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As a business, do you run a credit history check on a business you plan to do work with?  Many companies do not have this as part of their standard business practice and it could be costing them much more money than they realize.

By getting a business credit report you get a large amount of information to help your business make decisions about the relationship you want to form with the company you are credit checking.  A credit report contains a compilation of information regarding the way a business has been handling their debt. It includes information such as the amount of debt the business has accumulated, how it pays its bills, whether the business has filed for bankruptcy and other credit related information.

Where does this credit information comes from?  Well, credit information comes from organizations referred to as credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus. Credit bureaus make agreements with businesses in which they send debt information to a pool from which they can all access shared credit information.

Credit checks on a business customer can also help to improve your business cash flow.  One of the most effective (and often overlooked) ways of ensuring your cash flow is positive is by controlling the quality of your customers. A quality customer is not just a customer who pays their debt, it’s a customer who pays their debt on time. Because when it comes to cash flow matters, it’s not only about payment of debts by your customer but also the predictability of these payments.

We can all agree that a company’s ability to attract new customers is what keeps the business growing.  However, with these new opportunities, most business operators are tempted to begin business with new customers without really knowing enough about them. And this is risky because unless the customer is paying up front (which rarely happens), you’ll be selling your product on credit to a stranger.

Think of it this way; you are a bank that gives loans to strangers without evaluating the possibility of getting your money back. It wouldn’t be a great business model if banks did this, would it? By not doing your research to know exactly who you are working with, you could fail to identify crucial information that could indicate late payment or worse – no payment at all.

Let’s face it not all customers that approach your business are financially stable, which means you could find yourself chasing after owed money for a very long time. Waiting on money from an unreliable customer means that you’ll be unable to pay your suppliers, pay your workforce and cover other production overheads. In addition to disrupting operations this will create a bad reputation for your business which will negatively impact your own credit.

This is where credit checking comes in. By performing a credit check on your customers, you are able to take a peek at their financial situation and their past payment behaviours. From this, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about the customer you are working with. Performing credit checks on your customers helps improve your cash flow in the following ways:

  1.  Determining your customers’ long term survival. You do not want to get into business with a company that is likely to go bust in a few months. By conducting a credit check on your customers, you will be able to identify companies that are not doing well financially and those that have already filed for bankruptcy. With this information you will be able to set the terms of trade without putting the survival of your business in jeopardy.
  2.  Determining credit worthiness. All customers present themselves as good debtors who pay their debts on time. By checking the credit of your customers, you will be able to find out for yourself whether the business is likely to pay or not. If the business has a good credit rating then you can almost be sure that they will pay their debt as expected. This will help you ward off bad debts that could significantly affect cash flow and even the future of your business.
  3.  Planning. Maintaining a positive cash flow is not only dependent on your customers paying their debts but also on the predictability of their payments. If you can predict accurately when a customer will settle their debt, then you can plan your budget better. A credit check will help you determine whether the company you are doing business with will actually pay within the agreed upon timeframe.
  4.  Determining the terms of trade to use. When you have a good understanding of the customer’s capacity to clear their debt, then you are able to create trade terms that are most suitable for them. You can sell on a cash only basis to poorly rated customers and allow credit facilities for those with good credit rating. You can also include incentives and penalties for early and late payments respectively.

An annual subscription to a reputable credit agency to allow you to run business credit checks early on in the business relationship process will more than pay for itself in lower A/R balances, less bad debt, wasted resources on collecting outstanding payments and positive cash flow for your business.

 

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Pleune Service Company was established as a Mechanical Contractor in 1974 by our founder, John H. Pleune. In October of 2018 Pleune Service Company employees will be proud to celebrate our 30th year as an ESOP Company.

Our company’s ESOP was established in 1988 and at that time we became a 30% ESOP (Employee-Owned) Company. Today we are a 100 percent ESOP (Employee-Owned) Company; with the final 70 percent acquired in 2002.

We are also proud of our dedicated 125 Employee Owners; a good portion of our employees have worked at Pleune for double-digit years and several are over twenty and a couple are nearing 40 years. Definitely an accomplishment to brag about.

Next year in 2019, Pleune Service Company will hit another milestone in our history as we celebrate our 45th year in business.  As Employee-Owners, we are all committed to excellence; doing the right things and doing things right….as John Pleune would always remind us and we live that same belief today.

 

Posted by & filed under Company News, Equipment Maintenance, HVAC .

High humidity levels during the summer months can cause a number of challenges for building owners and occupants, for a few months of each year mold is often one of those challenges. While 30 – 50% relative humidity (RH) is ideal, we don’t usually see mold growth until indoor relative humidity exceeds 60%. On a hot day (think 90 degrees and 90% humidity) it’s common to exceed 60% RH indoors for significant periods of time, especially if units are over or undersized, or if moisture is being introduced into the space. Although A/C units dehumidify as they run they are not dehumidifiers, in fact most HVAC systems are specifically designed to meet temperature requirements only. Specialized systems for data centers, laser printing, pharmaceutical manufacturing and other processes are available but come with a price tag (both upfront and operating costs) that tend to be prohibitive. Another possible strategy is to use particulate removal through filtration, for example using HEPA filters (which remove 99.97% of particulates greater than .3 microns) and simply remove the mold spores before they can grow, however the cost to install and operate these systems are very high which is why they are usually reserved for clean rooms and surgical suites.

 

There are thousands of mold species and they can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Many molds pose health risks to building occupants, and long term mold growth will physically damage whatever it is growing on. Eliminating mold and mold spores indoors is virtually impossible, therefore controlling indoor moisture tends to be the most effective strategy. In order to prevent mold growth make sure housekeeping is in order, HVAC and sump pump systems are properly maintained, and building envelopes are water tight (e.g. roofs, foundations, and windows). Keep an eye out for any moisture signs where it doesn’t belong, the sooner problem areas are cleaned and dried out the better. Sometimes an industrial hygienist is needed to help determine what is causing a mold problem in the first place, and once the underlying problem is solved using a remediation company is often the most effective way to remedy (dry, remove, repair) a situation quickly.

 

For our part we try to keep all equipment clean and fully charged so it can operate efficiently and effectively, and to minimize potential problems inspecting drain pans and checking for dirty evaporator coils and/or water leaks are part of our normal preventive maintenance tasking. In order to meet fresh air code requirements many systems are designed to bring in more fresh air than they could possibly dehumidify. The old saying in the industry is that “the solution to pollution is dilution” which put a lot of emphasis in bringing in large amounts of outdoor air. This works to a degree but in an air conditioned building it can unintentionally cause problems by actually increasing relative humidity. Thankfully there are ways to meet code requirements and effectively manage RH by using a combination of demand ventilation, dehumidification, and energy recovery units. These solutions are most cost effective when part of a building’s original design, however these strategies can also be applied to existing buildings when problems arise.

 

We may not be able to control what or how many mold spores are in the air at any given time, and we certainly can’t control the weather… but through good housekeeping , good design, and regular maintenance we can minimize the chances of mold problems in our buildings and protect our people from the potential health risks that accompany them.

 

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Plastic is becoming the new paper.  In the last year, credit cards have become the most preferred payment form in the United States.  With the increased acceptance of non-cash or check payments in addition to the costs of cutting and mailing a check, companies are turning to credit cards for daily business needs.  The cost of cutting a payable check can be between $3-$4 based on 2015 numbers (higher than that now in 2017).  Multiple that cost by the number of checks a business cuts per month and that cost can be very surprising.  Companies that are starting to understand this cost and are looking for ways to reduce it.  One option is using company credit cards, which can lower payable’s costs along with providing other benefits such as maximizing cash flow, earning rebates and incentives and taking advantage of other “soft” perks like airline miles, extended warranties, and fraud protection.

There are many types of cards out there:  small business cards, corporate cards and virtual cards.  Each comes with its own parameters, benefits and risks.  Every company has specific and unique needs and preferences that need to be considered when selecting the card type.  Some businesses will use a variety of card types.

Paying invoices with a credit card allows companies to pay vendors on time without the immediate cash flow outlay as the cash doesn’t leave the business until the credit card balance is paid.  It can actually allow a company to increase their working capital without straining business relationships.

There are risks that come with these programs that can be controlled with proper financial controls in place.  Some examples of controls to be put in place are:  limiting Merchant Category Codes (MCC’s) on certain users cards, setting balance limits by user and role, requiring expense reports submitted to manager for review and approval, have users sign a waiver detailing personal liability on unauthorized purchases and having a formal audit schedule in place to review transactions and receipts.

Every business must consider its company needs, risk tolerances and other factors when deciding to use company credit cards.  However, it is becoming a more and more common practice that each company should take a look at as to how it currently handles payables and if there might be a different solution for them.

 

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Every sales person asks themselves the question, “Why do they buy from me?” I used to think that it was because I would give them the best price. For a while I thought it was because we delivered a product that was far superior to others. Then I thought it was because of the personal relationship I developed with them.

 

Over the last 20 years I have found these to be critical to my team’s success:

  • It is significantly harder to attract a new customer versus maintaining one. The hard part of convincing them to work with you is over. Now you have to deliver on what you promised. The wolves will always be at their door so you have to continue to stay in front and fight off the wolves.

  • Own it, even if it wasn’t you personally. You are your company and your company is you. The customer doesn’t care if the guy who worked for you was incompetent or the vendor screwed up. You are them and they are you. Thus you make a mistake the team makes a mistake and vice versa.

  • Know your customers personality and what they want from you. I used to think that a customer always wanted to talk to me about their family, hunting, cars, you name it. What I found out is that some do and some don’t. Adapt your style to what they want. Some people want to be all business and others want it to be personal.

  • It’s okay to make money. Great partners understand that in order for you to be in business you have to be profitable. If you are doing a turnkey solution you have to cover the soft costs of the management of process. Remember that if you charge a premium you better deliver on it.

  • Just because the first price is the lowest it doesn’t mean the last price will be. If you are good at seeing potential issues before they happen you can be a great asset to your customer. If all you look at it the perfect scenario, your customer then is at risk for additional unexpected costs. That “introductory” price becomes less attractive when you realize that the car didn’t have an engine. Make sure you are educated on what could happen and what will.

At Pleune  Service Company, we value our customers. Our team of account managers and sales people are laser focused on delivering a best in the market experience any time and every time.

 

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We are excited to announce that our Lansing facility has moved to 4302 S. Creyts Rd! We would like to extend a big thank you to our team for getting us moved quickly. We are excited to get down to business in our new location!

Posted by & filed under Company News, HVAC .

Because the State of Michigan adopts building codes on a three year cycle, Michigan adopted a modified 2015 International Building Code on April 20th of this year. As a licensed contractor we are frequently asked whether certain types of work will require permits. To help clarify what does and does not require permit documentation, here is an excerpt from the current Building Code that describes the legal requirements:

       [A] 105.1

Required. Any owner or owner’s authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be performed, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

 

Since the above statement is very broad, they then clarify exemptions to the permit requirements, stated in Section 105.2:

(c) Mechanical permits shall not be required for any of the following:

(i) A portable gas heating appliance that has inputs of less than 30,000 Btu per hour.

(ii) Portable ventilation appliances and equipment.

(iii) Portable cooling unit.

(iv) Steam, hot water, or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment or appliances regulated by this code.

(v) Replacement of any minor part that does not alter the approval of equipment or an appliance or make such equipment or appliance unsafe.

(vi) A portable evaporative cooler.

(vii) Self-contained refrigeration systems that contain 10 pounds (4.5 kg) or less of refrigerant, or

that are actuated by motors of 1 horsepower (0.75 kW) or less.

(viii) Portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.

(ix) An oil burner that does not require connection to a flue, such as an oil stove and a heater

equipped with a wick.

(x) A portable gas burner that has inputs of less than 30,000 Btu per hour.

(xi) When changing or relocating a gas meter or regulator, a permit is not required when installing gas piping which shall be limited to 10 feet in length and not more than 6 fittings.

(xii) When installing geothermal vertical closed loops under the supervision of a mechanical contractor licensed in HVAC as long as the company meets both the following:

(A) Has obtained a certificate of registration as a well-drilling contractor pursuant to part 127 of    the public health code.

(B) Has installed the geothermal vertical closed loops in accordance with the department

of environmental quality best practices regarding geothermal heat pump closed loops.

 

Exemption from the permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for work to be done in violation of the provisions of this code or other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction.

 

As a full mechanical contractor, we also pull permits for boiler, electrical, and plumbing work on a daily basis. Each code (building, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, energy, etc.) and its associated code enforcement authority adds nuance to how we ensure each project has all the permitting and inspection information needed for completion.

We work with municipalities, inspectors, as well as liability and workers compensation insurance carriers to best protect both ourselves and our clients. If you ever need help navigating the compliance maze we’d be happy to assist! Performing work without a permit leaves a company open to risk, however, following the process correctly means you never have to worry about an inspector or risk mitigation professional making an unexpected site visit.

 

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Fact Sheet: Final Rule to Implement Executive Order 13706, Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

Accrual

Under the Final Rule, employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked on or in connection with a covered contract. As to employees for whom contractors are not already required to keep records of hours worked pursuant to the DBA, SCA, or FLSA (such as employees who are employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity under FLSA regulations), contractors can use the assumption that the employees are working on or in connection with covered contracts for 40 hours each week. Contractors are also permitted to use an estimate of time their employees work in connection with (rather than on) a covered contract as long as the estimate is reasonable and based on verifiable information.

Maximum Accrual, Carryover, Reinstatement, and Payment for Unused Leave

The Final Rule provides that contractors may limit the amount of paid sick leave employees may accrue to 56 hours each year and must permit employees to carry over accrued, unused paid sick leave from one year to the next. The Final Rule also allows contractors to limit the amount of paid sick leave employees have accrued to 56 hours at any point in time. Furthermore, contractors are required to reinstate employees’ accrued, unused paid sick leave if the employees are rehired by the same contractor within 12 months after a job separation unless contractors provide payment to employees for accrued, unused paid sick leave upon separation. Contractors are not required to pay employees for accrued, unused paid sick leave at the time of a job separation (“cash-out”); however, if they do provide cash-out, they will not be required to reinstate unused leave.