The Best of 2005

December 2005

Toward the end of October 2005, we sent an e-mail to some of our readers to ask them for their thoughts on the things they thought were The Best, with one or two Worsts thrown in for good measure. Some of the questions were serious, and some were just injected to spice things up. Some of the answers were serious, and some were just spicy! Not all answers will equal 100% because this is in no way a scientific study and because editors are much better with words than they are with numbers. Here are your answers.

Which company has the BEST WEB SITE for information?

With 45% of the vote, the honor for Best Web Site goes to USG

What is the BEST QUALITY OR SKILL A FOREMAN CAN HAVE?

Communication skills 50%
Honesty 25%
Other 25%
- Experience
- Self-reliance
- An ego that doesn’t require an addition to house it
- Dealing with people with concern for their needs
- To always be accessible, but never be a friend to those he supervises

Which is better: E-MAIL or SNAIL MAIL?

E-mail 50%
Snail Mail 25%
Both 17%
Comment: Accounts payable or accounts receivable?

What is the BEST INCENTIVE you received/gave for a job well done?

A sincere "thank you” / pat on the back / hand shake / "attaboy” 27%
Cash / Bonus 18%
Other 55%
- A weekend golf outing at a mountain resort, for the office
- 50% of the remaining man-days
- The next job, at a reasonable profit
- Respect
- I know one contractor who publishes a company newsletter and acknowledges all levels of employee accomplishments. I’m sure that results in pride for the individuals and their families.

What is the BEST PIECE OF SAFETY EQUIPMENT that you own and use on the job?

Hard hat 27%
Other 73%
- Retractable lanyards
- Guards on saws
- Intelligent, caring employees
- Good training
- My trick knee. It keeps me safe and warm in the truck.
- Good work boots
- Safety glasses--Gotta fit, gotta be cool, gotta be close at and gotta be on your nose!
- Common sense

What is the BEST NEW PRODUCT?

- Anytime Deposits™ from Zions Bank (go to www.zionsbank.com or http://zionsbank.com/anytimedeposits.jsp?leftNav=bf_bfinance&topNav=bfinance)
- Armstrong Drywall Grid
- Dryvit’s Aqua Flash
- Hilti’s GX-100 Gas-Driven Fastening Gun
- Ipod. That’s what my kids tell me anyway. I don’t really use any new products. My trade has been around for thousands of years, and people dig the Old World stuff.
- Lafarge’s Rapid Coat Joint Compound
- Sto Lotusan, a paint that simply won’t hold water on the surface, and therefore, no dirt either.
- This year I don’t know. But one of the best new products of the last decade is Tyvek. It stops wind from penetrating into the dwelling, thus saving fuel, and pipes from freezing.
- We are exploring a particular filter that allows the passage of the cigarette through a dust mask, thus filtering out harmful jobsite dusts while allowing the tar and nicotine to peacefully gain passage to the lungs of the wearer.

TOP 5 BEST IDEAS That Sounded Good at the Time—but Failed

#5 Universal, all-inclusive drywall mud
#4 Contests between employees
#3 Hiring based on the prospective employee’s word
#2 The Flux Capacitor
#1 Company Speedos

BEER or WINE?

Beer 54%
Wine 23%
Other (everything from water to Crown Royal) 23%
Comments
- Beer is a man’s drink!
- Vino is keen-o.
- Yes, please!
- In what weather?

Which MANUFACTURER is the BEST BEARER OF BAD NEWS?

It’s a tie! Each received 33% of the vote.
USG & No one!

Which company has the BEST TECHNICAL SUPPORT?

With 28% of the vote, the winner is STO

What is the BEST EMPLOYEE BENEFIT offered by your company?

Continued employment 44%
Paid health insurance 22%
Other 34%
- Flex time
- Trust
- When an employee needs help, we’re there, just like family.

Which MANUFACTURER has the BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE?

With 30% of the vote, the winner is STO

Which DISTRIBUTORS have the BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE?

No one company was named more than once, but here are some of the ones that were mentioned by our readers:
- Gypsum Supply Co.
- Jones-Heartz of Denver
- L&W
- Negwer Materials
- Sto
- Superior Specialty Supply – Frederick, MD
- H.J. Weber

Which company is the BEST EXHIBITOR at a trade show?

USG 50%
Grabber 25%
Sto 25%

FORD or CHEVY?

Ford 72%
Chevy 28%
Comments:
- Ford is tougher, a better work truck. Chevy is a better looking. I drive a Ford. My wife drives a Chevy. That about sums it up.
- It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s paid for!
- You ain’t gonna change a Chevy guy to a Ford guy and ain’t gonna change a Ford guy to a Chevy guy. Face the fact.

What are the WORST PROJECT PROBLEMS?

Scheduling
Inexperienced general contractor project managers and superintendents
Rapidly diminishing knowledge/experience/concern for the coordination and quality of projects
Theft
The average job super. Some are excellent, but for many it has become an entry level job and merely a step into the office
- Insurance liabilities
- Finding motivated individuals who want a career that involves hard work
- Trade coordination and time frames
- Excessive moisture
- Construction managers

Which is the BEST CELL PHONE COMPANY?

None 36%
Nextel 27%
Cingular 18%
Anything other than Nextel, or the "old Nextel” 18%
Verizon 9%
Comments
- You’re kidding right??????
- Haven’t found one yet
- Cingular. Years ago Nextel sold me on their system. In the sales process, they convinced me that if I used their phone, there would be "no roaming charges.” That sounded great to me, as I spent a lot of money on roaming when I went out of town. What they failed to tell me was that there would be no roaming charges because their phone didn’t roam and was useless outside of their calling area. Nextel can’t give me a phone now.

SCHWARZENEGGER or STALLONE?

Schwarzenegger 33%
Stallone 33%
Other 33%
- Stallone—Jennifer Flavin Stallone ("Mrs. Sly”)
- Don Knotts
- Robin Williams
Comments
- Stallone, because Arnold vetoed retainage reform
- Stallone is easier to spell and understand!
- They’re both bums.

What is the industry’s BEST JOB to have?

Consultant/Third-party expert 18%
Because it’s opinions only, no liability, no employees, cash on the barrelhead
Other 82%
- Acoustical ceiling estimator/project manager
- Elevator operator
- Al Jordan’s (Can anyone tell me who Al Jordan is?)
- If I had it my way, I would still be putting mud on the wall.
- Insurance agent
- Being a quality superintendent. Being able to point to a building, or project, and know that you did it
- Office manager
- Retired CEO
- The one that gives you, the individual, the most satisfaction

What is the WORST INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT?

20% of our respondents say the worst industry development is Allocation
Other answers included these:
- Making the drywaller engineer the project at time of bid
- General liability insurance
- Diminishing concern for quality and cooperation—money orientation—seemingly legally driven.
- The regulation of safety laws by folks who have never actually worked on the job
- The GC
- Person-less communication. Too much initial contact depends on electronics and pressing response buttons. When I call with a problem, I want to talk to a PERSON, and not a stinking machine.
- Pay when paid
- Fax machine

What is the BEST (Legitimate) WAY TO GET NEW WORK?

You number-one answer is that Honesty Is the Best Policy, but here is what some said is the best way to get new work:
- Provide excellent, safe service at a fair price
- Develop good relationships with your customer base
- Price. Price. Price. Did I say price?
- Reputation
- Repeat and referrals
- Keep your customer happy
- Find out what your competitors’ deficiencies are and offer to do them correctly.
- Sales and consistent, quality bids
- Establish a network of trusted customers
- Negotiate

What is the BEST INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT?

New studs and clips (such as Dietrich’s HDS framing system)
- SSMA standardization
- Anytime Deposits™ from Zions Bank (www.zionsbank.com or http://zionsbank.com/anytimedeposits.jsp?leftNav=bf_bfinance&topNav=bfinance)
- Partnering, cooperation, trust— going back to the future, I hope.
- Boom lift
- AWCI
- Bulk-size Advil
- Paid retainage
- Comfortherm (long underwear)

Where is the BEST PLACE TO RELAX on the job?

There should not be one. If you want to relax, punch out and go home. 27%
Freshly serviced Port-o John / Porcelain throne 18%
Other 54%
- Safety walks, after hours
- Roof
- Within
- As a plasterer, there is nothing like hanging out with the men at 3:30 or quitting time, whichever is appropriate, and having a look at what you accomplished that day. Balance a wheelbarrow on the ends of the handles and the feet, and sit in it like a recliner.
- Your own vehicle
- Under my desk, in the fetal position

Where is the BEST WAY TO BID A JOB?

Again, Honesty Is the Best Policy, garnering 25% of the vote. Here are some other options:
- Negotiate
- With knowledge
- Alone, with no one to bug you
- Based on having done it before.
- After the bid date
- Manual take-off
- To be low by 1 percent
- Carefully/Cautiously, and with the input of many
- With an honest profit. Without it, walk away and let your competitor have it.

If you could have one famous person (dead or alive) work for/with you, who would that person be?

- My father, Danial Larsen. His compassion for people and energy to produce is something I model myself and try to achieve.
- Parker Thorne, our company founder (he’s famous in the industry). Why? Because 55 years of experience and polished sales talent can’t be replaced.
- Jesus Christ
- Julia Roberts. I would never have a bad day.
- Leonardo da Vinci. Actually, it would be a great honor to be able to work under someone like him.
- Johnny Cochran
- Ronald Reagan. If you have to ask why, you don’t deserve an answer.
- Al Kuperstock. He’s been doin’ it since ’49 and I can’t imagine working with a better person, alive or dead and if you think motivating our current work force is a struggle, you should try to motivate a dead person … .
- Elvis. Might as well have some entertainment!
- My grandfather, when he was my age, because hard-working people made you a hard worker.

What is the BEST TRICK OF THE TRADE?

I’ll never tell! 23%
Other 77%
- Plumb-bob door frames
- Caring about the work—may be extinct.
- "It’s all in the wrist.”
- When a customer orders something, get it there when he asks for it.
- TradeReady® Spazzer® Bar (from Dietrich)
- Measure twice, cut once.
- Knowing when to ask for help

Which MANUFACTURER is having the BEST YEAR EVER?

With 43% of the vote, USG is having the best year ever. Here are some other mentions:
- National Gypsum
- Lumber and gas manufacturers
- Exxon
- Advil
- With the good economy, I believe every manufacturer is enjoying a good year.

Who’s best: GCs or ARCHITECTS?

With 36% of the vote, our readers begrudgingly selected GCs. Here are some comments:
- GCs: The good ones are concerned if you make money or not.
- GCs … the lesser of two evils
- Hensel-Phelps (GC), Davis Carter Scott (AIA)
- Need ’em both to get it done right. No job is better than when a GC and an architect work well together.
- Those Are Fightin’ Words.
- Who’s BEST, or who’s WORST?
- It is easier to ask which one is the worst.
- Where is the Advil?