Monthly Archives: December 2015

Another Satisfied Mechanical Contracting Client

happy-customer-augustLast month, we told you about some of the characteristics to look for when hiring a mechanical contractor. One good way to vet a reliable firm is to hear what its customers have to say. Here’s a letter we recently received from one of our clients that shows the kind of work we strive to accomplish:

July 21, 2015

Dave,

I would like to tell you that the … Kansas City Plant has been extremely pleased in the Safety, Quality and Efficiency [sic] that Mike [McCurley] has brought to our plant. We have had Mike work on several tough jobs for us over the past month and he has been able to handle every one of them without an issue. 

In addition, Mike was a key person when we had a fire in our GK-12 kettle. Mike was working directly besides our Maintenance [sic] personnel to make sure that the fire was extinguished and did not cause any more damage to the plant.

Mike does a good job communicating and providing updates to the plant on exactly where he is on each project he is working on.

Thank you for your support.

Scott

We love to hear from our customers, especially when they let us know that the qualities we strive to deliver to our clients come shining through.

At TMS, we offer a wide variety of mechanical contracting services and solutions for each and every one of our business partners. If you’d like to hear what we can do for you, give our TMS experts a call and put us to work.

Your success … is OUR success!

 

Communication Is Key When Contracting Mechanical Services

accuracy-communication-mechanical-servicesWhat does ASAP mean? Sure, everyone knows ASAP stands for “as soon as possible,” but what exactly does that mean when you’re unsure of the context? For example, if a mechanical contractor says, “We’ll start the job ASAP,” does that mean they’re going to drop everything and start working on it that very moment, or will they put it on a list of assignments and tackle it as soon as they get to it next month?

Mechanical Services and Communication Breakdowns

Using assumptive or imprecise words can lead to miscommunication. This is especially true when these words are used planning the precise jobs mechanical contracting requires. In the example above, a contractor may appear to over-promise or under-deliver the job start, depending on the way in which the customer interpreted the message. That’s why TMS makes the effort and takes the time to understand precisely what mechanical solutions a client needs and ensures the customer understands exactly what we will provide.

When dealing with mechanical services, be on the lookout for vague words such as “about,” “almost,” “like,” “basically,” and “beyond,” as well as unclear terms like “if time permits.” If a customer tells a contractor to do something if time permits, the contractor needs to ask how long they actually have to complete the assigned task. Being clear up front about the time involved will avoid confusion and the possibility of disappointment down the line.For example, if you seek mechanical services “sometime next week” and a contractor tells you, “No problem, I’ll be there next Friday,” that could be a problem if you actually need him to come out, assess the situation, and provide a price quote for the work by Tuesday.

An astute mechanical contracting company will check its calendar and precisely pin down a time: “I’ll be there Tuesday at 2 p.m.” If the time doesn’t work for the client, it’s then much easier to arrive on one that does work for both parties.

Be Precise on Mechanical Contracting

Precise communication is key throughout all stages of mechanical servicing. After you’ve hired a contractor and he’s assessed the problem, you’ll likely ask if it can be fixed. The last thing you want to hear is “I’ll do my best,” because that doesn’t definitively answer your question (besides, you assume the contractor will do his best regardless). Similarly, a contractor shouldn’t preface his reply with “to tell you the truth,” since that implies he hasn’t been honest with you all along.

Proactively Prepare a Strategy

Life is unpredictable. You can’t stop a tornado or schedule a flood, but you can have a Plan B or Plan C in place. But to do this you have to have all the facts—and that requires sound communication.

If you need a piece of equipment or a part that’s being shipped in from overseas, you can’t control the variables and make customs go faster. However, you can have your contractor find out what the lead time is and what the worst-case scenario is so you can troubleshoot a strategy.

This will be more helpful than having a nebulous reply such as “there’s always hope” when things don’t proceed as expected. While that may seem positive, it’s actually counterproductive. It’s better to know the facts, even if they are bleak, so you can take steps for a solution.

TMS: Thorough in All Phases

Dealing with mechanical problems is challenging enough, so it’s important not to have the situation complicated further with misinformation. When vague abbreviations, words, or terms are used, it’s crucial to recognize, identify, and rectify them by asking for clarification.

TMS employees make it a policy to be clear and succinct when speaking to customers or prospective clients. They’ll reiterate a point — or ask you to repeat something — to ensure all parties are on the same page and no miscommunications are made.

If you’re in need of contractors who are as thorough with their communications as they are with mechanical services, contact TMS at tmsmech.com.

How Mechanical Engineering Differs from Mechanical Contracting, Part One

mechanical-engineering-mechanical-contractingMechanical contractors and mechanical engineers often work together, but they are not the same thing. To help illustrate how each works together and separately, we thought we’d describe the qualities and responsibilities that form the career path and job of mechanical engineers.

Much like a builder makes use of an architect, mechanical contractors often depend on mechanical engineers for new designs and methods, although not exclusively. Like mechanical contractors, mechanical engineers are creative troubleshooters. Some work with the processing of materials, the control and automation of manufacturing systems, the design and development of machines or the environment.

Mechanical Engineering Responsibilities

Mechanical engineering pertains to the design, manufacture and operation of components, devices or systems. Mechanical engineers may also be required to conduct research, test manufacturing, handle operations, or take on marketing projects and administration duties as needed.

Interested in Becoming a Mechanical Engineer?

Understanding the qualities mechanical engineers generally possess might help you decide on a career in the field, or help you understand when you might need to hire one. Because the profession calls for versatility, creativity and knowledge on a vast number of subjects, multidisciplinary people make great mechanical engineers. They should be able to solve problems via analysis, modeling, design, and synthesis to effectively handle the job.

In addition to possessing a creative brain and analytical mind, aspiring mechanical engineers must have a head for technical subjects such as energy transfer and conversion, design and manufacturing, engineering sciences and, of course, mechanics. These are the areas of study needed to become an effective problem-solver and successful mechanical engineer.

Mechanical Engineering Products and Systems

Space shuttles, aircrafts, automobiles, turbines, pumps, power plants, and factories are among the many products and systems mechanical engineers help develop. From refrigerators to robots, almost every machine has been improved at the hand of a mechanical engineer. Perhaps that’s why they’re always in demand.

Yes, the mechanical contractors at TMS Inc. sometimes makes use mechanical engineers in the services we provide. Next month, we’ll tell you more about how mechanical contracting and engineering differs. Meanwhile, learn more by visiting tmsmech.com.

Tips on Contracting an Accredited Mechanical Ser-vices Company

mechanical-contracting-certificationsThere’s a lot to consider when hiring mechanical services contractors, from availability to price.

Even more important is their level of competence. It’s not enough to provide mechanical services—they should also apply the most ethical policies and safest practices while on the job. This is something you can check by investigating their accreditations.

Associations vs. Certifications

Before hiring mechanical contractors, you may ask for their certifications, but equally relevant are the associations they’re affiliated with. Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), for example, is a national trade association that helps its 20,000-plus members work safely and ethically by regularly auditing mechanical services companies to ensure they’re up to speed on the latest safety policies. By providing a third-party verification system, ABC ranks mechanical services companies at different levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum (the highest).

FYI on TMS

Some mechanical contracting companies, such as TMS, go above and beyond. In addition to being a platinum member of ABC, TMS is also audited and certified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) to ensure all of the industry’s necessary qualifications are being met.

Licensing by State for Mechanical Services Contractors

Because codes may vary regionally, mechanical contractors must have a master mechanical license from the state in which they’re operating. This allows them to understand the building codes for their specific area. Certain states don’t require HVAC licensing, however. That’s why it’s best to check a mechanical contractor’s affiliations in order to ensure they can perform services that will meet regional requirements.

Tougher Certifications

Not all certifications are the same. Obtaining welding certification, for example, is a little more complicated than other areas of expertise. To make sure welders work to code, they must perform a welding procedure that is qualified and then pass a similar certification test that may include visual inspection criteria, X-ray, or bend testing.

The American Welding Society (AWS) gives tests to certify welders in a number of disciplines, from aerospace to structural. If you’re looking to hire a welder in a specific field, you can check the AWS certified welder registry to confirm their certification.

Getting Certified

While you should definitely verify that your contractor is licensed and certified, bear in mind that this in itself won’t guarantee future work performance. Once mechanical contractors take a test to earn their certification, they’re good to go—there aren’t further audits to check on their work in the field. This is another reason why it’s important to find a company that has been vetted by multiple third-party professional organizations.

Now that you know where to look and what things to look for in an accredited contractor, you’re ready to call a mechanical services company that meets your needs. For a professional, family-owned mechanical contractor with a platinum rating from ABC (among its many other certifications), contact TMS today at tmsmech.com.

Winterizing with TMS Mechanical Services: 3 Steps to Avoid Weather Worries

mechanical-contracting-winterizeOld Man Winter’s chill is upon us, and hopefully you’ve put a plan in place to winterize your place of business.

Even if you haven’t, fear not! The mechanical contracting experts at TMS are here to help before (and after) disaster strikes … and before (and after) you find yourself facing an emergency. Check out these three steps and we think you’ll warm up to the idea of winterizing!

Prevent Insulation Problems

One reason many of our mechanical contracting customers sometimes forget about winterizing is that most of their operations take place in intense heat. Regardless of whether it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside or minus 10, interior operations can generate so much heat that freezing might not become an issue. However, we do see a lot of problems in the areas of insulation, drainage, and piping. To avoid such problems, regularly do the following:

  • Check your boilers. Ensure you’ve got the correct chemicals running in them.
  • Floor drains can freeze quickly, so you want to pour some glycol in them to prevent it.
  • Keep an eye — actually a nose — on those sewer gases!
  • Test to ensure that your condensate lines are draining properly. If a steam line cools down and is generating a lot more condensation than it should, something is not right.

Remember Emergency Planning

In a previous blog post, we discussed the importance of having an emergency plan in place for every contingency. In winter, it’s absolutely critical to have (at least) all key personnel on the same page. Most plants are running 24/7 and won’t take a day off when the snow flies. Implement and review a snow emergency preparedness plan so that key personnel can always make it to work and keep the machines humming along … and your business running smoothly. Our TMS emergency planning team can easily assist you in this area.

Don’t Run Out of Supplies

Just because you have a winterizing plan in place, don’t assume all of your suppliers are prepared to face a potential shutdown of operations. In fact, it’s better to assume your suppliers will have issues in getting you the materials and products you need during a blizzard or ice storm. By working ahead of time (as in, right after you read this article), you can ensure the needed materials are on hand for a designated time period.

Take stock! Ask yourself (and your team), “Do we have enough raw materials on hand to produce what we need if our suppliers are down for several days to a week?” If the answer is no, it’s time to stock up for the balance of the winter months.

TMS Mechanical Services Is Here to Help

Business might be heating up for your company, but you can’t afford to be left out in the cold should a winter emergency hit. If you have any questions about whether or not you are adequately prepared to make it to spring, give the team here at TMS a call. We’ll take you from winter wondering … to a winter wonderland.

More Kudos from Happy TMS Customers

mechanical-contractor-testimonialsWe’ve said it before, and we will say it again, the best way to know a mechanical contractor is doing a good job is to find out what customers say about the company. We strive in everything we do to anticipate the needs of our customers and exceed their expectations. Even though it’s everyday work to us, it’s always great when we get acknowledged for it from our clients. Here are two more letters that do just that:

‘I would like to tell you that the XXXXX Kansas City Plant has been extremely pleased in the safety, quality, and efficiency that Mike [of TMS] has brought to our plant. We have had Mike work on several tough jobs for us over the past month and he has been able to handle every one of them without any issue. 

In addition, Mike was a key person when we had a fire in our GK-12 kettle. Mike was working directly besides our maintenance personnel to make sure that the fire was extinguished and did not cause any more damage to the plant.

Mike does a good job in communicating and providing updates to the plant on exactly where he is on each project he is working on.

Thank you for your support.’

‘I would like commend Bo [of TMS] for his work as safety president of the contractor’s safety group here at XXXXX Wichita.

For last month we have been having weekly safety meetings with all contractors on site, averaging around 20 to 30, headed by Rob B. Rob B. is the man in charge of the new plant expansion just underway.

Those of us who have worked at a XXXXX facility understand the emphasis and importance they place on safety.

Three weeks ago Bo volunteered as the representative for the contractors and has been bringing safety topics and near misses to these meetings and presenting them to the group. I really appreciate Bo for taking on this additional responsibility. Bo continues to bring relevant safety topics to these meetings for all contractors to hear and put into action. I also think it shows XXXXX that TMS shares their belief in safety.’

Thank you to these clients for their kind words. It’s our goal to provide complete satisfaction with every job we do and we look forward to receiving (and sharing) more great comments in the months ahead. Contact us for your mechanical contracting needs and become another one of our success stories.

Check Safety Facts before Hiring Mechanical Contractors

mechanical-contracting-safetyBenjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Although his words were uttered hundreds of years ago, they still hold true today—especially when it comes to mechanical services. While skills and availability are important factors to consider when hiring mechanical contractors, knowing they follow safety procedures is an absolute must!

The Importance of Safety Policies

When contractors walk onto your property to perform mechanical services, you want to ensure they follow safe practices, and the quickest way to do that is to ask about their safety policies. Every mechanical services company issues a safety manual that covers policies on drugs and alcohol, elevated work, tie-off rules, hot work, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Although mechanical contractors may not be able to quote these manuals word for word, they should understand the spirit of their safety policies and have a manual on hand in case they need to refer to it while on the job.

New Tie-Off Rules

Sometimes when safety standards are updated, they go through a transitional stage. For years, contractors who climbed ladders had to wear one safety lanyard located off the back of their harness. Once they reached their work destination, they’d hook the lanyard onto a safety point.

However, recent changes now state that workers must wear two lanyards and remain hooked up 100 percent of the time. Although this development is designed to protect them, some workers view the new rules as a nuisance and are reluctant to keep their safety lanyards hooked up. Because of this, it’s important to check in on your mechanical contractors throughout their service to ensure they’re following the latest safety protocol.

FYI on PPE

A harness with two lanyards falls under the term PPE, which includes helmets, goggles, and other items designed to guard against physical, electrical, heat, chemical, and airborne hazards.

Depending on the nature of the job, even the color of a contractor’s clothes, or the length of their sleeves, may matter. For instance, the MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) requires contractors to wear bright colors such as orange, yellow, and chartreuse when working in open quarries and mines.

For some companies, proper PPE simply refers to wearing a hard hat and safety glasses. For others, such as TMS, PPE includes those items plus safety boots and clothing without holes and rips, since torn fabrics can be grabbed by moving equipment. In addition, TMS believes it’s not only important that mechanical contractors use PPE, but that they understand the reasons for using it.

Being Proactive

To reduce risks during your mechanical servicing jobs, ask first about the contractor’s safety policies and inquire about their experience modification rate (EMR), which is tabulated by comparing loss prevention and control practices as well as workers’ compensation claims and mechanical servicing experience.

The average EMR is 1.0; the lower it is, the better the record. You’ll want to hire a mechanical contractor with an EMR of 1.0 or lower. Even so, you should also check in on them throughout the job to ensure they’re following regulations, wearing their PPE, and taking preventative measures.

If you’re looking for mechanical contractors who are up to speed on all the latest safety policies, contact TMS at www.tmsmech.com.

TMS Solves a Mechanical Challenge—in Record Time!

solve-mechanical-challenge-record-timeOftentimes clients need mechanical services fast. In one particular case, a client running a manufacturing plant asked TMS to complete two millwright jobs in a single weekend, the only time the plant would be closed and available for repairs.

Although the mechanical contracting jobs were not complicated, we knew they would be very time-consuming. With only two days to complete them, we had a challenge on our hands—but we were ready to rise to the call.

Providing mechanical services even during downtime

The first job that weekend required us to work inside the client’s spiral proof box. We needed to remove 270 existing poly tube pieces and zip ties that were on the support arms holding the rails. In addition, we had to track each one and replace it with a new poly tube and zip tie.

Our team of three professionals arrived on the site at 8:00 a.m. to begin work, but the plant hadn’t yet ended production for the day. Instead of waiting around with nothing to do, the TMS team used what could have been downtime to measure and cut the 270 pieces so each would be ready at 10:30 a.m. when we were able to get to the proof box. By 3:00 p.m., we completed the job!

Our client was impressed and happy with the outcome and told us so, noting that the last company hired to change out the poly tubes took eight hours just to cut the 270 pieces. Needless to say, TMS exceeded the customers’ expectations with a job well done (and well timed).

Exceeding expectations

The second job that weekend required the same TMS team to change out the dust/grease guards on the chain. This entails removing the top sections of the chain, pulling off the old dust guards, replacing them with new dust guards, and reattaching the top section of the chain.

Working side by side in a 12-foot area, the TMS trio began the job at 7:00 a.m. on the second day, and changed every dust guard they came across until 2:15 p.m., when the customer-supplied parts ran out. Again, our quality work and efficient efforts exceeded the client’s expectations.

As a result, when this plant needs more mechanical contracting, we know they will call TMS. We know because this happy client told us so. We consistently lead the way with mechanical solutions for plant maintenance, construction, and installation.

If you find your own facility is in need of mechanical engineering expertise, contact us today.

Trust — The Benchmark of a Successful Mechanical Services Partnership

trust-mechanical-services-partnershipThink about your past experiences partnering with a contractor. Have you ever been in need of services and tried to reach a business owner, only to be given the brush off? Unanswered voice mails, unreturned text messages, constantly checking an empty email inbox for days and weeks as you await a response … it can be maddening!

Unfortunately, the mechanical contracting business is not immune to this problem. And that can lead to unfinished projects — and a lack of trust from clients.

Our mechanical services team here at TMS prides itself on earning the trust of each and every client — as well as any potential clients. We do that in several ways:

Communication

Communication is the lifeblood of any business. Clients have needs, and business owners must know how to meet those needs in a timely fashion. That’s why our TMS team strives to return phone calls within two hours, and emails within 24 hours.

When you reach out to us, you expect an answer on time, every time. And we deliver.

We also pride ourselves on being up front and honest when communicating with our valued clients. You can trust that with TMS, you’ll always get a fair, accurate, and honest bid on our services — one that we stand behind 100 percent.

Dependability

Going above and beyond what is expected is also a benchmark of a trustworthy team. It’s one thing to say you’ll be on the job by 8 a.m., but quite another to be there early at 7:45. The dependability of our TMS team is unsurpassed in the industry … and our clients notice. We don’t just do a job; we do a job better than anyone else.

Integrity

Too often, we hear stories of contractors just doing the minimum amount of work necessary to fulfill a contract. While that may sit well with some businesses, that’s not the standard we’ve established at TMS. We understand that with each and every job unexpected issues will likely arise, so we make it a point of identifying and fixing those problems before the project is done.

Many of our clients are plant owners and operators who are relying on us to get their plant up and running. With so many other businesses often depending on the operation of that one plant, can you imagine the disruption that would be caused if we left before our job was done? That simply isn’t an option with TMS. We stay till the work is finished.

Mechanical Contracting: Trust in Action

To see how we put communication, dependability, and integrity into practice, consider this recent example from one of our clients.

We were called upon to submit a bid on a job for one of our valued clients. Unfortunately, our client contact wasn’t able to convince his supervisors to go with TMS. Why? Well, another contractor beat our bid by a whopping 18%! We were surprised, but understood why the business owners went with the lower bid.

As it turns out, TMS had been (no pun intended) right on the money — we’d given an accurate and fair bid. The project went over budget with the other contractor, and the job wound up not getting finished. Faced with a very serious situation, the client then called us to come in, take over, and finish the job.

Of course, our team sprang into action and finished the job in spectacular fashion. Our returning client was thrilled and realized that a bargain price isn’t always a bargain … if the job isn’t finished.

That’s where communication, dependability, and integrity come in. And that’s where TMS comes in — we’re the mechanical contractors you can trust.

Success with TMS: Appreciative Customers Continue to Warm Our Hearts

customer-success-storiesTMS has been in the mechanical services industry for a long, long time. We’ve seen just about every mechanical contracting job there is and met just about every challenge.

Still, we never take our success for granted. And we love hearing back from our customers, especially when we’ve been able to step in at the last minute and make a difference.

Recently, we heard from two of our mechanical contracting business partners, and we wanted to share their comments.

A Warm Reception

Doug, one of our valued partners with a national hotel chain, recently experienced some early-morning heating issues, and TMS was on the scene ASAP. Since winter heating problems in Kansas are never good for the hotel business, suffice it to say quick action must take place.

One Sunday at 1:00 a.m. we received a call from Doug stating that there was no heat at one of his hotels! Apparently, in addition to a power failure, a pump breaker had blown and an ignition module had burned up.

Rudy from TMS flew into action, made a quick call to the supplier, and secured a new starter and ignition module. Upon arrival at the hotel, he installed the new units and Doug was able fire up the boiler.

The hotel now had heat, happy patrons, and a relieved manager. To be on the safe side, Rudy stuck around to ensure everything was working properly. Doug was appreciative for the quick response from TMS and the ability to generate heat at his hotel once again.

A week later, another problem arose. Similar issue, but this time Doug asked Rudy not to come down right away because he wanted to see if the hotel crew could repair the issue. A few hours later, we got a call that TMS’ services were indeed needed.

Unfortunately, this time no extra starters were available. However, Rudy was able to “MacGyver” a way to get the heat back on until the part could be ordered. He jumped out the starter and hot-wired the motors, and before long the hotel customers were once again basking in warmth.

From Doug: “Rudy, thank you for answering your phone and responding to our customers’ needs.”

You’re welcome, Doug. Call us any time!

Smooth Sailing to Success

We thought we’d share one more experience. This time from Chuck, another valued mechanical contracting customer of ours.

Chuck writes: “I just wanted to take a minute to thank TMS for their outstanding ethical and professional services.

“From the quote to the final bolt, the project went smooth. TMS employees were timely, courteous, energetic, tidy, clever, and most of all very conscious of their profession. They were able to identify critical issues and offer well thought out resolutions, from the inception of the project through startup.

“Because of the exceptional work these gentlemen did, the project was a success. We will only consider TMS for future projects I will be responsible for, and will be recommending TMS to any business associates. Thank you for your hard work.”

How Can Our Mechanical Contracting Services Help You?

It’s feedback like this that makes us love what we do. At TMS, we offer a wide variety of mechanical contracting services and solutions for each and every one of our business partners. If you’d like to hear what we can do for you, give our TMS experts a call and put us to work.

Your success … is OUR success!