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Thread: Looking to join SM&P

  1. #1
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    Default Looking to join SM&P

    Hey all,

    Brand new to this forum. I have an opportunity to join smp on their next class date in oklahoma city on the 23rd. I come from a background in CATV and satellite TV. I was hoping you all can give me a run down of how the day to day goes. As well as the following questions:

    What do you like about the job? (I've done locates when I worked for the cable company, so I have a tiny bit of experience in locating. It didn't seem to be to bad.)

    What do you like least?

    How's smp to work for?

    I currently work for Dish Network, its a good paying job but waay too many hours for what I want, typically 14-17, is locating similar in hours?

    I'm assuming that there isn't as much customer contact, and/or the level of customers that you have to deal with is different. True or no?

    I really feel as though this would be a good fit for me, I'm just wanting a little more detail about the job, as far as how a typical day goes.

    Any and all replies would be very much appreciated.

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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Quote Originally Posted by gwhitson71 View Post
    Hey all,

    Brand new to this forum. I have an opportunity to join smp on their next class date in oklahoma city on the 23rd. I come from a background in CATV and satellite TV. I was hoping you all can give me a run down of how the day to day goes. As well as the following questions:

    What do you like about the job? (I've done locates when I worked for the cable company, so I have a tiny bit of experience in locating. It didn't seem to be to bad.)

    What do you like least?

    How's smp to work for?

    I currently work for Dish Network, its a good paying job but waay too many hours for what I want, typically 14-17, is locating similar in hours?

    I'm assuming that there isn't as much customer contact, and/or the level of customers that you have to deal with is different. True or no?

    I really feel as though this would be a good fit for me, I'm just wanting a little more detail about the job, as far as how a typical day goes.

    Any and all replies would be very much appreciated.


    I've installed somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 DTV/Dish Network systems, but never did it professionally....Long story....


    Anyways, Installing Sat. systems is a hell of a lot less work then Utility locating, and if the moneys better, I'd stick with it if I was you. There are a lot of similarities (Outside for the most part, multiple jobsites through the course of the day, etc.) , but depending what utilities you'll be locating, it can be really frustrating at times. I've always thought it takes a unique person to do this job, can't really know if it's for you until you give it a try. The hours can be long though depending on how the area is staffed, and there's always the on call to consider.

    Whatever you decide, Good Luck Man...... And if you end up with SM&P , we'll be fellow employees. I'm with CLS, which is under the USIC umbrella with SM&P. Personally, I love this job, but again it's not for everyone....

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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    As 2RUDE stated locating isn't for everyone. Most of the time the complaints from newbies seem to stem from working outside and the hours needed. Being that you were in the CATV/Satelite business you're used to working outside so that shouldn't be a problem. We don't deal with too many customers. Homeowners can make you mad sometimes but for the most part I don't talk to too many people on a daily basis.

    The hours should definately be less than 14-17 hours. Like stated above this would depend on the office you work for and how they are staffed. Where I work I'm guessing on average the guys work from 55-65 hours a week through the busy season.

    For me the part I like most about the job is the freedom to route myself and work independantly. There definately isn't as much freedom as the "good ole' days" but still the ability to do you're job without your supervisor watching you're every move is nice.

    I guess the part I like least about the job is the stress levels incurred during the busy season. Trying to keep 5-10 big projects going plus running all my regular tickets can become very hectic.

    I also work for SM&P and have no complaints. I love locating and couldn't think of a different job I'd do. If you have any specific questions just PM me. I don't work in OK though.

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    Senior Member RD_Wrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Hmmmm...irony is fun.

    *I* DID happen to work for SM&P right here in OKC. I may be returning in the near future, depending on several factors.

    The additional irony is I also made my living in the Satellite Industry prior to locating.

    If you enjoy the technical aspects of your current job, you should enjoy locating. I know I loved it. In OKC we usually worked around 55-65 hours a week in peak season, and for the most part still got our 40 in the down season.

    SM&P is a pretty good company to work for. It really depends on which crew you are on. Some are real tight like family, others not so much. Just hang tight, pay attention to the technical stuff the trainer teaches you, and remember that the vast majority of what you will need to know he simply doesn't have the ability to teach in the time alloted. You'll learn the rest in the field.

    If you can make it the first 6 months you'll be fine. Just expect a mental breakdown sometime before then.
    Last edited by RD_Wrangler; March 11th, 2009 at 11:19 PM.
    Character is what you are in the dark. It is the things you do, when nobody can see, and nobody will ever know, that define who you are as an individual.

    "Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

    Per Scientiam Vires!

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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Quote Originally Posted by RD_Wrangler View Post

    If can you make it the first 6 months you'll be fine. Just expect a mental breakdown sometime before then.

    Did you mean- If you can make it ????


    Boy, what else do I have time to do???



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    Senior Member RD_Wrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Why....yes I did! The funny thing is I had a 9 month old in my lap helping me type. Funny that even he did better than you usually do.
    Character is what you are in the dark. It is the things you do, when nobody can see, and nobody will ever know, that define who you are as an individual.

    "Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

    Per Scientiam Vires!

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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Quote Originally Posted by gwhitson71 View Post
    Hey all,

    Brand new to this forum. I have an opportunity to join smp on their next class date in oklahoma city on the 23rd. I come from a background in CATV and satellite TV. I was hoping you all can give me a run down of how the day to day goes. As well as the following questions:

    What do you like about the job? (I've done locates when I worked for the cable company, so I have a tiny bit of experience in locating. It didn't seem to be to bad.)

    What do you like least?

    How's smp to work for?

    I currently work for Dish Network, its a good paying job but waay too many hours for what I want, typically 14-17, is locating similar in hours?

    I'm assuming that there isn't as much customer contact, and/or the level of customers that you have to deal with is different. True or no?

    I really feel as though this would be a good fit for me, I'm just wanting a little more detail about the job, as far as how a typical day goes.

    Any and all replies would be very much appreciated.
    To answer your questions, from my point of view:

    What I like most is the freedom that the job brings with it. There's no supervisor looking over your shoulder, no customers that need constant assistance, just you and the work that needs to be done. And, lately, I've really enjoyed being able to drive a company vehicle to and from the area I work in. It's something a lot of people take for granted.

    What I like least is the pay scale. We're dealing with multi-billion dollar infrastructures and being paid peanuts. It helps when there is a bonus program in place, but SM&P/USIC has currently put a freeze on all bonus and incentive programs. Even before the recession, the pay scale was in need of improvement, but contract locating will never allow for employers to pay out big money to it's people, so it's doubtful things will ever change.

    Overall, SM&P has been has been good to me, and I've enjoyed working for this company. They do a good job of providing the training and equipment to do the job right, and they update their equipment and fleet regularly to keep things working properly. Also, my local management has proven to be very accessible for any questions or issues over the years, which can be tough to get with some employers. However, recently there's a new brand of micromanagement that's taking over how managers and supervisors run their areas and crews, and while it's still very easy to just go do my work, it does threaten some of that freedom that I enjoy with my job.

    You likely won't see 14-17 hours in a day unless you're oncall, although usually once dig season hits it's not uncommon to put in 12+ hours a day, seven days a week. However, there is the likelihood that ticket volumes will be lower this year, so that will obviously impact how many hours we're allowed to put in. In years' past, we had pretty much been allowed to put in as many hours as we wanted to without restriction. This season will be different.

    There isn't a ton of customer contact, but you will regularly meet up with contractors and homeowners to go over dig sites, discuss what was located, or when work will actually begin.

    It's long, but I hope that helps.
    My boots may be red but I'm no clown.

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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Hey whitson - I am your fellow SM&P Team Member from Kansas City. Welcome to theVine! I hope all works well for you in and out of class.

    I am in agreement with all the 'Viners who have posted before me. I'm very thankful to be working in a field that is a good fit for me. I love the freedom, the company vehicle with the gas card and being part of a close knit fraternity out in the real world of locating. I have many SM&P buddies - that goes without saying. But I enjoy being a part of a fraternity, my real buddies, that are the excavators and utility reps. These people are as close to me as any of my relatives. We have shared many life experiences together in my 11+ years in the field. These have been the "good times." I have gone to weddings, retirement parties, school functions, lunches, evening dinners, picnics, BBQs, weekend trips and to professional sports events together with my fraternity buddies. And sadly I have attended funerals for some members of this fraternity of excavation.

    First - I recommend you to find a 2 year (+/-) veteran to be your mentor. Pair up with one that is a quick bond. You will learn more in 2 months from a 2 year vet than a year on your own. A 2 year vet still does primarily the basics in locating and does not know ALL the scary shortcuts........ yet! And that is a good thing! Don't use your supervisor as your mentor!!!! He/she will slow you down. Chances are great he/she became a supervisor because he/she wasn't worth a shit as a locator............ (Hey boss - When you read this, I'm not talking about you!) I am blessed to have my 1st line as a friend. He is a better locator than I will ever become (and that ain't no shit).

    Second - I recommend you make sure your SM&P trainer emphasizes print usage - Understand all your prints (AT&T maps - gas maps - CATV maps - electricity maps - etc) - Know how to use them correctly - Always know where you are in the field physically and know how to place yourself on each print - Get a compass if you have to and put it on your windshield - Use your prints on every locate ticket - Before and after you lay down paint - After all these years in locating, I still use every print on every locate ticket; before and after I lay down paint.

    I have few complaints - I don't like the idea of 2 or 3 high-profile at-faults within a year and I could be thrown out to the Obama soup line... Big stuff is what I mark every day, all day long. My last high-profile at-fault was in 2002, but that could change tomorrow.

    You may get tired of the mountains of dog shit sticking to your boots, barking dogs, muddy boots, invisible fences, privacy fences, inquisitive homeowners, satellite tv stand tickets, planting flower tickets, planting a garden tickets, planting a bush tickets, planting a tree tickets, burying CATV & telephone drop tickets, survey tickets, termite bait tickets and foundation repair tickets. The good thing is these tickets will never get you into big trouble. All noobs go thru this apprenticeship training before they develop into a bonafide locating vet. Hang in there. Wear your mentor out. Your first 6 months will stink. Trust Wingfoot on this - It only gets better with time. One day soon you will like this profession very much. Just like all of us at theVine enjoy this profession.

    ------------------------------------------

  9. #9
    Mke
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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    "I've done locates when I worked for the cable company, so I have a tiny bit of experience in locating. It didn't seem to be to bad."

    Well, a tiny bit of locating always seems easy... its when you are swamped that locating tends to suck.

    Like several people have said already... the essentials of locating are great, your outdoors, away from your boss, and free to route yourself accordingly.

    As for drawbacks.... every job has its down side... this one is no different.

    The best advise was already given by wingfoot... to paraphrase... concentrate on locating basics... don't try all the shortcuts. shortcuts are a newb killer. You need to know how to locate to understand how to implement the shortcuts. Shortcuts used in the wrong situation will only make you frustrated and have a good chance to blow past stuff you shouldn't of.

    Learn your maps, but understand (not knowing how accurate your maps will be) maps are only a generalized locations of where the utilities should be.

    Mke

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    Senior Member 6feetunder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    It really all depends on the team you get thrown into. By that I mean is the manager good at his job, and is the team full of veterans that you can fall back on , and what is the workload like. Life can be really good if on the right team but life can also be horrible if put on a bad team. Locating itself is not hard but the team ,and the manager will be what makes or breaks you. Good luck to you , and don't pick up any bad habits from the bad seeds that are out there and will try and convert any newbie to the darkside. Do your job the right way because in reality people's lives depend on it!
    Life's a garden, dig it! - Joe Dirt

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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Quote Originally Posted by 6feetunder View Post
    It really all depends on the team you get thrown into. By that I mean is the manager good at his job, and is the team full of veterans that you can fall back on , and what is the workload like. Life can be really good if on the right team but life can also be horrible if put on a bad team. Locating itself is not hard but the team ,and the manager will be what makes or breaks you. Good luck to you , and don't pick up any bad habits from the bad seeds that are out there and will try and convert any newbie to the darkside. Do your job the right way because in reality people's lives depend on it!
    Very nicely put 6 footer. I for one am happy with what has become of my team.Sure we have the crybaby's and the fellows who don't want to work but, all in all my supervisor has done one hell of a job over the last year or so!!! But keepin mind that every single locator has "bad habits" The real question is did you "protect our costomers infrastructure and those who live and workaround it in a safeand timely manner".? If you leave the locate saying "yes everything is protected", then you have obtained the ultimate goal. Lets not forget usic makes there $$$$ off production.

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    Senior Member sprayandpray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    OKC is pretty hard locating. Gas facilities without test stations and Zero lot lines. Definitely not for the weak. "Oswald " couldn't make it there.
    I might not be as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was !


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    Senior Member RD_Wrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Quote Originally Posted by sprayandpray View Post
    OKC is pretty hard locating. Gas facilities without test stations and Zero lot lines. Definitely not for the weak. "Oswald " couldn't make it there.
    lol, what's a test station?

    Spray's right. Most of the OKC metro is zero lot line easements as far as residential. What can I say? We hate alleys. Gas can suck alot. The damn fiber splicers seem to forget how to bond at the splice 9 times out of 10, which makes locating fiber REAL fun. There's very little regulation as far as what contractors put where in easement, so congestion gets to be insane. I could name a thousand problems.

    BUT! It's those problems that can make one an awesome locator if that person has the drive. What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger right?
    Character is what you are in the dark. It is the things you do, when nobody can see, and nobody will ever know, that define who you are as an individual.

    "Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

    Per Scientiam Vires!

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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Like I tell my fellow locators up north if you can locate OKC you can locate almost anywhere. Twice last year I was down there for two weeks and twice I came home with a head ache that last for a month. Just take your time and you should be good.

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    Senior Member RD_Wrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to join SM&P

    Quote Originally Posted by flagsrme View Post
    Like I tell my fellow locators up north if you can locate OKC you can locate almost anywhere. Twice last year I was down there for two weeks and twice I came home with a head ache that last for a month. Just take your time and you should be good.
    Two words to drive a Northern boy NUTS! - unlocatable yardline!
    Character is what you are in the dark. It is the things you do, when nobody can see, and nobody will ever know, that define who you are as an individual.

    "Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

    Per Scientiam Vires!

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