It is important to have friends in our lives. They are supportive and understanding. They can also challenge us and make us our best selves. Friends in business are called partners. There is a financial relationship between business partners but the best of these relationships have the same features as good friendships.
The portion of Hallam-ICS’s business services that I participate in daily is Control System Construction. As a Project Manager I help bring together our Control System Design/Engineering, PLC/SCADA Programming, Control Panel Fabrication, and Instrument Technicians to provide the best solutions we can for our clients. In particular I deal with Toxic Gas Monitoring projects, though many different projects cross my desk.
I have been fortunate to inherit or develop some great business partner relationships over time. We have relationships with great vendors, installation subcontractors, and gas challenging subcontractors, metal fabricators, and clients.
The best vendors are those that know their products well, know the market, and communicate. Our best vendors are so much more than order takers. A vendor who catches a typo in a part number, and follows up, is invaluable. One letter or number caught in error, saves hours of grief and can mean the difference between staying on schedule and falling behind. Vendors are often contacted about projects long before Engineers are selected for a project. Because of this, relationships with vendors can open opportunities that we may have otherwise missed.
Not every Electrical Contractor is the best choice for industrial controls. Finding electrical contractors with a specialization in low voltage controls has been a life saver. It also helps to find electricians willing to pull plastic tubing for gas detection. Our subcontractors have been valuable representatives on site when there was no need to have our own personnel there.
Having a relationship with a gas challenging subcontractor has been important. Testing our systems thoroughly with a challenge gas has brought important issues up for correction. As a third-party firm they are advocates for safety and bring experience from many other installations to our projects.
Panel fabrication and field instrument installation inevitably requires some bracket or plate that is not readily available. We have a relationship with a quality sheet metal shop. Our relationship is such that we have borrowed shop space when we needed access to a fork lift and high bay space. One of our first projects together was patching a miss cut rotary disconnect handle hole. They hauled a welder to our shop and gave us a seamless patch. From there we have done countless brackets, shelves, and instrument mounts. We also have a great water jet cutting shop in the area. Flat plates and panel doors with lots of holes are so much nicer when water jet cut. A local plastic fabricator makes short work of our clear covers for terminal strips.
Our clients are some of our best partners. We have a very high rate of return customers and for that we are extremely grateful. Some clients look to us for ongoing service and maintenance but most are in a constant state of upgrades and expansion. We especially appreciate when we can become the preferred controls contractor for a client.
As in life, business partners/friends are what makes the ride worthwhile. I hope that others are as fortunate as I have been.
About the Author
Dan Maxwell is a Senior Project Manager with Hallam-ICS’s Toxic Gas Monitoring team. Dan trained in Mechanical Engineering and has worked in Project Management in the construction and manufacturing sectors before coming to Hallam-ICS in 1999.
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Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.