The value of supporting local business

Furthermore to the point of avoiding travellers…

A few weeks ago I wrote about the subject of travelling contractors and, to a lesser extent, door to door salesmen. The point I was trying to make was mostly something to the effect, “You should support your local community which in the end benefits you too.”

I fielded a phone call from a local resident of the Wetaskiwin area who claimed he had too many bad experiences with local contractors and only hired out of town companies.; it seems to me this fellow is being a bit too fussy and unrealistic. No job is ever perfect and the best of us make mistakes; it’s not whether a mistake is made, it’s how you handle it that counts It reminded me of a situation I watched unfold some years ago.

Before I went to college in 1993 I worked for a construction company in my hometown of Oyen. We did a little bit of everything, including building grain bins, adding layers to grain bins (a horrible, thankless job), home repair and roofing. We did a lot of roofing around Oyen.

It just so happens the owner of the company one morning said, “Well, it looks like we’re going to do some work for one of your wealthy relatives.” It turns out one of my relatives, needing some roofing work done on her home, decided to hire a door to door contractor rather than hire the company that her relative worked for.

Now, you must understand Oyen sits on the bald prairie. Out there, we call a windbreak of bushes a “forest.”Not only that, the darn wind just howls across those bare, fescue-adorned fields.

The reason we were going to repair my relative’s roof is that the company she hired didn’t know or care that Oyen got heavy wind virtually all year. When placing asphalt shingles, they must be tarred down or the wind will rip them off. And since asphalt shingles are nailed together when placed, a strong wind, in a minute or two, can rip half the roof off.

The travelling contractor didn’t tar the shingles. When the next strong wind rose, it ripped half the roof off and dropped them in the yard, near the curb and out in the street. My relative tried to contact the travelling contractor and, I’m told, the contractor, who’d moved on to greener pastures, said “You didn’t tell us to tar, so we didn’t tar. It’s your problem, not mine.”

So my relative called us to fix the problem. My boss let me know that he wasn’t going to cut a deal for my relative. He said she went with the out of town guy, who apparently was “cheaper” than us, he ripped her off, let her pay the price for it now.

The one thing I will say for the out of town guy is that he had some attractive shingles there. We only put on colours like dual brown or dual grey; he placed blue, white and grey shingles that matched the colour of her siding. It’s just too bad that half of them blew off.

We repaired the roof and my relative not only paid for the initial work, she apparently paid through the nose to get the original work repaired. If you think about it, she thought she was saving money, but ended up paying quite a bit more than a roof should have cost.

Live and learn.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.

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