The year was 1927. Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic and Henry Ford, following the success of the Model T, released the mass production Model A with over 400,000 sold in the first two weeks. The United States, flush with cash from the economic boom nicknamed the ‘Roaring Twenties,’ was completing federal projects such as the Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River, which connected New York and New Jersey, and starting new projects such as the Mount Rushmore federal monument. There were smaller developments too, such as the construction of a veterans’ hospital in Rep. Robert L. Bacon’s Long Island district.
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A construction CPA recently told me about a contractor with a rock-star income statement. Every job was profitable, and it was propelling them into bigger and bigger projects as the business continued growing – until they folded. Why? They ran out of cash. Like too many construction companies, they didn’t have a profit problem; they didn’t have a spending problem; but they did have a cash flow problem. And more than likely, they could have prevented it.
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Looking in the mirror at the end of the day can be a painful endeavor for leaders. It’s that raw moment when they drop the “fake it till you make it” smile. They let their anxiety seep through their pores and wonder out loud just exactly how much stress, frustration, life lessons, and wrinkles they will physically endure before they hit their target numbers or shake hands with their next investor.
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Our world is rapidly changing. Deployment of more renewable energy across the globe is reinventing the way we produce and transmit power and, as a result, making our cities smarter. The incredible proliferation of information technology is permeating all types of equipment and applications. The confluence of these megatrends is creating the new energy Internet around us.
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The new era of electrification is introducing an entire suite of electronic products, sensors, and connected devices that are susceptible to damage from electrical surges, also called transients: electric vehicles are replacing internal combustion engines; space and water heating in buildings can be converted to heat pumps or electric resistance heating; indoor agriculture may boost demand for lighting and HVAC equipment, which may necessitate grid upgrades; and industrial heating and automation can both increase electricity demand.
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With new advancements in technology happening every single day, our lives are being shaped by new apps and devices that we never knew we needed until we used them once and asked, “How on earth did I live without this?” Technology and culture is evolving so fast that it has become difficult to try and wrap our heads around the speed of change that we are experiencing every day.
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There is an evolutionary cycle of innovation and disruption: technology advances, innovation occurs, processes adapt, and perceptions shift. Innovation is not limited; it is truly boundless. A new tool or material can only improve the outcome or system performance to the extent that the system allows. Innovation creates a new path, leads to new processes, and ultimately drives the Winds of Change (NRC, 2009, Page 20).
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As contractors know, the job clock is always ticking. Driving jobsite efficiency and productivity gains is essential to profitability and competitiveness.
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The technology for electric vehicles (EV) is continuing to improve with numerous cars that can now travel over 200 miles per charge and a dizzying array of over 50 new models hitting the market in the next year. The electric car has arrived. But the industry still faces a challenge – how to build the electrical infrastructure to make fueling EVs convenient and cost-effective.
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Since the 1960s, receptacles and circuit breakers with GFCI technology have become standard in homes to protect occupants from electric shock. Required by the NEC for outlets located in certain wet or damp locations, such as near bathroom sinks, kitchen countertops, bathtubs, and showers, GFCI receptacles monitor variations in the electrical current flowing through the line. In instances where a person accidentally becomes part of an electrical circuit, a GFCI receptacle would immediately trip, preventing electrical current from going through a person on its way to ground. It’s a technology that can save lives.
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