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Thread: From the Utility side of things

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    Member Boss Man's Avatar
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    Talking From the Utility side of things

    I am from a Municipality that does our own line locating. I have 6 line locators 3 of in which have over 20 years with the company. We are a little different because one locator will go out and mark all 6 utilities that we own. We average 20,000 locates a year and has a very good reputation for marking lines correctly. I'm looking for your opinion on what route I should take in replacing the ole timers as they retire. We have a 33 month training plan and will not turn any one out on their own until they have completed the training. Is it better to start looking to contract out locates? or temporary fill the position until I have got someone trained up.
    Throw some thoughts my way.

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    Senior Member headcipher's Avatar
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    Default Re: From the Utility side of things

    Quote Originally Posted by Boss Man View Post
    Is it better to start looking to contract out locates? or temporary fill the position until I have got someone trained up.
    Throw some thoughts my way.
    I say keep it in-house. I'm a municipal locator that does gas, electric, h2o, waste water, fiber, and on our sites everything. I think you should look at recruiting among some of the good techs who are out there now. what's your typical pay scale?

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: From the Utility side of things

    33 month training before they mark on their own? Very thorough but overkill.

    If your pleased with the high quality and the quality justify the cost then change your training program.

    What used to be done at one firm now operating under a different name was this. One week class room training followed by one week working in the field working with an experianced , mentor class locator. This continued for all five utilities. After that if the trainiee needed to they spent more time with the mentor. When they were ready to start off on their own they only got a few handpicked tickets so they had time to do it right, double check their work.

    In your situation look at the utilites. Maybe a begining trainee would be marking only the streetlights. Then later more utilities are added.

    I find that a locator does not really learn until after a year in the field.

    You should be able to drop that training period down to 18 months easy and end up with a very capable locator.

    If you go with aq contract locate firm you will get whatever they put on your contract. Trainees generaly get a week or two classrom, ride with someone a few weeks and are turned loose. They will usually get easy tickets at first but not always, many are just turned loose. Also you have had locators with you for 20 years and I am guessing becasue the pay, benifits and working conditions are preety good. Their is high attrition in the contract industry and turnovers of 20 to 40 percent a year is no uncommon. Work demands on hours worked is high and becasue everybody is trying to enter a lower bid then their competitor. Pay and benifits have been shrinking over the years.



    If your pay and benifits are decent advertise for experianced help only and you will have plenty of applicants with years of experiance which will cut your training period down to where you can cover your people retireing. As for temporary help until your new locators are up to speed, you are talking 33 months.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: From the Utility side of things

    I'm with a Municipality as well. If you are considering contracting out the work, may I ask why? Is it solely the time and money it takes for a locator to become proficient in your system? Or is it a push from the bean counters to trim budgets?

    I would always vouch for keeping locates in-house. I think that you can control quality alot better this way, and you can see if there is anyone not pulling their weight in the ranks.

    If you truely wanted to test the waters of the local contract locaing firms, put out a RFP (request for proposal) for a "on-call" locator. test em out for a year to see the quality of work. Know most of the companies that will respond will probably be on the SUE side of locates and you should have experienced guys coming in to locate. You will find out that you will run into the same situation of not knowing what is exactly going on. You won't know if there is any issues. Only the Big ones will show up, and by that time it is going to cost some money. You can send quality control guys out to verify, but at that cost, you might as well have them do the original locates.

    I'm with PL, Trim the training down, you should be able to get someone proficient in your ways within 18mos. If not I'd look harder.

    Finding the good ones take time and patience.

    mke

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: From the Utility side of things

    what is your insurance costs ??? if low keep it in house...if high contract it out .
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: From the Utility side of things

    Bossman, did you mean perhaps a 3 month training plan?
    At my company, I was in the classroom for one moth then did ride along training for one month.
    Thee months is good introductory period.

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    Default Re: From the Utility side of things

    From my perspective, I would ask a few questions.

    1. Do you have younger people willing to make the change in house? I have seen a guy working for the local traffic company transfer to locates, and he hates it. I have also seen a guy doing locates in house for gas that hates it as well.
    2. Do you personally train them, or is there another trainer? If you are the trainer, look at the qualities you want, and then look at your applicants both in and out of house.
    3. Have you talked with other employees about the position? There are some out there that think you wave your magic wand and suddenly everything is located. They think it is an easy job, and have no idea about the stress involved.

    Just a few questions to ask yourself, me personally, I would try to get someone from the outside. If you are looking for new blood, why not try out someone new?

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    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Default Re: From the Utility side of things

    And locating should be the utility company's responsibility anyway, its their plant...
    but oh well...
    LONG LIVE THE CONTRACTORS!
    Homeowner - "They still bury lines in the ground?
    I thought they didn't do that anymore!"
    Me - "Yes sir they do."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "...But you're painting all over people's property"
    Me - "Yes I am. It's the law."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "My gas line is not over there"
    Me - "Yes it is."

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: From the Utility side of things

    If you do decide to hire and want experience from day one, make sure to post your openings on LocatorJobs.com.

    I have noticed that in-house locate openings get a much greater response than contract locate openings. It seems to be a more desirable position so you should have your pick of the best there is.
    RD_Wrangler likes this.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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