View Full Version : shifting into takedown mode

David Gretzmier
12-08-2009, 01:27 AM
I am already beginning to think about the shift into takedown mode- need new boxes from Uline, markers from ebay, where did I put those 3 inch tape guns...

before Christmas gotta get about 60 jobs filmed that have add ons or are new. some that I filmed last year were after takedown was done, and I am going to get dvd's done early while I still have this seasons cash.

12-08-2009, 09:21 AM
What boxes do you get from uline? 48"X12"X12"? Do you put everything in those boxes? Last season my storage space was packed. This season Im over packed. I will be getting a big building with lofts to help with the storage problem. Just not too sure how many seasons before it is full.

David Gretzmier
12-08-2009, 11:02 PM
I get the 48x12x12 in the double wall 275 pound. they are around 4 bucks each if you get a pallet of 90. They last 6 years plus. I have never thrown out one unless it has gotten wet. They also handle being stacked one on top of the other 3-4 high. I will use probably a pallet or so this year.
The single wall version is pretty tough, a 3-5 year box and a buck per box less. The 200lb version is really ony a 2-3 year box, but it is only 1.91 for any quantity right now. I have often wondered about just buying those again and doubling the boxes, but I tried it before and it just does not work out.

The great thing about this size is it works so well with the racks I build out of 4x8 sheets of plywood and 2x6's.

each new customer will get at least one, and many new customers will get multiples. I use the 4 foot wreath boxes for heavy garland jobs and storing the foldable starbursts.

A huge soapbox moment for links, boxes and the US.

In 2001 and part of 2002, I was buying all my light links (called linkables at the time) from Brite Ideas. All the links were welded, powdercoated, and assembled in the US by union welders in Omaha,Nebraska. out of probably 500links, I had one, maybe two break a weld. we had to bend all the links to fit the peaks in those days. I still have many of those out there and some in my used/rental pile.

They were sold 12 to a case and were shipped loose, without any bubble wrap or anything in between them, in awesome boxes. They were "full overlay" meaning the top and bottom flaps were the full width of the box instead of 1/2. They also were the above mentioned 275 pound double wall. 8 and 9 years later, I still am using 70-80% of those boxes. They are only 46 inches long about 15-18 inches tall and about 13 inches wide. so new links do not fit, but perfect for garland, cords, mini-light balls, timers, etc.

here's my beef- and I cannot understand this for the life of me. when production of the links went to china, it all went to crap. I can truly say that when Brite Ideas decided they could make more money by having links built in china ( by the way, the price did not go down for me ) , whether they knew it or not, that was the birth of Holiday Bright Lights. Scott Heese may not have even had an idea of the ratchet links then ( remember, he was still a full partner in Brite Ideas in 2002) but the ratchet was the only workable solution to something that holds true to this day- Chinese welds and China steel sucks out loud.

I estimate we broke HUNDREDS of links until we started buying from HBL. I remember one job specifically, I had a hundred icicles for a 44 link job. I could not finish the job because I broke over 60 links. ridiculous to a power of 10.

what is worse is the boxes from china then and to this day seem to be biodegrading right before my eyes. Thier cardboard is just SOFT. you cannot stack it, it collapses. and I am talking 1/2 inch thick double wall stuff, it just won't hold it's shape.

Now, HBL and Brite Ideas COULD sell you links in a good box. look at the boxes the trees come in. or the 5 and 7 foot wreath boxes. or the stake trees. or the Garland. or the 3d toy soldiers, or the nutcrackers, the doves, the...well you get the idea. all those boxes are really pretty hardy, but the light brown ones still not as good as the dark brown US 4 buck boxes mentioned above.

now here is worst thing- EVERY single HBL member, no exceptions, that I have spoken with in the last 4 years would gladly pay .25-.50 per link more to have them come in a very good storage box, just like the one for 4 bucks above. at 6 links per case, Surely this would be enough money over and above what HBL currently pays for those crummy link boxes they ship them in now.

ok, maybe this is a worse thing- it ain't gonna happen. I have mentioned this to Scott in 2005, 2006, 2007...well, you get the idea. In 2008, Their solution to this problem was to offer for sale a 48x16x12 200lb rated double wall box for 7.50 each. I love america.

12-23-2009, 11:55 PM
Well just ordered some boxes from Uline. Im going with the 275lb this year instead of the 200lb. Just not too happy with the boxes I purchased last season. Little over $325 for 80 boxes. I had been renting a few storage units last season to store everything but grew out of that really quick this year. I bough a building that is 12'X24" with two lofts that will hold me for probably two more seasons I hope. I have a 1,200 sqft shop that I store my lawn equipment in did not want to fill it up with tons of boxes. Everything went pretty well this year. The only problem I had with lights were some kids tearing my lights down from a reception hall. The owner called me today and wanted some of her money back because they werent up very long. She said the wind blew them down. Didnt have any problems with GFI's.

David Gretzmier
12-24-2009, 12:47 AM
we have lined up about 10 jobs to takedown between Christmas and New years, and my wife will be calling folks tomorrow to try and bump that up closer to 20. I still need to order the above boxes, but I do have about 20-30 still left that will hold me til those come. I also use the #8 yellow tags from uline with the wire to mark all spools and wreaths. I have about 350 of those, so I may need another 1000. at 58 bucks, or 6 cents each, that is an easy buy.

need to also build some spools for c-9s. I had 15 extra from last year, so I probably need another 15 or so.

we have cleaned out the trucks, got markers ready, and I am ready to see how fast and organized we can get all this stuff done.

David Gretzmier
12-30-2009, 01:07 PM
Thought I would post an update on boxes- Uline no longer carries the 48x12x12 double wall 275 unless it opens on the skinny end. the one that opens on the 48" length is only available in the 275 pound single wall.

David Gretzmier
12-31-2009, 01:50 AM
Takedown stuff done so far-

from ULINE-
I ordered a pallet of the 275 pound single wall 48x12x12's. 3 bucks each, 120 per pallet, about 360 bucks. shipping for an entire pallet is amazing low for me, only 74 bucks. I think my order comes from Dallas, Texas and it is only 5 hours or so away from me.
I also ordered the fluorescent yellow #8 tags with wire, they are 78 bucks prewired for 1000 tags, or about 8 cents each. these tags are great for labeling wreaths, and for labeling strands of c-9s with directions as they go on the spool. we actually use about 5-600 per year.

we got 5 jobs down monday ( 1 crew), 10 on tuesday ( 2 crews) , and 9 down today ( 2 crews ) . so at 24 down and 4 scheduled ( 1 crew) for tomorrow, and that is all that would let us take it down before Jan.2. 2 crews will work saturday after friday off, then sunday will probably be a work day as well if good weather.

3 crews starting monday.
my goal is to get all lights down by Jan 20. we'll see.

12-31-2009, 09:10 PM
I'm getting calls now for take down but there is so much snow here now. I think I will wait until some of the snow melts because it's a pain taking the lights down in the snow and ice. Well Happy New Year!!!

David Gretzmier
01-04-2010, 02:27 PM
38 down.
about 140 to go. could not work Sunday and today, about 4 inches of snow and ice on the ground and roads. roads should be safe tomorrow, so we will push through full days on tuesday and wednesday with snowy conditions and around 20-35 degree temps. thursday and friday I am not sure if we will make it more than 1/2 days. The actual temps will be between 0 and 17 actual degrees. windchills below zero.

while you northern guys may make fun of this warm weather Arkansas boy, I know each crew can get 3-6 jobs down per day when the temps are 35-50 degrees, and 1/2 that when temps are below 20. If I can gamble on warmer temps next week, I may gamble on later rather than just get a few jobs down per day for the same labor.

David Gretzmier
01-06-2010, 02:30 AM
18 more down today. very cold ( 8 degrees) at 9 am this morning. 23 degrees was the high today. 19 degrees start and 38 is the high tomorrow. shooting for 20 jobs down tomorrow and getting closer to 100 left. folks already calling, and there is snow and ice on the roofs. gonna be at negative temps on Thursday and friday.

01-06-2010, 02:42 AM
The coldest we have had in 20 years! Try and stay warm David.:waving:

David Gretzmier
01-06-2010, 11:30 PM
temps between 20 degrees to start to 38 for a few hours today. when you start at 8 degrees and work through it, and then you work in 38, 38 feels nice. guys got 21 jobs down today. I'm thrilled, we needed to rock. 70% chance of snow tonoght for a few hours, and then the predicted temps have risen a bit, start off at 13 and top out at 17. if no snow then we will go for another 15 or so down. we are between 1/3 and 1/2 done with takedowns on the 6th. we really need another 5-7 good days. 2 of my guys ( both on same crew) go back to full time college Jan. 18.

and just to make you guys feel bad...

I've got another reason to push, I am getting on the Carnival Conquest for a 7 day cruise on sunday, Jan. 24th out of Galveston, Texas. I'll be doing some more light business consulting on Saturday, the 23rd, so I have to leave here on Friday, the 22nd. 16 days from now. just for kicks check the weather in grand cayman, cayman islands. highs from 73 to 80. lows from 68-72. 16 days.

01-07-2010, 12:06 AM
We got couple commercials jobs down today. But tomorrow's weather forecast a foot of snow coming to Chicago land area. So lights will be on hold.

David Gretzmier
01-07-2010, 11:52 AM
did not take down today. more snow last night. 8 degrees right now at 9:30 am., 20 mph winds with wind chills at -15. high today is only 13 degrees. we have about 3-5 inches on the ground, sidewalks and roofs are slick with ice from the last snow. The high tomorrow is 10. starts at zero degrees tomorrow at 7 am. wind is supposed to be STRONGER tomorrow?

This is as sustained a cold here in the 20 years here that I remember. It got down to -5 and snowed a foot plus back in '89, my first winter in the ozark mountains. has not done that since. and it warmed up and melted that in a few days.

It will warm up and I will get some more lights down eventually.

If we can get a run of 5 days with 3 crews, I think we can get close to 90-95%done.

01-07-2010, 07:54 PM
We're supposed to have pretty good cold tonight....lows in the mid-20s. Won't get as bad as they thought...we won't get the icy roads they were anticipating. Guys worked about 1/2 day today -- winds got too bad for the ladder. The wind is what kills us here -- especially being so close to the water. The winds were 15 to 20 mph today.

Wind chill in the morning will be about 9 degrees. High of 34 tomorrow. Winds won't be as bad -- about 10-15 mph tomorrow. Should be able to work all day tomorrow. Goal is to have everybody down by Monday --- we're about 2/3 finished and the biggest homes are all down.

turf hokie
01-07-2010, 08:23 PM
I think you are all a bunch of sissies and so do my guys!!!! J/K

My guys are getting in 3-5 houses per crew depending on size right now in temps that barely hit 31 today and winds that dropped down to 15mph. It has been brutal this week. Temps in the teens with windchills in the single digits.

But that is nothing. One of the guys in Montana had problems installing seems it was cold enough that when they started to wrap trees with mini lights the wires were breaking in their hands. Said the temps were -10 to 0 and wind chills were -20 to -30. Now THAT is cold and makes the rest of us look like wimps.

Good luck all, supposed to get 1-3 tonite into tomorrow and had people calling today to get their lights down before the snow:hammerhead:

01-08-2010, 01:01 AM
WOW...now THAT is cold. I was mistaken on our winds today though...news said we had wind gusts up to 40 mph.

If we lived up north (which of course we wouldn't because my husband is a born and bred Texan -- lol) -- we would not be in this business. That is just way too cold for us. I wore my long johns underneath my clothes today because I was freezing...and I wasn't even working outside :laugh:.

When we install, we have to be careful wrapping trees. Alot of times the temps are still in the high 90s with lots of humidity...when the temp drops the tree trunk shrinks a little and the lights slide down. :laugh: So we have to make sure we wrap really tight and we carefully place a few staples to help them stay in place.

01-08-2010, 01:16 AM
-20 and 2 feet of snow on the ground here. I can't find the extension cords. If I had as many as you dave I might get done in June.:)

01-08-2010, 03:43 PM
Wow britelights, I just realized that you were in Seabrook. My mom lived there for about a year working and then went back to visit the area a few times when I lived in The Woodlands for about a year. I really like that area, really neat, we use to go to the boardwalk and to a little reastaurant called tookies. Thats been ten years ago and I still have a tshirt from there. Did that area do ok in the hurricane this year?

01-08-2010, 10:18 PM
That's cool. We didn't flood during Hurricane Ike, but we had roof damage and water got in the house that way. It was quite a mess last year trying to repair the house, deal with insurance and contractors, AND Christmas lights season. If you drive down Todville Road you can still see the effects of the Hurricane. Seabrook was hit pretty hard. We have eaten at Tookie's several times. Unfortunately they flooded pretty bad and haven't reopened. Their building is now for sale. Old Seabrook was hit the hardest -- alot of the little shops in old houses were completely carried away or flooded beyond repair.

You wouldn't recognize the Boardwalk if it's been 10 years. We still love it -- but we go during the week or the off-season. They've added restaurants, rides, a roller coaster --- it's changed alot.

Extreme Home Makeover (the TV show) is actually in Kemah this week. They are building a house for a family that lost their home in the Hurricane. The family has been living in a FEMA trailer on their property since Ike -- with 13 kids. They took in foster children and over the years have adopted quite a few special needs kids.

David Gretzmier
01-09-2010, 12:58 AM
got 7 down today that was 1 big job, 1 medium and 5 small jobs. 1 2 man crew. it was 2-6 degrees all day. big frostbite concerns today, but windchills were around -10. wind will pick up tomorrow and make windchills worse. 2-13 degrees tomorrow, and I just can't work the guys tomorrow. I may regret that, but sunday will be back to 19-32 degrees and then 4 days of 23-45 degree temps. no rain or snow predicted those days, so we should be able to get alot done those 5 days. under 100 to go.

David Gretzmier
01-12-2010, 08:54 AM
we've had a run of a few days of decent weather, we are down to 55 to take down as of this morning. I have lost one of my crews, on of our colleges started monday and lost 1 guy.

lost another guy due to his inability to not get into fights when he drinks. sad, really. good employee, showed up on time, very hard worker and excellent scrambler on roofs, and was articulate when writing hanging instructions on spools.

lost one guy due to his inability to show up for work.

shop foreman decided last friday was a good time to get neutered. so no more kids for him, but he has been out for 4 days, and my guys are having to load unload by themselves. seems a small thing, but it cuts one job off each crew they get down every day. over the last 3 days, that is 9 jobs that did not get taken down in decent weather. shop foreman still has trouble walking. probably not back til thursday or friday at the earliest.

I lose another guy to our university opening next monday.

so even though I had 2 spare employees going into this week I am down 2. It looks like we will still finish by next tuesday or Wednesday if good weather holds.

we do have about 130 down by jan. 11. so better than we have ever done, but next year I need to have 3-4 spare employees. with 3 full crews plus shop foreman, we would have crossed the finish line by friday or January 15.

David Gretzmier
01-13-2010, 07:12 PM
had to start shifting to some larger jobs, so not cranking the numbers the past 2 days. but down to 39 left to go.

still have a few really big jobs left. space is getting tight, hard to visualize this, but I'll try to paint a picture. we have very efficient use of space racks for our wreath collection and it runs 50 feet long, 6 foot deep. and 9-10 feet high along our room 1 of our warehouse. That area is now 95% full. This has caught me a bit unawares, so we will shift the remainder of the wreaths, about 30 or so, over to our c-9 area for this year only. That area is getting tight as well, but I have room in the box area for overflow for this year only, maybe. I will know in a few days, but my suspicions are we will either be 100% in that room or I will have to store some stuff in my new inventory room, which is fine for now, our inventory is low anyway.

I have to get more space. the new building is starting in the next few weeks, hopefully. 34x90x19 side-24 feet tall peak. ahh, that is what I call an excellent add on for cubic footage.

01-13-2010, 07:28 PM
That's good only 39 left! When do you think you will be done? We started today taking lights down the weather here is in the 40's!!!

01-13-2010, 11:36 PM
Finished...finally!!! Yeah!!! Finished last one yesterday afternoon. Went out for Mexican food for dinner to celebrate. Onto tax season...:dizzy:

01-14-2010, 08:26 AM
Congrats on being finished, here we haven't even started. We tried to do a takedown today, but all the extension cords and ground staples are frozen to the ground and will not come out. Guess we will have to wait a while longer.

David Gretzmier
01-15-2010, 12:14 AM
we have 33 more to go. should get 9 tomorrow, 6 on one crew sat, but then Monday -thursday are some really chunky jobs. I'm talking 7-9 spools of 300 ft c-9's on each of 5 jobs that week.

If possible I save the really big ones for the end, as I figure it this way- If a crew can get 6 medium and small jobs down in a day rather than one or 2, there are less people that can complain that we have not gotten thier lights down yet.

David Gretzmier
01-15-2010, 12:16 AM
congrats brite ! good job on finishing early. I knwo where you ate mexican food ! :clapping: see you in a week !

turf hokie
01-15-2010, 08:07 AM
You all stink, we hit the 1/2 way point yesterday.

We are doing our take downs by town. We will be going back to some with cords frozen in the ground.

We are expecting 40 degree weather starting today for a few days so that should help.

Trying to be done by the 26th. Which is 2 days earlier than we finished last year so that would be nice.

Unlike David we dont really start takedowns until the 7th. We have most of our customers that celebrate little christmas on the 6th so we have only been taking down in earnest for about 1 week.

David Gretzmier
01-16-2010, 12:50 PM
little Christmas? is that like epiphany, when the wise men brought the gifts to baby jesus? I know that hispanics here celebrate that. but I have none that we do Christmas lights for.

wow, waiting til Jan 7 would give me hives. This year, I also had the Cruise staring me in the face as a deadline in 6 days. I normally schedule my season ending cruise around the first week of Feb.

we have many frozen cords thawing in gutters right now. even though we have had days in the 50's, we still pulled cords out with ice chunks frozen on them yesterday.

should be down to 14 by the end of today. I did not want to pay overtime this week, so I rested a crew for today and tomorrow, and only running one crew today. I may regret that decision if we get rain more than one day mon-thursday. I've left friday open for one rain day. next week, many of our chunky jobs. instead of the guys getting 5-7 per crew per day, more like 2 jobs per crew per day. but getting down to so few jobs that there are hardly any folks left to complain. I would say we did not have too many true complaints this year, just calls of concern of when folks call and ask when are they scheduled. I usually respong to those folks by trying to do their route the next day.

I had 2 this year that called and asked when they were scheduled and it actually was that day. one, seriously, already had her lights down and had not noticed they came that day. I asked her to look and see if she had lights on her house, as I thought the guys had already been there that morning, and of course she felt pretty silly after she looked. and said so.

Out of wreath space, still have 8 more to come in. getting nervous on c-9 space. may run out of rack space.

turf hokie
01-16-2010, 06:43 PM
That is exactly what it is. It is called a few things, little christmas, russian christmas.

We have many families that celebrate little christmas, I would say 3/4 of my customers celebrate or just like having them up for it.

We only were able to take down 10 before the 6th and 3 of them were my sample sites.

A little more than 1/2 way done, did not work today or tomorrow due to overtime and it killed me b/c it was 50 degrees today.

Hopefully it will hold thru the week. We should be done in 6-7 working days.

No complaints yet, about 1/2 dozen calls to inquire how the schedule was looking.

David, your not the only one, I had a call from a customer about when the lights were coming down, I asked her to look outside because the crew should be there and I wanted to make sure they were where they were supposed to be, sure enough they were almost done.

David Gretzmier
01-18-2010, 02:49 PM
getting closer. 9 more left after today.

David Gretzmier
01-21-2010, 11:16 PM
2 more left for tomorrow, 2 big commercial buildings, and then my house. done by tomorrow. yee hah.

02-09-2010, 07:36 PM
i dont do christmas lighting...but i would think that snow/ice would be a huge issue!