The World Famous "Fence Wizard"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The 50 most visited Fence Companies on the Internet...

The "Wizard 50" is a list of the most visited web sites in the Fence industry. The Fence Wizard has been counting web hits in cyberspace for some time in order to complete the first known Fence Industry traffic list. In doing so we make the following conclusions:
First - It is likely that more than 500,000 prospective fence customers go online each month for product information, company research, and to purchase material from online retailers. Online retailers represent the bulk of the traffic. This is a direct result of the paid advertising they do with google, yahoo, and msn to secure product ads on search engines.
Second - Many of these companies did not exist 1 or 2 years ago - this tells us that online retailing in the fence industry is still growing and new capital is coming in to create some of these companies.
Third - These online retailers are typically competing with Home Depot and Lowe's - meaning that they are pushing inferior product in most cases and often selling products with specs that most of us would refuse to install ....see one of the Fence Wizard's past articles on the subject -click here.

Now without further delay - The "Wizard 50" with traffic totals (these are unique visitors per month as averaged over the past one year)......

Hoover Fence Company (On-line Fence Retail) 51,834

Trex (Composite Fence and Deck Manufacturer) 29,374

Chamberlain (Access Control Systems) 25,870

Invisible Fence (The no fence of fencing) 25,443

Master Halco (National Wholesale Distributer) 23,690

Cali Bamboo (Complete Bamboo Product Line) 23,153

Academy Fence (NY and NJ Resi - Retailer) 21,301

Vinyl Fence and Deck (Bufftech and More) 18,650

Amazing Gates (Gates and Access Control) 18,404

Fence Center (Total Residential Fence Dealer) 17,176

Garden Structure (Plans, Custom Wood) 17,009

King Architectual Metals (Iron Parts and More) 14,336

Kencove (Farm Fence Supply) 12,313

Fence Depot (Residential Fence Sales) 9,839

Long Fence (East Coast full service) 9,308

Husker Vinyl (Westech Vinyl Retail) 8,897

Discount Fence (Resi and Access Control) 8,819

A Vinyl Fence and Deck Wholesaler 8,614

Fence Wholesale (Residential On-line Retail) 8,328

Global Fence and Gate (Iron/Aluminum) 6,850

Austintown Fence Company (Vinyl/Alum.) 5,559

Fence It (Strange link only page) 5,591

Ameristar Fence ( Leader in Metal Fence) 5,116

Better Fences (On-line Residential) 4,732

Artisan Precast (Concrete Wall Stamping) 4,303

Completely Random Links Page 4,072

Pool Fence (Removable Mesh Fence) 3,885

AFA (official site) 3,458

Ametco (Steel Fence and Industrial Products) 2,937

Fiberon (Composite Fence and Deck) 2,670

Pacific Gate Works (Very Custom Gates) 2,501

Buy Vinyl Fence (Complete Vinyl Line) 2,483

Fence City (Delgard Aluminum Fence) 2,303

Vinyl Fence (Residential Vinyl) 2,038

Great Fence (Residential Aluminum) 2,018

Merchants Metals (Complete Wholesale) 1,997

Protect A Child (Removable Mesh Fence) 1,736

Select Fence Distributers (Aluminum Fence) 1,661

Royal Outdoor Prodcuts (Complete Vinyl) 1,585

Outdoor Fence (Complete Residential) 1,579

Privacy Link (Vinyl Slats) 1,561

Bufftech Vinyl (Official Site) 1,498

Apollo (Complete Access Control) 1,480

All Star (Access Control Systems) 1,477

Pro Tarps (Privacy Screen and Solar Shade) 1,425

American Fence Co. (Largest Fence Installers) 1,386

Danielle Fence Mfg.(Florida Full Service) 1,357

Softward Design Specialists (Custom Software) 1,025

Boundary Fence and Railing Systems 984

Collins Company (Custom Screen and Mesh) 931

All Horse Fence (Vinyl Rail and other Equine) 789

Kiwi Fence (High Tensile Fence) 684

Country Estate (Vinyl and Aluminum Wholesale) 608

World Fence News (Key Link to News / Trends) 603

Builders Fence Co (Complete Wholesale House) 456

Originally posted Dec 2007.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

US races to erect controversial steel fence on Mexican border
Aug 5 09:27 AM US/Eastern

Just west of El Paso, near where Spanish conquistador Juan de Onate crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico in 1598, construction crews have completed a steel fence authorities say is a new model for border security.

The five-meter (18-foot) tall fence has a mesh woven so tightly that feet and fingers cannot grab hold, but it still allows people to see through. Steel pylons are set close enough to stop a truck from bursting through, and two meters of reinforced concrete underground deters any tunneling.

The structure is designed to push would-be illegal immigrants and drug smugglers out into the desert where they are more easily caught, said Border Patrol Agent Martin Hernandez.

"Will it completely stop them from coming across? Of course not," Hernandez said. "Rest assured, there will eventually be holes in parts of the wall made by people trying to get in. But it buys us valuable time."

The US Department of Homeland Security is racing to meet a December 31 deadline to raise 670 miles of steel fences and vehicle barriers along the 3,200 kilometer (2,000 mile) long southern border. About half has been completed, including this six kilometer (four mile) segment at New Mexico's Santa Teresa Port of Entry..... (Click here for the rest of the article)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Challenges still ahead for the back half of 2008

Starting with the good news:

Steel, Oil, Coal and other commodities have fallen off their highs. This is the first substantial sign of price deterioration in months. Gas could return to $3.50 a gallon if trends continue and steel products may begin to cheapen in the coming weeks.

Challenges ahead:
It is unclear if commercial credit will survive the scourge of the residential mortgage market and loans have been tightened for corporate borrowers. There will be no additional interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve as monetary policy sits squarely between the battle of raising liquidity and controlling inflation with a stronger dollar.

Listen carefully: The housing market is not about to recover just yet; trends are still getting worse and Freddie Mac's mortgage survey just revealed that bets are now being made on a Fed interest rate hike in the near future....

Mortgage rates spiked this week on inflation fears, with the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate loan soaring more than a quarter percentage point to a national average 6.63%, its highest level in nearly a year. (Click here for more)

For each set of good news it appears we can find an equally bad set of negative news. But this seems to be better than the onslaught of all bad news that we identified months prior.

Capitalism and certainly the construction market are built upon private property and credit. Both have been badly compromised in the short term and both will return to those who can survive the current period.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More pressure added to iron ore prices...

The astounding 65% price hikes reported Tuesday here at the Fence Wizard Blog for new iron ore contracts may not be the last of the short term increase. This signals that 2008 will be the sixth straight year for record high iron ore prices. The key problem for any price relief is that just 3 companies control 75% of the worlds iron ore production and emerging markets continue to pressure supply even as U.S. demand slows. Two of those companies may combine as BHP Billiton has been attempting to takeover Rio Tinto for months.
Q> What does this hike mean for final products such as rolled steel or chain link for final buyers such as fence companies?
A> Most likely a 10% or so bump in finished product costs; some good news is that zinc is about 50% lower than the highs reached in Dec2006-Jan2007.

Rio Tinto, BHP want more than 65% increase for iron ore.
Rio Tinto (RTP) has indicated it is not satisfied with the 65% iron ore price increase negotiated by Vale (RIO) and Posco (PKX). If it doesn't back down, this may be the beginning of the end for iron ore's benchmark system, under which global iron ore prices follow prices set by Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton (BHP), who together produce almost 3/4 of the world's iron ore. Rio contends Asian steel mills are saving money due to its proximity to them, and wants a piece of their savings. There are rumors BHP will also hold out for more.
Rolled Steel Price Chart
Kitco Zinc Chart

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Outlook worsens for 2008 U.S. Construction Recovery

It may have seemed like a slow news day with a couple Presidential Primaries, the Dow Jones Industrial Average down just 10.99, and no updates to be found about Britney Spears. Unfortunately, some frightening data came forward today that will add pressure to Fence Installers and other construction services around the country.

Bad News #1:
Crude oil closes above $100.00 per barrel for the first time ever. Look for more pressure on vinyl pricing and lots more bad news at the pump for the near future
Bad News #2:
US Steel reported today that it has accomplished an astounding 65% price hike in steel settlements. UBS followed the news with an immediate upgrade on the companies stock price. In this case the good news for US Steel is terrible news for those of us who buy it and install it. The paradigm trapping the construction economy is continuing: Extremely high raw material prices combined with consumer credit issues has crippled the residential construction economy and is now threatening commercial building and credit.'s Base Metal Index shows that material prices are rising quickly and may challenge some all time highs in the coming months should trends hold. Here is the 30 day trend chart (click to enlarge):
Bad News #3:
Barack Obama is now completely in control of DNC primary and a 78 to 21 favorite to beat Hillary Clinton for the Nomination according to the best political projector of the moment: Obama now also holds 55.4 to 34.2 lead over John McCain on Intrade's Presidential Election odds page (As of 11PM EST). A President Obama would effect your small business in the following ways:
1. Bush tax cuts will not become permanent and will expire.
2. Capital Gains taxes will rise from the current 15% to 28% or beyond on your investments.
3. Death Tax Law will likely become increasingly confiscatory with the current allowance of 3.5 million most likely reduced. Currently, 22,0000 families are penalized each year - many are family businesses. Large Corporations are not affected and will only gain the additional advantage of buying more small business at give away prices. (More on Obama's tax plan)

All in all Feb 19th, 2008 - A Day to forget - if you can.

Monday, February 18, 2008

How to spend about $400,000.00 in March.

Want to be at the center of the online Fence Universe?
"" goes up for auction on ebay on March 26th, 2008. The reserve is a mere $225,000.00 so make sure your accounts receivables are in order.

If you are more of a bargain shopper you may want to check out "" that will also auction on Ebay 2 days after The reserve for this site is just $95,000.00 (just pocket change really). If you were curious "" already exists; as always just click on the blue words to magically travel to all Fence Wizard Links.

Here is a tip that may save you a fortune: "" still seems to be available. Supply limited to one of course.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Franchise Opportunities in the Fence Industry

Even if you have no interest in expanding your operation - you better know what the competition could be up to. Here is a comprehensive list of Franchise Opportunities in the Fence Industry that you need to know about - Truth be told there is no single full service fence installation franchise in North America:

1. Babygate Pool Fence - Total Investment to Start: $17,000 - $40,000. Find out more.
2. Garden Structure Decking - Total Investment to Start: not listed. Find out more.
3. Guardian Pool Fence - Total Investment to Start: $10,000. Find out more.
4. Deckare Fence and Deck maintenance - Total Investment: not listed. Find out more.
5. Alco Fence Painters - Total Investment: not listed. Find out more.
6. Jim's Fencing (Australia) - Total Investment to Start: not listed. Find out more.
7. AKJ Fencing (Australia)- Total Investment to Start: $25,000. Find out more.
8. Warner Fence (New Zealand) - Total Investment: not listed. Find out more.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Fence Economy on Google Finance

The Fence Wizard recently posted an article "Fence Industry Outlook - What Can the Stock Market Tell Us". The trouble of course continues to be that very little information is available regarding the Fence Industry because the vast majority of Companies in the Industry are Private and therefore need not report profits, estimates, or any other data to the public. The past two weeks on Wall Street have sent a strong signal - Ben Bernanke has to cut rates aggressively to avoid what may be an inevitable recession here in the States - Fed Reserve Comments today suggest that the message is getting through and Cash is on the way.

The Fence Industry has been struggling through a soft residential market with mixed opportunity in the Industrial Arena for 18 months or more in some markets. Google Finance does offer some helpful coverage for large private firms (127 companies to be exact) that are related in some way to the fence industry. Here are a few of the most relevant links from that list - click through to pick up some recent news and company info.

Allied Tube and Conduit
Master Halco

Kroy Building Products
Merchants Metals Holding Company
Oklahoma Steel and Wire Company
Wheatland Tube Company
Certain Teed Corporation.......... (CertainTeed to cut 125 employees by May)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

How to Improve Your Fence Companies Online Presence

With all signs pointing toward a difficult year ahead it has never been more important to get the most marketing for the least amount of money. How about key marketing for free? Here is the World Famous Fence Wizard link list to free online advertising and marketing for your fence company. Remember, the more links coming back to your website and the higher it will rank in search engine results from Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Here is what we recommend:

Fence Industry Sites that you can participate with for free:
1. will give you a free listing and send you free traffic through their national fence company database. You are invited to create an advanced account with them but it is not required.
2. DMOZ - An open Directory Project Website. Basically just a Super List of fence company links that you can submit your company to.

Basic Free Advertising Through Company Directories (Find your base add and improve it for free; most of all make sure you are listed)

Post a free advertisement concerning any service you are offering at: (also - try using it when you need to find a new employee; its free)

Networking Options:
1. Start a Myspace page and throw some pics on - you can do it in about an hour. Here is one company that did just that: Champi Fence
2. Join Facebook - Be an online member of your local community - Network! Network! Network! Join the United Fencers Association Here
3. Go to "Linked" and simply add your personal professional information, company name, and website link. It will take 15 minutes. When someone types your name into Google or Yahoo - your "Linked" information will come up every time.

Fence Discussion Sites that you can participate with, comment on, and leave a link:
1. The World Famous Fence Wizard - leave a comment on any article and link back to your website - Don't forget to sign our guestbook!
2. "Fence Resource" Discussion Page - Become a member for free and dive in!

Help with your website:
Track your traffic and see exactly where your hits come from, with Google Analytics
Find out exactly who is linking back to your website with: Who Links to Me?
Review the First Fence Industry Website Traffic Comparison:"The Wizard 50"

Rainy day reading advice:
Check your company record at The Better Business Bureau (even if you are not a member your company will be listed - you need to know what your customers are reading about you).
How do Google Searches work (how can you rank higher than your competitor who does not read the Fence Wizard Page)???? Click here and take a read!

This free marketing guide has been brought to you by: "Smart Business for Contractors: A Guide to Money and the Law (For Pros, By Pros)" - A Fence Wizard approved resource that you can buy for just $4.48.

Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 - Fence Industry Notices

Some brief notices that may affect your company heading into the new year:

Starting in 2008 - Tax Law Changes

Self-Employment Tax Contribution Base Increases. The maximum amount of self-employment income subject to Social Security taxes will increase, probably to about $102,000 in 2008, up from $97,500 in 2007. (The exact amount was not set at this writing. Check this Web site for updates.) The self-employment tax rate remains 15.3 percent. The full rate applies to the first $102,000 of self-employment income; after that only the 2.9% Medicare tax applies.

Social Security Tax Contribution Base Increases. The maximum amount of wages subject to Social Security tax will increase to about $102,000 in 2008, up from $97,500 in 2007. (The exact amount was not set at this writing. Check this Web site for updates.) The 7.65 percent tax on employers and employees will apply to the first $102,000 or so of wages; after that only the 1.45% Medicare portion of the tax will apply.

Business Standard Mileage Rate Rises. The standard business mileage rate will increase for miles driven in 2008 for business, up from 48.5 cents per mile in 2007. (The exact 2008 rate was not set at this writing. Check this Web site for updates.) Remember that you can deduct the cost of parking and tolls in addition to the mileage allowance.

Fence Wizard Update on this item:

IRS Announces 2008 Standard Mileage Rates; Rate for Business Miles Set at 50.5 Cents per Mile

Tax-free Parking for Employees. Starting in 2008, firms can pay for $220 a month of parking tax free for employees, up $5 per month from 2007. The cap on tax-free transit passes rises to $115 a month, up $5 a month from 2007.

Increased Section 179 Expense Deduction. The maximum amount of equipment placed in service in 2007 that businesses can expense increases to $128,000, a $3,000 increase from 2007. The annual investment limit increases to $510,000 for 2008, up from $500,000 the year before. Thus, you won't begin to lose the benefit of expensing until you place more than $510,000 of assets in service in 2008.

IRS 2008 Benefit Plan Limits Announced (feed courtesy of Strategic HR Lawyer)

The IRS recently announced benefit plan limits for 2008. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Maximum 401(k) Contributions - $15,500
  • Maximum Compensation Limit - $230,000
  • Highly Compensated Employees - $105,000
  • Annual Contribution Limit for Defined Contribution Plans - $46,000
  • Annual Benefit Limit for Defined Benefit Plans - $185,000
  • Age 50 and Older Catch-Up Contributions (for other than SIMPLE Plans) - $5,000
  • Annual Contribution Limit for 457 Plans - $15,500
CA Law will take away hand held cell phones and all phones from CA teenage drivers July 1st

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fleet Decisions: Gas vs. Diesel.

Often times we fall into the trap of thinking that overhead costs are generally the same for everyone and there is not all that much we can do about it. An average company can get away with that mentality; a great company scraps and claws for every possible cost advantage over their competitors. In a slow Fence Market - cutting costs and buying smart has never been more important for your bottom line. If you are in position to add or replace a truck in your fleet - we hope this diesel vs. gas comparison will help.

Numerous considerations must go into your decision. You have to worry about insulting the local Chevy dealer if you buy a Ford; will Jim (your best foreman) get mad that his truck is now the second newest because Franks 76' International is the truck your replacing and not his. Will your wife complain that you are spending 50K on a new "work" truck while she is still driving the Volvo that she has managed to dent on all four corners, top, and bottom. We can't calculate those items mathematically; we can estimate the cost per mile of a new truck. Your cost per mile vs. your evil competitor is all that matters here.
We all know that Diesel has outpaced the price of gas per gallon for some time now. Lets briefly review the past three years:
As you can see Diesel is projected to stay higher in 2008 but the cost gap is narrowing. The Fence Wizard Calculator says that Gas was running 5.5% cheaper than diesel in 2005 but that number is expected to narrow to 3.1% in 2008. Those who already own diesel trucks know that paying a small premium for fuel is well worth it - lets briefly review why that is the case:
Diesel trucks get much better mileage when comparing gas trucks with equivalent power (if you can find one). Overall Diesel maintenance costs are cheaper despite higher costs for oil changes; lets skip to the chase - Fleet Central has performed an exhaustive fleet review cost comparison for "Medium Duty" trucks. We will not bother re-inventing the wheel so here it is:
If you are not familiar with the depreciation line item ask your accountant if and how he or she is depreciating your rolling stock and read this depreciation guide.
Ready to go Diesel?
Popular Mechanics just completed a three-way comparison of light duty diesel pickups in their December 2007 issue (Fence Wizard readers may access the article and the video free of charge). They gave the trophy to the Chevy Duramax (fastest 1/4 mile and the best fuel economy of the bunch).The fact is that running 20 year old trucks will keep your cost per mile high - you have to ask yourself how much does one transmission failure 40 miles from town actually cost you? If your ready to upgrade - the Wizard recommends that you think Diesel.

Energy Information Agency
Get Popular Mechanics for just $1.00 per issue with this special Fence Wizard Link

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fence Domains; Good Luck......

The internet has been scoured and picked clean by people with no jobs. They have systematically taken and reserved nearly every possible domain name that you might find useful. If you have an interest in buying a useful domain name in the Fence Industry - here is what we found on
By the way "" is for sale but we have not found the information or sale price yet.

Domain Price $200.00 $295.00 $500.00 $500.00 $688.00 $750.00 $999.00 $1,000.00 $1,388.00 $1,688.00 $1,800.00

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Wizardly Billing Tool....

Doing one of your first Public Works Projects? Have a big Residential job that you need a to send a professional looking progress billing on?

The Wizard has a free tool for you. Call it an early Xmas present. We have developed an Excel file that you can use to professionally bill for partial payments. All you have to do is figure out what percentage of work you have done and punch in the numbers. The rest of the headache of redundant math and percentage calculations will be done automatically for you. This file will also calculate the retention (you choose between 5% or 10% retention). Most General Contractors require a similar format - they should accept this (and they will be impressed with the automatic template). The only problem is that Google Blogger does not allow us to upload the file to this site. So if you want the excel file template just send an email to: (Type "Request Excel" in the subject) and we will forward the file to you. You obviously need to already have Microsoft Excel to run this file.

Here is what the template looks like, you can enter in your own item list in the "B" Column - I entered in some example descriptions and values. (click on it to view a larger image):

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The "John 3.16" of your large fence project management.

This post will likely be the most important information that you will ever read here at the Fence Wizard Blog. We say that because if you follow this advice carefully you can avoid being trapped in a position that can unfairly cost you thousands of dollars as a prime contractor or a subcontractor. The Topic: "Organizing and maintaining Correspondence". Have no idea what I'm referring to? That's OK - your in the vast majority group of people who are not attorneys - surely a good thing.

First off this post is specifically a guide for how to manage information from the moment you meet a customer until final payment is received. We are not tackling contracts, profit markup's, bidding, or any type of selling are thinking: "What else is there?".

Now - follow this line of thinking: Once you sign a contract with a customer, general contractor, or any entity whatsoever; you are entering a "Legal Agreement". MOST customers will attempt to breach this contract by encouraging you to do work beyond the explicit agreement without compensation. Your goal as a "FOR PROFIT" business is to avoid providing free services at every possible opportunity!

You are reading more carefully now because you are now thinking of the last customer who did this to you - and it may well have been within the past week. Do not get into the truck ever again ready to kill somebody because you just caved in and agreed to provide extra work for a customer who is breaching what you thought was a clear contract for work. All of us have 10,000 of these stories so I wont write the full book here. Every contractor knows this problem; how do you keep yourself out of the work for nothing change order game?

Start Here. From the moment you meet a customer (by phone or in person) begin keeping detailed notes about everything the customer says. Even if they are using incorrect product language or descriptions WRITE IT DOWN and KEEP YOUR NOTES ! It is amazing how many customers will refer to the first or second phone call that you had with them and claim that they had implied for you to include a particular item in your bid (how could they possibly know that you forgot that conversation and did not include the diamond encrusted strike latch (dipped in liquid platinum). Well, the fact is they probably never mentioned the latch - but since you can't remember all 2,000 phone calls this week and you have no method to prove them wrong - you now have to give away the diamond encrusted latch and how on earth will you melt the platinum. While you must begin with good notes, you must take the time to reasonably list all important items and spec descriptions on your work proposal or contract. If your proposal is detailed and never mentions the special latch , then you have ground to stand on. If your proposal and contract never mention any product details - then it can't be assumed that you included or excluded the special latch. Please allow the latch example to be synonimous with (Part 203 F of the 300 page job book that you priced to the school district) or (Option 13 to the Army Core of Engineers that included adding six gate operators but deleting 1800' of a Concrete Retaining Wall previously listed in Option 7A and 7B.

Ok - so first we must keep good "Phone Notes" from day one; second a detailed work proposal or contract. Now the job starts; this means that unexpected events will occur - but before they do you are going to begin keeping a "Daily Project Log". Contractors who win lawsuits brought against them often have just one piece of relevant evidence: THE DAILY PROJECT LOGBOOK. Why? Because a Daily log is the only method you have for proving job site conditions, scheduled events, peculiar things, the light rainfall on Tuesday, your workers hours on site, and any other acts of God that can and will occur. Often small miscellaneous inputs in a logbook will trigger the memory of other things that happened 18 work days ago when the landscaping company was trenching along your posts holes (now a telephone cable is out and you are tagged with a bill for repair). There are millions of reasons to keep project logs; as a rule of thumb for small and mid size fence companies - utilize them for every public works project and every job that will account for 3% or more of your estimated yearly gross income. The format is not crucial but you need to include: the date, weather conditions, scheduled events for the day, worker list with time in and time out, safety meetings and sign ins, and the rest and often the majority should be for miscellaneous notes such as "Dave, the assistant manager, asked for workers to park on street instead of the parking lot for the duration of the project". (Knowing the exact day you were asked to do this could be important - hopefully it is not).

The Project Logs are essential but here is another tip that will not eat up any of your time or your foreman's time: Ask your customer to email you all questions or requests. I know you have email or you would not be reading this. Email is best automatic correspondence device. It marks the exact time and is an exact quote of whatever your customer wants or wants to know about. Email is the contractors best friend and it can bail you out of major disagreements if you can force your customers to use it. The fact is that when you get a cell phone call while you are trying to load a bobcat you are going to forget a certain percentage of the conversation. Very simply ask the caller to shoot you an email because you can't write the message down at the moment. This is the best habit you can get in; avoid blindly discussing project details when you are ill prepared to do so; the customer has the advantage in those scenarios because they prepared prior to calling you. Remember , whatever you say will be held against you when the customer is looking for free add on.

When you follow those basic steps you will have important reference tools for an argument, should one occur. The reality is that doing these things avoids arguments and misunderstandings. There is still the question of how to handle a customer that has a passive aggressive technique of pushing you into a bad position. You have to be tough and calm in these situations - a fight with the customer will never help you finish the job or get paid - never. If you can, avoid making any decisions at the moment a customer corners you. The reality is that a customer can and will develop a strategy to confront you on something you have not thought about and had no intention of providing. Being caught off guard often causes us to simply give in to requests because we feel nervous or unprepared. Listen to all requests, if you do not feel comfortable explaining any answers - then reply: "please let me review my notes and I will call you from the office" or "its a good question, let me review it with the boss and find out".
(SIDENOTE: Its always to your benefit to have a secret evil boss). If you can buy yourself some time you can make a better decision about throwing in the strike latch or presenting your customer with evidence that they chose the fork latch and what the change order amount would be "to add that item to the project". The reality is that sometimes you must throw something in to close out a job. When you provide anything beyond your agreement but decide not to charge for it- send your customer an invoice with the description of the extra work, the fair value price, and then credit the account for a reason such as "good customer discount". It is vital that the customer see what the value of the "free" service was. This encourages them to not actually think its free - reasonable people do not expect free things; they just want a good deal.

Again, unexpected events will occur on every job site and you must protect your company. We know this will happen - when it does:RELAX and do not take personal blame for not having Wizardly foresight. Use your notes and collection of correspondence to prove yourself right; you deserve to be paid for extra work. But are your employees doing extra work without you knowing??? Stay tuned to the Wizard, that article is coming soon.

For a far more detailed experience on the topic The Fence Wizard recommends these books:
Contractor's Guide to Change Orders
Construction Daily Project Log for Construction & Maintenance

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Fence Industry outlook - what can the stock market tell us?

We have all been affected by the construction slowdown - especially those who are focused on residential work. When will it come back? How can we forecast 2008 and beyond. Well, no single person or indicator could do that alone. However, "The World Famous Fence Wizard" is here to guide the Fence Universe and that is what shall be done.

Lets give Wall Street a chance to help. The Wizard has developed the following fund (first of its kind) of publicly traded companies that are directly related to fence material, raw product, and the Construction Industry. The idea is to evaluate a group of companies and stocks to get an idea of what Wall Street is betting on going forward. The difficulty is that there are very few publicly traded companies that focus on the fence industry. The test fund is diversified but the focus is on companies with a strong American presence; this is not an international gauge at this time. When it comes to materials such as raw steel, zinc or timber we must remember that such markets are without doubt related to the world economy, if zinc prices are up worldwide then zinc stocks will rise even if domestic demand is weak. Also - high raw material prices often indicate a strong market but we must recognize they directly hurt end users like Fence Installers who have to pay more for product. So if world demand for zinc is high - Joe Blow's Chain Link Fence Company will pay the high demand price regardless of the strength of demand in his market . Without further ado here are the fund selections, split into three groups:

1. Residential Related industries
TWP (Trex, the largest composite fence and deck manufacturer).
HD (Home Depot - we must included the giant in building product retail).
(This is an index fund of U.S homebuilders...... new homes = new fences).
(Westlake Chemical Principal is a leader in manufactured vinyl products including fence).

1year chart for this group: down 45% combined

3 month chart for this group: Down 32.25% combined
Conclusions - as expected, residential related industry has been hit very hard, the worst of our 3 subgroups, the sub prime fiasco seems to have pushed these stocks down further, the 3 month drop is substantial.

2. Commercial and Industrial Related Industries
ZRBA (Zareba Systems, Inc. is the world's leading manufacturer of electronic perimeter fence and security systems for animal and access control).
(Granite Construction Co. is a regular play for those betting on increased spending on public works and building projects throughout the country)
(Dow Jones Heavy Construction Fund - we all know that security and fence follow these projects at regular if not increasing rate)

1year chart for this group: Up 19.33% combined

3 month chart for this group: Down 14.66% combined
Conclusions: Stronger then the residential indicators because it is not dependent on the rise and fall of new homes and less dependent on consumer spending and credit worthiness. The Government will keep spending on public works -that helps holds heavy construction spending closer to constant.

3. Raw material / mining, lumber, chemical, steel etc.- again international demand affects this group and it relates to all types of end users. Did you know copper prices affect the cost of pressure treated wood posts?

VMC (Vulcan Materials;concrete and aggregate products).
(Dow Jones US Forestry Index covers all the major lumber yards and mills).

DJ_1770 (This global mining index includes holdings in all the big names).
(Dow Jones U.S. Steel Index)

1year chart for this group: Up 15.5% combined

3 month chart for this group: Up 8.5% combined

Conclusion: this group has gathered significant profit from worldwide demand for material, strength in these stocks, especially mining, will actually create a burden for domestic construction to recover as foreign demand drives up pricing. Another issue - the weak dollar makes it more and more expensive for American business to buy anything on the world market. For example - if a vinyl manufacturer is buying chemicals and oil derivatives it will cost more in dollars as our currency remains weak. Conversely, If you are drilling for crude in Texas you are benefiting greatly from a weak dollar that is helping to push up the price of oil. World markets are affecting your local company, it is important to understand why.

The Wizard Fence Fund Indicator totals:
All groups combined past 1 year: Down 3.4%
All groups combined past 3 months: Down 3.1%
This suggests that the forward thinking is very negative. We need to see the past 3 months beat the 52 week trend and turn positive in order to conclude any positive outlook is occuring on Wall St. Most of the weakness remains in residential building - this wont change much in 2008 and will likely get worse. Lets check back on this in 3 months and see if we can locate any improvement.

Here is a tip - try to avoid investing in any of stocks or etf's that i listed in the first two categories. In fact, you would want to do the opposite - short those groups (bet against them). As a member of the fence industry and the overall construction industry you already have significant risk and reward already built in to everything on the list. To be diversified, you need to invest in other industry. Remember all of the workers at Enron who had all of their savings in Enron stock..... bad idea. You could take a small stake in the "raw material" group - this would help "Hedge" your company against rising material costs in the same way that Airlines invest in crude oil futures. You too would want to have some investment in energy, this would help to "Hedge" your bottom line against things that hurt your company like higher fuel prices and electric bills. If stock in Exxon Mobile drops - don't worry too much, your probably paying less on fuel for the company fleet. Please remember - these are very basic concepts to consider and not right for everyone.

Related Articles of interest:
World Fence News Contributer Jim Lucci describes the tight rope for the fence industry.
Jp Morgan Analyst predicts Lumber Markets have reached bottom.
Matt McCall, president of Penn Financial Group says its time to look at investing in homebuilders.
World Fence News Staff Aritcle "December Field Report"

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fencetech 2008 etc.......

FEB 5-7: Fencetech will be at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV. Click here for AFA's website information and schedule. Still no indication if the Fence industry will take a larger role in the installation of pipe for pole dancing, apparently most show goers spend significant time analyzing structural stability of such "posts" from a 10' - 20' distance.

For those on the east coast you can see most of of the big names the following week at......
FEB 13-16: The 2008 International Builders Show will be in Orlando, FL - Tickets will set you back $100.00 so don't bother taking the kids. To see the complete list of fence manufactures and distributors that will have booths click here.
Also - for a quick look at the ISB show featured products click here.

For a huge list of construction related Trade Shows, locations, and dates try: The Biztradeshow list is not complete to be sure - it does not have either show I described above.
World Fence News Puts Out This Event List As Well.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

United Fencers Network Established on Facebook...

The United Fencers Network or UFN has recently been established on facebook. Facebook allows groups of the same ilk to converse, meet, and discuss common interests. The UFN will be focused on concepts and concerns that suppliers and installers are currently dealing with. The advantage of using Facebook for this enterprise allows free access to all who join, access to industry news, and instant communication with other companies, suppliers, and even customers that are literally around the world.

When you have a minute or two - stop by - sign up - and look for the United Fencers Network (UFN). It's easier than running a 20' stringline and hopefully it will keep us all in line. Our consumers are online now - lets get back ahead of the game, get informed and connected. Let me make it easier::::
Here is a shortcut - follow the linkbelow:

Everyone can join Facebook free and easy. To register, go to:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Historic Fence photos......

The Fence Wizard will be posting historic pictures of installation and equipment in December. Send the Wizard a historic pic from your companies past with a full description. Lets not forget where we all came from just a short time ago.

Send your pics to:

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