Fabrication Excellence!

James CRAFT & Son has a talented group of employees, and its Pre-Fab department is no different. That department provides great efficiencies in the field by fabricating pipe assemblies in advance, under controlled conditions, so they can be easily installed upon arrival at the job site.

Recently, some employees in the Pre-Fab shop worked to construct 64 stainless steel piping assemblies for hose reels, hand sinks, and emergency eye wash/shower stations for a large project at Bell and Evans in Fredericksburg, PA. The assemblies consisted of more than 2,300 threaded and welded joints that were assembled in the shop to be sent to the field for installation. To no one’s surprise, every one of those was cut, threaded, assembled, transported, installed and tested without a single leak!

The credit for accomplishing this amazing feat belongs to plumbing mechanic in charge, Dan Hombach. Thank you Dan for your hard work and attention to detail on this project!

The entire team in the shop deserves much praise for pre-fabricated stainless steel pipe in the mechanical rooms on the same job. The piping in the mechanical room consisted of more than 1,600 feet of pipe ranging from 2” to 10”.  More details on some of the piping on that job as well as additional photos can be seen in our upcoming newsletter, which will be mailed out soon. 

Why Our Trucks Are Red Fords

Check out this video from our YouTube channel for the first hand story about why we drive Red Fords.

3 Keys To A Successful Internship (meet Will Hollis)

In January of this year we welcomed Will Hollis, an Applied Engineering and Technology Management major at Millersville University to our drafting department. Will was looking to participate in an internship where he could apply the skills he learned in the classroom in a real working environment. We were hoping to add another technical mind to our drafting department, so it turned out to be a perfect match.

Will spent the first half of 2017 working several days per week alongside our talented team of draftsmen and design engineers to learn the technical needs of mechanical construction. During this internship Will learned to apply his classroom knowledge to understanding the design and drafting process including layouts, detail drawings and how mechanical systems work together in a limited amount of space. He especially enjoyed having the ability to see his digital creations in real life on our job sites.

We were so impressed with Will’s dedication, talents and personality, we asked him to stick around after graduation. We are pleased to announce that in late May, Will joined our team as a full time Draftsman.

When asked for some advice on completing an internship Will had three keys:

  1. Use Everything As a Learning Experience– Will didn’t start doing real drafting work for several months. Instead, he practiced on previously completed drawings from old projects. As first it seemed a little strange, however, as time went on, he learned it was important to understand all of the detail work that went into each drawing. Learning to layer mechanical systems together with fixtures and structural components within a building helped to build his confidence and skill set.
  2. Keep an Open Mind– When Will first arrived in our drafting department he didn’t get to dive right into AutoCad. Instead, he learned to copy drawings, how to digitally file them and where to store the drawings when completed. While it sounds monotonous, those basic skills are something Will draws on every day.
  3. Be a Swiss Army Knife– Will said his best advice is “learn how to be helpful anywhere”. Don’t be afraid to start from the ground up. The more you know, the better you can perform.



The building of our Timeline Wall

We recently completed this display on the 1st floor of our offices to show progression of the company history over the years.  A lot of hard work and dedication was put into the building of our company to get it to the great place it is today.  We are proud of our heritage and we hope you enjoy the many years of historical meaning depicted here!

Operations Department Office Renovations Complete!

This past month we completed a renovation project in the operations department on the 2nd floor of our offices.  After relocating everyone to temporary office spaces scattered throughout the rest of our building, the entire space was “gutted”.  Then over the next several weeks the entire space was rebuilt from floor to ceiling.  Each project manager now has their own clean, modernly furnished, enclosed office complete with counter tops, shelves and a door for privacy. Check out this short video to see the project from start to finish.

Plan the work, work the plan!

One of the key controls to any successful project is a well-coordinated, updated and accurate schedule of work. Some of our most successful projects at James CRAFT & Son are ones that follow a working schedule that is well thought out and implemented to meet or beat that schedule.

Here are some of the ways that we plan our work:

2-Week and 3-Week Look-ahead schedules

With this tool crew leaders can list activities and their duration’s in a short window of 2 to 3 weeks.  Man power requirements are listed as well as any tools and equipment needed for each activity.  This information is then shared with the general superintendent for manpower requests and with the customer and other contractors for coordination efforts.

Microsoft Project (Gantt Charts)

We use the Microsoft Project software for larger projects which contains an overall view of a project’s schedule from start to finish.  Created by project managers and superintendents this schedule is used by the project team and also helps project work that is months away for material and equipment deliveries.  It’s also useful for project milestones like topping out the structure or owner occupancy.

In-House Success Skills Training Program

They asked; we delivered! Some of our employees requested additional training opportunities in a recent employee survey.

In 2017, James CRAFT & Son will begin to conduct regular, in-house training on a variety of topics that will be helpful to our employees in an effort to develop their knowledge base. Our first Success Skills Training was held this week and covered Job Site Management & Professionalism. We didn’t get to cover all of the items on the agenda, so the topic is “to be continued” at a future session, which will be scheduled for April.

There are plenty of ideas floating around for future topics, but we’re open to suggestions. If you’re an employee of James CRAFT & Son a
nd have an idea for a future topic, please don’t hesitate to let Jessica know.

Thanks to all of the employees who attended this week’s training. We hope you learned something and we look forward to seeing you at the next one in April! 

6 Things to look for in your HVAC Service Contractor

Whether you’re an experienced facilities manager, or the boss just handed you the responsibility of overseeing the building, here are six things to look for in your HVAC Service Contractor…

  1. Experience & Training – “none of us are as smart as all of us”…no one person is expected to know everything on their own, but a good technician is able to find the answers.  It’s vital to have a contractor who’s company culture promotes communication, collaboration & sharing.
  2. 2-Hour Response Time – if it’s “mission critical” to your organization, you’ll want a contractor that guarantees a 2-hour response window.  In this case the location of the contractor’s office isn’t as important as the location of its on-call technicians.
  3. Maintenance Agreements – “take good care of your HVAC systems and they’ll take good care of you”…you’ll need a contractor that puts just as much emphasis on quality maintenance as they do on repairs.  With any mechanical equipment, repairs will be needed, but downtime and inconvenience are greatly minimized when a thorough maintenance program is put in place.
  4. Labor Discounts – many times labor is the most costly part of repairs, so when repairs do become necessary it’s helpful to your budget when your contractor offers discounts on their labor.
  5. Primary Technician Assignments – when it comes to your building few people know it better than you, but the next best thing is to have a contractor who generally sends the same technician each time you have an issue to be addressed.  That familiarity with you, your building, and your people can mean a lot when time is of the essence.
  6. Relationships – building relationships is an important part of just being together on this planet…next to our families, many times work relationships are some of the most significant and meaningful in our lives. Walking/working through life together!
Remember, your contractors reflect on you & your judgement.  Choose a contractor that’s going to make you look good!!

5 Keys to Excellent Customer Service

If your business depends on having customers (what business doesn’t?) you want to keep the ones you have while continually prospecting for new ones.  Here are five keys to ensure that you’ll provide excellent customer service as you strive for success in your business, and your life in general (yes, these things also work at home, at church, just about anywhere)…

  1. Show Appreciation!  You can’t say “thank you” too much, and people never get tired of hearing it.  Include some appreciation in every interaction with your customers.  Having and maintaining a grateful attitude helps a lot with this.  Don’t take anything for granted.  I once heard Rev. Keith Moore say this…”Expect nothing. Appreciate everything!”
    EXAMPLE: “Bob, I want you to know how much we appreciate your business. You have lots of choices in contractors, and we’re glad you choose us.”

  2. Has anything changed?  One can not assume things are the same today as they were yesterday, a week ago, a year ago.  Things change.  People change.  Companies change their procedures and policies from time to time.  A simple inquiry goes a long way toward ensuring your visit goes smoothly.  It also helps eliminate potential embarrassment or headaches that could otherwise be avoided. You know what they say about the word “assume”.
    EXAMPLE: “Has anything changed since the last time we visited your facility?  Previously we entered through the south entrance and signed in with the receptionist, is that procedure still in place?”

  3. How are we doing?  Feedback (both good & bad) should be encouraged and welcomed.  Sure you’re looking for that compliment, the positive comment, a pat on the back, but it’s also a great way to solicit things that may otherwise go unspoken.  There’s a rule that says, “most customers won’t complain, they’ll just decide to leave you.”  Is that what we want?  Certainly not.  Ask away!
    EXAMPLE:  “We’ve been working for your company about a year now, please tell me how we’re performing.  Are we exceeding your expectations?”

  4. What can we do better?  Nobody is perfect.  There’s always something you can do just a little bit better.  It may take a little prodding on your part to dig it out of them, but there’s gotta be something.
    EXAMPLE:  “Hey, I’ve gotta ask you…we’re always looking for ways to improve…if there’s just one thing we could do a little better for you, what might that be?”

  5. Who else can we help?  The first four are about them, this one is for you.  Everybody knows somebody that you don’t.  Ask for an introduction.  NOT a referral – that’s just a name and phone number.  A real introduction (even if by phone) means much more.
    EXAMPLE:  “Bob, I can’t thank you enough for all the great feedback you’ve provided here today.  I don’t suppose you know someone else we might be able to help with our services?”

Bell and Evans Job Site Visit

Recently members of G5 took to the road and visited the job in Fredericksburg, PA. This particular facility will become a hatchery for a chicken processing plant for Bell & Evans and is set to open later in 2017. 

The crew for this project represents 25 of James CRAFT & Son’s finest. The Members of G5 were able to bring pizza for the hungry crew as well as tour the facility with site foreman Nate Cooper.

Our team has been hard at work installing multiple piping lines to carry domestic hot and cold water as well as complex pressurized hot water and chemical lines. Each line requires a unique gauge of copper or stainless steel piping. While I’m sure keeping material for each line installed straight requires a lot of thought and organization, our crew, as always, makes it look easy.