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Thread: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

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    Member JMilbragen's Avatar
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    Default On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    Oh hey guys. I currently work for On Target Utility Services that has contracts with most of the major power, telephone, and cable television providers in Connecticut. I've been here for awhile but recently I had a very bad experience with my employer and it's got me thinking of my other options.

    I've been thinking of getting in with a Subsurface Utility Engineering Company and I would like to know the differences in the workload and responsibilities. Currently I drive around to different work tickets throughout a large area geographical and inspect dig areas for any power, telephone, or cable television cables that might be buried there. During the summer I average about 65 hours a week and I have to take a week long on-call emergency duty about once every 2 months.

    As for someone who works for a Subsurface Utility Engineering Company, do you guys get called to very large industrial complexes or large buildings and given the task for marking out every single utility such as power, telephone, cable internet, water, gas, and sewer all at once? Do you have very complex markouts for every single ticket that make you want to pull your hair out? Do you ever get clears? Do you get good equipment such as the RD4000 or beter? Do you have on-call emergencies? Do you get more than 40 hours a week? Only reason I ask is because I'm still forced to use the piece of junk Metrotech 9800XT that bleeds off onto anything else even when direct connected

    Do you guys make more money? They've got me at $12.50. One of the other locators who works for the company I work for told me that Premier Locating offered him $3 more an hour if he switched jobs to them. That sounded impressive, but he was wary and turned it down. I wonder if he made the right decision. Would someone who works for a Subsurface Utility Engineering Company need to be in the middle of a busy intersection marking lines? That's currently what I do, usually for telephone.

    I was thinking about looking into Premier. However, one of my fellow locators at On Target told me once that a few guys had left On Target to go to Premier, but then later on they tried to come back to On Target. That was red flag number 1. Also he told me he knew one of the guys that worked at Premier for a long time that was loyal to the company but he discovered that some of the new locators were starting at almost the same wage he was making.

    What are your thoughts and opinions of this place? Am I better off where I am or should I consider trying to get a job with Premier? Does Premier have a major presence in Vermont or New Hampshire? Would I have a chance of moving up there if I got a job with Premier?

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    Mke
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    Well, I got some good news for you.....and some bad news for you. The SUE companies are usually similar to private locators and they will go wherever there is money. If the customer wants a large intersection marked....you mark it. Pay is usually better then the public locating side of things.

    I started out as a private locator 7yrs back at 12.00 an hour and moved up two bucks an hour for the first 3 years.

    Sounds great right? They pay you enough to where it is hard to find equal pay anywhere else. It kind of traps you a bit. Makes it harder to find the perfect job.

    As for the equipment.....when you are locating everything.... you want bleed off.

    mmmmmm metrotech 810........

    You work lots of hours, but get paid well for it. you probably won't be on call, but you will have to work at all hours of the night (whenever the customer wants).

    First and foremost, do you want to be a locator? This gig isn't for everybody.

    Second, no matter where you work, it will always Suck A$$. My neice who's working at BurgerKing thinks her job sucks. A guy who I work with who makes over 6 figures a year thinks his job sucks (he looks over that fact when the paychecks come in).

    hope this helps?

    ahh at least its the truth (as far as i remember it)

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    good luck whatever you decide !! you may have to keep bumping your thread up to make for sure most everyone sees it !!!!?????
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Senior Member AULupstate's Avatar
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    We mark out EVERYTHING.
    My equipment is all brand new and they let me CHOOSE what I wanted to use.
    I do not do call outs or on call.
    I do not do 'emergencies'.
    I am salary. Sometimes I work 10-12 hours a day, sometimes I work 4 hours a day. I still get paid the same.

    As far as Premier goes. Unless your last name is Heaney, Marchese or Makely (or married into those last names) you can expect to lose your job at ANY POINT AND TIME.

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    Member JMilbragen's Avatar
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    Wow, thank you guys for the awesome replies so far. When I started with On Target I asked if I could transfer up to Vermont or New Hampshire at some point because I want to live up there. They said it was fine because they have a major presence in those states.

    Recently there was a position open around the St. Johnsbury area in Vermont that I saw and I talked to the general manager of the company about it. Time went on for a few weeks, and then I was informed that I was doing a good job of the large area I have and the company would be better suited hiring a new locator up in Vermont and keeping me here.

    I'm at the point in my life where I have plenty of money to buy a house and have already satisfied the requirement of being in the same career for a long enough period of time. I used to be a land surveyor before I got laid off in the recession of 2008. Believe me, that's one thing I absolutely love about being in utility location, you can get excellent 60+ hour weeks in the middle of a depression. When I was a land surveyor, if your crew even went over 40 hours just by 1 or 2 hours you got a talking too. "Pick up the pace" and such nonsense. I remember once I was doing cell phone tower triangulation in the Ledyard area near the casinos and I took an extra 3 hours to finish all the towers, and when I returned I got scolded so bad instead of praised!

    My supervisor has been a locator for 30 years. His father worked for the telephone company on the pacific coast and he started locating phone at the tender age of 14. He moved to Yonkers, New York and worked for the gas company there. He told me once that the area was so dense you would get emergencies almost every 10 minutes. LOL. I'm telling you this because he uses the metrotech 810 by CHOICE. He swears by that thing more than the newer RD8000 units. He uses the 810 transmitter and the reciever that comes with it. He says it's less picky. I remember once I had some untraceable fiber that I couldn't get a tone on with my metrotech 9800xt, and I called him. He showed up and somehow got tone on something inside the fiber conduit and marked it! I was really impressed. He didn't even use radio or power passive, the metrotech 810 set doesn't have passive.

    I've had some wild on calls. Once I got woken up at 2am and had to drive out to a town by long island sound that was 120 miles round trip. The money is good with on call, but it can get to you. I've been told that Vermont has so few locator's that some areas you have to rotate on call every other week!! As opposed to every 2 months! The longest week I've ever worked at On Target was 102 hours.

    Yes. I want to be a locator. I absolutely love the independance. I'm addicted to it. I never thought I could have a job where I could tackle every situation on my own and solve it myself, and if my work was good I could go days without talking to anyone. I love that part of it. The company vehicle is a good deal too.

    I wouldn't say On Target is bad. I just had a bad experience with them in a specific situation, it wasn't necessarily about locating or a bad conversation. Besides some other things, I mainly just wanted to transfer to a different state and I lost that oppurtunity and now I don't know if it will ever come again. Vermont is a rural state and openings are far and few between.

    That's why I ask about Premier. I think they are the only other major locator up there. It says right on thier website that Vermont and New Hampshire are in thier jurisdiction. I see that Premier doesn't have a good repuation around here, damn I'm sorry to see that, I trust your opinions and should probably just stay with On Target. That was my original plan to begin with. But I don't want to live in Connecticut. I've been here for 23 years and I'm seriously done with this godless sh*thole.

    AULupstate, may I ask which company you work for? Are you in the New England area? Currently my area is so big I almost always work 12 hours a day, rarely I can do 11 or 10 hours and get all my tickets done but this usually happens when there is a slow week of tickets. I have a good relationship with my supervisor and the state boss so it's not a personal issue that I was thinking of leaving. But I see you're saying that there is alot of nepotism at Premier. Damn. I guess they really are a bad place to work? I have yet to meet someone who praises them even in the little. Premier pays by the hour right? Having salary as a locator sounds like it would be cool... certainly a motivator for me to finish my work faster.

    Are there any other companies in northern New England that I'm missing? Too bad it's such a rural area. Although that's why I want to live there. But don't think it's easier up there, I have all the fairpoint maps of Vermont and there is fiber almost everywhere in Cabot and Peacham. My god. You know, in Connecticut there is this transcontinental fiber line that we arn't responsible for, ATT has thier own guys that mark that. But fairpoint up in Vermont, they have us mark all of thier transcontinental/dedicated fiber lines that normally we woudln't be responsible for in Connecticut.

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    Senior Member AULupstate's Avatar
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    JM,
    I work in the Tri-State area. Don't take this the wrong way but I choose not to say who I work for here.

    Premier does pay hourly. Now don't get me wrong about Premier. I was very happy while I worked for them. I loved my area, I loved my crew and I loved my job. Things started going downhill after being accused of tampering with my GPS in my truck (which the tech who fixed the broken peice of sh*t verified to them). I started to get calls about magic damages from 6 months PRIOR to the phone call. Then one in which apparently my supervisor and I (reading the same peice of paper) had a difference of FACT as to what a guard rail is and where it is positioned in a parking lot.

    Basically they through me under the bus because I would NOT stand for their crap they were trying to push. I was fired.

    Private Locating is cool but it IS NOT about speed or production. It's about getting the locate RIGHT.

    Salary is cool for those 4 or 6 hour days but 3 to 4 weeks of 12's with a 1 1/2 to 2 hour car ride each way, it isn't.

    The best and worse thing about it is having time to do the job right. I say best because you REALLY are Locating. Finding every utility, pulling out every trick you have ever learned to get something to tone that doesn't want to. Finding out that the One Call mark outs SUCK and are WRONG 90% of the time!
    I say worse because time can also be your enemy. Your at the same site all day (sometimes a couple of days). Things don't want to tone and they piss you off but you know you HAVE to find a way to locate it or the job isn't done. Clients who think your equipment is magic and can find EVERYTHING and stand right there over your shoulder the whole time.

    It's give and take basically. I miss the contract world sometimes but I don't think I would ever go back to it.

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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    AULupstate,

    I'm pleased to hear that you were happy while with Premier and equally distraught after reading about the fallout of the senseless accusations of a broken GPS unit. I can't even believe they would bother to accuse you of tampering with it, didn't they think through the steps of that kind of sabatoge? If a GPS unit was disabled, it would show up in the logs of the GPS program they use to track all of thier locators, the data would simply be blank and they would know immediately that something had gone wrong with the unit. How could they suspect the locator would tamper with it? It's so ridiculous.

    Still, it was nice to hear that you enjoyed your time there. You said you had a crew, that's interesting, were you the party cheif or did you have one? It sounds like you teamed up with other locators on a continual basis, that sounds cool, I've never worked with another locator on a job before. Hopefully it doesn't cramp the independant mindset much. So you loved your job there! I would think that spending 8 hours of straight locating at a factory or something would be very demanding and taxing on the mind but it seems you had a good time doing it.

    These magic damages also sound devious... they obviously had an extraneous goal they wanted to keep hidden from you. Very unfair and unjust... so that's how they treat thier employees.

    One of my friends knew a guy that worked for Premier for 7 years. His job was to mark the Att level 3 communications fiber all over Mass., Connecticut, Rhode Island, and parts of New York. One day he discovered that the new guys getting hired were starting at almost the same wage that he was making and it disgusted him to a point that he chose to leave, after attempting to talk to the management to get the proper compensation. Premier ultimately didn't work out for him either it seems.

    Also I heard that some of the gas contracts that Premier gets, the locators assigned to those don't even get to take the trucks home with them to drive to work the next day. They have to take thier personal vehicles to the nearest Premier truck bay and take a truck. That's not very desirable.

    Haha! I hear you about using those special tricks aquired over time. I once couldn't find a hook up point for this cable television copper wire and what I ended up doing was inducing on a power meter and sweeping over to where I thought the cable was and sure enough I found it. I could have used passive mode but I like to get a center line lol.

    when you say that wouldn't go back to the contract world, are you referring to the locating you did with Premier? Or are you talking about a contract based company like On Target? Sorry for the confusion.

    Thank you very much for replying to me so far and based on your shared experiences I probably will not be looking for a job with them. Really very happy I found this forum.

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    Senior Member AULupstate's Avatar
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    Really any contract company JM. That whole busting your ass running from one locate to the next, running to emergencies, being on call SUCKS! All of the bullshit that goes on within those companies are because of someones made up number to be 'productive'. It's a load of crap. Contract Locating is a shell game. On one hand they preach safety and job proficiency. Then on the other it's cut corners, don't spend to long at one address, stop EVERYTHING and go to some bullshit emergency because someone is burying a pet fence then go back to where you left off.

    Speed, being acurate, those things are good and fine, but, I would rather take my time. Private Locating lets you do that. I gladly traded being fast for being right everytime.

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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    Not to jump in where Im not welcome but-

    I believe in the "code-red" philosophy...I was a jarhead and have been a contract locator for many years...

    Sometimes you have to do things that others can't handle...



    nuthin like the smell of a fresh pot...Ladle please...

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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    that wasn't right!!!!!
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    Jmibragen,

    I was curious as to how long you have been with your company? Also, how long you have been a locator?

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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    Ironically, I haven't been here as long as the senior locator who has 10 years at this company behind his belt, and he CHOOSES to use the Metrotech 9800XT. And dude, you won't believe it but I finally got a real piece of locating equipment today. I managed to snag an RD4000 this afternoon and it's been working out great. I thought they were going to feed me that kid's table nonsense for awhile longer but they finally came through.

    At first I had mixed feelings about it. The tone comming in from the left, the heavier weight of the instrument, the shaky tone bar when you get to higher levels of gain, and the constant manual adjustment of gain had me on the edge. But once I started to mark out with it I was satisfied.

    I think the radio passive is amazing on it. The previous reciever I had was the Metrotech 9800XT and I never touched the radio passive. But the RD4000 really impresses me. I had entertained a fantasy of getting a magical wand of sorcery that would light up only what I wanted and would ignore anything I wasn't hooked up to. Obviously that didn't turn out to be the case but I still think I will be more efficient with it.

    I first used it on regular markout: a pole drop with power/phone/cable in the same trench going to the same meter cluster on the house. I marked it out by hooking up to each utility and sweeping around like I normally do. Then afterwards I switched between power and radio passive to double check the marks and they both gave the same general peak when swept over which I thought was sweet. The metrotech definitely wouldn't have given such good results.

    The weight of it might get to me. After 20 minutes or so I could feel the pressure in my elbow from holding it so long. I wonder what the design mechanism was which required it to be so heavy. I'm also wondering about the clamp that literally presses down on top of the conduit you want instead of needing to go all the way around it. You would never need to worry about getting your crowbar out or ever losing it!

    Don't get me wrong though. I enjoy working for On Target and I want to stay and make it a career. It's fun trying to challenge yourself with each ticket and to see how many you can do throughout the day. And it's certainly very cool to drive around to a bunch of different places you'd never see otherwise. Just today I was at a marina I'd never seen before and the view of the water was gorgeous, to mark some phone.

    I just seriously hope they don't let me rot in Connecticut. If only some high level manager had just enough time to lurk these boards and troll one of my threads. Maybe they would see how interested and enthusiastic I am about this profession, and how excited I would be to get a transfer up north. Maybe they would appreciate I'm trying to become informed and learn more about locating by conversing with all of these other locators. Maybe they would stop and think "Hey, that's not a bad person. I'll put in a good word on thier behalf." Oh well.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    you sound like a good dude!!! i hope things work out for you.....Godspeed in your journey !
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    JM, just do a search for "SUE" on the Vine, there are many, many posts on SUE here.
    There is a fine line between "Hobby" and "Mental Illness."
    "America isn't free, in America you are free to follow the rules." -Anthony Cumia


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    Senior Member Dave72's Avatar
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    Default Re: On Target Utility Services vs. Premier Locating, need opinions please :)

    Geeze.. always gets me boiled to read about someone like JM here, that's enthusiastic about his job.. likes to manage his equipment (yes, the Metro's do toss too high a freq, lighting up too much.. but sometimes ya gotta crank the RD up to those freqs just to get a path.. then the same issues, of course..).. and he posts his rate.. $12.50.

    Why dont the companies recognize that this is a skilled art, and if you keep rolling the guys thru (they keep leaving trying to find a better living wage..), you're gonna loose gems like him ?

    Knock on wood, i guess, but up here our reg locator guy is makin 2x that plus full bennies.. and thats just telco. Us splicers make a bit more of course ..doin locates plus reg job.. but still..

    How can they expect a 'trade professional' to stay and become an asset at that kind of compensation.

    I really do hope you guys get sorted out someday.
    (May you live in interesting times)

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