Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I've joined the 21st century

Well it only took me about 20 years but I have finally purchased a steel detailing program. I invested in SSDCP last month after a few months of research. I have been fortunate to be very busy this year. While much of my work is misc. metals, my larger customers have been asking me to take some of their structural work as well. SDS2 and Xsteel were more of an investment than I wanted to make, plus, I spoke to several detailing firms that use those programs and they are not as flexible and as misc. metals friendly as I need. AutoSD and SSDCP were both recommended. I sublitted at poll question on the Yahoo Misc. Metals board. The results were 13 for AutoSD and 11 for SSDCP. I made 3 email attempts and 2 phone calls to AutoSD with no response. SSDCP contacted me quickly, and stayed in touch. They got the business.
I am still learning the program but I really enjoy it. I bought the 2nd computer module so I can practice at home. Since I am familiar with Steelcad, I am finding it rather easy to detail. Of course, not being very good with technology I still struggle with things like plotting and finding how to do some things. It really is a well designed program. I recommend it to anyone who is an experienced detailer but is a beginner with cad based programs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Joining the 21st Century

Well, now that I am in my 30th year as a steel detailer, I have finally decided to join the 21st century and learn CAD. OK, maybe joining the late 20th century is more like it.
To be fair, when I bought this company in 2000, my partner and I purchased Autocad LT 2000i. We even registered for a cad class at the local community college. At this time we were billing about 90 board hours a week. One weekend, I received a call from my partner's daughter; he had suffered a stroke while in Maryland. I quickly went to the office to evaluate our situation and, even though I was able to get some help, I spent the better part of the year playing catchup. George eventually recovered but retired, so I was left to try to keep this business going without his help. At that point, taking the time to learn CAD just had to take a back seat.
I realize now how there has been time and I just kept putting it off so a few weeks ago I purchased a program called "Autocad LT 2008 Tutorial Series" by 4dTechnologies. I chose this program based on its flexibility, price ($99), and a great review from Cadalyst Magazine. I have been really impressed by how well I can lead myself through the instructions and how each lesson, while linked to the next, also can stand on it's own, allowing me to learn in small bits of time since, as a business owner, father of 3 and 8 year olds, and active volunteer in several organizations, this is a benefit. I would recommend this product to anyone looking for a good entry level way to learn Autocad. Sure is nice here in the 21st century. Think I'll stay a while.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Life Happens

Well, I started this blog with the intention that I would post at least once a week. Then life happened. I am generally busy enough to fill 40 hours of board time a week and then spend Saturday morning invoicing, filing, etc. But in October, I booked the 2 biggest jobs our company has had in our nearly 16 years. I am certainy grateful for that and the last 3 months have been a lot of fun as I enlisted the help of several detailers that I have known for years. I worked about 60 hours a week and my wife really carried the load at home. Then last week, my sister in law died, very unexpectedly. We buried her yesterday. It reminded me how important balance is in our lives.

She was a perfect example of that. She lived a short but rich life, always making sure she was present for all birthday parties and family functions. She had a good bit of trouble with her own family issues yet always called to see how her sisters were doing. Mag worked for a large hospital and had large responsibilities but yet she was always there for us. It occured to me that she was the first family member I met after my wife and I started dating; she was there at Veterans Stadium, throwing confetti as I asked my wife to marry me; she was in our small wedding party; and she was at the airport to greet us both times as we arrived home with our children, adopted from China. She touched a lot of lives as there were nearly 500 people at her viewing. She will be missed greatly.

Why am I writing this here. Because detailers today are in such demand that we could fill all 168 hours a week with work if we wanted too. I was getting so wrapped up in work these last few months, I have missed important meetings with my kids teachers, golf outings with friends, and dinners with my wife. Heck, with a 2 year old and an 8 year old, time is limited anyway. So, I got my daily planner out and filled in time for work, time for family, and time for play. My goal this year is to learn how to say "no." I am very fortunate to have over 15 customers that send me a steady flow of work, on a T & M basis. As their "drafting department," I jump when asked. While this business model has worked well and will continue to be the primary mission of my company, I will do what I can for my customers during the time I have allocated. Of course, we know that life happens and we need to be flexible. But if it's planned, it might just happen. We make "blueprints" for our customers so they can complete what was planned by the building owner and design professionals. Make one for your life as well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Getting Involved

I received an email today from Mike Pelliccio of MFD Detailing Services LLC. Mike is our NISD Northeast Chapter Director. He sent us the minutes of the NISD Annual Meeting and in his attached letter said he hoped he can consider all of us Chapter members. That is one of the questions I have had since I joined NISD 2 years ago. Why are automatically made Members at Large and not assigned to our regional chapter. There are no additional dues. I would encourage all NISD members to contact their regional director and get involved. Mike has already help me by referring me to someone who could handle a project for one of my clients that I was unable to take on. Mike has represented those of us in the Northeast quite some time and has done an admirable job. I am coming to the end of a 4 year term with a large non-profit and look forward to getting involved with NISD.
Today, there are less detailers that when I joined the ranks in 1978. Yet the need continues to grow. Membership in the NISD can only help you, whether you are self employed or work for someone. My membership in AISC, ICC, and Nomma have helped me greatly, both as a detailer and a business owner. Membership in NISD however, surrounds me with my peers who share common experiences and goals. Together, we can achieve great things for our industry, our profession, and ourselves. It just takes a moment to say yes. Please click on the NISD link to find out more about the benefits of this wonderful organization, and how you can help.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Devil's in the Details

Welcome to my first post. My goal is to create a diologue between detailers, fabricators, erectors, GC's and trades, code officials, and design professionals in an effort to provide each other with a place for sharing information and experiences.
Just a note about myself, I have been a steel detailer for 30 years, working in the Delaware Valley for a detailing shop, a steel broker, a structural shop, and a miscellaneous metals shop, before buying my business in 2000 from my former partner, who founded the business in 1992. We specialize in serving small to mid-sized fabricators. While miscellaneous metals is our specialty, we have done structural projects up to 400 tons. Our firm has membership in AISC, NISD, Nomma, and ICC.
While I enjoy other blogs, I find many are misused to market services while others simply post gossip and complaints. I intend for this blog to be informative and fun. If users can benefit from its content, then it will have been worth the time. I too, hope to gain knowledge to use in my everyday business.
Thank you for visiting. Look forward to hearing from you.