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Thread: S&N takes over USIC contracts in Virginia

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    Default S&N takes over USIC contracts in Virginia

    Yesterday at 8AM S&N Locating took over contracts held by USIC for the state of Virginia. I know for certain that the Comcast contract for the state started with S&N at that time. I believe they also took the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative contract at the same time but I do not have direct knowledge of that.


    I wrote of this in another thread but now it has actually happened.

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    Default Re: S&N takes over USIC contracts in Virginia

    How many utilities did USIC have there? QLS just picked up Campus Communications Group, we also have Metro Communications Co and E-on energy(wind farms) in Illinois. It seems that USIC may be lossing its dominance, not to mention that Premier is growing.
    Now, what the ---- did I do with that ped wrench???????????

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    Default Re: S&N takes over USIC contracts in Virginia

    Quote Originally Posted by overspray View Post
    How many utilities did USIC have there? QLS just picked up Campus Communications Group, we also have Metro Communications Co and E-on energy(wind farms) in Illinois. It seems that USIC may be lossing its dominance, not to mention that Premier is growing.
    To my knowledge USIC just had those two contracts in Virginia, there may be others in the southern end of the state, 'i just do not know.

    Premier is growing and very intelligently. Seems they concentrate on the outlaying areas of their existing contracts. This allows them to keep their office's work areas contiguous rather than scattered across the country. On the east coast they have been making a progression down from New York and New Jersey. They went into Pennsylvania I think and then they went into Delaware and the east cost of Maryland. From here I expect them to move west heading towards Washington DC. The DC area has a dense population and offers many marking areas with little travel time between tickets. Having worked in this area I can tell you we can often not start up the truck, just walk to the next locate.

    The Virginia side is less attractive to a locate firm. It is a highly regulated area and the various agencys often give conflicting regulation. Like you have 48 hours to do a locate and are restricted on how many tickets you can extend. But if you want to open a manhole in the street there are many roads you have to give written notice to the department of transportation to get permission, and that takes days to get. Also everybody in the north area does not want anyone to park anywhere. I only expect them to make and incursion into Virginia if a really good contract was available or things in Maryland were tied up in long term contracts.

    Maryland is a much more welcoming area for business. Maryland is dominated by Utiliquest and about a year ago USIC started marking there. USIC took the BG&E contract from UTiliquest is the popular story. Truth is BG&E was shopping around for a replacement for Utiliquest and I don't believe any bid Utiliquest could have made would have kept them that contract. I see USIC as a Utiliquest clone and I doubt they will be able to keep the BG&E contract. In Maryland the sharks smell blood in the water around the contracts these two firms hold.

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    Default Re: S&N takes over USIC contracts in Virginia

    I have worked for all three (USIC, Premier, and S&N). S & n's business model is to run with as few guys as possible and pocket the cash. Under Premier, we had 13 guys in our area working 8-10 per day with occasional weekends, at 3.5 tickets per hour expected. Under S&N we have 6, are on mandatory 12 m-f, 8 sat and sun, 5.5 tickets per hour. They bid the contract on a lump sum, not on a per ticket basis, they get paid no matter what. They seem to take the short cut whenever it is avalible: headhunting ex-locators instead of training new ones, buying cheap Walmart shovels instead of proper ones, delaying the purchase of metal detectors for finding curb boxes until they took some damages. They pulled one locator out of the field so they could have a full time auditor to be sure our cable drops and mulching jobs are done properly.....yet he's never even looked at the high profile jobs we report. Their management structure is based on a 12 month dig season with consistant month-to-month numbers, which is not applicable to our seasonal work force requirements. When they took over the contract, these were addressed to management, yet no additional staff is hired. Our district manager was hired from a factory management position and has no clue about this industry. His idea of a motivational speach was to tell us about how to prevent fork lift accidents. The insurance is so expensive I have to recycle my empty paint cans to pay the premium (towards which the company does not contribuite).
    All in all, I'm afraid about what the S&N experiment will do towards the safety and reputation of the locators in this area. Overworked, overstressed, overstretched, and overwhelmed locators cause damages.

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    Default Re: S&N takes over USIC contracts in Virginia

    and here I have just been throwing my empty cans in the dumpster. i didn't think they took them because of the gases still inside of them.

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    Default Re: S&N takes over USIC contracts in Virginia

    Quote Originally Posted by Glad2BGone View Post
    I have worked for all three (USIC, Premier, and S&N). S & n's business model is to run with as few guys as possible and pocket the cash. Under Premier, we had 13 guys in our area working 8-10 per day with occasional weekends, at 3.5 tickets per hour expected. Under S&N we have 6, are on mandatory 12 m-f, 8 sat and sun, 5.5 tickets per hour. They bid the contract on a lump sum, not on a per ticket basis, they get paid no matter what. They seem to take the short cut whenever it is avalible: headhunting ex-locators instead of training new ones, buying cheap Walmart shovels instead of proper ones, delaying the purchase of metal detectors for finding curb boxes until they took some damages. They pulled one locator out of the field so they could have a full time auditor to be sure our cable drops and mulching jobs are done properly.....yet he's never even looked at the high profile jobs we report. Their management structure is based on a 12 month dig season with consistant month-to-month numbers, which is not applicable to our seasonal work force requirements. When they took over the contract, these were addressed to management, yet no additional staff is hired. Our district manager was hired from a factory management position and has no clue about this industry. His idea of a motivational speach was to tell us about how to prevent fork lift accidents. The insurance is so expensive I have to recycle my empty paint cans to pay the premium (towards which the company does not contribuite).
    All in all, I'm afraid about what the S&N experiment will do towards the safety and reputation of the locators in this area. Overworked, overstressed, overstretched, and overwhelmed locators cause damages.
    Ohio? That's a recent start-up and the initial workforce was under estimated and increased to 22 to 25 locators.

    We work a lot of OT in spring, summer and fall but none of locators got laid off in winter when workload is down.


    I know from Utilquest locators that the insurance premiums I pay are less than theirs.

    So far S&N is being invited to bid on more and more contracts based on the perfromace of the lcoators.

    I do not know who the factory guy manager you have is but, the regional manager position was only created a few weeks ago. One of the management staff sent to Ohio for start-up, Pat, is now Operations Manager for the entire company. The Operations Manager, Steve Roark, is now in a new position over the Operations Manager. The Regional / Area manager position is a few weeks old and that person is over the managers of the various locate offices. So far all the managers I have met have mostly locate experience and some with utility construction experience.

    I think you will get a chance to vent your complaints in a few weeks, rumor of something planned. Rumor, no announcement, so that is all I have to say.

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    Default Re: S&N takes over USIC contracts in Virginia

    I needed to add to this.

    The forklift safety talk.

    S&N Locating's parent company is S&N Communications which is a utility installation construction company. Corporate sends out safety topics complete with a written script for meetings. Not uncommon to get a subject that is not used in locating, like welding safety. These issued topics must be presented appropriate or not and paperwork confirming the presentation sent back to corporate. Just some harmless internal red tape.


    If you are talking about the Virgina Beach, Virginia area there are changes coming there also. From the start-up S&N had C-3 as a subcontractor marking phone in that area. This eased start-up costs and effort. This week the HR De3partment, and I think some Payroll Department, was in Virginia Beach signing up most of the C-3 locators as S&N Locating employees as S&N has now ceased subcontracting that work out. So in that area you will see more locators. Those C-3 locators have to be certified to mark gas before they can fully join the work effort.

    Locators complain, it's what we do as this is a high stress job. S&N has not been perfect but overall I have been better treated here than other places I have worked. The first Spring and Summer were during start-up and spent that time working out of area living in motels. The motels started off not very good but by the end I was staying at an extended stay suit complete with kitchen. They never double bunked us on rooms, we all got our own room. About two years ago I could barely speak after having a stroke and they fully accommodated me during my recovery when most firms would be looking for a way to send me packing.

    While S&N Communications have been around a long time S&N Locating is just 3 1/2 years old, there are growing pains.

    Also majority interest ownership in the firm was sold a few months ago to Sun Capital Partners. Their utility holdings are few, mostly they are in the food industry. Sun Capital Partners has a history of being proactive with the firms they control and worker morale is one area they have made a priority.


    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    Ohio? That's a recent start-up and the initial workforce was under estimated and increased to 22 to 25 locators.

    We work a lot of OT in spring, summer and fall but none of locators got laid off in winter when workload is down.


    I know from Utilquest locators that the insurance premiums I pay are less than theirs.

    So far S&N is being invited to bid on more and more contracts based on the perfromace of the lcoators.

    I do not know who the factory guy manager you have is but, the regional manager position was only created a few weeks ago. One of the management staff sent to Ohio for start-up, Pat, is now Operations Manager for the entire company. The Operations Manager, Steve Roark, is now in a new position over the Operations Manager. The Regional / Area manager position is a few weeks old and that person is over the managers of the various locate offices. So far all the managers I have met have mostly locate experience and some with utility construction experience.

    I think you will get a chance to vent your complaints in a few weeks, rumor of something planned. Rumor, no announcement, so that is all I have to say.

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