#1  
Old 08-24-2007, 08:09 PM
Unofornaio's Avatar
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Location: Central, California
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Angry $72,000.00 job lost

Before I even get into my rant about this I want to preface this by pointing out that my grandparents came to this country from Italy. They had no opportunity to take tests in Italian, no welfare system and they had to work just as hard if not harder than those entering this country now days for much less money.

With that said, I bid on a job for a shopping center about 3 weeks ago it was 8000. sq' of cultured stone. The guy already had the stone so it was just a square foot price all inclusive of mortar and some scratch coat.

I go by there today and see 2 guys mixing mortar in a wheelbarrow and using a ladder to reach the high spots. (10' columns and building facade) So I stop and play dumb asking if they could do some work at my house. No card, no name, no English, no nothing. So I ask them how much they are getting for the stone--5.00sq' I bid 10.00 and 9.00 was my absolute bare minimum. How in the world can you compete with that? This is the situation more and more and this was the last straw for me. I pay taxes, I pay insurance, I'm bonded and all the other stuff that you are supposed to do that is "right" and I'm consistently left out to dry by this kind of labor force. I am steaming right now... Why have a license and all the other crap the government makes you carry that people don't realize you have to pay for as operational costs if you cant get the jobs because you have to pay for it?

So I call the owner up, who I was dealing with. I was going to give him a follow up call again today anyway and of course he doesn't answer my cell so I call from my house line. He picks up, I announce myself and he says "O, hi" I said so Ted where are we at on the stone bid? and he says well I haven't made a decision" I said "O, really?" then I guess I better tell you some guys have started the work already" stunned he says what? what? I cant hear you? I say "it figures" then I said "hey Ted, can you hear this? "Contractors License Board" and hung up.

I'm writing this here because most of the members here seem to be regular working people like me. This is no joke, cheap labor can do us all in sooner or later it can be anything from electronics to sales not just skilled labor.
I do not wish to start a bashing session but I would really like to hear your honest, mature comments are on this subject, its not just CA its all the way across the states, its an epidemic...
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2007, 08:29 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 60
Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

My sister and brother-in-law moved to Denver area from LA about 5 years ago t oescape what you talked about. They were in Denver 10 months and moves back because of what you discussed in your post. Now he only works "high end" jobs where people appreciate the quality work. A real shame!

Try it on Houston! Que?

Good luck, I know you do good work!
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  #3  
Old 08-24-2007, 09:06 PM
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Location: Alabama
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Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

My job is the opposite. I don't lose work to illegals, I get work from them.

That's a bad thing, by the way. I'm an STD rep for my state. Given their lousy HC system back home it's little surprise they inadvertently bring some nasty friends along. We were getting close to eradication levels in syphilis - kiss that good bye.
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Old 08-24-2007, 09:24 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Tampa, FL
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Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

I totally agree with you. I hate to make generalizations, but skilled tradesmen do not exist here in FL. Sorry to offend those who may feel insulted, BUT, there are so few of them here - they go unnoticed.
The construction market is dominated by general contractors out to make fast, easy money. Quantity, not quality. They grossly underbid to get every job they can, then hire unskilled and transient labor for next to nothing. Until the recent slump in the housing market, FL had been a booming market for the past 10+ yrs....these guys have been able to get away with these practices because of the sheer volume of work out there.
I sell to the construction trades and have been to far too many jobsites where the entire crew (whether it be masonry, framing, drywall...etc) consisted of transient illegals who were picking strawberries or tomatoes just 2 months ago. I am not making this up, very sad and true.

I spent the first 34 yrs of my life in the great lakes region (Ohio) - moved to FL 11 yrs ago. The quality of workmanship and professionalism FAR surpassing that of FL. Virtually every trade was unionized and you had to work your way up through an apprenticeship program. No, I am not a staunch union supporter (I have never belonged). Just stating what I experienced. The labor force was considerably better skilled and trained...for whatever reason. Don't know if things are different there today.

UNO - hang in there bud...Some of us DO still put quality first and understand that it comes at a price.

RT
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Old 08-24-2007, 09:34 PM
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Location: Puyallup, WA
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Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

ok, this is a sensitive subject, and I want to start with a disclaimer that nothing I say is intended to offend you, Uno - I grew up in a family with five kids and arguing is second nature (probably because my dad was born and raised in Italy and my mom has a lot of Irish). I'll take the oposite side of any argument presented just for the sake of holding up an idea and looking at it from different angles.

First, your initial disclaimer paragraph is interesting (Italian immigrants, Mexican(?) immigrants - they're both here for an opportunity) - you don't need to have skilled labor to 'get' some jobs, you just have to be willing to work hard and work for small margins. I think I'd have felt the same way if your immigrant grandparents were competing for my job.

Second, my impression is the shopping center was really not your market - the developer just wants cultured stone stuck on his building, he's not looking for the kind of quality you can offer. There definitely is a price/quality formula in a free market. You have the opportunity to sell some customers on your quality, but Ted was never going to 'get it'. It's business, and some people are just going to look at margins, the low bid. Will the government crack down on Ted for using (supposedly) unlicensed, unbonded and perhaps non-taxpaying workers? If so, then it's a possible business move to facilitate that crack-down, but could that possibly blackball you from similar jobs in the future?

Third, I'll just take a moment and complain about my own market situation. In your work you can perform quality work, develop a portfolio to show prospective clients, and develop a fee schedule that reflects the quality of your work. I work in medicine. In medical school and subsequent training, 'do it right' is hammered on us over and over. Mark Graban (Mgraban) can rip our ability to actually do it right with any consistency, and rightly so, but the quality imperitive is driven into us nonetheless. Yet there is no real pay for quality in our current health system. We are paid either for more utilization (fee for service) or sometimes less utilization (capitated HMOs). If I do a poor job in fee for service (the only payment in my town) I may actually make more because patients have to keep coming back until I can help them make things right or they get tired of me. If I deliver exceptional care I get paid the same per visit as someone who churns patients through the doors. Patients are left to determine quality, which can be measured partly in communication skills and listening, but as far as 'right care' it's difficult for patients to measure. Complaints aside, I'm privileged and blessed to have the opportunity to do what I do in sharing the a part of the lives of my patients. But I work in a system with ridiculously broken market forces where I get paid for doing more but not for doing better.

I've learned a little from my wife, that all of the above was the wrong thing to say, and that really I should just tell you "man, that's really too bad, and I don't think it's fair". I won't add the "but the reality is..." line (that's when she gets angry).

I am sorry you weren't given an above board opportunity to compete for the job. Any advice on how I should select a mason if I hire one to refinish my broken oven ?
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Old 08-24-2007, 09:39 PM
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Location: san angelo, texas
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Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

i understand your frustration

I was a carpenter in tx....self employed................ quality work against the lowest bidder......
lowest bidder gives us all a bad name...........people want cheap

just life i suppose

globalization i think they call it.........

but trust me i understand!

keep doing quality work
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Old 08-25-2007, 07:53 AM
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Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

Quote:
Originally Posted by maver View Post
...

First, your initial disclaimer paragraph is interesting (Italian immigrants, Mexican(?) immigrants - they're both here for an opportunity) - you don't need to have skilled labor to 'get' some jobs, you just have to be willing to work hard and work for small margins. I think I'd have felt the same way if your immigrant grandparents were competing for my job.

....
Being the Devil's other advocate here, you realize that it also hurts unskilled (Journeymen? Apprentice? Dude trying to work his way up whatever you call him) as well? To compete a novice would have to be willing to both work for below minimum or at least below actual worth and to work under the table. Any SS benefits are permanently lost as well as any other retirement planned income (if any - pensions, et al). The trade as a whole then suffers as those folks find other employment (or sadly no employment) and the pool of potential professional masons et al drops.


Quote:
Originally Posted by maver View Post
Third, I'll just take a moment and complain about my own market situation. In your work you can perform quality work, develop a portfolio to show prospective clients, and develop a fee schedule that reflects the quality of your work. I work in medicine. In medical school and subsequent training, 'do it right' is hammered on us over and over. Mark Graban (Mgraban) can rip our ability to actually do it right with any consistency, and rightly so, but the quality imperitive is driven into us nonetheless. Yet there is no real pay for quality in our current health system. We are paid either for more utilization (fee for service) or sometimes less utilization (capitated HMOs). If I do a poor job in fee for service (the only payment in my town) I may actually make more because patients have to keep coming back until I can help them make things right or they get tired of me. If I deliver exceptional care I get paid the same per visit as someone who churns patients through the doors. Patients are left to determine quality, which can be measured partly in communication skills and listening, but as far as 'right care' it's difficult for patients to measure. Complaints aside, I'm privileged and blessed to have the opportunity to do what I do in sharing the a part of the lives of my patients. But I work in a system with ridiculously broken market forces where I get paid for doing more but not for doing better.
I chose my doctor because he ascribes to the Hippocratic Oath. I stayed with him 'cause he's right more often than wrong. Perfection I do not expect - but I respect a doctor a hundred times more when he says 'I don't know; let's get you to someone who might'.

As for the payment system, global stinks. It only works with healthy people - which are the ones who least need a doctor. Have a patient get really sick and the doctor starts losing money. People wonder why doctor's won't take global plans... You'd have to pay me a lot more to get me to take an HMO through work - that way I can afford to go to a real doctor when I need to (6 months on an HMO was enough, thanks...).

You're right, strictly speaking, about pay per service, but a doctor does get word of mouth benefit for good service which is important in that many people chose their doctors - or at least to visit a particular doctor initially - based on the recommendations of friends.

Want I should rant about poor billing practices here? I have a whole spiel about doctors and hospitals under-hiring in their billing departments and then getting mad 'cause they don't get paid. (Three years working for M'caid jaded me a bit, I'm afraid...) Okay, okay...



Quote:
Originally Posted by maver View Post
I've learned a little from my wife, that all of the above was the wrong thing to say, and that really I should just tell you "man, that's really too bad, and I don't think it's fair". I won't add the "but the reality is..." line (that's when she gets angry).

I am sorry you weren't given an above board opportunity to compete for the job. Any advice on how I should select a mason if I hire one to refinish my broken oven ?
Depends on how well Uno takes this... I'm sure the nice illegal alien guys he sends you will do a good job... Really...

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  #8  
Old 08-25-2007, 10:16 PM
JoeT62's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 174
Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

Sorry this happened to you Uno - from your comments and suggestions on this forum, it is clear that you take pride in the quality of your work.

If these guys were truly unlicensed to do the work they were doing, then you have every right to blow the whistle. I would do the same if I heard about an untrained guy across town taking out gall bladders.

Hang in there!
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:21 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 15
Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

I feel your pain I experence this every day. Stick to your guns look for the person that see's tha value in what you do. That is what we have done with my business and yes growth is slower but at least you are getting a good margine and those people will spread the word that you do great work. This whole issue is the same in almost every sector of the north american econamy. From people like you how are skiiled, people like me that bulding industrial machiney. It is every where and it is a globeable trend and mind set that will take time to change if it dose. I look at it as the "Dollar Store culture" Cheap and fast and not made to last.. (Dollor store are in canada not sure if the us has them. It is everything in the store for a dollor)

Mark
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:05 AM
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Default Re: $72,000.00 job lost

Uno – here is something to ponder. If they are unlicensed, they most likely are not bonded. When one of them bite’s it falling off the ladder, Ted will lose every buck he saved and then some.

Les...
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