How to Cheat your Customers and They Probably Won’t Ever Know…until it’s too late!

I was down in LA earlier this week. I stopped by a sheet metal shop where I buy my flashings from. As I was waiting for my order, I saw a big forklift truck hauling in galvanized expanded metal lath, a part of many decking systems base. I asked the owner how much he was selling lath for, around here in SLO town, it’s selling for around $7.58 at Home Depot and the local ACE store sells it for around $6.99 a sheet.

So when he said $5.75, I was like wow, I want some…and then he said “That’s a 1.75# lath. I went wait a minute, I want 2.5, that’s what is required by the manufacturer’s! It doesn’t sell said my metal merchant. In fact, most of the decking guys are now buying 28 guage flashing instead of 26 gauge. The higher the number, the thinner the metal. 26 gauge is the minimum required in the code and by manufacturer’s.

So genius that he is, the Deck Expert began thinking about this…I keep hearing some really low bids for metal lath systems-$4.00 per square foot on one job that had a 100k square feet.

And it hit me…this is the ultimate cheat; first save material costs by buying cheaper flashing. Save 25 cents per lineal foot, multiply by 8000 lineal feet, save $2,000 in costs over 26 gauage.
Save more in materials by buying 1.75# lath instead of 2.5# lath. Save $1.25 per sheet, multiply by 5,555 sheets to cover 100k in area. That equals $6,944.00 less in costs over the required lath.

So far I’ve saved 9k in material costs by cheating, and I’m not done yet…now, factor in how far a bag of cement goes into lath. A 50# bag goes apx 25-30 square feet into 2.5# metal lath. But I’m using 1.75# lath cause I’m cheating you…now how far does a bag go into a thinner material? Maybe 45 square feet of 50 square feet? I’m getting 25% more coverage out of a bag. Now before I pay $13.00-18.00 per bag at Mer-Kote or Pli-Dek or any legit manufacturer, I head down to Jet Coatings in LA, where I buy a bag for $10.00. Savings = $3.00 to $8.00 per bag, plus I get 25% further coverage. On a 100k square feet, what’s that add up to? $25,000 in savings? Maybe even $40,000 in savings.

But I’m not done cheating you yet. Most systems require fiberglass and resin over the base coat. So I pay basically full costs for that, fiberglass is about the same everywhere…but resin is another story. Some resins out there are crap and sell cheap. Save $ by buying crap resin at $8.00 per gallon rather than good stuff at $13.00. What do I need for a 100k square feet? 700 gallons? So I saved $3500 by buying crap resin. But I’m not done cheating you yet!

We are supposed to put a screed coat over the glass/resin to protect it. But instead I skip this step, opting instead to just spray texture over the glass and paint it with one coat of sealer. You are supposed to get 2 coats but, remember I’m cheating you…
So skipping the screed coat just saved me probably $8,000 in materials plus labor savings, and by giving you one coat instead of 2 I save more. By buying sealer from Jet Coatings instead of a manufacturer like Hill Brothers or Enduro-Kote, I save $30.00 per five gallon bucket. At 500 buckets to cover this job, I saved $15,000 off my materials bill.

By cheating, I just saved $60,000 in materials. But I’m not done cheating you yet! All the labor I saved by skipping steps, what does that add up to? Another $50 or 100K?

The plans called out for a one hour/class a coating probably. Well I cheated you out of that too! I put down a system that is not evaluated or recognized by any entity such as ICC-ES or the LA County Fire Department.

Now is this happening? Probably…and you won’t detect it unless you are very dilgent.

Its a big bad world out there and despereate people do desperate things. The construction industry is very hungry right now and we need jobs to keep the business afloat…and some of us might do whatever it takes, including cheating…

Readers, any comments?