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    Default Big vs Small company

    Ok I notice alot of lets say frustration towards these big locate companies. some of it i understand some i dont even know what it is. I want to get a better understanding of how lets say a day in the life of a usic employee is. I start my shift anytime i want as long as i get my tickets done with the exception of covering emergencies from 7 to 3 for my area and ot is almost limitless. I fill out an excel spreadsheet for my schedule no gps no monitored stops. Its basically all in good faith. we dont have benefits as far as heallth insurance and our bonus is based off not getting damages which are basically never. My boss worked for sm&p and didnt like the way it was ran so he took over one of their contracts and started his own business. So i guess he leaves out as much of the nonsense as possible. We get healthy raises non of this 10 cent crap. We have a guy in the low 20 an hour and its purely based off production. if his numbers dwindle for a long period of time he will get a pay cut. No health insurance but thats not the end of the world. we get diesel jettas for the summer and run 4x4 truck in the winter and we dont get charged for the vehicl or anything. small company can do that i guess. We dont have the equipment for venting manholes or waterpumps but we dont have a ton of manholes to deal with. basically i have my locater, paint and flags and thats about it. We are can actually compete with usic prices and turn a profit so they cant undercut us like ive heard they do. One of our contracts used to be usic but they didnt pay for a damage so not good practice i guess. I dont see the need for such large companies and all the wasted middlemen. I couldnt imagine having a supervisor like the ones explained. My boss is a supervisor but he knows all the areas we locate and what production numbers should be coming in. Just wanted to know how the grass actually is on the other side not that im thinking of it just curious.

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    For either a small or large company the only worker there that produces an income / profit for the firm is the locator. All other employees from the CEO on down are nothing but red ink.

    For either type of firm the locator is the most expensive piece of equipment in their inventory. A productive locator who is accurate with few damages has to be developed over several years. In addition the company will have to go through several locators to find just that one which adds to development cost. During early stages of development damage rate is usually higher and add the costs of damages, including the locators that did not make it, to the cost of development.

    A successfully developed locator costs more than $250,000, probably $500,000. The loss of this employee due to recruitment by another firm or their leaving for any reason is a significant loss of company investment.

    At a large firm with hundreds of locators the loss of a locator produces a small impact on operations and budget. Attrition occurs spread out over the year and is not considered a problem unless they lose all their locators ate one time, an exodus. Large firms tend to not be concerned with keeping pay and benefits competitive or with good treatment of employees. I have seen one exodus and there all the locators got raises of at least two dollars an hour. Only an exodus threatens the firms ability to keep the contract.

    The loss of a single or a coupe of locators at a small firm has a greater impact on the budget and operations. Lose one locator from a firm off 100 locators is a one percent loss while at a firm with just ten locators it is a loss of ten percent of their workforce. The relative impact of the loss of a locator is greater at a smaller firm. As a result smaller firms tend to treat their locators better and offering better pay and benefits is recognized as a sound business practice.

    At any size firm recruiting an experienced and good locator from a competitor represents adding a hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment without spending the development cost. In addition it forces your competitor to spend that development cost again to rep;lace that locator. For the recruiting firm it is win win and for the firm that has been raided it is lose lose.


    I am an advocate of recruiting experienced locators from our competition.
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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    As far as not being charged a fee for driving your car/ truck home this is not a big business trick. I have seen this twice in 2 days.This is a IRS regulation not a usic deal and why I don't know the exact rule I do know that you and/or your employer will both be sorry if this benefit is not reflected in your check. One problem I see with a small company is the loss of 1 big contract can break the entire company. If any large company decides there is something worth going after they can take a break even or a small loss if they want into a area.

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Quote Originally Posted by orangeboots View Post
    As far as not being charged a fee for driving your car/ truck home this is not a big business trick. I have seen this twice in 2 days.This is a IRS regulation not a usic deal and why I don't know the exact rule I do know that you and/or your employer will both be sorry if this benefit is not reflected in your check. One problem I see with a small company is the loss of 1 big contract can break the entire company. If any large company decides there is something worth going after they can take a break even or a small loss if they want into a area.
    If you have a company take home vehicle, commute vehicle, the use of the vehicle is considered income by the IRS and is taxable. If the company charges a small fee then it's use is not taxable and the fee is usually less than what you would pay in taxes. I hear with a little bookkeeping magic you legally break even on the fee to use the vehicle, that your before tax net income is the same including the fee. It was explained to me once but I have forgotten how it works.

    Still the cost of having to commute to work in your own vehicle is gone regardless of how that charge by the company works out. We have had people leave to take jobs for a few dollars more an hour but have less money in their pocket at the end of the week due to the cost of driving their own car. That commute vehicle is worth something like two dollars an hour for a 40 hour work week at a minimum.
    When you consider operating your own vehicle is net money after taxes the commute vehicle can be worth as much as five or more dollars an hour. If I had to drive to my office every day it would be a 120 mile commute daily. So 600 miles a week for say 50 weeks, counting some time off, would be gas and wear for 6,000 miles a year. That for me would be 30 gallons a week and at today's prices about $105.00 a week of net paycheck after taxes and other items just for gas.

    Plus if you are using a company commute vehicle call you personal car insurance company, most offer a discount for this.

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Hey Tom...

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who works for a great company. Here is my day:

    Show up at the bosses house to get my tickets. Sit around and BS for about 15 minutes and then off to work. Get my tickets done and go home. He doesn't call me unless there is a priority or emegency in my area or he has a question about a locate.

    I don't have health insurance either. I get paid by the ticket which I prefer. None of this hourly stuff with production quotas. We don't clock in or out and he never asks us when we go home. Just get the tickets done. If I get a damage, I pay for it. Simple as that. I drive a little geo metro which I own and I pay for my gas. Roughly $200-$250 a month. Not much. Sounds like I'm responsible for much of the cost. Well, I am but I also get most of the ticket price. I'm guessing I get anywhere around 65-75% of the ticket.
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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    we let go an experienced locator because he got lazy and happened to get a few damages in his last month. our smallest contract where he located mostly told us we should let him go or let them go. They knew he was a good locator but what can you do when someone slacks and almost cost you a contract.

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Thats an interesting pay scale. If you can get ahead using your own vehicle because your pay scale allows it thats good for you. Nice move on the metro, has to be like the cheapest vehicle to operate of all time. what is it like a handful of quarters for a new tire and a few bills to put a new engine in it lol My particular setup my wife has the health insurance through a bank for 80 bucks a month which is dirt cheap. Do you use a ticket system or why do you have to head to his house to get the tickets? we use translore

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Edward View Post
    we let go an experienced locator because he got lazy and happened to get a few damages in his last month. our smallest contract where he located mostly told us we should let him go or let them go. They knew he was a good locator but what can you do when someone slacks and almost cost you a contract.
    Good point, good and capable locator nixed by being a bad employee. May have the ability to do work to contract requirements, be accurate and have good production numbers. If the person also does not show up for work, lots of late / leaving early, lots of absenteeism, does not perform work to their true ability and get damaged then they have to go.

    I remember a coworker who could do high production without damages, could go a year or two with no damages. Then in addition to being a locator working lots of overtime got a new girlfriend who demanded his time and began playing in a bank at night. Tried rushing through tickets to get off on time and damaged out real fast.

    This is a demanding job, can't meet the demands then move on or get moved on.
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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    Good point, good and capable locator nixed by being a bad employee. May have the ability to do work to contract requirements, be accurate and have good production numbers. If the person also does not show up for work, lots of late / leaving early, lots of absenteeism, does not perform work to their true ability and get damaged then they have to go.

    I remember a coworker who could do high production without damages, could go a year or two with no damages. Then in addition to being a locator working lots of overtime got a new girlfriend who demanded his time and began playing in a bank at night. Tried rushing through tickets to get off on time and damaged out real fast.

    This is a demanding job, can't meet the demands then move on or get moved on.
    When you have other obligations you just stress yourself out. If i feel i need to be home at x time i will spend all day being mad about every little ticket.

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Edward View Post
    When you have other obligations you just stress yourself out. If i feel i need to be home at x time i will spend all day being mad about every little ticket.
    This is a problem for many locators, they are in the wrong job.

    I hear how can the company expect us to work after 4 o'clock? To work weekend? On call on Holidays?
    I have wife, kids, interests, fill in the blank. The answer is that this is what the job requires. Get with it or get down the road.

    The tickets are time constrained. The company cannot simply not do them now becasue they do not want to pay the ot or any other reason. They start that they soon go out of business. The demands on the locators are as large as the demands are on the company be it big or small.
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    Mke
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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    My company isn't a locating company. It's a company that just happens to have locators. My company is a cross between a public agency and a private company. Most of our revenue is generated by fee's, not taxes. We however do get a small portion of our revenue from taxes to keep our "Public agency" perks. PERS, Exempt plates, etc...

    I get paid pretty well, and the benefits are great.

    My typical day starts at 7am. I go through the one-call tickets (maybe 5-10 depending on the day). I typically toss those tickets that need paint to the Jr. locator. I then proceed to any locate requests that are set up for the day. In the winter time I have about 2 tasks a day that require field time and locating. My main task is to keep the multiple departments happy. We have 2 different Facility maintenance departments. We have Properties department, Environmental, Engineering, Survey. Each department is always on the hunt for different things depending on the day.

    During the summer, the design process usually slows down, but the construction season is a go. My summer routine is staying ahead of all the construction at all of our facilities. We own several airports, marine terminals, comercial properties.

    I would say that most of our locates are not one-call requests. although, we will have the excavator call in tickets depending where they are at. Alot of times the public one-call guys don't know where there facilities are or think that the ownership magically changes at the fence line.

    In the big scheme of things.... I feel that i'm in the promise land for locators. We have enough variety to keep things interesting, but yet our area is always the same. You get the repitition of having a steady locate area, but the tasks are always changing.

    If we want equipment, we just have to go through the process to show need. Since i've started, i've gotten the approval for Laptops, additional locating equipment, fiber optic camera, fault finder, etc..

    The best part is we are trusted to do our job. As long as we communicate appropriately... being honest. we are backed sight unseen. I had a upper manager that was called out to an electrical primary damage that happened on a weekend in a marine terminal. The boring crew was screaming about how the line wasn't located and it was the locators fault. The Manager didn't even flinch. He told the crew that he didn't want to hear it. When they started cleaning the mud up by the pit, they found all the previous paint that was covered.

    That is my situation, there are alot of additional things that people don't really care about. I have previously worked for both a big contract locating company and a small private locating company. There are quite a bit of differences between the two. There is only one similarity that overshadows it all...... We are all paid well under the ammount of liability that we carry on our shoulders.

    mke

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    My company isn't a locating company. It's a company that just happens to have locators. My company is a cross between a public agency and a private company. Most of our revenue is generated by fee's, not taxes. We however do get a small portion of our revenue from taxes to keep our "Public agency" perks. PERS, Exempt plates, etc...

    I get paid pretty well, and the benefits are great.

    My typical day starts at 7am. I go through the one-call tickets (maybe 5-10 depending on the day). I typically toss those tickets that need paint to the Jr. locator. I then proceed to any locate requests that are set up for the day. In the winter time I have about 2 tasks a day that require field time and locating. My main task is to keep the multiple departments happy. We have 2 different Facility maintenance departments. We have Properties department, Environmental, Engineering, Survey. Each department is always on the hunt for different things depending on the day.

    During the summer, the design process usually slows down, but the construction season is a go. My summer routine is staying ahead of all the construction at all of our facilities. We own several airports, marine terminals, comercial properties.

    I would say that most of our locates are not one-call requests. although, we will have the excavator call in tickets depending where they are at. Alot of times the public one-call guys don't know where there facilities are or think that the ownership magically changes at the fence line.

    In the big scheme of things.... I feel that i'm in the promise land for locators. We have enough variety to keep things interesting, but yet our area is always the same. You get the repitition of having a steady locate area, but the tasks are always changing.

    If we want equipment, we just have to go through the process to show need. Since i've started, i've gotten the approval for Laptops, additional locating equipment, fiber optic camera, fault finder, etc..

    The best part is we are trusted to do our job. As long as we communicate appropriately... being honest. we are backed sight unseen. I had a upper manager that was called out to an electrical primary damage that happened on a weekend in a marine terminal. The boring crew was screaming about how the line wasn't located and it was the locators fault. The Manager didn't even flinch. He told the crew that he didn't want to hear it. When they started cleaning the mud up by the pit, they found all the previous paint that was covered.

    That is my situation, there are alot of additional things that people don't really care about. I have previously worked for both a big contract locating company and a small private locating company. There are quite a bit of differences between the two. There is only one similarity that overshadows it all...... We are all paid well under the ammount of liability that we carry on our shoulders.

    mke
    that sounds like a decent gig. Not to crazy and change keeps it exciting. the thing about lines ending at fences is funny. We have some major companies that that does happen like a fabco that took ownership over the phone and fiber on their facility. Im still waiting for Menards main distributuon center to do this. Its crazy up in there. man holes and hanholes galore. 15 fibers and 4 phone lines in every road right of way with no indication of whats joint.

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Last spring I left USIC for a very small company. There is no comparison and would never go back.

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    Okay, here is how I recall paying for a take home company vehicle works so it costs you nothing and you do not pay additional income tax.

    To prevent your being charged extra taxes for a take home company vehicle the company charges you a small fee. To cost you nothing they then add back onto your paycheck the amount you paid in fee as a business expense reimbursement. Business expense reimbursement in not taxable.

    Remember, for our jobs we are required to take the company vehicle home, we have no choice in the matter, it is not an option. Since the company requires this the amount we pay them is a business expense and they can then reimburse us. It is a paper shuffle where no money actually changes hands.


    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    If you have a company take home vehicle, commute vehicle, the use of the vehicle is considered income by the IRS and is taxable. If the company charges a small fee then it's use is not taxable and the fee is usually less than what you would pay in taxes. I hear with a little bookkeeping magic you legally break even on the fee to use the vehicle, that your before tax net income is the same including the fee. It was explained to me once but I have forgotten how it works.

    Still the cost of having to commute to work in your own vehicle is gone regardless of how that charge by the company works out. We have had people leave to take jobs for a few dollars more an hour but have less money in their pocket at the end of the week due to the cost of driving their own car. That commute vehicle is worth something like two dollars an hour for a 40 hour work week at a minimum.
    When you consider operating your own vehicle is net money after taxes the commute vehicle can be worth as much as five or more dollars an hour. If I had to drive to my office every day it would be a 120 mile commute daily. So 600 miles a week for say 50 weeks, counting some time off, would be gas and wear for 6,000 miles a year. That for me would be 30 gallons a week and at today's prices about $105.00 a week of net paycheck after taxes and other items just for gas.

    Plus if you are using a company commute vehicle call you personal car insurance company, most offer a discount for this.
    Last edited by ProfessionalLocator; March 8th, 2014 at 08:57 PM. Reason: added last sentence

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    Default Re: Big vs Small company

    The truck fee is just like pro stated it is just a accounting thing. I have always figured that by using a company truck with the fuel cost, use of own vehicle, maintenance and wear on it and insurance would cost I probably saved between $4-6K a year. which would be like$2-3 an hour difference. Friends and such tell me i should get a newer vehicle. Now working 5-6 days a week and 8-12 hrs a day, I would only use it on weekends. to have a brand new car costing $20-25K in my driveway costing me $350-500 a month and full coverage would be a waste of money. My truck is paid for and just have liability and less than $150K on it. I think I put 4K in mileage a year on it.

    i worked for USIC and now with a smaller company but not a small company. I think we are in like 5 or 6 states. In usic i was micro managed. My company as long as I keep the production in that green zone and no late or damages they pretty much leave you alone. Like a lot of people we have that what I call the "just in case" insurance. the one with the $3-5K deductible. which is an additional $250 a month besides the premium. so basically just have it for a heart attack, cancer or a broken bone that may happen.

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