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Doorway Bollards Can Help You Save Time and Money

Can you remember the last time you saw a bollard? If you live in an urban area, chances are you pass dozens of these small vertical posts every day. Bollards are primarily used to direct pedestrian and vehicle traffic by establishing hard parameters around a property. If your house or business has a doorway entrance near a road or parking lot, you can ensure the safety of pedestrians by installing a bollard just outside of the doorway.

Bollards come in a variety of shapes, sizes and construction materials. One of the most common building materials for doorway bollards is polyethylene. This material is incredibly tough and has significant shock-absorbing qualities. Other common bollard materials include metal, concrete and stainless steel, all of which are mounted in concrete. Since most doorway bollards are used to deter vehicles, they are typically just high enough to reach the hood of most types of cars. Although most bollards come in a standard cylindrical variety, you can also install decorative bollards with embellishments and other aesthetic elements.

Bollards offer two basic benefits for doorway protection. First, they prevent vehicles and other motorized vehicles – such as golf carts – from colliding with the outside of your doors. Additionally, placing a bollard in front of your door can act as a door stop to prevent damage caused from overextension. Bollards placed between doors can also help direct pedestrian traffic in and out of your building. For best results, install at least two doorway bollards to protect each of your doors from the outside.

Bollards are also useful for reducing damage to walls and other outdoor structures. This is particularly true in cases where parking areas are located next to your building. Without bollards, SUVs and trucks can accidentally back into your building, causing damage that requires expensive repairs. When using bollards to protect an outside wall, establish intervals along the perimeter of your building and place a bollard every four to six feet.

Outdoor structures such as sheds, ticket booths and gates can also be protected by placing bollards around the outside parameter. Bollards can also be used to protect interior walls in warehouses and other areas from heavy machinery. For reliable indoor installations, you must have a concrete floor.

Bollards may be useful and practical, but they aren’t always attractive. One way to increase the aesthetic value of your bollard is to purchase a bollard cover made of plastic or concrete. These covers can offer the additional benefit of having reflective surfaces, increasing visibility during the day and at night. You can also paint your bollard as desired to help it either stand out or blend into the color of your building. Another way to get the most out of your bollard is install with a button device that automatically opens your doors. This allows you to reap the benefits of doorway protection, while increasing the accessibility of your business to handicapped patrons.

The I-35 Bridge Collapse And a Bit of Reality

Anyone viewing pictures of the recent Minneapolis area bridge collapse on I-35 was saddened, stunned, and probably given pause to reflect on their own daily travels. It could happen to me! My family! Here in my town! How could this happen in 21st century America? Who is to blame? There is always somebody to blame, isn’t there?

These are but a few of the comments and perspectives I have seen and heard since the tragic collapse. The immediate response from the ruling and media class was to call for more money to be invested in infrastructure. Always more money, the starving government is continually on a penurious diet forced upon them by stingy taxpayers. Give me a break.

Last night I viewed a documentary television program on the building of the Great Northern Railroad. The line was envisioned, built and funded by James J. Hill. Mr. Hill used private funds solely to construct the 1700 miles of track, bridges, stations and spur lines that became The Great Northern railroad. He was not a distant tycoon, managing the business operation from afar. Mr. Hill spent almost everyday in the field actually supervising the construction of the massive project.

The Great Northern was an engineering marvel. It was the northernmost of the main east/west lines built after the Civil War and was key to developing and populating the northern tier of the United States. The line was an engineering marvel, built through a vast wilderness and traversing the treacherous Rocky Mountains. Work was principally done by hand with dynamite and nitro-glycerine used as blasting agents. A key stretch of 670 miles of track and infrastructure was laid during a 15-month period alone.

Contrast this with public works projects we all view daily as we weave along our neighborhood streets and highways. Orange barrels line miles of highway, on each side, restricting traffic flow, and on many, many days, not a bulldozer, asphalt truck or workman is in sight. Jobs remain unfinished for many years. Mean while, usually in near proximity to this inactivity, we can watch whole subdivisions constructed, shopping venues go up and private property developed with speed, craftsmanship, on time (or early) and on (or under) budget.

Why the obvious disparity in work rate, productivity, and quite simply, bang for the buck that we view in private versus public development. My observation relies on the old saw; “it’s other peoples money”.

Jim Hill had his own money at risk in order to build the Great Northern railroad, get it operational and commence generating revenue and profit. Public projects face no such pressure. They are built with taxpayer, “other peoples money”. These projects seem abstract, faceless, and bureaucratic. The taxpayer has been numbed to the inefficiencies of government at all levels and has come to tolerate a significant amount of incompetence. This incompetence they would never tolerate in their private commercial dealings.

State and Federal Highway funds are generated each time we buy a gallon of gas, buy a license and buy a vehicle. Trucks pay heavy levies to use public right of ways. Billions of dollars are available each year. In addition Congress and State Legislatures pass highway bills and earmark funds for special and pet projects. And yet, when a bridge collapses, the first chirp we hear is a call for more tax payer monies.

Incompetence, bureaucracy, layers of red tape, endless studies and simple mismanagement result in these billions of available taxpayer dollars producing far too little in public works. Indiana recently sold the Skyway Bridge to an Australian/Spanish concern for over a billion dollars. The Skyway, from Gary to Chicago, was a constant construction snarl for years. Why would a private concern buy a supposed “white elephant” like this toll bridge? Simply because they will run it more efficiently, keep ahead of maintenance issues, eliminate bureaucracy and turn a profit.

Before 1983 100% of the gasoline taxes collected were devoted to highway maintenance and construction. Then the Congress, the same Congress now seeking more highway taxes, began to devote a significant portion of the gas tax to mass transit projects. The result of this co-mingled revenue is a distortion of the delivery of transit benefits. Formerly adequate funding for roads has been utilized to promote light rail and pet mass transit projects that cannot otherwise support themselves.

The Los Angeles subway is a perfect example. Politicians lusted for this boondoggle. It was built and nobody came! Light rail projects have worked almost nowhere they have been built, and yet, they are constantly proposed for cities as an alternative to road construction, as a means to aid the environment and lighten traffic loads. The goal is laudable, the reality and results are laughable.

The mismanagement of the “Big Dig” in Boston is another very visible example of government at work, or more accurately, not at work. This public works project was many years and billions of dollars over budget. Once finally completed, the tunnel, under the Charles River, sprung leaks. Lawsuits have been filed, fingers pointed, blame placed. I maintain that a private concern, contracted to perform the construction of the “Big Dig” tunnel in downtown Boston, given a profit incentive, would have finished on time (or sooner) and on budget (if not under). As it is, local, state and federal taxpayers have been forced to bite this smelly bullet.

The loss of life as a result of the I-35 tragedy is horrible. The failure of the span is a major commercial blow to the Twin Cities economy. The rebuilding will be a major inconvenience to commuters. However, the bridge did not fall because of a lack of public funds. The very agencies that are crying for more funds are directly responsible for the lack of maintenance, inefficiencies, bureaucratic bungling and mismanagement that results in such a debacle.

There are better ways to build and maintain infrastructure. Unfortunately, we, the taxpaying citizenry, are too complacent to demand the same level of competence and efficiency we expect when we buy a carton of milk, a sofa, or build a simple sunroom on a home. “We have seen the enemy, and he is us”.

Small Business Insurance – What You Need and Getting the Best Deal

Small Business Insurance

There are over 11 million small businesses with between 1-100 employees and if you are one of them you make up a large percentage of the total businesses in the United States. Now consider that most start out with an idea or someone else’s idea and you are very excited to get started, and you have so much to get done and one of the tasks is insurance, Ugh! What is your first thought? “I hate insurance”. Okay, second thought, what do I need? Who do you get it from? What is a fair price?

Let’s start with what do you need basics:

Workers’ Compensation

Needed when or if you have employees

Commercial Auto

Needed when you have a vehicle used in business outside of sales* calls,*vehicles need insurance regardless of business use but personal insurance usually excludes delivery of products, carrying passengers for a fee.

Liability Insurance

Needed when you conduct business, but not required unless it is being requested to secure a contract. An example if you are leasing a building the landlord may want you to carry liability for the space you occupy. If you manufacture a product, a store carrying your product may want you to carry product liability coverage if someone gets hurt using your product.

Property Insurance

Needed if you have business property, equipment, but not required unless it is being requested to secure a contract. An example – the bank you obtained a loan for some machinery, or building wants it to be insured for theft, fire, etc. A landlord requires you to cover the insurance for the building you are leasing.

Business Income Insurance

You should obtain this coverage to protect your income in the event of a covered loss. Not required usually by anyone. This coverage is usually included in a BOP for very little cost. If you have a brick and mortar business such as a restaurant – you should obtain this coverage. It could take years to get the clientele back to a new location if yours should burn down.

Professional Liability Insurance

Needed if you are in a professional industry – Doctor, Lawyer, Dentist, CPA, Veterinarian, etc. Liability insurance to protect professionals for loss or expense resulting from claims of mistakes, errors or omissions committed – or alleged to have been committed – by the insured in his or her professional activities.

Health Insurance

Nice to have as it can attract good employees and certainly good for the owner to have to prevent any unexpected cost associated with a major illness – but certainly not mandatory – yet.

These above are the starter list but there are other coverage’s that are more intricate, such as, umbrella coverage, earthquake, flood, directors & officers, employment practices,coverage within the policies for money, accounts receivables, tenant improvements, tool floaters. Some of these can get added into the main coverage’s the others you need to seek out and a good agent or consultant who can go through a check list of areas and help you decide if you need or what need. Insurance agents have a wealth of products to sell you and most agents are more than happy to sell you any and all of them, so again it pays to be knowledgeable.

Where do you get the insurance?

You all know you get it from an insurance agent, that’s simple, but how do you go about getting the best deal with an agent – that’s really the question isn’t it?

Pop in the words small business insurance in a Google search or anywhere else and up comes plenty of information to shift through. The number one thing to remember is, they are all paid for by insurance companies and agents wanting your business. The insurance companies and agents are paid more if you pay more for insurance. You need the agents, because you know YOU don’t know anything about insurance, but total trust is NOT in your best interest because of the way they are paid. Just because an ad says they are the leader for small business insurance does not make it the most competitive. For example, you can hardly turn on the television, radio or go to any website and not see an advertisement for Progressive or Geico, but does that mean they have the best rates for personal auto insurance? I can tell you, it does not. What it means is that they have a HUGE advertising budget and advertising works – for them, it does not necessarily work for you. So, be smart and use your common sense about insurance. Here are some tips.

The best place to get insurance is from the insurance companies and so you must start with a strategic list of insurance companies and seek them out for a quote, and agents represent those companies. Are you aware that in any given state there are approximately 20-35 mainstream insurance carriers for just the property/liability and workers’ compensation coverage? Has any one agent or even two agents ever given you 20 quotes? If you could see 20 quotes you would also see the vast disparity in pricing – it is really quite fun to watch how the same coverage can vary in price by so much – but the only time you will see it is if you see the entire market. No one agent represents all the markets, even if they tell you they do – they don’t, they never have, they never will. Call a Hartford agent and ask them if they represent Sentry Insurance (not Century) and vise verse, the answer will be no. This is not just the case with direct writers and independent agent carriers. Independent agent carriers rarely even if they represent a mass of carriers go to all of them, they have favorites and they have ones that pay them more commission.

What is a fair price?

If you can see at least ten quotes you can decide what a fair price is, it is the one that gives you the most coverage, with the best rated carrier, for the least amount of money, with an agent who you feel was knowledgeable and professional. If your premiums are high enough (over $10,000) you can also negotiate a better deal with one of the quotes you received.