Posts By: Patricia Stelter

The day-after disappointment of substitute materials.

by: William G.  Handlos, P.  E. Most everybody can relate a story of disappointment at Christmas time as a child. You’ve asked Santa for a specific toy or boot or piece of sporting equipment and you visualize what it will be like to open that gift. Then the moment comes and you open up the package and feel the initial excitement as you realize you’re actually going to get what you asked for. Then as the wrapping paper is pulled away from the box… you get a sinking feeling. How could this happen? Your list was clear. You supplied details… Specifications… Related exactly what you wanted. But this wasn’t the real thing. When poor substitutes arrive at a job site, the disappointment can be just as real. But, the stakes are higher. Reputations are at stake and sometimes property damage or public safety can be compromised when poor look-alike products are allowed on the job. This morning, with the Yuletide just days away, I witnessed the collision of Christmas with the disappointment of a poor substitute product collide in an email string in which I was included. First, overnight I received along with hundreds of other recipients the following email… Read more »

The Case for Millennials in Your Organization

Blog: Millennials

Written by William G Handlos, P.E. We have become accustomed to reading about the challenges in hiring, satisfying and integrating millennials into your organization.  First, it needs to be said that all twentysomethings are not alike.  Still, there are some common characteristics that seem to show up in most young employees… and from what I see it’s pretty good. They are genuine. They definitely are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).  Because their lives have been lived in a terrarium called the Internet, where everything they do is exposed to friends and family, there is seldom any pretense and rarely any shame about who they are, what they believe in, or what they think of us.  We could do a lot worse in the workplace than to have a group of people who value honesty and decency in their dealings with customers. They are full of optimism. Youthful idealism is not new and I am happy to say that the latest generation exhibits this characteristic.  Promotion, sales and service works best when the messenger is happy and upbeat. They think outside the box. We’ve heard plenty about the downside of the generation that was told (and believes) that… Read more »

Use Product Differentiation for Good, Not for Evil

Written by William G Handlos, P.E. Product differentiation is often thought of as a way to create a competitive advantage. Typically, a company decides to focus and promote upon a certain attribute(s) of a product making this attribute a key feature of their value proposition statement. For example, a major automobile company might focus and promote a rear lift gate automatic opener actuated by the movement of the driver’s foot under the rear bumper. This inexpensive addition to an SUV’s feature set may be the difference in a buying decision between competing automobile brands, particularly in a market with fierce competition and similar option sets.  In this case, the manufacturer has created a product differentiator that truly adds benefit to the customer. Presto Geosystems® developed the original geocell in the late 1970s and GEOWEB® Geocell product enhancements have been developed every few years, always with the intent of offering benefits to their customers with each refinement. For manufacturers who sell to contractors who bid on projects that are based upon engineered plans and specifications, the waters can be murkier. Is product differentiation created for the benefit of the customer or is differentiation simply crafted to create a unique set of… Read more »

How Well Do You Know Your Competition? Try Installing Them.

Written by William G Handlos, P.E. Presto Geosystems is the maker of the GEOBLOCK Grass Pavers® family of rigid vegetated porous pavement products. We’ve been manufacturing porous pavements since 1978 and have been a leader in the industry ever since. It’s safe to say we were pretty comfortable with our understanding of the differences between our products and our competitors in the market….or so we thought. We knew our products were premium performers offering the best structural modulus (load spreading snowshoe effect), more structural high density polyethylene per square foot than our competitors, load transfer tabs to assure no separation at joints and an industry-leading warranty. Our competitors on the other hand  go with much lighter density product design and some offer their products on rolls like carpet or rolls of sod.   We knew a product that comes on a roll was not a very effective load transfer device. After all, the whole point of vegetated porous pavement is to protect the topsoil (and therefore the root system) from damaging compressive forces and to transfer those forces to the layer below the topsoil – preventing rutting and offering a stable riding surface for fire lanes, overflow parking, or occasional… Read more »

Make Communicating With You Easier

Written by William G. Handlos, P.E. Your company expends a high cost to acquire leads.  Presto’s cost to create a lead is estimated at $250 – $300 per qualified lead.  Think of that cost when your phone rings or you receive an email inquiry.  Leads are precious.  Treat leads well, so that they convert.  Treat leads poorly and they just may flip to a competitor. Have your contact info on each and every e-mail.  It is frustrating to receive email from “Bob” without all contact info at the signature line.  Make it easy to reach you.  Smart phones allow one click calling to phone numbers on email. Answer telephone calls and leave customers to voicemail only if absolutely necessary Customers are ready to buy when they’re ready to buy….you may miss your chance.  You must be present to win! Make it clear to your customer after hours calls are no problem They likely won’t use it, but it strengthens the relationship to know they can access you when they need you. Let them know that you are there for them…….anytime. Place your name and greeting on your voicemail so I know they know they have reached the right number.  No… Read more »

Content Marketing in the Geosynthetics World

Written by William G. Handlos, P.E. In the past, salesmen were hunters who would pursue customers with cold calls, emails and office visits to help them understand how problems could be solved with product line offerings. They would qualify opportunities, perform a needs analysis and pitch their value proposition to the identified decision maker. After the pitch, a price proposal would be made and if the solution was perceived a fit – negotiations would ensue and the job would be won or lost. The salesman controlled the buying process. If you haven’t noticed, there is a significant shift occurring in the sales process. Now, the customer does internet research and is well into the decision process before we even get the chance to meet them. Information that they find on websites, blogs, digital industry trade publications, and discussion boards about the products we offer supplies them content they use to form opinions and make decisions to either contact you….or to move on and continue their search,… perhaps with a competitor. The graphic below from Inboundsales.net says it all. We all have at our disposal – a matchmaking service called Google® (and others) that connect us in mere seconds. As a… Read more »

A Simple Question

Written by: William G. Handlos, P.E. How long does it take to install? It is a question we hear every day. When it comes to cost and installation rates for geosynthetic construction products, there are no simple answers to what seems like simple questions. In fact, beware of those who try to simplify determination of installation costs for their products with quick answers or charts and tables to determine construction rates. Experienced project managers and site supervisors of the crews charged with installation are in the best position to estimate productivity rates. They know best their crew’s capability and the characteristics of the site involved. The variables that need to be considered include: Crew size, talent, work ethic and workday length Temperature, precipitation and length of day (sunlight) Experience with product class Size of the project Site Access Site Conditions (see weather) Crew The optimum crew size is important. Too small and you may lose the benefits of assembly line productivity. Too large and you will find that you fall over each other and pay for extra “inspectors”. All crews are not created equally. The familiarity with tools and techniques vary greatly as does the work ethic both between crews and… Read more »

Impervious Gravel vs. Porous Aggregate Paving Systems

Written by William G. Handlos, P.E. For two decades, I held the position of City Engineer and frequently had to explain to disbelieving homeowners, developers and elected officials – that gravel driveways and parking lots were not porous. I would explain that for purposes of stormwater runoff, such gravel pavements must be treated exactly as we would concrete and asphaltic pavements. They often bristled at the idea that gravel did not percolate water and were upset to find that their gravel driveway, lots and roadways were assumed to shed 100% of rainwater. So it is with more than a dose of irony that I now have found myself in the position of regularly explaining to local and state officials that aggregate pavements are not necessarily impervious. Stakeholders are so accustomed to repeating the impervious gravel mantra…that they forget to notice that porous aggregate is not the same thing as gravel. I think it is best to start with a primer on the vernacular. A “good” gravel (Image 1) should have 40 to 70% stone, well-graded from 1/4” to 2-1/2” diameter; 20 to 50% sand; and 10% +/- fines. It should resist abrasion, shed water and be capable of being compacted. A… Read more »