Nov 18

What Is A Swing Clear Hinge?

What is a swing clear hinge?

Swing clear hinges are special hinges that swing a door completely out of the opening. This allows for maximum clear width of the opening.

Swing Clear HInges1A popular application for swing clear hinges is hospital corridors. Having the door tucked out of the opening reduces damage to the door edge by stretchers and carts. Swing clear hinges can protect more than the door edge.  Think of protecting the knuckles of wheel chair patients, a concern of many nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

You can also use swing clear hinges if you need the full width of the door way to move large equipment or to achieve the required 32″ minimum clear width for ADA compliance.

They are non-handed and come in different sizes and finishes. They are made for both square edge or beveled edge doors, be sure to select the one appropriate for your project. Swing clear continuous hinges are also available.

The door needs to be open approximately 95 degrees to get the door totally out of the opening.  You will see in the large picture below that a recessed pocket was built in the wall for the door to sit flush with the wall when opened.

The hinge itself is an “L” shape when in the closed position and can be a little less than aesthetically pleasing. In the case of busy hospital corridor doors that are typically “held open”, this is not a concern.

standard hinge detail-Model  swing clear hinge detail-Model

IMG_2798 IMG_1192


Nov 17

Know Your Bid-Hit Ratio

imageThings are definitely heating up through out my territory. Many of my distributors have more RFQs than they can handle, having to turn some down. It’s a refreshing problem to have to say the least! There is even talk of margins increasing ever so infinitesimally.

With the state of the economy still in question it is very important to make sure you are making the right choices as to which projects to bid and which ones to pass on.

I know right, duh.   I know that it sounds like a no-brainer but I also know that when we get busy we have the tendency to be reactionary in lieu of proactionary being proactive.

One of the ways to make sure you are selecting the right projects is to be intimately familiar with your bid-hit ratio.

Another no-brainer right? But I am willing to bet the majority of you that are reading this do NOT know your bid-hit ratio. I know this because I know human nature.   Knowing your bid-hit ratio is truly a proactive measure and we are too busy to be proactive! I can also share that in my 17 years of working on the distribution level, this statistic was never stressed.

I am assuming that everyone knows what the term bid-hit ratio means. For those of you that may not, it is the relation of the total amount of bids submitted to the total number of bids you successfully won. For example, if your bid-hit ratio is 4:1 it means that you secure one out of every four projects quoted.

The benefits to knowing your bid-hit ratio are many. For one, as the saying goes, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.  Your bid-hit ratio is a measure of your successful bidding process. Studying this analysis can reveal what type of projects your sales force should focus on and ultimately improve your odds

You should be asking the following questions about the projects you have been awarded.

  • Project Type – Is there a certain project type that you were successful on more than others? Public or public? Hotel or Hospital?
  • Project Size – Do you have a higher success rate with small, medium or large projects?
  • Specific Product or Manufacturer – Did the winning projects have a common product or manufacturer?
  • Same Contractors – Was there a high occurrence of winning bids with the same contractor?
  • Estimator – Do you have a specific estimator that is more successful?

You can also reverse it and ask the same questions about the projects you have lost to learn which ones are a waste of your valuable time. Time is your most precious commodity. When it gets busy you want to make sure you are operating as efficiently as possible. Knowing the answers to the above questions will help you narrow down that stack of RFQs on your desk and make sure you are focusing on opportunities that will bring you the most success.

It will also help to know how your company measures to national averages.

George-HeadleyI found the following information on George Hedley’s website. George Hedley is owner of Hedley Construction and Development, Inc. He shares his business expertise and leadership style through his writing, speaking and coaching services.

Click on his pic on the left to go to his article on the importance of knowing your bid-hit ratio.

See how you compare to the averages observed around the country.

General Contractors                  Bid-Hit Ratio
- Public Works         6 : 1   to   10 : 1
- Private Bid Work   4 : 1   to     6 : 1
- Negotiated Work   2 : 1   to     4 : 1

Subcontractors                         Bid-Hit Ratio
- Public Works         7 : 1   to   11 : 1
- Private Bid Work   4 : 1   to     6 : 1
- Negotiated Work   3 : 1   to     4 : 1

Here are links to some great articles I found expressing how important it is to know your bid-hit ratio.

Construction Accounting Article - bid-hit ratios are The Secret to your success
Improve Your Bid-Hit Ratio: Top 5 Essentials of a Winning Bid Strategy
Import Your Bid-Hit Ratio: Try These Strategies to Save Time

You are NOT too busy to be proactive, kick it in gear!  Have a great week!

Nov 06

Supa Doors and the Forever Young Initiative

I’m sure you are aware of the steady increase in hospitality projects over the last 18 months. It is a huge improvement over the last few years when there was little to no activity in this sector.

Between Mesker Door, Design Hardware and Supa Doors I am quoting at least 2 projects per week. I have several purchase orders in house for existing projects and the promise of more to come in the next few weeks.

With the recent addition of Supa Doors to my agency I am putting a lot of my focus on these projects and learning more about the hospitality industry in general. For instance, the design differences between full-service, select service and limited-service hotels and how the products I represent best fit into each category.

The superior quality of Supa MDF Stile & Rail Doors make them a perfect choice for both full service and select service projects. The Hampton Inn’s “Forever Young Initiative” is an example of a perfect fit for Supa.

If you want to learn more about FYI click on the following link:

For hoteliers planning to build new Hampton Inns or spiff up their existing franchised properties, Hilton’s corporate leaders have launched an improvement campaign aimed at keeping the ubiquitous brand fresh for investors as well as guests.

Called the Forever Young Initiative, the 127-point refresh will benefit guests as the redesign of the hotel’s exterior, lobby and guests rooms will smack of modern influence. New amenities are geared to accommodate today’s leisure and business guests who travel a lot differently than they did even just five years ago.

One item on the 127 point initiative calls for the use of a sliding barn door to be used at the bathroom or shared between the bathroom and closet. It is actually a very clever design, saving space and using one door for two openings.


Barn Doors

1. A solid ‐ core, single panel, wood barn door must be at the bath or shared between the bath and closet where shown in the prototype drawings. Existing properties must refer to the FF&E Specifications ‐ contact Hilton Worldwide for room types not included.

2. Barn Door hardware must comply with the following:

a.Exposed system

b.Brushed Stainless finish

c.Concealed or decorative fasteners

d.Top mount door hangers

e.Adjustable bumper stops

f. Locking Hardware is not required.

3.If the door faces the guestroom entry, a mirror must be in set in to the panel on the entry side of the door.

Approved with Hilton’s Suppliers Connection program, Supa Doors has custom tailored a quick, flexible, and ultra affordable Hampton Inn Forever Young Barn Door package.

IMG_3547  IMG_3544

This turnkey hotel grade sliding barn door offers owners and operators several advantages.

  • Quick Lead Times
  • Sizing Flexibility
  • The “Forever” Warranty
  • Custom Color Prefinishing
  • Manufactured in the US
  • Stainless Steel Pulls
  • Mirror Options
  • 86% Recycled Content

If you are bidding on a Hampton Inn be sure to give me a call.  I’d be happy to assist you with Supa Doors and the Forever Young Initiative.

Oct 30

Wilson Building Solutions is Proud To Represent Supa Doors.

A.G. Wilson Building Solutions is proud to welcome Supa Doors to the family of manufacturers we proudly represent.

SupaSupa Doors is a manufacturer of high end MDF Stile & Rail Doors. They have established an excellent reputation as one of the leaders in the MDF door industry. A Supa Door is an architecturally correct, authentic stile and rail door with sharp square corners on sticking and panel profiles.

Supa builds a better door. Their unique construction method creates high-strength, high quality stile and rail doors.  Each stile and rail is profiled with a cope and stick, then is dowelled, glued and clamped into half doors using high-frequency glue creating a continuous lamination with high strength joints. Every Supa product comes with a limited lifetime warranty against defects in construction or materials.  They take pride in producing high quality products made in the USA.

supa-brochure2014 copyWhen it comes to strength and durability, they have the edge!  The Supa edge is a keyed hardwood which runs the full length of the stile on both sides of the doors.  This provides strength, durability and screw holding strength. You may have noticed the trend in sliding barn doors, especially in hotel rooms because it saves space.  No worries, Supa’s pocket and barn doors also include the keyed hardwood edge along the top rail of the door to maximize screw holding strength for sliding door hardware.

I love their tag line “the end of the boring door” and it is certainly true.  Supa offers amazing design flexibility.  Every door is built to order and can be fabricated to your custom specifications. You have the option to customize the width of the stiles and rails to create a unique look or to accommodate special machining requirements for any hardware you may choose.

supa-leed2014Supa is the Sustainable Choice – Sustainability is now the standard for design in both commercial and residential projects.  Supa Doors are always made with a minimum of 86% recycled wood fiber, making it an ideal choice for all projects.  Optional LEED credits can be achieved by requesting “No Added Urea Formaldehyde and/or FSC material.


I could go on and on about many additional qualities and product offerings of Supa Doors but I’d better save some information for future blog posts!  I am very excited by the opportunity to work with you and Supa on projects specifying true Stile & Rail doors. Wilson Building Solutions is Proud To Represent Supa Doors!


Oct 06

The Dreaded Annual Inventory Count

Stressed Business Man

The Dreaded Annual Inventory Count

Yes, it’s that time of year…again! A lot of my distributors are already dreading the annual counting of inventory. I remember donning old worn out jeans and a t-shirt I would probably never wear again to count thousands of packs of sex nut bolts during my history with Pleasants Contract Hardware.

Counting the keying room was the absolute worst! All those key blanks and tiny little keying pins, ugh!

If you are about to tackle this wonderful annual event, you may want to read the following article by Jason Bader of “The Distribution Team”.  Jason is a managing partner at The Distribution Team and has written many articles shared in Doors & Hardware Magazine.

He offers some great tips to make this task as painless as possible. Click on the link to read his full article.

Tips for a Successful Annual Inventory Count
           By Jason Bader
           Managing Partner – The Distribution Team

It’s that time of year again. The leaves have turned. The NFL is in full swing. The political season has come to a close. And, the dreaded annual inventory count is on the horizon. During my distribution career, I was involved in no less than twenty of these events. Let me tell you, they were not something to look forward to. Several hapless souls would trudge in to the warehouse on Saturday morning ready to spend the day sifting through our wares. We would entice them with coffee, orange juice and donuts, the official snack food of inventory counting. We would “invite” people from the clerical staff to join in the merriment. Wouldn’t want to make them feel left out. To compound the fun, we would invite the offspring of our employees and a few manufacturers reps to round out the crew. Is it any wonder that certain employees grandmothers conveniently “passed away” the weekend of the count?

Sep 29

The Benefits of Commission vs Salary

SalariesThe Benefits of Commission vs Salary

Many distributors across the nation are seeking to hire employees as a result of the increase in activity in the commercial construction industry.  One glance at the classified section of Doors & Hardware Magazine confirms that there are a lot of opportunities out there.

It is refreshing to know that distributors are busy and for the first time in a while have a backlog that makes them feel comfortable enough to consider hiring.

But we all know that the decision to hire is only the first of many decisions to be made when bringing on a new employee.

One topic that often comes up when discussing hiring a sales professional is compensation structure. Our industry offers a  wide array of possibilities, each with its pros and cons.

  • Hourly Wage
  • Salary
  • Base Salary plus Commission
  • Straight Commission
  • Commission can be based on smaller percentage of gross sales or larger percentage based on net profit.
  • A tiered structure where commission percentage grows as goals are achieved.

Before continuing with the payment structure that you’ve always used, take some time and research other options.  You may decide another system fits your needs more efficiently or find a way to tweak the system you have.  The ultimate goal is a satisfied, motivated employee.

Here are some articles that I found that may help when you are considering your options:

HOW CAN I GET YOU TO SELL…Have you been frustrated by under-motivated salespeople who are paid a handsome salary for selling to legacy clients and maintaining easy business?Or are you being plagued by turnover issues based on no one being able to “make it” on commission only?

THE ADVANTAGES OF PAYING COMMISSION VS SALARY When you are deciding how to pay your employees, you should consider the benefits of paying by commission versus the benefits of salaried pay. There are advantages to both options for the employee as well as the employer. Consider all the possible advantages when you develop a payment scheme for your employees.

BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK: BEST WAYS TO PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES A base salary should cover reps’ basic living expenses (rent and food, not lease payments on a fancy car), or a minimum of $1,500 to $2,000 a month. “The reason you offer base pay is not to make people hungry,” Bremen says. “It’s to help them manage cash flow.” If you can’t pay that much, don’t bother paying a base.

After getting past the initial fear of a commission only payment structure, statistics show most motivated sales persons prefer a commission only or salary plus commission system at the least.  I would think as an employer you would get a more engaged employee. This system also ensures that the employee helps to shoulder the weight of the employee expense, in literally earning their income.

I hope this helps you in your decision making.  And remember even though it may be a difficult decision it is a much brighter predicament than facing layoffs! I’d love to hear your opinions on commission vs salary, chime in on the comment section below.

Sep 22

Hinges: Residential vs Commercial

Hinges: Residential vs Commercial

In this post we will outline some of the differences between residential and commercial hinges. I specifically say “some” as I am sure I do not cover all them. Please feel free to comment below with any additions. Keep in mind this article covers general differences, there are always exceptions.

The construction and purpose of the door for which the hinges are intended determine what type of hinge is should be selected to provide optimal performance. Because the overall weight and frequency of use of a commercial door is considerably more than its residential counterpart, a heavier duty hinge should be used. This accounts for a larger, thicker hinge.

Commercial Hinges vs Residential HingesAs you can see in the table, Commercial hinges are generally larger in overall size and manufactured from a thicker gauge metal.   Their knuckle diameter is also considerably beefier.

Although commercial hinges can be ordered with radius corners, they usually have square corners. Residential hinges are more commonly supplied with radius corners, either 1/4” or 5/8”. Note they can be supplied with square corners and on occasion, one leaf with radius corners and the other with square.

TemplateHingesAnother difference between the two is their screw hole patterns. A typical commercial hinge has a half moon screw hole pattern, referred to as a “template” hinge. Commercial hinges are manufactured with this “template” hinge screw pattern in accordance with BHMA A156.7, which was established to ensure continuity between manufacturers of commercial doors, frames and hinges.

Can you  imagine what a nightmare it would be if that were not the case!

Residential hinges typically have a staggered, or “W”, screw hole pattern. In some cases residential screw hole patterns can be unique to a specific manufacturer, causing trouble if one of the components in the opening needed to be replaced.

As stated above, these are just a few of the differences between residential and commercial hinges. After all my years in the industry, I am still amazed at all there is to learn about hinges.

Please join in the fun and add your comments and input below. Per a quote from a good friend and customer – “not one of us knows it all, but together we do!”


Sep 22

Dealing with “Pay If Paid” Clauses

TBoYB1Dealing with “Pay If Paid” Clauses

When I first heard of this provision I thought how ridiculously unfair. Sub-contractors and material suppliers are the least able to take the hit of non-payment.

I also thought there was no way that they would stand for it.  I still feel the same way on the first count, but have been surprised by the willingness of sub-contractors to agree to it.

If every single contract that had this provision included was returned un-signed with a post it that said “are you crazy? There is no way we will sign this!” the idea would have quickly died.  But in our highly competitive industries, companies are just too desperate to turn down work. Realizing that a united front against this injustice is unrealistic I have spent a little time researching the effectiveness of this clause.

I have learned that overall the law is not in favor of these provisions.  Also, that agreeing to this provision does not, necessarily, impact your your lien rights.  Here are some links to useful information to store away in case you are in the unfortunate position to fight for your money.

There is a difference between “Pay If Paid” and “Pay When Paid”.

In Minnesota, a “pay-if-paid” provision must expressly and unequivocally state that the risk of owner insolvency is being shifted to the subcontractor for this provision to be enforceable.  Otherwise, the provision will be treated like a “pay-when-paid” provision, focusing on timing of payment and not shifting the risk of payment.

“By Far The Best Thing You Can Do Is Perfect Your Construction Lien of Bond Rights”

So what can you do to protect yourself if you make the decision to enter into a contract with enforceable conditional payment language? By far the best thing that you can do is to perfect your construction lien or bond rights. Conditional payment language in a subcontract is not a defense that is available to an owner in a lien foreclosure action. Likewise, unless a “conditional payment bond” is utilized, the contractor’s surety is not entitled to the benefit of conditional payment language in a subcontract and your bond claim can proceed whether or not the contractor has been paid. Conditional payment bonds are not available on public construction projects and are seldom used on private construction project. Where they are used on private projects, you have the right to record a lien to the extent that the contractor has not been paid for your work and the right to assert a claim against the bond to the extent that the contractor has been paid for your work.

By perfecting your lien or bond rights, you establish an alternative right to payment from the owner’s property or the contractor’s surety that is not dependent on the owner paying the contractor.

“Pay If Paid” Clauses Are Not Enforceable in All States”

Pay if paid clauses are not enforceable in all states because they may be considered waivers of the contractor’s lien rights. There is a growing legislative and judicial trend finding “pay if paid” provisions against public policy and unenforceable. In those states, contractors must pay subcontractors within a reasonable period of time for their work.

I hope you never have use of the above information!  Have a prosperous week!

Sep 15

Subcontractor Bidding Tips


Subcontractor Bidding Tips

George Hedley is owner of Hedley Construction and Development, Inc. He started his construction company in 1977 with a pick-up truck and $500 in the bank. He grew his business to $50 million in revenue in seven years. He is one of the top 10 contractors in Southern California.

He now shares his business expertise and leadership style through his writing, speaking and coaching services.

I ran across his website, Hard Hat Presentations, while doing an internet search for tips to help sub-contractors and suppliers land more work.

When I read the statement…”most contracts are awarded to the lowest qualified bidder based on price. The bidder who offers better service for more money rarely gets the contract” I knew he understood the problem, the fact that he had more to say after that intrigued me.

WOWHere is an excerpt from his article “7 Ways Subcontractors & Suppliers Can “WOW” General Contractors”, click the link to read it in its entirety.

I am a general contractor & developer of commercial and industrial projects from $2,000,000 to $15,000,000 in size. On every project we select from our database of over 3,000 companies to eventually hire at least 35 subcontractors and buy from 5 to 10 suppliers. The bottom-line when choosing subcontractors and suppliers is all of them are almost the same except for price. Very few contracting companies do anything different than the others. They give you what you pay for, the minimum, no more and no less. Because of this, sadly, we usually award based on price.

If you don’t wish to read the entire article, at least take away these tips George shares to better your chances with being awarded a contract. Probably 95% of you will discard them thinking they are a waste of time. What if your competition is in the other 5% that will implement even just of few of these tips.

I mean seriously, how much cost and effort is involved with writing a thank-you note? How many of you have ever written one? If you would like to treat your best contractor customer to dinner, schedule it next time I’m visiting and I will treat you both!

7. More WOW ideas

-         Send me a thank-you note

-         Bring me leads

-         Get bids in on time

-         Give me value-engineering ideas

-         Don’t overcharge on change orders

-         Send me product literature

-         Keep me informed of new ideas

-         Help me make a profit

-         Give me a referral

-         Train my superintendents

-         Get an email account

-         Carry a handheld email device

-         Use email

-         Carry a digital camera

-         Use your digital camera

-         Take me to dinner

-         Ask me: “how can we improve?”

Have an awesome week!

Sep 08

Improving Your Gross Profit Margin pt 2


TBoYB1Last week I shared my intent to post articles each Monday morning focused on the business part of your business.

I kicked off the series by sharing part one of a two part article by Jason Bader, the managing partner of The Distribution Team. I continue last week’s theme of increasing your gross profit margin with part II of Jason’s article.

A more sophisticated pricing matrix In the excerpt below Jason speaks of the benefits of creating a more sophisticated pricing structure. Be sure to click the link to read the full article.

One of the best ways to maximize gross margin potential is to adopt a velocity based, or popularity based, pricing model in the company.  For example, many of us set up our matrix where a particular customer type receives a flat discount off of list price, or multiplier on cost, for the entire line.  Unfortunately, we tend to base this discount on the most popular item in the line.  What percentage of a vendor line do you think your customers know what they should be paying?  I suspect that it is less than 5 percent of the line.  It is the most popular items that get shopped around.  These items should receive an attractive discount.  Everything after that should receive a lesser discount or higher gross margin.  This is what good price matrix set up can do for you. 

It is definitely easier to set up one discount across the board for a customer, but Jason’s tip of assigning different multipliers or discounts based on particular items in lieu of a blanket approach wouldn’t take much effort and could yield a considerable increase in margin.

As usual, I welcome your input.  Do you see a downside to this suggestion?

Sep 01

Improving Your Gross Profit Margin



After a discussion with a few of my customers about what might be useful to distributor owners and managers, I decided to dedicate Mondays to the business side of your business.  Topics like improving gross margin, cash vs accrual accounting, managing inventory, retaining employees, etc will be featured.  I have reached out to many professionals and will share their expertise and advice all aimed at improving your bottom line and reducing your stress.

My first post in this category is about improving your gross profit margin. I found a great article from Jason Bader, a managing partner of The Distribution Team.  The Distribution Team is a firm that specializes in helping distributors become more profitable through strategic planning.  Jason has written many articles for Doors & Hardware magazine. I will be sharing a lot from Jason Bader in these Monday posts!

In his article titled ” Improving Gross Margins, Part 1″ he notes a few methods to do just that.   I chuckled when he says he finds it humorous that every city he visits is a “really competitive market”.  I have heard that about our dear state of Florida at least 100 times during my career in this industry and I must confess I am guilty of saying a few times myself!

One method he shared piqued my interest.  Read the excerpt from his article below, click the link to read his entire article. None of the distributors I  worked for utilized this method, but since becoming a representative I have discovered a few that do.

The mechanics are fairly simple.  Take the base replenishment cost, this is the one that comes from the supplier price sheet, and add a nominal percentage to that figure.  I suggest half a percent to 5 percent depending on the popularity of the item or product category.  The result, after adding the percentage bump, becomes the new standard or loaded cost.  This is the cost that your sales people will see in the system.  Most sales people have an acceptable gross margin in their head.  We are just starting them at a higher place.  In some packages, this is new cost field referred to as a “commissionable cost” because it is what sales commissions are based off of.  I tend to shoot for an overall accumulation in this fund of 3 percent of cost of goods sold. 

If estimators are using manufacturers price lists to figure their estimates, of course this would be more difficult to accomplish.  I do see it being an excellent way to increase gross profit margins for stock and over the counter sales.  It would be easy to pad the product’s net cost by a half to five percent, as recommended by Jason, in a software database.

Please feel free to comment below and let us know what you think about this idea, we all welcome your input!

I will cover tips in Part 2 of Jason’s article next Monday.

Aug 28

What is a Double Egress Opening?

photoA double egress opening is comprised of a pair of doors, both single acting, swinging in opposite directions, into the path of egress. Double egress openings help to control the flow of traffic.

Typical applications include hospital and school corridors.  Most common hardware used on DE pairs is surface mounted vertical rod exit devices although other hardware configurations are possible.

Below is a 5 second video showing automatic double degress doors in action. These particular doors are located in the labor and delivery floor of a local hospital.  My daughter recently gave birth to a healthy beautiful baby boy.  I was in the waiting area giving my family an update of her progress and passed through these doors heading back to her room.  I thought, hey I have to capture these doors in action, it would make a great teaching tool! My family did catch me capturing these doors and just shook their head as if there is no hope for me!

What is a Double Egress Opening?

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