Category Archives: News and Updates

It’s Always ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ as Residential Service Supervisor

By Casey Veersma | Town & Country Group

Before I can hit the brew button on the coffee pot, my dogs are at the door, waiting to be let out.

Casey Veersma, Town & Country Group Director of Administration/Safety and Residential Supervisor

Casey Veersma

It’s 5 a.m. — early enough to get a jump-start on the day and still make enough time to have a cup of coffee and watch the news with my beautiful wife, Jen, before starting my day as Town & Country Group’s Residential Supervisor and Safety Director.

I get in my truck and have the music blaring. As I pull into Town & Country Group, I’m jamming to The Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane.”

It’s 6:45 a.m. Even before our office opens at 7 a.m., the place is already buzzing, as our journeymen, apprentices and technicians come in to load their trucks with the tools and materials they will need for the day.

My team — the residential team — consists of talented and versatile electricians.

Their strong work ethic and passion for exceptional customer service are just a couple of the reasons I love working with them.

I gather them together for a quick pre-construction meeting to discuss each person’s assignment for the day. Cody, Bryce and I review the blueprints for a new home they will begin wiring today. I answer any questions the team has and, as I do every morning, remind them of PPE and COVID-19 regulations: Never enter a home without a mask, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer and clean your tools between each use.

After the team has left, I head to my desk to review the 9 service tickets for appointments we have scheduled for the week. The number will grow as the week goes on.

I check through voicemails and emails, but before I can finish, the phone rings.

“Town & Country Group, this is Casey. How may I help you?”

On the other end is a man who says he is calling on behalf of his mother, who doesn’t speak English. She needs someone to look at her electric water heater. Town & Country Group team members pride themselves on quick response times to service calls — my personal record is 5 minutes from hangup to door knock — but this job is a bit further out from the shop.

“Give me 30 minutes,” I tell him.

“Life in the fast lane…”

Equipped with my gloves, safety glasses and mask, I meet the caller and his mother. They welcome me inside and lead me to the water heater. The mother hadn’t had hot water in a week, and a plumber told her the problem was electrical related, which is why they called Town & Country Group.

When customers have an emergency-type need, it’s my job to ensure they are taken care of right away, in addition to my day-to-day operations. I have to remain flexible and be ready to spring into action.

I soon identify a faulty and unsafe connection in the electrical panel. I re-wire it correctly and re-terminate the hot water heater and tighten all of the connections in the electrical panel to prevent future power interruptions.

I’m wrapping up at the job, and my phone rings again. It’s Cody. He and Bryce need some unexpected miscellaneous parts brought to their project in Grand Rapids.

Before leaving the customer’s house, I answer any questions I can and head back to Zeeland.

I make good use of the 30-minute drive by returning a call to a customer requesting an estimate. He is having a hot tub installed and needs power run to the back porch. He is available for me to meet him later today.

Within seconds of hanging up, the phone rings again. It’s a builder we’re teaming with on the new construction of a 3,200-square-foot home.

“We have some additional items to add to the house that I’d like pricing for so we can get it written into the contract,” he says, and he needs it by the end of the day.

Add it to the list.

“Life in the fast lane, everything all the time.”

I hum the chorus as I load my truck with materials for my team and take a quick second to check my voicemails and emails.

Then, it’s back on the road.

On my way to Grand Rapids, I return a call to a homeowner in Saugatuck requesting a quote for a generator installation — booked for 12:30 p.m.

I meet Cody and Bryce at 10:20 a.m. We do a quick project walk-through to ensure: 1. All safety standards are being followed; and 2. The team has no questions regarding the project, electrical layout and schedule.

I glance down at my watch — it’s 11:35 a.m. — and I realize it’s time for my next client stop in Saugatuck.

The client needs a circuit for his hot tub and also needs a generator installed. While touring the house, which was built in the 1950s, I quickly troubleshoot and repair an existing circuit that was not working. I reconfigure wiring in the lower level of the house so an exterior outlet no longer is controlled by the same switch that also controls the basement lights. I love old houses! I tell him I will finish the estimate and email it to him.

I return to the office in the afternoon and complete an estimate for a customer I met yesterday. She’s looking to remodel her kitchen, bathroom, master suite and second floor. Then, I revise the previous estimate I was working on earlier, where the builder called with a request for extra accommodations. I know he’s working on a tight timeline, as his clients want to be in their house as soon as possible.

I won’t let electrical work be the cause for a delay.

Before the end of the day, I have check-ins at multiple active job sites, I meet a customer at his home to look at upgrading his electrical panel to accommodate an electric car charger, I help plan tomorrow’s safety meeting, work on next week’s schedule and check today’s time cards.

“Life in the fast lane…”

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Protect Yourself and Your Home With GFCI Outlets

At Town & Country Group, safety is Priority #1, especially when it comes to electricity. Moisture around power outlets can cause electric shock and serious damage. Protect yourself and your home by using Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets.

A GFCI outlet shuts off electrical power when an imbalance in the electrical current is detected. GFCI outlets are required to be installed in wet locations, on the exterior of your home, and in various other locations. 

Test GFCI outlets each month to ensure they are working properly. To test, press the TEST button. This will cause a fault and turn off electrical power going to this outlet. Then, the RESET button should pop out. Pressing the RESET button will restore power. If either of these buttons doesn’t work properly, have a licensed Town & Country Group electrician install a new GFCI outlet promptly.  

Point-To-Point Wireless Technology Solutions Can Result in Faster Wi-Fi at Lower Costs

Many businesses deliver themselves from the monthly costs and hassles of relying on the internet to keep a network connection to their other nearby facilities. They are using a better solution that saves time and money while giving them better connection speeds.

Town & Country Group provided electrical and technology services for Ottawa Beach Marina.

Point-To-Point wireless technology (PTP or P2P) has improved, so businesses now have a reliable, secure and cost-effective way to connect to multiple sites without sacrificing bandwidth. And we’re not just talking about connecting to the warehouse across the street, modern PTP antennas can connect buildings dozens of miles apart. PTP can also be used as a redundant link in cases where a business already has an Optical Fiber link to other locations.

There are three basic types of PTP: Regular PTP, Point-To-Multi-Point (PTM) and Point-To-Point Wireless Mesh.

Regular PTP is, as it suggests, a link from one point to another. PTP is deployed when a clear line of sight exists between the locations. Typically, this is used in the “warehouse across the street” scenario. 

Each boat slip at Ottawa Beach Marina offers free Wi-Fi, thanks to a Point-to-Point solution.

PTM connects multiple locations regardless of whether a line of sight exists. A PTM application works well for clients that have multiple locations in an area, such as a school district. 

PTP Wireless Mesh provides a point-to-point connection and also provides a WiFi access point at a remote location. Town & Country Group recently used a Mesh Network solution at a boat marina. It allowed us to cover a wide area with WiFi without having to run back-bone cabling to each wireless device.

Installing a PTP network saves time and money and, if properly deployed, can be secure and dependable. By its very nature, a PTP network is easily manageable and expandable. 

Some circumstances may need to be taken into consideration before just going out and buying a couple of antennas. For instance, being located in an urban or industrial area might hinder the wireless signal. There might be other things to consider, such as frequency selection, distance and environmental interference. This is why it is important to choose a qualified professional who can perform a site survey to identify potential hazards and has the tools, testing equipment and resources to do a proper and safe install. 

To learn more about the benefits of Point-to-Point Wireless Access, call Town & Country Group at 616-772-6746.

Town & Country Group named one of Michigan’s 50 Companies to Watch

Town & Country Group is proud to be recognized as a 2020 recipient of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch award, presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Businesses.  

Town & Country Group serves industrial and commercial clients in various industries, including multi-family housing, K-12 education, higher education, worship and municipal, as well as residential. Town & Country Group is highly regarded as an expert in these fields, as we continually research and implement new trends, technologies, innovations, efficiencies, processes, and resources. Ken Bing established the company in 1983 based on four core values: Commitment to Quality, Customer Satisfaction, Unimpeachable Integrity, and Service Second to None.

“We’re proud to be recognized for this award,” Ken Bing said. “While we are a small company, we provide excellent service to help some of Michigan’s largest companies. In fact, many of these top clients only work with Town & Country Group, as we have essentially become an extension of their facilities and engineering departments.” 

“This is the result of our goal to hire people who live out our core values and by continually investing in their skill sets and knowledge.” 

 This year’s Michigan 50 Companies to Watch have made a substantial economic impact, totaling $365 million in total annual revenue for 2019. From 2016 through 2019, these companies generated $1 billion in revenue and added 723 employees (both in Michigan and out of state), reflecting a 101.9% increase in revenue and 93.8% increase in jobs for the four-year period. That translates into a 26.9% annual revenue growth and 24.8% annual growth in employees.

 “Michigan’s small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economies and play a vital role in making our communities attractive places to live, work, visit and play,” said Josh Hundt, Chief Business Development Officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “As the state continues to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak, we are honored to recognize and celebrate these small businesses, which demonstrate the resilience, innovation and grit that sets Michigan apart.”

Judges from economic and entrepreneurship development organizations selected the 2020  winners. The judges evaluated the nominees’ demonstration of intent and capacity to grow based on the following: 

  •       Employee or sales growth
  •       Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership
  •       Sustainable competitive advantage
  •       Other notable factors that showcase the company’s success

 Michigan Celebrates received 575 nominations for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch award, which surpassed last year’s record of 425 nominations. In addition to a competitive landscape for this award, the businesses who are selected by the judges go through a rigorous due diligence process prior to the final decision.

GVSU Performing Arts Center project receives Electrical award

Town & Country Group is very pleased to be the recipient of the award for Electrical installation at the Associated Builders and Contractors, Western Michigan Chapter Excellence in Construction Awards. We are very proud of our TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) and we’re very happy for the Construction Manager Pioneer Construction and Grand Valley State University as well.

Grand Valley Performing Arts Center

Read more about the awards and other recipients here:
https://mibiz.com/item/26117-abc-west-michigan-announces-excellence-in-construction-award-winners

Skyscrapers Powered by Solar-Power Windows Are Coming Soon

In just a few short years, our buildings and skyscrapers could be powered by solar-power windows, and a local Michigan State professor is leading the charge. Richard Lunt, a professor of chemical engineering and material science, is working with a team to develop clear glass solar panels that can convert energy from the sun into energy that can be used to power a building.

The solar panels we have now are not translucent, and they must be placed on the rooftops of buildings so they can be exposed to the sun. But Professor Lunt realized that the vertical surface area of a building, especially a tall skyscraper, is much larger than the horizontal surface area of its rooftop. He determined that if he could turn these larger vertical areas into solar harvesting surfaces, it could really make a huge impact.

Professor Lunt and his team have already created transparent glass solar panels that are successfully gathering light and converting it into electricity. When installed on a building, you won’t be able to notice any difference between a regular window and these solar windows. These clean energy producing windows can be retrofitted onto existing buildings, and they don’t have to be installed when a building is being constructed. This is some very exciting technology that is right around the corner!