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It’s nearly mid-2019.  Another trip around the sun has just begun. How did your business treat you in 2018?  How did you treat it? Now’s a good time to look back and see where you can make improvements. If you’re in the service industry, consider the impression your vehicle fleet makes on the members of Read More

It’s nearly mid-2019.  Another trip around the sun has just begun. How did your business treat you in 2018?  How did you treat it? Now’s a good time to look back and see where you can make improvements. If you’re in the service industry, consider the impression your vehicle fleet makes on the members of your community.

“A high-quality truck wrap is one of the cheapest, most effective forms of marketing available to heating and cooling contractors,” said Gary Nolt, president of Cassel, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based sign and vinyl shop with 18 employees. “If you break down the number of impressions a vehicle wrap provides, divided by the cost and lifespan of the wrap, the average cost per one thousand impressions is $.15. Compare that to $5.92 for radio advertising, $11.66 for a quarter-page newspaper ad, or $20.54 for a prime time TV spot.”

Drive Your Brand: Truck Wraps Add Effective Marketing, truck wraps, Cassel

A quality truck wrap takes roughly two weeks to complete, and should last for seven to 10 years.

Cassel wraps or letters roughly 500 service vans each year—it makes of 35 percent of their business. The company was founded in 1945, and has progressed from hand-lettering furniture and trucks to become a one-stop-shop branding, design and display company. Custom vinyl vehicle wraps are what they specialize in, from Smart Cars to semi-trailers.

“My father in law started in the family business when he was 15 years old,” said Nolt. “I’ve been here for 22 years. As a matter of fact, my very first project here was the Burnham Racing trailer. That was in the spring of 1996  I purchased the company in 2012, and we recently opened a second location.”

Branding war

During his two decades with the company, one of the biggest changes Cassel has witnessed is the marketing mindset of service contractors. It’s one of the reasons that Cassel has made a strong shift from sign production to vehicle wraps.

Drive Your Brand: Truck Wraps Add Effective Marketing, truck wraps, Cassel

Modern truck wraps are made of specialized vinyl, and are typically applied in different panels to avoid stretching.

“Everyone is busy right now, so it would almost make sense to think companies would be trimming their marketing budgets a little,” said Nolt. “But the opposite is true. It’s a branding war out there, and nobody can afford to give up an inch. This is the prevailing mindset today.”

After providing truck wraps for a company that hasn’t used them in the past, Cassel gets the same kind of feedback regularly. First and foremost, business owners say that the phone rings more often.

“Contractors tell me that their customers comment on how frequently they notice their wrapped trucks around town,” said Nolt. “They own one or two vans and customers think they own five or 10.”

He explained that trucks with a fresh wrap also go a long way to boost the driver’s pride and professionalism. Most employees tend to take better care of a nice looking vehicle.

Design

“Many contractors come to us because they want to increase their brand awareness, so branding is where we start,” said Nolt. “If a new logo is needed, we can help. If they have a good logo, or if they want to update an existing image, we can work with that, too. There’s really no limit to the process, but we want to help them achieve consistency across all platforms. The message they deliver visually should be current and forward thinking.”

“If you’re going to market yourself, you ought to do it well,” he continued. “If the service you provide is good, shouldn’t your image convey as much?”

The designers at Cassel are excellent at creating a look and scaling it to fit a canvas, whether that canvas be a business card or a brand new box van. But it helps if the customer already have an idea of what they would like to accomplish. At the very least, the service company should know what they don’t like.

“If you’re grasping at straws and starting out fresh, spend some time on Google,” explained Nolt. “What catches your eye? Or, on the flip side of the coin, what makes you cringe? Then identify what it is about those designs that makes you feel the way you do. When you come to a shop like ours, it will help if you already have some direction in mind, even if it’s a vague concept.”

Drive Your Brand: Truck Wraps Add Effective Marketing, truck wraps, Cassel

Cassel has been in business in Manheim, Pa., since 1945, and wraps roughly 500 service vans and trucks each year.

While budget is obviously a consideration, it’s not a limiting factor. Cassel insists that there’s a solution for every budget, from small lettering panels to massive, fully wrapped fleets.

“We really try to over-serve customers, even when the budget is small,” said Nolt. “If we provide a good product, and they go out and succeed with it, they’ll be back for more later on.”

To keep things simple, truck lettering and wrapping options are broken into packages: lettering packages, partial wraps & full wraps. Based on the color of the vehicle and the design of the wrap, the appearance of a full wrap can sometimes be achieved without the full cost.

Drive Your Brand: Truck Wraps Add Effective Marketing, truck wraps, Cassel

“If the simplest of designs and a small budget will help you grow your brand, we want to help,” said Nolt. “That might only be the company name and number in a nice font.  The only thing we discourage is magnets. We can and do make magnets, when requested, but we feel as though magnets tell the world that you’re in this business temporarily. And that’s not a message you want to convey.”

Installation

Modern truck wraps are made of specialized vinyl, 2mm thick with a 1.3mm UV laminate over top. Cassel has a large format printer that can print up to 64” wide. The state-of-the-art printer can produce almost any color at all. A paint reader is used to match vehicle colors, if needed.

Once a design is created and the customer signs the project, the physical work begins.

“A full wrap typically takes a week or two, start to finish,” said Nolt. “Customers will often buy new trucks or vans and bring them directly here from the lot. But in a situation where the van is needed immediately, we can make it happen a lot more quickly.”

Drive Your Brand: Truck Wraps Add Effective Marketing, truck wraps, Cassel

A truck wrap is a powerful, long-lasting branding tool, so plenty of thought should go into its design.

Before installation, vehicles are meticulously washed. Door handles and lights are removed, and the whole exterior is wiped down with alcohol. Only then is vinyl applied. After the material is adhered to the body of the vehicle, heat is applied to the edges and stretched areas.

“Like all technologies and products, vinyl has progressed rapidly in the past decade,” explained Nolt. “The material we use requires a 24 to 48 hour bonding period. When first installed, the bond between vinyl and truck exterior is mild, so it’s easier to work with.  After settling for a day or two, that bond becomes much stronger.”

The vinyl used today also has microscopic air channels on the backside, allowing the installer to push air bubbles out without much trouble.

In an effort to provide value to the customer, Cassel has done a lot of research on which ink products last the longest. How long a truck wrap lasts will depend on a number of factors, primarily how the vehicle is cared for and the number of miles it’s driven.”

“High pressure washing a wrapped vehicle is fine, but it should be done carefully and sparingly,” explained Nolt. “Generally keeping the truck clean protects the wrap, but that’s something you should be doing anyway, for the sake of the company image.”

A quality, well-installed truck wrap will last roughly the service life of the vehicle, up to 10 years. Wraps look very good for easily five to seven years.  Imagine how many customers see your vehicle in a seven year period.

“I like to think that Cassel has grown for the same reason a lot of our customers have grown: we provide an excellent product at a great value,” said Nolt. “But there’s another part of the equation. I’m surrounded by a lot of really bright, ambitious, trustworthy people. I credit Cassel’s success to the team of people that work here. We are a big family.  I’m grateful for them, and I’m grateful for the solid business-to-business heritage here in Lancaster.”

Every month Mechanical Hub and the Plumbing Museum will be collaborating to bring you a piece of plumbing history. We kick off the segment with what was thought to be a game changer in alternative pipe joining methods. Introduced in 2009 for a limited time, the StreamTECH adhesive joining system from Mueller Industries was launched Read More

Every month Mechanical Hub and the Plumbing Museum will be collaborating to bring you a piece of plumbing history. We kick off the segment with what was thought to be a game changer in alternative pipe joining methods.

StreamTECH adhesive joining system, pipe joining methods, plumbing

The StreamTECH system on display at the Plumbing Museum.

Introduced in 2009 for a limited time, the StreamTECH adhesive joining system from Mueller Industries was launched as an alternative to soldering and as a flame-free option. It was the alternative to pipe joining systems.

StreamTECH adhesive joining system, pipe joining methods, plumbing

The StreamTECH brochure

According to the catalog, the company recognized that the existing mechanical joining systems were either too expensive or cumbersome. The StreamTECH System offered the lowest installed cost of any flameless copper piping system currently available. No expensive fittings or compression tools were required, only economical StreamTECH fittings and adhesives, which were easy to use and assemble quickly.

Working in close collaboration with Mueller engineers, 3M’s research team developed a 2-part epoxy adhesive based on their Scotch-Weld technology which was specially formulated for joining copper, brass and bronze metals.

Recognizing that even the strongest adhesive might not provide a 100% reliable joint by itself, Mueller® engineers developed a proprietary internal elastomeric seal for the new StreamTECH copper fittings, which provided a self-adjusting one-way barrier to maximize the effectiveness of the bond and unparalleled protection against leakage or joint failure.

StreamTECH adhesive joining system, pipe joining methods, plumbing

It all started with StreamTECH’s one-way lip seal, which provides more surface contact, therefore better sealing than traditional O-rings, says the brochure. It also acts like an internal wiper to evenly disperse the adhesive over the entire surface of both tube and fitting, and adjusts to imperfections in the surface of the copper tube. This results in the most reliable sealing mechanisms among mechanical, heat-free joining systems.

Located in a renovated ice house in Watertown, Mass., the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum is dedicated to promoting the contributions of the plumbing industry and its talented craftsmen across the United States. Through its unique mix of industrial history and modern art, it showcases artifacts and exhibits that range from 19th century tubs to modern toilets and a functioning rainwater reclamation system. The museum welcomes nearly a thousand visitors each year for tours and private events, and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. For more information, visit: www.theplumbingmuseum.org.

The Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado, has been helping people with disabilities, as well as veterans, go on therapeutic recreation adventures for 30-plus years. Now the group is finally getting the building—and the space—it deserves so it can amp up its offerings and help even more people. The nonprofit organization, located in the Read More

The Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado, has been helping people with disabilities, as well as veterans, go on therapeutic recreation adventures for 30-plus years. Now the group is finally getting the building—and the space—it deserves so it can amp up its offerings and help even more people.

Crested Butte Adaptive Sports Center: Therapeutic Recreation Program Constructs New Building, Viega ProPress

The nonprofit organization, located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, is constructing a new building all its own. For the past decade, the organization knew it was running short on space, but real estate at the base of Crested Butte Mountain Resort is expensive and hard to come by, so it’s taken a while to make dreams reality.

Two years ago, the organization purchased land and began raising funds. Now the 25,000-square-foot building is just months from opening and leaders of the ASC can hardly wait.

Crested Butte Adaptive Sports Center: Therapeutic Recreation Program Constructs New Building, Viega ProPress“There has been a lot of work into this new building,” said Brian Barker, Marketing Manager for the ASC. “Our community has been hugely supportive, and we’re lucky to have help from a lot of really generous people and organizations that are both local to the Crested Butte area and across the country. We received donations from local individuals to major foundations and organizations—like Viega—who want to help out, because so many people believe in helping people.”

Viega helped this project by donating ProPress fittings for the plumbing. In total, in-kind donations for the construction efforts totaled more than $1 million, and Viega had a hand in it. Not only does the donation of ProPress fittings help monetarily, but ASC Executive Director Chris Hensley said it also helps by saving the contractors time—which also equals money.

The schedule for construction of the building was only 13 months, so there was no time to waste. During planning, there were lots of conversations about how to save the ASC money, and ProPress was one solid option.

Alpha Mechanical Solutions, LLC, out of Gunnison, Colorado, was hired to plumb the building, and Fred Niederer, a managing member of Alpha Mechanical, was already familiar with Viega and with ProPress.

Crested Butte Adaptive Sports Center: Therapeutic Recreation Program Constructs New Building, Viega ProPress

“Viega’s training facility in Nashua (New Hampshire) made it possible to see the entire product line and made it easy to justify setting up our first ProPress gun seven years ago,” he said. “Our second gun was a matter of necessity, based on how often we use the Viega system.

“ProPress was really great for this project because it had a very tight timeframe and I couldn’t think of a better product to use. The time savings method over standard joining is huge.”

Crested Butte Adaptive Sports Center: Therapeutic Recreation Program Constructs New Building, Viega ProPress

Alpha Mechanical had between 15 and 20 workers on the project to plumb nearly a mile of copper lines. The copper with ProPress fittings is for hot, cold and hot water recirculation lines, as well as hydronic lines, some variable air volume units, some in-floor heating and a little snowmelt.

“This has been press and go. Easy,” Niederer said.

The building is officially named the Kelsey Wright Building. Kelsey was a longtime participant of the ASC, and after she died her parents gave a generous gift to the organization in her honor to help get the fundraising project started. Barker said her family “really believed in what we do and what we did for her,” and they wanted to share it with others.

The four-story building (plus basement) will allow the ASC to double its capacity. Previously the organization only had the ability to offer overnight accommodations for a group of 15-20 people at a time, at a lodge in town. The new building will have housing on the third floor to allow for a second group to be served at the same time.

The facility is ski-in, ski-out, and fully accessible for all participants no matter their ability. Groups of participants come from various hospitals, VA medical centers, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and more.

There are other activities and amenities within the Kelsey Wright building as well, including an indoor rock climbing wall, programming area and kitchen facilities. Within the basement there will be lockers that can be rented out as an additional revenue stream for the ASC, and there is an area for participants to be fitted with their skis or other apparatuses before they head out.

Adventures through the ASC don’t just happen in the winter… There are activities like canoeing, cycling, hiking and mountain climbing in the summer, or skiing, snowshoeing and ice climbing in the winter.

Founded in 1987, and originally known as the Physically Challenged Ski Program of Crested Butte, 33 lessons were given during the first winter by an all-volunteer staff. Today, more than 6,000 lessons are provided to more than 700 individuals each year. The team includes 15 board members, 14 full-time staff, more than 25 professional instructors and hundreds of volunteers. The main focus is on the long-term impact of programming on participants, aiming to get—and keep—them more physically active.

Identifies hard to see problems and saves homeowners money For many years, utilities and large companies used thermal imaging to uncover potential heat problems across large areas and to keep track of heavy machinery. But more recently, thermal imaging has truly become a game changer for most contractors and others in the building trades. Thermal Read More

Identifies hard to see problems and saves homeowners money

For many years, utilities and large companies used thermal imaging to uncover potential heat problems across large areas and to keep track of heavy machinery. But more recently, thermal imaging has truly become a game changer for most contractors and others in the building trades. Thermal cameras help contractors find and document energy loss and other problems they could not otherwise easily find. This saves them time and money – which ultimately results in homeowners saving money. Most recently, contractors have begun to combine portable thermal imaging cameras with moisture meters. Using thermal imaging to find the issue and the moisture meter to verify it saves time and helps avoid surprises that will ultimately cost homeowners more.

Thermal imaging benefits contractors and homeowners

Thermal imaging detects heat given off by an object or person. It takes the energy and translates it into light that can be seen. Using the typical “Ironbow” color palette, the viewer sees the light in a range of colors: red, orange, and yellow indicates heat, while dark blue, black, or purple signifies colder temperature. Cold can represent air leaks through door and window frames, missing insulation, and water – especially evaporating water. No other technology can provide this information. Using radiation energy, contractors can now actually “see” energy loss. It is like giving contractors a super power! Thermal imaging is extremely sensitive; potential problems stand out and can be found and documented in real time.

Combining Thermal Imaging with Moisture Meter, thermal imaging, FLIR thermal imaging, FLIR moisture meters

Thermal imaging camera in action.

Home inspectors were the first to adopt the use of thermal imaging, but all the building trades are now jumping on board. Most recently electricians, HVAC technicians, and plumbers have started to use thermal imaging to find problem areas quicker—and from a safer distance. In essence, thermal imaging can be used by all trades – if they are not using it now they should start using it.

The number one application contractors use thermal imaging for is to locate energy loss in hotter and colder months caused by missing insulation and poor sealing around doors and windows. Interestingly, the number two use is to locate pest infestations, including termites and rodents. While thermal imaging cannot “see” a single termite, it is excellent for locating termite nests, because of the massive amount of heat generated by huge numbers of termites living together. The third most common application is for detecting water intrusion in houses and business. Thermal imaging points contractors in the right direction, and moisture meters are then used to isolate the problem.

One other essential feature of thermal imaging is that it can be used to document issues to show customers. As a contractor who works closely with clients, I believe it is absolutely crucial that customers have a clear and in-depth understanding of what is going on with their project. Thermal imaging gives contractors the ability to proactively bring up and demonstrate issues. If the issue is something they should be concerned with, it is important to be able to document that issue with a picture or video. The more information homeowners have, the better off they will be.

Pairing thermal imaging with moisture meters offers a one-two punch

Recently, many in the building trades have begun to realize the benefits of pairing thermal imaging with moisture meters. This combination is especially effective because thermal imaging by itself does not distinguish between cold temperatures and moisture. Both show up as a dark blue image, so contractors cannot tell if the image indicates moisture or cold air. Using the two technologies together, they can simultaneously find energy loss and moisture intrusion – giving contractors a real one-two punch.

Combining Thermal Imaging with Moisture Meter, thermal imaging, FLIR thermal imaging, FLIR moisture meters

Thermal imaging can reveal issue regarding missing insulation or poor sealing around window or door.

Using thermal imaging to find the issue and the moisture meter to verify it saves time – by taking the moisture meter to the area of concern a contractor can isolate the problem and quickly determine its seriousness and extent. Before the ability to pair the two technologies, contractors had moisture meters, but they had to tear the entire wall down to address a suspected problem. Using the non-contact or non-invasive/non-destructive detection methods together helps contractors confine the problem to a smaller area so they can avoid taking that wall down. The moisture meter will indicate if the spot is a matter for concern.

New affordable technology makes combining thermal imaging and moisture reading a snap

In the past few years I have been bringing thermal imaging and moisture reading equipment to every job site I visit. I use the FLIR ONE® PRO thermal imaging camera attachment in combination with the FLIR MR40 moisture meter. Both are extremely easy to use, which is especially helpful for those contractors who are not particularly tech savvy. You can attach the thermal camera to your smart phone, and the phone becomes the viewer.

I started using FLIR thermal imaging technology some years ago and this latest third generation technology has significantly improved, with even better image quality. At a cost of only $399, the FLIR ONE Pro is much more affordable for contractors than in the past. It also pays off quickly because of the money saved by finding problems more quickly.

Especially useful is the multi spectral dynamic imaging (MSX) technology, which enables users to overlay the visual with the thermal to get a clear image that the contractor can then decipher. This means users are not just seeing a screen of colors, they are seeing the definition of what they are looking at.

Combining Thermal Imaging with Moisture Meter, thermal imaging, FLIR thermal imaging, FLIR moisture meters

FLIR MR40 moisture meter in use.

MSX incorporates real-time thermal video enhanced with visible spectrum definition. It produces exceptional thermal clarity to highlight exactly where the problem is. MSX ensures easier target identification without compromising radiometric data. The quality of the thermal images is excellent, with almost no need for a separate digital image. With MSX, thermal images look sharper, the orientation of the target is done more quickly and the reports are clutter-free. Users can see the results of MSX technology directly on the touchscreen of the camera, in real time.

Another practical feature of the FLIR ONE Pro is the 1-fit connector. This allows users to adjust the camera’s fit, so they can use the attachment with thicker cell phone cases.

The FLIR MR40 moisture meter is my go-to option, primarily because it is so easy to use. Anyone can operate it easily, even if they have never used a moisture meter before. The portable, rugged moisture meter comes with an integrated flashlight. It is also small and tough, fitting easily in a pocket. I have used it in tight spaces and I have dropped it, and the meter remains accurate and incredibly reliable. It is affordable and a quick tool to find and quantify moisture content. When used in combination with a thermal camera, MR40 can help confirm whether a cold spot in a thermal image is moisture, and measure the severity of the problem. If it measures in the 20 percent range or above, it would be considered a problem. Below 10 percent it would not be considered a problem.

Other all in one imagers plus moisture meter options include the FLIR MR160 and the MR176. With these options there is no need to carry two separate pieces of equipment.

New technology provides contractors with peace of mind

Using the FLIR ONE Pro in combination with the FLIR MR40 moisture meter has made a big difference in my business. I look on them as tools like all the others that would be used on a job, but they are especially important in the initial phase of dealing with customers and quoting jobs. In the past unforeseen issues would arise that would bring higher costs. Now, contractors can virtually see the invisible, reducing unforeseen and unwelcome surprises often costing more money to repair.

As a contractor, the tools provide peace of mind, and also ensure the situation has been thoroughly examined. I never leave home without them.

By Jason Cameron, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network’s Desperate Landscape, Man Caves and Sledgehammer.

Milwaukee Tool found its “promised land” in tool technology, or its definite game changer, if you will, when it graduated from NiCad to lithium-Ion batteries. “In 2005 Milwaukee turned the power tool industry on its head when we invented the technology that enabled the use of lithium-ion in power tools. This was an achievement the Read More

Milwaukee Tool found its “promised land” in tool technology, or its definite game changer, if you will, when it graduated from NiCad to lithium-Ion batteries. “In 2005 Milwaukee turned the power tool industry on its head when we invented the technology that enabled the use of lithium-ion in power tools. This was an achievement the industry had never experienced before and, while many other companies have utilized this technology to deliver their own cordless systems, we’ve remained at the forefront of lithium-ion technology innovation,” said Babacar Diop, product manager for Milwaukee Tool.

Milwaukee M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT Batteries, Milwaukee M18 and M12 Super ChargerBoy, have they ever. What’s interesting to note is that a couple of years ago Milwaukee was giddy about the launch of its RED LITHIUM High Demand 9.0Ah battery pack shown at its annual New Product Showcase (NPS). Today, Milwaukee shatters that ceiling with a breakthrough with its M18 Cordless System by extending its range of M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT Batteries.

Milwaukee M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT Batteries, Milwaukee M18 and M12 Super ChargerThe new M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT XC8.0 and CP3.0 battery packs will join the company’s current HIGH OUTPUT HD12.0 and XC6.0 offerings, establishing new top-tiers of performance for the XC (Extended Capacity) and CP (Compact) battery segments.

All M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT batteries provide 50% more power, run 50% cooler, and offer increased run-time over standard M18 REDLITHIUM batteries, all while being compatible with the entire M18 System of more than 175 tools. Backward compatibility is key as “we can’t abandon any of our existing users,” says Diop.

Milwaukee offers three segments of batteries, optimizing performance designated as:

  • CP — powerful, with less weight for reduced user fatigue and smaller size to better fit in tight spaces.
  • XC— more power and run-time versus CP, a great balance of performance and weight for a wide variety of tools and applications.
  • HD— the most power and run-time, ideal performance for high demand applications and stationary tools.

Milwaukee M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT Batteries, Milwaukee M18 and M12 Super ChargerConcurrent to the HIGH OUTPUT battery release, Milwaukee has launched its M18 and M12 Super Charger. Coming straight from the nearest phone booth, if those even exist anymore, is the new Super Charger, more powerful than a locomotive. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s pretty frickin’ powerful, compared to older iterations of chargers, and others on the market today. The new offering charges up to 4x faster—or 40% less charge time—than Milwaukee’s standard chargers, as well as the best combination of charge time and pack life. It’s pretty simple, “the longer tools run, the more they need charging,” says Diop.

Milwaukee M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT Batteries, Milwaukee M18 and M12 Super ChargerThe charger leverages Milwaukee’s REDLINK Intelligence to optimize the charge rate based on the battery type and temperature—high performance down to 0 F, and with the High Output HD 12.0 reaching full performance capability at temps as low as -20 F, according to Diop. This all culminates in all HIGH OUTPUT batteries charging in one hour or less, which is pretty significant for today’s jobsite.

When asked recently if Milwaukee found its next battery technology Shangri-la, Diop intomated that the company is not only committed to lithium-ion technology, but it is committed to the best possible technology for its tools. Stay tuned.

M18™ REDLITHIUM™ HIGH OUTPUT™ Batteries

Chargers Optimized for HIGH OUTPUT™

 

Milwaukee M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH OUTPUT Batteries, Milwaukee M18 and M12 Super Charger