrity shows like Shania Twain and I will watch Sarah Ferguson when it starts later this month.  Why? Because it is nice to know that no matter how rich, how pretty, or how talented, everyone has issues to overcome.  The point is to overcome them. Maybe by watching I will have my own ah ha moment and some piece of me will click into place. 

The reason I am reluctant to mention these shows is it seems that people either love or hate Oprah.  I personally think her story is inspiring, full of grit and determination.  OWN, so far, has had positive stories and I like that there is a documentary series.  The first documentary was following Chaz Bono through the transgender transformation.  It was fascinating and difficult for me to watch.  Difficult in the fact I have never had a problem with being born a woman. I am a big believer if I am uncomfortable with a subject than I don’t know enough about it.

I don’t watch all the shows on OWN because I have this great power called an off button.  I learned in my teenage years the power of the off button though this story strays from the intent of the LetsBlogOff subject.  I was home sick from high school and was on the couch with the tv on.  The Phil Donahue Show came on and it just happened that the show I was watching was the first broadcast of a same sex wedding.  This was the late 70’s and I will be honest I was uncomfortable so I turned it off.  The hate that was spewed toward the two brave gentlemen expressing their love and the Phil Donahue Show shocked me.  Why didn’t these people just turned their tv’s off too?  Really death threats because two people fell in love? 
Thankfully I have grown since those days and so long as a person is kind I could care less what color, sexual orientation, gender or weight that person is. 
I am sure the Housewives of ___________ (fill in county here) is fascinating and I might watch if I had the channel (Anderson Cooper does) but what I like best about my TV is the ability to turn it off.  I just wish I did a bit more often.
Please read the other participants of LetsBlogOff below.  The list magically expands so check back often.

Monday, June 6, 2011

You did what?

I had a party a few weeks back to thank my dear Yoga Chickees for their support over the past few years through some very difficult times for me.  Each person, in their own way, reached out to help me.  I was humbled and so very touched.

We have an age range of 25 years between the youngest and oldest and have had many discussions about social media, cell phones that have become smart phones, and what privacy means these days.

Many of us are on Facebook but not all.  One member of our group is fabulous about capturing our special times through pictures.  Though she doesn’t quite understand why a few of us prefer not to have the pictures put on Facebook she respects our wishes and instead emails the photos to the group.  Let me say that I am one of the folk that prefer not to have my photo posted on Facebook.  I can’t speak for anyone else but my issue is there are a few of my FB friends that are customers and I don’t want a picture of me tipsy and being silly posted.  It isn’t professional.

During the party people were taking pictures and that was fantastic, I can’t wait to create a photo album.  One member however was taking video.  Well if I don’t want a photo on FB I sure as heck don’t want a video!  I asked her three times to stop and she didn’t.  She truly didn’t understand my issue with it.  She is the youngest of our chickees and videotaping is something that is common amongst she and her other friends.  I know from being on Facebook and Twitter that the 20 something set thinks nothing of videoing and posting it be it a fight at school to people partying at a bar.

Here is where the 25 year difference becomes a gulf.  What does privacy mean?   The line is an individual preference so when does it become disrespectful and when should the older generation just need to get with it?

My take, I am a pretty private person and I do not like any part of my life being put on the internet unless I am the one doing it.  My professional and personal lives overlap a bit but not a lot.  More so now with Twitter as it started for professional reasons and these last 2 ½ years I have connected with people that I look forward to someday meeting and sharing time with.  I seem to have feet in both camps and I would think a lot of people do.

I shared my feelings with our youngest Yoga chick a few days ago and she apologized.  The Yoga chicks took a vote and no videotaping is allowed unless EVERYONE agrees to it.

What is your take on this subject?  Feel free to provide a videotape if you so choose!