Why do thing cost so darn much?

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I was reading an article about the high cost of things the other day, as a business owner I think i have something to add. No matter how you feel about minimum wage laws, taxes, regulations and technology these and more play a role, sometimes a huge role in the final cost of goods and services.

As a restaurant owner for more than two decades and now as a general contractor the cost of labor was and continues to be one of the larger costs of doing business and without exception these are passed directly to the consumer. If you want a sixteen year old dish-washer to make $15 an hour that’s fine as long as you understand YOU are paying for it, not the owner or the shareholder.

In the restaurant business especially, labor is a huge expense in fact it is the highest cost in many restaurants even more than the food. As a result any increase is a big deal so the question as a country is this; do you want more or less employment? it really is that simple, higher wages result in fewer jobs because it pushes marginal businesses out of business. eventually you are left with fewer but larger restaurants open. Chain restaurants are able to outlast smaller independents so the long term trend will be more chains and restaurants that can take advantage of self ordering kiosks and automated food production stations such as fast food restaurants  to minimize labor cost increases.

In the construction industry you find more prefab construction than ever, from pre-made trusses to engineered wood floors there is a push for speed to lower the labor portion of construction. In my Slabjacking business polyurethane is quickly replacing mudjacking due in part to the faster pace in which jobs can be completed. Where mudjacking is a slow laborious production, polymer injection is a fast and relatively sanitary process. Two jobs a day verses four so while the material costs are much higher the labor costs are half as much.

As the national debates continues it is important to realize like most things there isn’t a cut and dry argument on either side, higher wages/lower employment, more regulation/higher cost, higher taxes/greater costs and/or higher evasion rates.

When it comes to a concrete repair business like mine it is especially important to control labor costs. Replacing concrete is expensive not because concrete is expensive, it’s cheap, it’s the three guys or more it takes to place and finish the concrete that causes that small hundred square feet of concrete to cost twelve hundred dollars. We can repair it for much less in large part due to the much lower labor cost associated with raising verses replacing concrete.

As a business owner I see the advantages of less regulation, less taxation. I work across state lines and some states are much more business friendly than others, does that keep me out of more difficult states? Yes, or at least much more cautious entering those markets. Business is risky enough without our elected officials ignorantly working against job creation. Having thirty different taxing districts, thirty business licenses, issues with licensing trucks, trailers and compliance with trucking regulations is not helpful to business creation and that’s before one employee is hired. Add to that all the issues and costs relating to employing workers with the added state and federal oversight and you start to understand why some employers choose to skirt the law or use temp agencies to staff their operation. It’s a complex issue worthy of a robust debate rather than the partisan fight it has become.

Just my brief thoughts.

Jerald Sargent

1-855-752-2522

www.SlabjackGeotechnical.com

1-855-752-2522

Superior Technology, Superior polymers, Superior results.

Living the good life

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Now that I have entered middle age (good heavens where have the years gone!) I have been doing a lot more self-reflection. Am I happy? Am I satisfied with who I’ve become? And, where do I go from here?

My peers will know where am coming from. Life is short, as a great book put it “our lives passed as it were in a dream” if we are not careful life passes us by all too quickly and we find life has become hollow and meaningless. We might even become that old codger down the street, keeping balls thrown in our yard by neighborhood kids as a form of punishment for their happiness. Here are some conclusions I’ve arrived at after fifty-three years;

Relationships, not things are what matters. While things bring with them a level of comfort they of themselves do not bring peace. Nothing causes more misery than those whom we love doing things we know will bring them regret. Whether it be a wayward Spouse, Parent or Child more sleepless nights have been had over relationships and behaviors than I thought possible. I’ve been married, twice. You can’t know the sweet without tasting bitter. I’m not suggesting a divorce to appreciate your spouse.  I AM saying we can change, let our most loved ones have the freedom to do the same without suspicion, skepticism and sarcasm. We all need grace, me most of all.

Employment can be joyful or drudgery. It really doesn’t matter the field of work you are in or the salary you earn, if you hate the work you are doing, do you and your employer a favor and find other work. I worked in the restaurant business for over thirty years. Dishwasher, Cook, Assistant Manager, Store Manager, District Manager and Owner for twenty-five years. Most of the time it was drudgery. At forty-eight years of age I started a Concrete Raising business and have never been happier. I don’t know if YOU can earn a living doing what you love but you do need to find something fulfilling and meaningful in what you do for a living to live the good life.

As much as I now enjoy my career, as much as I love my beautiful bride Ann-Marie and my children, my life would be hollow without faith and belief in almighty God, it animates who I am. As a child and a young adult my Heavenly Father was a being who demanded perfection, something I was, and still am, woefully unprepared to give. Only as I came to understand my many weakness and shortcomings did I begin to grasp His unconditional love for me. Having children further clarified the understanding of unconditional love and that what God demands is not yet perfection but our hearts and a willing mind. Have I seen Him, have I conversed with Angels? No, but through His grace I have overcome addictions, questions have been answered though prayer and through reading sacred scripture, I have been moved to act because of His inspiration and my weakness have been made strong through His great enabling power and I have found that as I more perfectly follow the path He trod, life is more meaningful and dear to me.

In Many ways I’m becoming as a child; I dream of things I want to do and have the confidence to work to achieve it. I appreciate the beauty of a cloud or smooth water or a newborn baby, I’m not as afraid to show my feelings as I once was, I tell others how I feel, I express love, appreciation and admiration because I understand it isn’t weakness to do so and I’m not as judgmental as I once was. (I’m still as opinionated as ever)

The good life is all of this and so much more. Service, helping the guy on the side of the road, giving an old lady a discount on her concrete raising  job, reading to my daughter, helping my son start a business, telling my wife she is the world to me, freely giving the gifts I’ve been given.

I’m still learning how to live the good life, I’m certainly not a perfect father or husband or business owner and I think admitting and acknowledging that are a key to the good life. Trying to live behind the facade of perfection is exhausting.

One of my heroes was known for not only doing things others thought inappropriate for who he was but also freely admitting his faults. So get out and really live life, dream, hope, work, see the beauty in the world around you, yes you will make mistakes so admit it and move forward. In one of the Rocky movies, Rocky famously said “it’s not about how hard you can hit it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward” we all get hit in life the key is to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward.

Ultimately, happiness is a byproduct of doing ones duty well, it isn’t something that can be purchased, though things, places and people can add to a sense of satisfaction or pleasure or ease of themselves only bring fleeting happiness.

As this Christmas season comes and goes let’s work harder to see the beauty in each of our lives and emulate The one we recognize during the Christmas season by giving of ourselves.

 

Merry Christmas,

 

Jerald Sargent

Owner, 1-855-752-2522

 

 

 

 

Raising settled concrete – Perseverance and Tenacity

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My Dad was someone who taught his seven children the value and the honor of an honest days work. Dad owned a dairy and during one stretch worked seven years without a single day off. Thankfully some of that work ethic rubbed off on his children, we’re thankful for the example.

Successful concrete raising often takes a little patience and perseverance in addition to knowledge and experience.

Occasionally a small job will take hours where a larger one will go smoothly and only take half the time. It is the primary reason scheduling in this industry is so challenging.

A job we did in Colfax WA. Demonstrates the necessity of perseverance.

The slabs were beginning to freeze to the ground (Nov 15th) had settled oddly, had a section of stairs at an entry and went around a corner. If that wasn’t enough the entire walk had an iron railing bolted to it.

All these issues combined to conspire against us! Slabs freeze to soils, railings fight movement, stairs are often much thicker and require different strategies to level when attached to thinner walks.

After two hours and not much success we turned off the equipment and rethought our original strategy. After some thought and discussion we decided to cut the slabs at the expansion joints and treat the single long walk as four separate projects. Having thus decided we moved in the direction mentioned and within a few hours had the entire sidewalk raised.

When you commit to doing something about your settled concrete we commit to completing your job. Call the concrete raising and leveling professionals today,

1-855-752-2522

www.SlabjackGeotechnical.com

Superior technology, Superior polymers, Superior results.

 

Why is government so expensive?

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I think most Americans recoil at how the military can be charged $650 for a hammer or a toilet seat and I’m no different. We expect our leaders to get the best deal they can for our hard-earned tax dollars so why does this type of thing happen?

In addition to many residential jobs and commercial work we also do a fair bit of municipal work including work for school districts. The nature of the bidding process itself can be problematic. In the state of Washington, most communities, housing authorities and school districts require that contractors pay what is called the “prevailing wage” most of us would assume the word “prevailing” to be “the going rate” – in most of our markets general labors earn roughly $10-$15 an hour, however the current “prevailing wage” according to the department of labor and industries for general laborers is $34.01 – that’s right, up to triple what many contractors pay.

In addition to the doubling or more, of the labor cost on the vast majority of municipal jobs, current bidding stipulations on most of these jobs does not allow for any type of surcharge for material overages. Raising concrete by its very nature makes it difficult to determine exact materials needed. (We can’t see voids under the concrete) as a result we have to assume a worst case scenario in the bidding process which greatly drives up the cost of projects.

Lastly, many contractors simply do not have any desire to deal with all the paperwork, requirements, stipulations, slow payables and hoops to jump through for the possibility of getting a job with the government. As a result many jobs go to just a few regular bidders who are very familiar with the process and have made municipal work their specialty, this is unfortunate for the taxpayer who is continually overpaying for those projects.

What could be done to reduce the cost of municipal construction? First, eliminating the costly prevailing wage laws would greatly reduce the cost of many projects, construction by its nature is highly dependent on labor. Second, allow up to 20% above the estimate for material surcharges on certain work. Slabjacking is a prime candidate for this exemption. Finally, a much simplified contract on jobs under ten or twenty thousand dollars would generate more interest from contractors who don’t have an office staff to contend with the large contractual requirements.

If these things were done more work would be completed and the taxpayer better served.

1-855-752-2522

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No can do

Slabjack Geotechnical
Slabjack Geotechnical

 

Raising settled concrete,

Some slabs are not good candidates for concrete leveling, they have various issues including,

 

Excessive cracks – hard to get the puzzle level, best to replace.

Unseen supports under the slab – damage of the slab almost certain with attempted lift.

Cracks running adjacent and near edges – very difficult not to heave the crack line.

“Parquet” type concrete – similar to excessively cracked concrete, hard to get the puzzle level.

In addition to these, slabs where the cost to raise approaches the cost of replacement should generally  be replaced.  This can happen in rare cases when settling is excessive or there are massive voids under the concrete slabs.

Slabjack Geotechnical is able to quickly determine if your slab can be economically raised or whether replacement is the best choice. Call for a no obligation, no pressure estimate today,

1-855-752-2622

www.SlabjackGeotechnical.com

Superior technology, Superior polymers, Superior results.

 

 

 

 

The big stick

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One of the funny terms  I use about leaders in their respective industry’s is they are the “big stick” (and they use their sticks beat their competitors with it)

What do we mean? Simply put they cast a huge shadow. They market better, they dominate, they control their destiny, all others are fighting for scraps.

How do they accomplish that? With big corporations it is often a matter of money and with small companies it can be too but not always, some have found marketing themselves doesn’t have to cost a fortune and in fact can be free of you are willing to spend some of your time.

For twenty five years I owned a restaurant, back in the eighties we could run an ad in the local paper and be busy the day the paper came out. Same with radio to a lesser extent, run an ad and see immediate results, put an ad in the phone book and wait for the phone to ring. Today, not so. What’s changed? Technology.

Satellite radio and Pandora, DVR’s and DVD’s, the Internet and other technologies have drastically reduced the effectiveness of those traditional methods for generating sales. Listen to an ad? Ya gotta be kidding me! A one hour show on TV only takes forty minutes to watch if you DVR it and fast forward through the ads.

So how can you aquire a big stick? A business website coupled with social media.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and many more all offer ways to have a presence for FREE right where potential customers are looking.

Even brick and mortar stores like restaurants where no internet sales are offered are finding that interacting with people online can generate sales. Today’s lunch special sent out at 10:30am on Facebook just may increase lunch business. I ate at a restaurant, Grill on Gage, in Kennewick that I would never have stopped at had I not friended them on Facebook, and it was fantastic!

For a contracting business like the one we are in, the Internet is how they are found, yellow pages are almost dead, news papers are fine for coupons but not as good for general information, especially when paying by the column inch! Phone books are bulky and with three or more in many areas the chances of you being seen are diminishing as fast as the people who actually use a phone book are.

If you want to walk with the big boys you gotta carry a big stick. You have to spend the time to refine your web site, you have to engage with social media and you have to be consistent to see results. That, or ya gotta be willing to pay someone to do it for you.

If while doing this you trip over some settled concrete give us a call, we are the big sticks of Slabjacking in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho,

1-855-752-2522

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Superior technology, Superior polymers, Superior results.

 

 

How much liability insurance should I carry to cover my settled concrete sidewalk?

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Several liability issues on a residential sidewalk.
Several liability issues on a residential sidewalk.

Can you say lawsuit?

According to the national floor safety institute the average cost of medical care for a slip/trip fall In 2006 was over $22,000. The cost to defend against a claim was $50,000!  The average jury award was over 100,000! And we have seen jury awards of over two million dollars for a trip over a section of settled concrete that had settled two inches. The ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act lists a trip hazard as an offset of just 1/4″ between surfaces.

The picture above was taken in one of the communities we serve. In the picture are examples of slabs heaved by tree roots, slabs settled due to water main vault voids as well as standard settled slabs.

1-855-752-2522 can repair each of these problems quickly and for much less money than “rip and replace” concrete contractors. If a section is too far gone we can replace that section and level the rest.

Concrete grinding? We do that too.

If your block is out of whack like the picture above don’t risk being sued, give us us a call, we can help.

1-855-752-2522

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Superior technology, Superior polymers, Superior results.

 

 

Lipstick on a proverbial pig?

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At what point is concrete too far gone to be raised?

When the concrete has bad spalling (top chipping off) or has cracks too close together (10×10 slab with three cracks or more) it is often time to replace, not raise.

In addition to the above, when the base soils are not fairly solid and compacted or if there is deteriorating organic matter such as rotting roots and such, settling will continue until those issues are dealt with.

Slabjack Geotechnical is your trusted expert in concrete raising and leveling  for settled concrete.

Whether yours is a settled patio, porch, driveway, basement or garage floor, sidewalk or settled shop floor or warehouse, you can trust 1-855-752-2522 to honestly evaluate your concrete and offer the best option for repair, call today.

1-855-752-2522

www.SlabjackGeotechnical.com

Superior technology, Superior polymers, Superior results.

Slabjack Geotechnical – D.I.Y. Concrete staining

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Have you seen some of the stained concrete out there? Works of art!

Concrete staining is a great way to freshen up your entry your walks and patio or even your driveway at a fraction the cost of new.

This last summer my wife, after much cajoling convinced me to stain our entry. Let me tell you about the process.

The first step is to choose the color(s) you would like. I chose a dark brown and a lighter beige, but you can use a single color or as many as you wish. I think three would have been the best. A mocha, the beige and perhaps a terra cotta to blend the two extremes.

Start with a good power wash and allow the slab to dry. Once dry apply the first color, you can use a brush, sprayer or roller. I used a sprayer but quickly switched to the roller. After the base color is down and tack free, about two hours, you are ready for the next color. This is where a garden sprayer is magic. Just pump up the sprayer and spritz it over the base coat, don’t go too heavy, about 30% coverage is all you want. Wait about two hours, again until tack free and fill the garden sprayer with the third color, again spraying for about 30% coverage. You are looking for a mottled look that is well blended with a uniformity of mottling. Allow to dry for several hours or overnight at which point two coats of sealer should be applied over the stain.

Concrete staining really wakes up old dingy concrete and even  does a decent job of concealing thin cracks. For wider cracks a good concrete epoxy crack filler with silica sand should be used first in order to achieve the best results just remember the patch won’t accept stain very well.

OK, cost. Assuming you have paint supplies, a pressure washer and a garden sprayer, the cost for a gallon of stain is about $40 times three plus sealer. Under $200 will cover about a hundred square feet, maybe more. So call it two dollars a square foot and a day’s labor with plenty of time to drink lemonade between coats.

If my experience was indicative of what to expect, you will get rave reviews from your wife and be considered to have achieved the pinnacle of manliness, if not permanently, temporarily and that’s not too bad either.

All the big home improvement stores and specialty paint stores carry the products you’ll need and are happy to provide helpful tips along with YouTube videos we have all come to count on for repairs of any kind.

So, if your concrete has seen better days get it leveled up then stain away!

1-855-752-2522

www.SlabjackGeotechnical.com

Superior technology, Superior polymers, Superior results.

 

boat launches

Slabjack Geotechnical
Slabjack Geotechnical

I was walking the loop trail in the Wenatchee area this morning and noticed a large void under one of the boat launches.  With the draw down of the pools behind Wanapum, Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams, now is the time to void fill and/or raise concrete boat launches, sea walls and embankments.

In the case of the riverfront boat ramp, with the water down six feet the once underwater ramp is high and dry, an excellent time to take care of this issue without need of anything to catch materials being discharged into the river.  It’s just a matter of injecting our Geo-Polymer from the side of the ramp, a simple fix to what would be a huge replacement expense if the ramp is allowed to collapse.

If you have need of these type of services give 1-855-752-2522 a call today.

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