Don't leave it on the table

We've embarked on a mission that seeks to identify issues that specifically affect contractors

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We've embarked on a mission that seeks to identify issues that specifically affect contractors.

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Owning and operating a cabling-installation business probably is at least as challenging today as it ever has been, and may very well be more challenging than ever. Seasoned cabling contractors have dealt with some business issues for years-including employee training, loyalty, and retention; competitive bidding; and of course, competition. None of those issues has gone away. To the contrary, they have intensified, and numerous other business issues face today's contractors as well.

Take, for example, the profile of the organization that installs structured cabling systems for voice and data transmission. Frankly, I can't do it. There is no "typical" such organization. Some companies spend all or nearly all of their time installing voice and data cabling systems in commercial buildings. Some specialize in educational institutions, and still others focus exclusively on other vertical users, like health-care facilities.

For a great many other organizations, voice and data cabling is one of several areas of expertise. Many electrical contractors successfully provide a one-stop shop for end-user organizations that prefer a single point of contact for their electrical and network cabling needs. Some companies that have long provided sound and video system installations have turned their sites to "the world of Cat 5," as many of them call it. We can sum up this trend by saying that these organizations don't want to leave anything on the table.

At the risk of redundancy, I will briefly bring up the prospect of Division 17 again. It has been well-chronicled in this and other publications; I devoted this page to the topic two months ago; and Contributing Editor Arlyn Powell mentions it in his column this month also (see page 84). If it happens as some have proposed it, it will change the landscape for bidding and working practices for all structured cabling contractors.

And you don't have to be Alan Greenspan to know that the overall economic climate in the United States has everybody tightening their belts. So, don't expect any of your competitors to ease up; just like you, they will be going after the business as hard as ever.

We at Cabling Installation & Maintenance like to think we have helped many installation contractors improve their business strategies through the years. By providing technical and standards information, as well as real-life stories about problems and solutions, we have aimed to provide useful information to those who design and install, as well as those who use, structured cabling systems. You can look at it this way: We are about the technology, products, and standards that affect system design, installation, and maintenance.

Recognizing that there are issues away from the job site that affect the way contractors run their businesses, we set out to establish a source with the specific purpose of meeting that information need. With our knowledge of the structured cabling industry in hand, we embarked on an information-gathering mission that sought to identify issues that greatly affect contractors.

This month, we unveil the result of that research in the first issue of a new publication: Cabling Contractor. Whereas Cabling Installation & Maintenance is about the technology and technique of system design, installation, and maintenance, Cabling Contractor is about the business of operating a contracting organization. Many of you who are contractors and who receive this publication also will begin to receive Cabling Contractor. The new publication reflects the dynamic nature of contracting in this industry, and will address issues that some of you and many of your peers have told us matter most.

In fiercely competitive times like these, every source of useful information is an asset. Let Cabling Contractor be one of yours. And when you receive the publication, please don't leave it on the table.

(If you did not receive a copy of Cabling Contractor with this issue, and believe the publication can help you in your business dealings, please visit the Web site, where you will find a subscription application.)

Patrick McLaughlin is Chief Editor of Cabling Installation & Maninenance.

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