Chapter Corner

Insights Magazine: April 2013

Code Q&A - April 2013

Over the course of my career, I have been asked several code-related questions by both apprentices and other experienced contractors. This column will provide answers to some popular questions.

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The Terminator

Making terminations should be high on the list of good examples for the meaning behind the statement "the devil is in the details.” This task may seem simple but mistakes here could cause hours of troubleshooting or other types of problems after continued hours of use and aging of the installation. Let’s explore, from a high level, what you must concern yourself with when terminating conductors. I think you may see that this task, which quite often is left to the most inexperienced on the job, may need closer attention.

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Simple Tips to Help Prevent Loss from Overdue and Delinquent Accounts

There is a new economic reality emerging, bankruptcies are at an all time high and there are an unprecedented number of uncollected default judgments. Now more than ever it is important to have an understanding of who you are doing business with and how to limit your company's exposure to loss. There are some simple things that you can do to protect your company from being overburdened with overdue and delinquent accounts.

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Sound Investment Practices for Contractors

Although the economy is improving and electrical contractors are experiencing more work, be it residential, commercial, and industrial projects, the recent economic downturn has provided good lessons for owners and management to better plan investments for expansion and equipment purchases.

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Implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

An August 8, 2012, Mercer press release, based on a survey of over 1,200 employers on the potential implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on their businesses, reported that 60 percent of employers expect some increase in cost, with one third expecting an increase of five percent or more. One reason is the requirement to provide coverage to a larger percentage of employees than many employers had provided before.

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Cash Flow Management: How Invoice Factoring Can Strengthen Your Business for Growth

The economic challenges of recent years have left a hangover of debt for many firms. Even in today's slow growth economy, the cards are still stacked against many small firms. With an impaired balance sheet as a result of your equity being eaten away by tighter operating margins, rising cost of materials and labor, and the ability to pass on the additional costs means that bank financing is almost impossible to get.

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Communication Keeps Customers

It's always all about the customer. You could write the most persuasive ad, create the most provocative design, purchase the most expensive media - and, no matter what, it always comes back to the customer. Only the customer can see the value in your offer, make the decision to follow through, and stay with you after the sale.

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Lighting a Path to LEDs

As someone steeped in the world of residential and commercial lighting, Christopher Thompson, principal of Studio Lux, Seattle and Los Angeles, recognizes that lighting accounts for roughly 12 percent of U.S. electricity consumption. So he routinely specifies LEDs to lighten the load. They are a whopping 85 percent more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs and are expected to last 20-some years. Yet the conversion has been bumpy, to say the least. With technology advancements continuing apace, "You have to do a deep dive to understand where [LED technology] has come from and where it's headed," he says.

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Online Transactions

The World is becoming increasingly digitized everyday and it is increasing efficiency and broadening our information intake. I am one of the biggest supporters of online information sharing through interactive websites and social media. Communication that used to be one-way has now evolved to an open dialog thanks to the emergence of online interaction.

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How do You Define Leadership?

Looking forward and thinking of how we define leadership, the first thing that comes to mind is the role I assume when running a business. Yet, leadership is used in every facet of our lives; we use our leadership skills in a family setting and other personal or professional organizations in which we belong. In every case, there are rules, policies, and/or bylaws that we have to follow, and how we handle these rules in our daily lives demonstrates our leadership style. Do we use these rules to dictate what is expected of someone, or do we use them as more of a guide to follow? From my experience, the latter option has always led to greater success and a better overall leadership experience.

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