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View Full Version : And Takedow begins in earnest...


David Gretzmier
01-03-2013, 10:24 AM
We took 8 jobs down last week right after Christmas, but most of my clients don't want it taken down until Jan. 2 or later. so the big rush is on. since my guys were off Monday and Tuesday this week, we are going to run 10 days in a row so everyone can get 40 hours or so in this week thru sunday, and then the next 5 days will let guys get 40 hours for the following week. I hope at the end of 10 days we are somewhere around 2/3 done. but won't know til we get there.

Trying a new takedown method this year. instead of sending 2 guys with each truck and giving each crew 3-5 jobs a day, I am running with all the crews together and all guys attack a house and get it down very quickly. so far it seems it keeps everyone's pace high and motivation high since we seem to get a ton of work done really fast. but I think we are getting the same work done. But it makes the larger jobs seem easier when you get them done with 7 guys in 45 minutes to an hour rather than 2 guys for 3 hours. smaller jobs get done in 15 -20 minutes. also I am having all guys put up jobs in the racks this year rather than having the shop foreman have to put up all 4 trucks.

was 17 degrees when we started yesterday and 13 degrees today. should warm up to 39 though. at least it is sunny and no wind. Got 16 down yesterday. so at 24 down total.

Sprinkler Buddy
01-03-2013, 11:06 AM
Ouch, that's COLD! I bet your guys really like working together on the bigger jobs when it's that cold. If nothing else, it'll keep the moral high.

Birchwood
01-03-2013, 07:28 PM
We started take downs today. We use the same approach 4 guys including myself. 9 jobs down today, its nice to be gone in 30 mins.

Is anyone calling customers to schedule take downs or just go for it. I don't want to call 80 people and also don't want to bounce around. I had one woman upset when she got home and saw here lights were gone. And 2 asked to be up another week.

I think we have 8 working days before the weather turns for the worst with a couple freezing rain and snow events in the forecast.

Birchwood
01-03-2013, 07:32 PM
Scratch that just checked the forecast 5 days till 3 days of ice/rain.

addictedtolandscaping
01-04-2013, 06:32 AM
Starting either tis weekend or Monday. Has been brutally cold here, couple of large ones to get down first, but the area is really nasty with the wind. Some of the projects are going to be the end of next week, we got about 18" of snow here right after Christmas, then it turned into the artic. Not at all interested in walking roofs or trying to manipulate a ladder on ice.

David Gretzmier
01-04-2013, 07:51 AM
18 down yesterday, 42 down. yesterday's included a very large job. 13 degrees when we started, but warmed up to 39. strangely, around 26 degrees at 10:30 or so, with 2 pairs long johns, jeans, and t shirt, 2 long sleeve t's top with no coat, and felt ok. I think once the first level of frostbite kills those weak nerve endings near the skin you do start to get used to this. I always forget that. also, if you stay busy carrying wreaths and boxes, then with little or low wind that temp is ok to work. at 34 or so with activity, I went to one long sleeve t. added back the 2nd t around 4:30 once temp creeped back to 29 and we were wrapping up last takedowns and headed to shop.

The all together method of 7 guys attacking jobs is working well for morale and seems to be ok for getting work done. while it seems to be overkill for jobs with only c9's up top, but it is funny, immediately 2 guys grab painter poles and start pulling down lights, 2 guys grab ladders for cords on gutters, and 2 guys grab spool and spooler, and I am already writing tags for c-9s as soon as I get out. I throw out cord box, bundle cords, we all pick up clips and in 10 minutes we are done and on to the next one. will keep you posted, but so far I like this method if you have lots of jobs in close proximity.

Birchwood
01-04-2013, 04:57 PM
Last year I got tired of rewriting the tag, because the paper ones would only last 2 years. So I got a roll of white duct tap and would write the discription on it and fold it over the cord and attach it to itself.

britelights
01-04-2013, 05:51 PM
After today we have about 60 down. We were able to get 14 down between Christmas and New Year's -- lots of people traveling this year. But man I tell you -- we have alot of respect for those working in 20 and 30 degree weather with ice and snow. It's been upper 40s with drizzle, wind, etc the past few days and it's so miserable. Of course I get the easy job - I don't have to be out in that weather - but Carlos is dying. Tomorrow is possible sleet in the morning and rain all day so we won't be working and the guys will get a day to rest. Should be mid-50s next week -- praying for some sunshine to go along with it! We hope to have everything down by the 15th -- as long as the weather improves for next week we should make that goal.

Rented a moving truck yesterday and today and that was a HUGE help. We have an area where we have 8 homes on 3 different streets...large homes, ton of displays, two of the homes have front and back decorated (and lights all around the entire house). We were able to attack that with all the crews, the moving truck, our van and trailer...and get it all knocked out in one day. Today, the moving truck came in very handy for picking up alot of the 3D heralding angels and getting the 20' tree down.

Birchwood
01-04-2013, 06:59 PM
Yesterday had a windchill of 1 and today it almost made it to 30 but was very windy. Next week should be nice, upper 30's to mid 40's but then rain and ice for the latter part of the week.

turf hokie
01-04-2013, 07:01 PM
I envy you guys that can start taking down in earnest already. We will go full out Monday. Most of our customers want to stay up until after little Christmas which is the 6th. Even commercial. We only have 6 down as of today. 3 big ones but not the jump you guys have gotten.

David Gretzmier
01-04-2013, 11:33 PM
18 more down today. at 60 down as well. while the 15-17 foot box van is our ideal install truck for 2-3 guys for a day, the ideal takedown truck for us is probably those 4 door FSR Isuzu moving trucks with a 26 foot box on it. you put in 4-5 guys, fill with several little giant ladders, 1 40 and one 32 foot ladder, empty boxes, spools, tape guns, markers, yellow tags, and don't come back until you are full. I can totally see us running 2-3 of those in a few years. would make fuel expense sense too. we are running 3 14-16 ft box vans and gas runs 100-150 per day on those when you do takedowns. depending on wreaths and displays you can only fit about 6 in each. If we could fit 18 jobs in a 26' diesel moving van that would probably 1/2 the cost of 3 gas boxvans. at a 20 working day takedown season, that would save you 1000-1500 bucks in fuel. would take a while to pay for itself. renting one though might make sense, depending on the cost. not sure if I have seen a 4 door moving van for rent tho.

GreenI.A.
01-05-2013, 01:47 AM
Most of our customers who have white lights want them to remain up through January, a couple want them into mid February as well. We'll start pulling down the colored lights in about a week. We'll start picking up garland and wreaths from some of the late removals as well.

David Gretzmier
01-06-2013, 10:16 AM
Got 13 down yesterday, was cold and overcast all day and kinda depressing. Only 2 guys working today. Doing one long distance takedown and giving everyone a rest for big push next week. At 73 down.
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PlantscapeSolutions
01-06-2013, 08:10 PM
18 down yesterday, 42 down. yesterday's included a very large job. 13 degrees when we started, but warmed up to 39. strangely, around 26 degrees at 10:30 or so, with 2 pairs long johns, jeans, and t shirt, 2 long sleeve t's top with no coat, and felt ok. I think once the first level of frostbite kills those weak nerve endings near the skin you do start to get used to this. I always forget that. also, if you stay busy carrying wreaths and boxes, then with little or low wind that temp is ok to work. at 34 or so with activity, I went to one long sleeve t. added back the 2nd t around 4:30 once temp creeped back to 29 and we were wrapping up last takedowns and headed to shop.

The all together method of 7 guys attacking jobs is working well for morale and seems to be ok for getting work done. while it seems to be overkill for jobs with only c9's up top, but it is funny, immediately 2 guys grab painter poles and start pulling down lights, 2 guys grab ladders for cords on gutters, and 2 guys grab spool and spooler, and I am already writing tags for c-9s as soon as I get out. I throw out cord box, bundle cords, we all pick up clips and in 10 minutes we are done and on to the next one. will keep you posted, but so far I like this method if you have lots of jobs in close proximity.

Dave you need to get some Hot Chillys (http://www.hotchillys.com/c/mens). Mine were purchased for skiing but I'll use them for work on a cold day. They are really thin but a 100 times better then traditional long john stuff. Think of it a turbo charged fleece long johns.

I was putting together a pile of my ULINE boxes today. It turns out the stocking LL's do not fit very well in the 48x12x12. boxes. One of the stocking is about 1/2" or so too tall to close and stack the boxes. Guess I'm going to have to fudge it since the next height doubles to 24".

I need to get a picture of this Dave. I used your feedback to install my church wreath a second time. It was a super tight and difficult fit between the ladder and building using the standoff attachment to raise up the 72" wreath. The ladder was maxed out at 40' and we were out of building to go any higher as well.

I wanted to buy an adjustable stand off attachment but they do not exist. I cut up some schedule 40 PVC (2" I think) into about 8" sections and it fit perfectly over the ends of the Werner standoff. The PVC slid over the stand off and fit firmly with no hardware required. At 40' I'm glad my experiment worked because a failure would not have been pretty. It worked like a charm.

Everything came down crazy under budget.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-06-2013, 08:18 PM
Has anyone come up with a custom method for rolling up C7/C9 stuff? I'm working on a way to build my own spools with PVC and plywood end plates. I want to make a simple stand the spools can drop into while you roll them up. You would think someone would have a commercially available tool for this already.

David Gretzmier
01-07-2013, 12:56 AM
This is one of my Christmas Consulting things but I will share it since I am in a good mood- Got to Lowes, get a sheet of 3/4" mdf plywood and have then cut into 8 2x2 sqares, 5 pound box of 2 1/2" screws, 1 pound box of 3 1/2 screws, gallon of tightbond 3 glue. box of a few 12" lazy susan ball bearings over by the drawer slides, a magnetic Phillips drill bit, 1 pound box of 1 1/4" screws, small box of 100 5/8" screws, and as many 8 foot 2x4's as you want as spools. 1/8" and 1/2" drill bit. you need a circular saw and drill. have lowes cut each of your 2x4x8 into 5 equal pieces. it is usually free to have them cut stuff. we also use rough cut oak from a local sawmill but they are heavier
and inconsistent on the widths and depths.

you need to learn to cut a 3 1/2" half depth notch in the middle of 80% your little 2x4 pieces. set your depth at 3/4", make the two end cuts, and then max out your depth on your circular saw by drop or plunge cutting from each side. the 3 1/2 middle section should plop out. by putting two pieces together you make the x's for each end of your spool. we predrill with 1/8" bit and glue the x's together and glue to the center spindle with 3 1/2 screws. if you don't pre drill it will split the wood about every 3-4 times and makes you mad you wasted your time making the pieces.

For the spinner, we use the 2x2 squares and cut off the corners with circ. saw to make an octagon shape to cut off weight and it spins a bit easier. you will just have to learn how to build a lazy susan, the bearings come with instructions, but needless to say it goes between 2 sheets of octagon plywood, The easy part is you put it centered on one sheet with 5/8" screws and the hard part is you drill a 1/2 inch hole through the hole provided on the lazy susan to put the screws through that piece and rotate to put screws in the other side. I can't explain it other than read the instructions and drawings that come with the lazy susans. it makes sense once you build two or three. we build 8 at a time and yes, we break 3-4 per season.

you place the x spool on the plywood and use 30 or so 2 1/2 inch screws 1/4" away from the edge of the x on the bottom all the way around the x. don't go too deep, too close to the sppol or too far away, you need to be able to put on and off any spool you build inside the open x the screws makes. the screw heads will keep the spool on as you spin the lazy susan. we now double the base for more weight and stability and use glue and 1 1/4" screws for that.

while this sounds like a lot of work and money, my shop foreman and a part time helper built 80 of these spools and 8 spooler this year, with mostly scrap pieces from our fence and a table and circular saw in 2 days with about 250 bucks in bearings, plywood screws and glue. I spent probably 400 bucks in bearings, labor, plywood, and screws, so around 2-3 bucks a spool and 25 bucks each for 8 spoolers.

The first spool and spooler takes you the longest, but once you do one the next ten are way easier.

David Gretzmier
01-07-2013, 10:08 PM
17 down today, plus one yesterday, at 91 down. should get in another good day tomorrow and then it looks like rain for a couple days. will feel better once we get over 100.

Birchwood
01-07-2013, 11:02 PM
Has anyone come up with a custom method for rolling up C7/C9 stuff? I'm working on a way to build my own spools with PVC and plywood end plates. I want to make a simple stand the spools can drop into while you roll them up. You would think someone would have a commercially available tool for this already.

2 years ago I thought it would be better to build large spools to hold cords and we could use one for 40s and one for 20s and so on. We used 3/4 plywood cut into 24" circles, and a 24" piece of 4" PVC pipe in the middle with a 2x4 and 2x2 inside, and nailed together. We also dove a 12" timber spike in each end and left it out about 4 inches so we could put on a stand to fill and take off. Worked awesome. Downside was heavy as heck, and had one fall apart and it took maybe 3 hours to untangle. So if I was to do it again I would use screws which we did add after the one fell apart, but might think about making them a bit smaller.

Now for the c-7s we fold them by grabbing 5 lights at a time and you end up with a handful that is 3 lights in length, fits great in a 18 gal tote. Around 500 c-7 per tote.

David Gretzmier
01-08-2013, 11:32 PM
13 down today, at 104 down. got rained out. I am debating when I will stop quoting numbers so as to not reveal the true "size" of my company. probably will by the end of this week. looks like rain tomorrow and Thursday, and Saturday. But hoping to be able to work some.

David Gretzmier
01-11-2013, 02:21 AM
continue to get rained out last 2 days but getting some down. got 10 down Wednesday and 4 yesterday. so 118 down. Could have done more both days but I was not with guys to push them. hoping for a long full day tomorrow, maybe 15 plus down. rain is predicted Saturday. I have 2 guys that have been out a few days this week that will want to get their 40 hours in Sat and sunday this weekend, but everyone else will be pretty much off. I think if we can get some decent numbers down this weekend and hit it hard with everyone next week we will be close to wrapping things up. just never know with the weather. And the guys work so much faster and better with sunshine than with overcast, whether it is 20 degrees or 50. It really makes a huge difference in production.

TimNNJ
01-11-2013, 01:35 PM
Hey guys. Finishing up today as long as the rain holds off.
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TexasFire221
01-11-2013, 07:56 PM
We finished up yesterday. Much needed break is in the works.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-11-2013, 08:49 PM
Does anyone else like doing take downs more then installs? I would say our average $150 take down has been done in about 1.5 man hours. To me every house is a race from the second I pull up to see how long it will take to get back on the road.

britelights
01-12-2013, 04:37 PM
Rain is killing us. After today we'll have about 18 left to go. Soooo close. Scattered rain today, a front moving in tomorrow that will bring colder weather and storms. Supposed to be chilly and rain most of next week. Of course by chilly I mean lows of 40s and highs in the 50s LOL.

TimNNJ
01-13-2013, 11:00 AM
It's going to be the 60's today...then I think winter is going to settle in this week...my guys hustled it in the warm weather and everything is down..now we just have to take everything out of the shop and and organize the mess...

David Gretzmier
01-14-2013, 05:47 PM
ooh, 40's and 50's. wear your parka and long johns. we started at 14 today and topped out at 29, tomorrow will start at 19 and go to 37. have not checked in with the guys yet but hoping they got a bit done. I was looking forward to Wednesday with a high above 40. 5 guys today. I have noticed that takedowns really seems to encourage folks to stay home for some reason. I think since takedowns started we have had at least one guy out each day on average. but we still should finish up this week. really looking forward to closing the door on Christmas 2012 and turning off my head for 4 weeks.

turf hokie
01-15-2013, 08:46 AM
Trying to finish by Saturday except for a few people that requested to stay up til the end of the month.

Rain has slowed us down a bit, I hate having to wait for everything to dry out in the warehouse before we put it away, makes for more work and a really cluttered warehouse.

Expecting snow tonite which will really mess up our take down schedule... almost made it thru with no major weather issues...

britelights
01-16-2013, 05:12 PM
We are 99% finished!!!! One house that requested takedown after the 18th, and a house with lights on several VERY tall palm trees on the water that we had to wait for good, dry weather to take down. After that -- finished!!! Sun is actually out today -- still cold -- but warming up!!! Yesterday the high was 40 - and I was freezing all day :). I know -- I'm a wimp -- but we Texans need sunshine and humidity!!

PlantscapeSolutions
01-16-2013, 08:40 PM
Done, but now I need to buy some steel racking for my 30 X 45 shop.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-17-2013, 01:53 PM
I thought I would throw this out since a bunch of us are subscribed here. For the mixed wreaths it's probably a given that the HD units are hard to beat. The only unknown is how the LED longevity would be. It sure would be nice if HD would have enough faith in their lights to put a three season warranty on it. Three season is only about 750 hours.

Jason with Christmas Designers has faith and does the three year warranty but their Oregon style wreaths could use some steroids. Their garland and wreaths both need more density. I've been talking to Jason on this issue and they are working on some more premium material. I purchased most of my material from Jason this season.

My 60" 2011 HBL Oregon style wreath totally blows away my 60" CDI wreath. It would take about two CDI wreaths to equal my HBL wreath. CDI's Sherman, TX location where Jason works from is only 250 miles away so they have great shipping rates. My HBL wreath with G20 lights was about $100 more so I need to say this is not an apples to apples match on the price.

I have not purchased the GKI Bethlehem wreaths or garland that Dara (ccbydara.com) sells but their Oregon style material appears to be dense and full. I wanted to hear what you guys had to say on this topic as things wind down. I can also say that Jason's bows held up great and had no fading issues.

David Gretzmier
01-17-2013, 11:59 PM
we will be fully finished, trucks cleaned out and warehouse officially done tomorrow. happy to be done.

On foliage, I will be hitting the Dallas Markets this spring and summer to see what I can find, but I have been using the "HD" mixed noble since "HBL" started. And so far, short of handmade designer foliage costing 3x as much nothing really compares to it. but the price continues to go up, so I continue to shop and check. I have not checked the markets in 2 years, so looking forward to that overwhelming feeling of stuff to look at everywhere.

I have found a wreath company that actually beats HD in terms of frame, but then they go cheap on the foliage. I have asked dara to find foliage and we have talked extensively about HD and mixed noble stuff. but she is mainly a broker and has no real interest in creating product, she tends to just help manu's rep their stuff.

the bottom line is HD has been making very nice looking full foliage for a while now and they have gotten pretty good at it. to create that look you have to set up the line and figure it out. and likely won't be cheaper.

finally, try to remember that on the wholesale side, a very high quality long lasting warm white LED light sets when applied to a wreath or garland, usually exceeds the cost of the frame and foliage. HD does not compromise on foliage, so...maybe that is why the LED's don't work out so well for them.

CleanCut1
01-20-2013, 09:26 PM
DONE! All customer decorations down, boxed and in the building.