megavolt512

The Order
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megavolt512 last won the day on July 14 2016

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About megavolt512

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    Journeyman
  • Birthday 01/10/1963

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  • Name
    John
  • Company
    MV, Inc.
  • Job Title
    pres.
  • Location
    Austin, TX
  • Gender
    Male

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    Full Service Shop

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  1. Pretty strong validation of the old "within line of sight" disconnect requirement.
  2. Agree completely on not using plastic tube supports. I don't use them on anything these days - not even the smallest window sign. The neon has a 10 year life and the plastic tube supports a 3-5 year life. There is always trouble down the road. Sometimes the plastic disintegrates in only a couple of years. Acrylic or Polycarb - UL listed or not. all have this problem. I think the ozone produced near the tube surface breaks down the plastic. Throw in some direct sunlight and you really have trouble. I really like the silicone-dipped glass tube supports both FMS and others sell now.
  3. Ditto on the brake (up to 1/8in). I still prefer acrylic (1/4in-3/8) for most window signs. Stiffer than polycarbonate and seems to age a bit better too. You can use solid square or round stock (I use 1in solid rod) for the standoffs.
  4. Eugene, some excellent insight from the other posters in this topic, so I'll just add my brief comments. We have (or are) all been here. I'm in my last half of my life in this profession and a few things are really becoming clear. I think most of these apply to all of us: 1. there is no shortage of work in most areas right now. The main goal for everyone now is not getting work, but weeding out the bad work so you can spend your time on good clients. 2. A lot of work out there is just not worth doing by anyone. Either someone is not willing to pay for it, or they are asking for things that simply cannot be profitable or worth doing for anyone at any price. Learning to confidently say "no" is an ongoing skill set I think all of us work on our entire careers. 3. Take vacations - even if they are just occasional 3-day weekends. These really give (me at least) a chance to evaluate what the hell I'm doing and what the hell I want to do. It was during a 3 day beach outing with the fam' I realized I needed to dump a client that was zapping 70 percent of my energy and time and only contributing 20 percent to my income. It was a tough pill to swallow, and I had my doubts the following few months after dropping the axe. But ultimately it made room for new areas of work and great customers. 4. within your own company: reward the good folks, but don't be hesitant to oust someone who is dragging everyone else (including you) down. It's amazing how one person can poison the well. Anyone who's run a biz more than 10 years knows exactly what I am talking about. I really cant' stress the importance of #1 enough. There are many jobs simply not worth taking. And people can be really pushy. My natural inkling is to help nearly anyone, and I constantly fight to stay in the drivers's seat. Deadlines are ever present in our line of work, and it's easy to fall into a vicious cycle of bouncing from emergency-to-emergency. This kind of environment destroys your own ability to remain sane and make your own operations efficient and work for your own needs.
  5. I'm starting to see a lot of LED sellers claim their products are "LM79 and LM80 certified" - yet there is no mention of what these tests actually revealed. My understanding is that LM79 measures total luminous flux, luminous efficacy, light distribution, and a few others. It's not a pass-fail type of test, it's a report that can be used to evaluate a product. Modules, etc. from everyone seem to be getting better, but it's definitely still buyer-beware.
  6. There is an electric sign co/service outfit here in my city who confided in me this week they no longer had any of their own customers. 100 percent of their biz is through an out of state broker. The really crappy thing about that sort of relationship is that you no longer set the terms for your own business. Someone you have never met may (and probably will) one day tell you things have changed: -You'll now get paid at 180 days -You are limited to $30 for any travel -All overages are your problem -hold on funds if there is a callback Could go on of course...
  7. Are you aware of any instances when this policy was enforced?.....just curious because before this forum I never heard this issue brought up. It's interested since the industry seems to be gravitating to the big national manufacturers and the small local installation/service companies. It's not really enforced here in Texas at all. Even though it is written in law that you can not sell, or offer to sell electrical services of any kind without a licensed presence in the state and a Texas master electrician on the payroll. For better or worse, I think electric signs - especially the service end - are getting Uber-ized and it is going to become much more of a gig-economy for this trade, with fewer people actually having their own clients.
  8. I've really been getting an earful lately from electric sign techs. I don't ever remember seeing this much job dissatisfaction. Most tell me it is the out-of-state maintenance companies (sign repair brokers, etc.) that are ruining it for them. They are being asked to rediculously document every last detail of the repair, give an all-inclusive estimate before they've started the job. And the service company's know very little about electric signs to begin with. I met a tech today who showed me some of the communication he banter's back and forth with a service company. It was a joke - almost too embarrassing to repeat. A month to approve a repair to replace a missing channel letter face. Fix it fast, NTE 125, take 5 pictures of of it before and after. Argue profusely that this can't be done in a single trip. (Then take forever to pay I'm sure) I'm hearing a lot too from techs working for service companies that they are being treated like a router machine. Work 14 hours one day, then stay home another day because there is no work. Then go home early one day so you don't exceed 40 hours. Is this a local thing or are you guys seeing this in your 'hoods too? Starting to see some good folks want to get out of the industry and that's scary, because I sure don't any good ones stepping up to replace them.
  9. I agree with most of the China-vs-West ideas, but I think China in a business sense is more capitalistic than the US and other rich Western countries. A dear friend of mine runs a business in Hong Kong. As as business you can pretty much do what you want there. Copyrights, environmental regulations, truth in advertising, etc. are not strictly enforced. Money dictates the rules. The government is of course very anti-democratic - but I think business there is much more slanted toward pure capitalism than many other places. Capitalism does provide incentive to work harder and do better... but "do better" means what? In a pure sense it means to make more money for yourself. Period. You can be very financially successful and create mass-misery, poison people, and destroy the environment at the same time. There is no incentive in pure capitalism to create jobs. On the contrary, a job is a liability and cost to be eliminated. Think of countries with products most consider well made: South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, France. All are considerably more socialist than China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc, which all crank out cheap products. Agree there are few is any standards coming out of China. But standards mean regulation. Even if voluntary, someone has to confirm and/or track compliance? I don't mean to sound unpatriotic, but I think this county's problem is we let big monopolies exist and don't foster enough competition. And it's getting much worse. We have a punishing copyright and patent system that rewards the status quo with ever increasing winfalls. What's a copyright now... something like 60 years after the author's death??? Drug patents renewed when you change a word in the prescribing instructions? We allow pharmaceutical companies to buy up competitors and shut them down. We have the crappiest, slowest, most expensive internet service of any rich country, and we are still approving mergers of the 4 companies that control 80% of the market? And lastly lets not forget banking.... which used to be here to provide working capital to businesses. Now they exist completely to enrich themselves and aren't even required to to operate in the best interest of their clients. Wtf? (off my soapbox now and back to work. I swear there was a point in here somewhere about LED's....)
  10. Wow that's really bad. They can't even wrap electrical tape... in an application that shouldn't even have electrical tape.
  11. I don't have a problem with insuring risk. It is always there. But it seems as if ALL risk (even 2nd and 3rd-party negligence) is being transferred to contractors. If you can transfer risk you get lower insurance rates. But the person assuming the additional risks (that would be people like us) are paying higher rates. As long as we can buy it, bill it, and people are willing to pay it I guess there is not much problem. But at some point it could make electric sign work seem so egregiously expensive that folks start looking at other advertising means that do not have such high costs.
  12. Is anyone else seeing a rapid increase in the number of parties who what to be listed as "additional insureds"? The general contractor, the building owner, the building partners, the building property manager. Oh yes, and a round of subrogation waivers too please! I can pay more money and get the "blanket" additional insured's for everyone like I'm sure many of you do, but it gets to be a gray area when some of these folks are people you do not have a written contract yet. Even with the blanket there is paperwork involved to make sure each of these parties actually qualifies for it as per your policy. All this is driving up the costs for the end buyer. I know it's not limited to electric sign work, but it seems like people are asking for ALL work from ANYONE who does ANYTHING to be zero risk and to insure not just themselves but everyone else too.
  13. Those of us on the neon end of the industry have dealt with this for decades. And to this day it is very difficult to permit an animated neon sign in most places. LED electronic signs slipped in mostly under the radar as far as regulations go. This was because they evolved for the lowly "message board" - those things that banks often put of that alternated between the time and temperature. As they evolved, sign regs have been slow to catch up. Nowadays, LED electronic signs are often giant full-motion daylight-readable video screens. Like animated neon, they can be obnoxious in the wrong place, and it will be very hard to argue against that. I think the key to successful sign regs is setting clear rules for what is and is not allowed. For example, how often can the display change? Is full motion video allowed? Some places (like here) go much further and you have scenic corridors, lumen-level limits, etc. There is a huge market for these beasts even with sensible regulations. But definitely having them obnoxious and in the wrong places really turns folks against them and there can be backlash that goes too far.
  14. classic ungrounded metal cans
  15. Agree 100% with Alltex. I use Lord's a lot - but for anything critical I tack weld at least in spots. VHB does not hot up in my experience either. I don't know why people put up neon tube supports with this stuff. I'm beginning to see LED modules fall down as well. It definitely has a lifespan that is usually shorter than then materials it is holding together. The Lord 7xx series are urethane based and have a wider substrate compatibility than the acrylic 406. It's an excellent adhesive too and I've had good experience with it. But I still use some sort of mechanical fasting at least in a few places for guaranteed performance.