Life Sucks, Then You Move On

Lost my job yesterday. My regional ops mgr and supervisor are lobbying to get that decision reversed but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm receiving a military pension which helps in one regard but that almost entirely offsets unemployment...

Filed a DBA (Doing Business As) today for low voltage wiring and I'm picking up liability insurance Monday. I have a few questions.

I am NICET Level II Certified and hold a Michigan Fire Alarm Specialty Technician License.

  1. What's covered under a non-compete clause? I won't be installing alarms but am planning on trying to subcontract low voltage wiring for sprinkler companies. Mainly (I hope) it will be phones, TV, network cabling - things like that (I don't know enough right now about sound system cabling but I'm a quick study if it comes to it).

With my license I can do NFPA Fire Alarm Inspections and am told (by someone who may or may not know what they are talking about) that as long as I don't solicit current customers of my former employer it isn't a problem.

  1. I know it varies from region to region but how would you guys go about estimating a wiring job? By the foot? By the estimated hours? By the number of drops? All of the above? Money up front or bill later or a combination?

As for contacting builders - I was thinking about doing a sort of 'resume' thing that details my background, training and what services I offer and visiting builders in person. Any suggestions?

  1. Business cards - I googled free business cards and came up with tons of sites - have any of you used such a thing and do you have any recommendations? Simple/fancy - what info should be on them?

  1. Supplies - I know I can get wire at Home Depot or the local Electrical Supply house - what other options might there be? I've worked with enough cheap wire before to know I want to use a decent product so are there any brands I should avoid?

I know these may be basic and perhaps dumb questions but I've never had to deal with such things before and I have to admit I'm still a little befuddled and off balance - pretty sick to my stomach as well.

Is there anything else I should be considering? I am totally a fish out of water here but, being in Michigan, there's a lot of folks lining up for 7 buck an hour night stock jobs so, while I do plan on looking for something, and who knows - this might work out. Regardless, I've got to do something or we don't eat.

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Sorry to hear of your loss, Joe.

If your job is "alarm installer" a non-compete clause prohibiting you from installing alarms, even in the same neighborhood as your former employer, is unenforceable. Feel free to work for a competitor or start your own alarm company.

That is correct.

I haven't done wiring as a sub contractor in many years but when I did, it was by the drop or by the day, depending on the level of difficulty.

Stay away from Eastern Wire & Cable, because it's crap. Avoid Genesis. It's good enough quality but over priced.

The only dumb question is the one not asked.

I feel the same way but not from job loss. It's the blasted pain killers and the steroids. :(

Try to network with realtors. Have you done any specialty stuff besides run-of-the-mill alarm work? If you know how to read blueprints, consider approaching architectural firms in the area. Architects spec what systems will be used, but many of them don't really know the different systems. They get a local installing firm to write the spec for them. If they win the bid, you'll have an excellent shot at doing the installation. The key in this kind of "spec-sale" is to write the description of the equipment to be used directly from your favorite manufacturer's "A&E" which you can usually download directly from the manufacturer's website. Describe the hardware precisely, down to the last letter, but DO NOT spec the make and model. That way it's a specification -- not a sales proposal.

I'm sure you'll get lots of other ideas from the guys here. Hope these help, too.

Best of luck,

Robert L Bass

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