The obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of elevated scaffolding.
“When the block stops, the money stops.” Thatʼs the way one mason contractor put it, and he hit the nail right on the head. On the flip side, if your men work faster than you estimated, you spend less money on labor (and still get paid the bid price), and the leftover labor money is yours to keep. Just a little extra production returns a whole lot of extra profit. Only about one in 20 mason contractors really understands how much profit, and understanding it explains how a person can keep taking jobs below his competitor’s cost and stay in business.
While elevating scaffolding offers a significant advance when compared to frame scaffolding by eliminating most of the OSHA headaches, reducing back strain, etc., those may not be the most important benefits in these difficult times. How to beat the competition and make a profit are the important factors.
You see, for so many years, elevating scaffolding has been seen as a fancy way to scaffold a wall, but the positive impact it has on your job cost is real and quite significant. Here is the bottom line, and the answer to the question above: If you ask 20 mason contractors what a 20 percent increase in production does to your profit, 19 of them will say it increases profit by 20 percent, but that is wrong. In most masonry bids, the labor number is five times larger than the profit number. If labor is $100,000, profit might be around $20,000.
Reducing labor by 20 percent, just one-fifth, actually doubles profit. Thatʼs how your competitor can bid at your cost and still make money. All he has to do is work one-fifth faster than you. In lean times, you want to be the guy putting in materials at a rate that is faster than anyone else, and elevating scaffolding lets your men produce at a rate that is a minimum of one-fifth faster without even realizing it.
| A Product is Born
Back in 1970, Justin Breithaupt Jr., co-owner of Non-Stop Scaffolding Inc., found firsthand that a small increase in production causes a big jump in profit. He explains how his scaffold product came to be.
“I was interested in the idea of working waist-high, because I figured it would help me get more work done. There was a local Morgen dealer here, so I rented some. I did a job with it, and sure enough, we finished about 20 percent faster. When I ran the numbers, I was blown away. I more than doubled my profit. I knew right then I would never do another job without elevating scaffolding, but the scaffolding I rented had too many shortcomings, so I designed my own.
“I was so excited when I discovered the extra money I could make, I tried every idea I came across that would help my bricklayers work faster. I even made my own corner poles. My jobs were paying off like never before. I was doubling and tripling my estimated profit.
“I designed our scaffolding to work in individual towers, instead of having to be braced together continuously, like Morgen and all the other scaffolding available back then. Now you have seven-foot-wide modules you can place exactly where you need them to scaffold really cut-up work. You can turn them sideways to set up deep insets. It sets up just as fast on cut-up work as on straight walls. I also designed it to start on the ground, so you donʼt have to run any more walls scaffold-high and move your men.”