The importance of inventorying the right tools + supplies
Last year, Keefer Rader, owner of Albuquerque-based Outlaw Mechanical, a shop that specializes in light commercial work, including kitchens, had one of those experiences that confirmed the value of an investment he’d made just weeks earlier.
Well, he didn’t buy cryptocurrency or Spotify stock at just the right time if that’s where your imagination was going with it.
The event that triggered confirmation of a diagnostic tool’s purchase was a visit to a popular wedding venue in Colorado, a full day’s drive (or night, in this caser) from his shop.
350 miles from home base
Several years before he founded Outlaw Mechanical at the age of 21, Rader worked in remote Colorado, maintaining the property and mechanical systems on a private ranch – a destination that’s won recognition as a luxurious wedding/events venue. Though his firm – now 15 years old – has won recognition as the “Number Two-rated” mechanical firm in Albuquerque, he’s maintained ties in Colorado.
“My family and I love the area, and there are still folks in Colorado who insist that I serve as their mechanical systems pro – even at a distance of 350 miles,” he said. So it wasn’t a complete surprise to hear from a man who manages a mountaintop wedding venue outside of Durango, CO – just several days before a large gathering was to lease the facility for a ceremony.
Apparently, a large kitchen broiler – “absolutely needed by the caterer,” he said – wasn’t performing well. The new manager was instructed to get Rader out to fix it.
“I tried to help him diagnose and trouble-shoot the problem, but I quickly learned that they’d already attempted to solve the problem [to no avail],” said Rader. “So, with less than a week before the large group arrived for the wedding – and with plenty of work to do in Albuquerque – Rader swept his schedule to allow time for a Friday night drive to Durango, hoping to have the problem solved for a drive home the next day.
“The challenge with remote site work is the need to pre-think everything,” he added. “Would I have the right materials and supplies and spare parts with me, and anything else I might need to complete the job in one trip?”
By Friday afternoon, Rader visited a local supplier, buying some spare parts for the large, commercial kitchen broiler. He ran between the truck and his shop’s well-stocked shelves a dozen times before his departure and was soon on his way, driving most of the distance that evening.
The next day, Keefer drove the last 20 miles to the wedding venue. “Just after sunrise, the site was open just as the manager promised,” said Keefer. He quickly found the griddle and set to work.
“I found that the broiler worked, but not well enough. It needed more [LP] gas for more heat,” he explained. Rader was unable to use a conventional manometer as the broiler didn’t have the test ports that he typically used for diagnosing hydronic boiler problems.
He went to the truck for the FloPro-MD diagnostic tool. “It’s now one of my go-to tools for gas appliance work,” he said. “The FloPro showed that the pre-regulator gas flow and pressure were good, but on the regulator’s other [outgoing/supply] side, I began to see my problem.”
Among the supplies Rader learned long ago to keep in his truck: several gas regulators. “The FloPro made it perfectly clear that the broiler’s regulator had failed. Once connected, the new regulator provided greater gas pressure to the broiler which worked as intended, with plenty of heat for the caterer set to arrive that afternoon.”
Rader explained that, as the tool is connected to the gas line, and is out of the way, he especially likes the [FloPro-MD’s] ability to diagnose problems while the appliance is operating. “Managers at most commercial kitchens refuse to allow trouble-shooting or maintenance work during hours of operation because of the need to shut the appliance down – or, even worse – to cut gas service at a manifold to several gas appliances. Not with this tool – it’s designed to work while the appliance is in use.”
“The FloPro does the work of a variety of other tools,” added Rader. “It offers the function and intelligence of a manometer, and a gas flow meter, too. It offers precise diagnostics, with plain English on the screen. My hat’s off to the [tool’s] designer. The FloPro now has a permanent place in my truck.”