As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been contracting with a machine builder about an hour from where I live. This project will probably take until some time in May and maybe beyond. During this time it is very difficult to address other leads and explore new projects.
Just in the past week I have had three different vendors and other connections call me with opportunities. Since I am committed for the next couple of months I have had to refer them elsewhere. There are a number of other people contracting with this company also and I have discussed this situation with them, how do you keep your customers happy if you have to turn them down when you’re busy? There is no magic answer to this. Some have grown their company and added other people to handle the workload. Most simply have to follow a first come-first served policy.
As I have also mentioned in previous posts I am hoping not to be contracting much in the future. Consulting, project management and providing complete solutions is my ultimate goal. I am hoping to not get tied into specific projects full time but rather use other solution providers to help implement jobs. As an example this past week I had an opportunity to quote a small Omron training system. This is something I could design very quickly and use a mechanical and a controls company to implement. Though it might take six to eight weeks to build my involvement would be only at the very beginning and the end. This would free me up to do other things at the same time.
As a means to this end I have started a group on Linked In called the Tennessee Association of Independent Integrators, or TIAA. This will serve several functions; when I get calls like I did last week and can’t even go see the customer I can pass the lead off to someone I have confidence in and may be available. If I need to put together a small system I can quickly find an appropriate person or group of small companies to provide a total solution. This will also create an avenue for other small companies to network and share information. Many of these companies and contractors already know each other by name or reputation but may have never met.
Right now at least in this area there is far more work than there are people to do it. Independent controls engineers and panel builders in particular are hard to find. Some of the larger controls and engineering companies in the area are fillig some of the gaps but most can attest to the calls from recruiters looking for competent controls people.
I hope to create a list of good resources with their expertise both on this site and on the Linked In site. If you have an interest in joining this group (hey, free publicity!) please either send me an email or visit the Linked In site or the TAII page on this site.