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Contractor’s Corner: Packaging and My Anniversary

By Stan Walerczyk

My previous column on lighting rep agencies has been the most controversial, with the most feedback. The feedback included one distributor who said I was too tough on rep agencies, and another distributor who said that they often feel like a powerless extension of rep agencies. The majority of responses, however, basically agreed with me about lighting rep agencies. But I want to be clear that there are some very good and ethical lighting rep agencies and people who work for them. I am good friends with and respect several lighting reps. There are others that I do not like, and they do not like me. The goal for my lighting rep column was to give contractors and distributors tools on how to deal with those ones who are not all that ethical.

I will write another controversial column soon, which will be on Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED). Wonder what feedback will be!

Moving on to this week’s subject…

One topic I’d like to cover in this column is packaging. Some distributors charge for packaging products together. Often, this can be a very good value to contractors, and sometimes not.

Here is an example of what one southern California distributor does for new homes. If the contractor wants it and is willing to pay for it, the distributor puts everything for each room of each house on its own pallet or in its own containers. It is my understanding that several contractors really like this packaging, because it saves them time and money. This same distributor usually does not charge for packaging for typical commercial lighting retrofit projects, even when it takes the time to clearly mark on each box or pallet what is inside.

I would really like to hear from other distributors and contractors what they think of packaging and charging or not charging for it.

January 2, 2014 was my 25th anniversary in lighting. I have many lighting stories from over the years. Following are three of those stories.

The Alameda School District project in the 90s may have been the most intense. There were so many schools to retrofit in a limited amount of time, we hired several contractors, had to deliver the supplies to each school, make sure the work was being done right and take care of problems. One contractor had a worker, who was about 6’8″ tall, so he did not need a ladder to work on most ceiling fixtures. When the project was almost complete, I was walking around one school and a teacher came up to me and asked if I was the lighting guy. I felt brave enough to say yes. Then she told me that she taught the attention disorder and learning impaired students and that the kids were doing so much better after replacing the 60 cycle magnetic ballasts and 60 CRI T12 lamps with high frequency electronic ballasts and 80 CRI T8 lamps, mainly because the flicker and hum went away.

Another example of getting rid of flicker and hum was one department in a newspaper, which just women were in. If you are not already aware, women can pick up the 60-cycle flicker from lamps much more than men. After we installed T8s and electronic ballasts, these ladies were so thrilled that they wanted to take me out for lunch.

Lastly, another one of my favorite stories involves a VA hospital project from Sacramento to San Francisco. The facility manager and I visited these hospitals one day. I had recently purchased my 2001 Toyota Prius from the first batch that was sold in California. Since these were new, he did not know very much about them. So I explained some of the features, including the information on the dashboard. He was so interested in the car I let him drive it between two hospitals. Later he told me that my bid was very similar to the other bid, but the other contractor drove a gas guzzling SUV, and I walked, really drove, the talk, so he gave me the project.

If you are interested, you can read the rest of the stories and other information in the complete document, which is a free download on my website. There are also several free lighting white papers available for download. Visit www.lightingwizards.com.

As mentioned at the end of all of my columns, contractors, please send me feedback and input for new columns. My email is stan@lightingwizards.com. You can also call 808-344-9685 after 7 AM Hawaii time (9 AM Pacific, 10 AM Mountain, 11 AM Central and 12 PM Eastern time).

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