Century of Electrical Standards: History of the ANSI – Guest Blog from Carl Babb

The following is a guest blog from Carl Babb:

Century of Electrical Standards – History of the ANSI

The American National Standards Institute, also known as ANSI, is a private non-profit organization. Headquartered in Washington, DC, ANSI has coordinated the development of a voluntary standardization system in the U.S. for almost a century.

ANSI acts in the interest and needs of consumers, the government, private companies and organizations. Its mission is to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. businesses on a global scale. It works with other standard organizations around the world to promote the use of U.S. standards.


Early Standards

Before the establishment of ANSI, a nongovernmental standardization was initiated with the foundation of the International Electrotechnical Commission, or IEC. This began at a meeting of leading international scientists and industrialists in 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Today, IEC establishes and approves international standards for all electrical and electronic technologies, such as those for circuit breakers and protective relays. Its work covers a range of fields, from home appliances to nanotechnology.

It is made up of national committees from countries around the world. The U.S. branch of the IEC would eventually move on to establish the first ANSI.


Founding of ANSI

Several groups of professional organizations founded ANSI. It originated in 1916, when members of the United Engineering Society, or UES, came together. Initiated by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, an UES member, the electrical engineers invited other members, namely the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers and the American Society for Testing Materials to participate in the establishment of a national organization with the aim to coordinate standards development. They were later joined by the non-UES member, namely the U.S. Departments of War, Navy and Commerce.

The original name for ANSI was the American Engineering Standards Committee, or AESC. During its first year, it had an annual budget of $7,500, pooled together from the founding members. Its executive staff was a mechanical engineer named Clifford B. LePage.


Early ANSI Projects

ANSI’s first project was a standard of pipe threads, which occurred a year after AESC was founded. In 1920, AESC took on the major task of replacing current safety codes to improve accident prevention.

It was highly efficient and by 1921, the first American Standard Safety Code was approved. This code outlined safety procedures for industrial workers to protect their heads and eyes. By 1926, AESC had established national standards in many fields, from construction and traffic to electrical and mechanical engineering.

AESC was also one of the first organizations to promote international cooperation in the establishment of standards. It played a key role in the creation of the International Standards Association, or ISA, as it hosted the 1926 conference that was a precursor to ISA’s establishment. The ISA would eventually change its name to the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, as it is known today.

The AESC soon evolved and grew out of its committee status. In 1928, it changed its structure through a reorganization. It was renamed the American Standards Association, or ASA. Later, in 1931, the ASA would become affiliated with the U.S. branch of the IEC.


ANSI During the War

The ASA played a role during World War II when it established a War Standards Procedure. Completed in 1940, this procedure improved the efficiency of standards development by accelerating the approval of new standards. It was the work of 1,300 engineers and covered areas such as quality control, safety and equipment components for military and civilian radio devices.

After the war ended in 1946, the ASA worked with the standard organizations of 25 other countries to form a single international standard organization. This resulted in the formation of the International Organization for Standardization. Its goal is to promote international standards development to streamline industrial processes.



The American Institute of Electrical Engineers, or the AIEE, was the primary group responsible for the establishment of ANSI. The AIEE itself was founded in 1884, 30 years before the founding of ANSI.

Some famous AIEE founders include Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Alexander Graham Bell, notable for being the inventor of the telephone, would also serve as the AIEE president from 1891 to 1892.

The first electrical standards established by AIEE was in 1885. This was the standardization of wire gauges. The AIEE would go on to develop its own electrical apparatus standards, such as for electrical switches, circuit breakers and protective relays. By 1926, it had approved a total of 71 standards.


Early Electrical Standards

Electrical standards in the 1920s were the responsibility of the Protective Device Committee. The committee’s work includes acknowledging and testing the ratings of breakers, as well as their abilities to interrupt currents. Much of their early work was completed in shared facilities with the breaker manufacturers. One such cooperative was with the Westinghouse Manufacturing Corp, a major manufacturer of electrical components at the time.

One of the earliest standardizations was for the oil used in circuit breakers. Later, this became the basis for the establishment of circuit breaker standards.

By 1924, standard definitions were being proposed for circuit breaker terminology. It included terms such as Operating Duty of Oil Circuit Breaker and Standard Operating Duty Cycle.


Formation of IEEE

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, or the IEEE, was founded in 1963. It was the result of a merger between the AIEE and the Institute of Radio Engineers, or the IRE. Since both the IEEE and the IRE had developed their own standard programs at the time of the merge, a single IEEE Standard Board was created to streamline both standards.

There were three other accredited American National Standards Committee when the IEEE was first established. To promote a more coherent set of standards, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was established. This memorandum gave the power to all three organizations to choose which one of their standards would be recognized as the single American National Standard.


Reorganizations and Name Changes

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the ASA helped industries and governments with standardizing the fields, such as nuclear energy, information technology and materials. In 1966, it was reorganized as the United States of America Standards Institute, or USASI.

Later, in 1968, the USASI worked to oversee the licensing of its name to manufacturers. This voluntary standardization approval was in response to increasing consumer demands for higher quality products.

The ASA changed its name to ANSI in 1969, and the name it still used today. It would go through more reorganizations while continuing to make new efforts to coordinate and approve new national standards. The voluntary national standards are currently known as American National Standards.


ANSI Today

With increasing globalization activity in the late 1980s, businesses and communities realized the importance of a globally accepted set of standards. In 1987, ANSI worked to administrate a joint ISO/IEC technical committee on Information Technology. This committee has now become the largest standardization committee in the world.

Today, ANSI continues to change and adapt to the needs of the interconnected global economy. Its work has improved consumer confidence in products and services throughout global supply chains. Currently, it is facilitating innovations in nanotechnologies and working to improve energy efficiency for greater environmental awareness.

Carl Babb is a retired Electrical Engineer from Massachusetts who blogs about the industry for Relectric.com. He is passionate about Green Energy and Building practices. Now retired he enjoys writing, spending time with his grandchildren and staying current (pun intended). For more from Carl visit the Relectric Blog.

Introducing TurboBid 5.0

We are pleased to announce the release of TurboBid 5.0.

Click here to download and install TurboBid 5.0

TurboBid 5.0 adds some incredibly exciting new features to not only TurboBid, but to TurboCloud as well.

For first time users, one of the biggest additions is a brand new training mode. This training mode utilizes a wizard format that will walk you through the estimating process. A floating video player will play the appropriate training video for whatever page you are viewing. The video player will always remain visible, allowing you to pause the video while you enter data into the screen you are viewing, and resume video playback as needed. Whether you’re still using manual methods, or have used other software in the past, using a new estimating system has never been so easy.

As far as TurboCloud improvements, it’s really hard to overstate how much of a positive impact these changes will have on your estimating. Here’s a short video from our founder and CEO explaining why TurboCloud is so essential: Click here to watch

Click here to see all of the new TurboCloud videos

Of course, we still haven’t even scratched the surface on all of the new things TurboBid 5.0 brings. Following are a list of the all new features and improvements in TurboBid:

New Features

  • New “Folder Sync” icon added to TurboCloud’s ribbon. Clicking this icon will synchronize your local folders to match the contents and structure of TurboCloud’s master folders. This is a big deal since we continue to add new folders, rename existing folders, delete folders, and move items and assemblies. No longer are you expected to manually edit your local folders to match the master folders. The new Folder Sync process will do this for you.
  • New “Data Sync” icon added to TurboCloud’s ribbon. As time goes by, it is sometimes necessary for us to change the following data for an existing item in our master database: Description, Manufacturer, Catalog #, UPC # and Original Labor Unit. The Data Sync feature will show you the items in your local database that have outdated information. You can choose to exclude any item from being updated. Once you agree, all the items will be updated with the current data values. This new process will make it very easy to keep your database current and up to date.
  • Our support department will automatically be notified of certain errors that you receive while using TurboBid. This will help us identify and fix critical issues that you might encounter.
  • Video tutorials are played in a floating video player. The video player will remain visible until you close it, allowing you to pause the video while you enter data into the screen you are viewing, and resume video playback if needed.


  • When opening an item or assembly in TurboCloud, a preview screen appears rather than opening the item or assembly maintenance screen. Along with all the data, a picture of the item is also included in the preview. A single click in the preview screen will open the maintenance screen if desired.
  • New activation wizard makes it easier to register and activate your license keys for both TurboBid and TurboCloud.
  • Default values for tab dropdowns can be set. If you add “(Default)” to the end of a dropdown item’s description, that item will automatically be selected when creating a new project. For example, if you change “Foreman” to “Foreman (Default)”, the Foreman classification will automatically be selected and added to the Direct Labor tab when creating a new project. Every dropdown has this capability. This allows you to create default values for all tabs when new projects are created.
  • The Flat Rate reports now include the values from the Additional Labor tab, Tools tab, and Subcontracts tabs.
  • Both sides of TurboCloud (local and master) can be resized by dragging the middle bar to the left or to the right.
  • Added more options to the TurboCloud Item right click menu:
    1. Edit: Opens the item maintenance screen
    2. View Picture
    3. View Catalog
    4. Locate in Master: This opens and highlights the assembly in the master
  • Added more options to the TurboCloud Assembly right click menu:
  1. Edit: Opens the assembly maintenance screen
  2. View Picture
  3. View Catalog
  4. Locate in Master: This opens and highlights the assembly in the master
  • Entire folders of items and/or assemblies can be deleted. No longer do you need to delete one at a time. Items that are included in assemblies, and assemblies that are included in estimates, will not be deleted.
  • When a folder, item or assembly is dropped into the local side of TurboCloud, the folder tree expands and highlights the item(s) or assembly(ies) that was dropped. This will allow you to easily verify what was dropped, and where it was added.
  • The category names that are displayed in red text in the take-off tab have been revised. Previously only the root folder description was used. For example: “Distribution Assemblies”. Now, the name of the root folder’s 1st child folder will be added to the category name. For example: “Distribution Assemblies : Home Run Circuits” This new feature greatly enhances the organization of the take-off tab.
  • The material list can now be generated per tab. It no longer combines all the tabs in one material list.
  • Centralized license management screen to easily manage both TurboBid and TurboCloud license keys.
  • A TurboCloud subscription is no longer needed to refresh the contents of the master database.
  • Dramatically reduced the amount of time it takes for TurboCloud to open. Now when you click on Materials or Assemblies, TurboCloud opens right away.
  • The Go button in the search screen is active by default. Hitting the Enter key starts the search.
  • The Help menu in TurboBid has been revised for increased organization.
  • Updated video tutorials.

“You’re going to have to become a business person” – Mike Holt

Mike Holt and Bill Ruffner
Mike Holt and Bill Ruffner

For those of you that don’t know Mike Holt, he is a well-respected author and developer of software, books and video training programs.

TurboBid is the only estimating software that Mike Holt recommends. He has worked closely with the folks at TurboBid to ensure that it follows the same terminology and principles that he teaches in his estimating course.

Mike makes the following statement in his estimating DVD that really sums up the issue:
“You need to make a decision. The reality is that if you’re going to be a business person, you’re going to have to get estimating software. You need to make the decision that, ‘I’m going to be a business person’. Once you’ve made that decision, that’s your goal. Then number two is, ‘What’s your plan? How are you going to get there? What are you going to have to do?’ ”

Sharing a Single TurboBid Database with Microsoft OneDrive

OneDriveIf you would like to use TurboBid on multiple computers that are not on a local area network (LAN), we recommend using Microsoft’s OneDrive. OneDrive will automatically synchronize TurboBid’s database between all of your computers. The only restriction is that only one computer can make changes to the database at any given time. By using OneDrive, each of your computer’s will have a database installed on it’s hard drive, as well as an identical copy of the database stored in the cloud.

OneDrive comes preinstalled on Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. (Note: OneDrive is not supported on Windows XP.)

If you don’t already have OneDrive on your computer, you can download it at: https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/download/

To use a OneDrive database in TurboBid, you first have to upload the database to OneDrive. You can find the TurboBid database file on your computer at ‘This PC\Documents\TurboBid 4.0\4.0 Database’. If you use the electrical database, you want to upload the ‘TurboBid3.mdf’ file to OneDrive. If you use the plumbing database, you want to upload the ‘TurboBid3 Plumbing.mdf’ file to OneDrive.

For information on topics such as how to upload documents to OneDrive, how to download your OneDrive documents to your computer, etc., please refer to the following link: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/onedrive/4/print

After you have your database uploaded to OneDrive, and have downloaded the OneDrive database to all of your computers that you use TurboBid on, you then need to set TurboBid to use the OneDrive database. (The OneDrive database can be found in your computers OneDrive folder.) To do this, first open TurboBid and then go to ‘File > Select Database’. After you chose to close your current database, you will be able to browse for, and select, the TurboBid database in your computer’s OneDrive folder.

Now, as long as you have your computer’s OneDrive files set to automatically synchronize with your OneDrive account and an internet connection, when exiting TurboBid on one computer, the database would be synced to OneDrive. This means that, as long as all of your computer’s are using the OneDrive database, the next time you use TurboBid on your other computers, all of the databases would reflect the changes made on other computers. You don’t need to transfer the file or do any work to store it anywhere. OneDrive will automatically save the changes to the database, and update the database file on the other computers.

Share a Single TurboBid Database on Your Local Area Network (LAN)

  1. Install the TurboBid software on a “Server” workstation. This can be any computer on the shared network
  2. Close TurboBid
  3. Select the TurboBid database that is to be shared
    1. Create a new folder in your C: Drive named Shared TurboBid Database
    2. Right click on the new folder, select Properties and click the Security tab
    3. Click the Edit button and make sure your Users and Administrator have Full Control
    4. Copy the mdf database from your C: > Documents > TurboBid 4.0 > 4.0 Database folder
    5. Paste the copied mdf file into the new C: > Shared TurboBid Database folder
    6. Right click on the new C: > Shared TurboBid Database folder and select Share With > Specific People
    7. If the person’s name that you want to share with is not displayed in the box, select them from the dropdown and click the Add button. If their name doesn’t appear at all, share with Everyone
    8. Once the person that you want to share with is displayed in the box, click on their name, select Read/Write for the permission and click the Share button
    9. Right-click on the Shared TurboBid Database Folder and select Properties.
    10. Click the Sharing tab and click the Network and Sharing Center hyperlink at the bottom of the screen
    11. Expand the All Networks category
    12. Public Folder Sharing should be turned on and Password Protected Sharing should be turned off
  4. Allow remote connections to the server
    1. Search for and open SQL Server Management Studio
    2. In the Connect to Server screen, <Your Computer Name>\TURBOBIDSQL should be displayed for the Server Name
    3. Select Windows Authentication and click the Connect button
    4. Right click on the top folder <Your Computer Name>\TURBOBIDSQL
    5. Select Properties > Connections
    6. Make sure that the checkbox for Allow Remote Connections to This Server is checked
  5. Attach the TurboBid database that is to be shared
    1. Stay in SQL Server Management Studio
    2. Expand the <Your Computer Name>\TURBOBIDSQL folder
    3. Expand the Databases folder
    4. Rename the existing TurbobidDatabase to TurbobidDatabase1
    5. Right-click on the Databases folder and select Attach….
    6. Click the Add button located in the bottom right corner of the Select Databases to Attach section
    7. Expand the C: > Shared TurboBid Database folder and selectmdf
    8. Click the OK button
    9. If you receive an error regarding the log file, Select the ldf file from the “TurboBidDatabase” Database Details section and delete it.
    10. Click the OK button
  6. Create a new user in SQL Server
    1. Stay in the SQL Server Management Studio > <Your Computer Name>\TURBOBIDSQL folder
    2. Expand the Security folder
    3. Right click on Logins and select New Login
    4. Select General (on the left side) and enter <Your Computer Name>\Guest for the new login name
    5. Select Server Roles (on the left side) and check the check boxes for both public and Sysadmin
    6. Select User Mapping (on the left side) If you receive a message “One or more of the databases are inaccessible …”, click the OK button
    7. Check the check box for TurboBidDatabase
    8. Click the OK button and close SQL Server Management Studio 
  7. Set the Protocols for TURBOBIDSQL
    1. Search for and open SQL Server Configuration Manager (This is different than the Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio in the previous step)
      1. Use your computer’s Start > Search feature. You might need to search for SQLServerManager11.msc
    2. On the left menu, click the > in front of SQL Server Network Configuration and select Protocols for TURBOBIDSQL
    3. On the right menu, right click on TCP/IP and select Enable
    4. Right click on TCP/IP, select Properties and select the IP Address’ tab
    5. Scroll down to the bottom to IPAll and delete the value for TCP Dynamic Ports. The data box should be left blank
    6. Enter a value of 1433 for the TCP Port
    7. Click the OK button
    8. Select SQL Server Services (on the left side)
    9. Right click on SQL Server (TURBOBIDSQL) (on the right side) and select Restart
    10. Right click on SQL Server Browser (on the right side) and select Properties
    11. Select the Service tab and change the Start Mode to Automatic
      1. If you can’t change the startup type, go to Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > Services. Scroll down to SQL Server Browser, right-click and select Properties. In the General tab, change the startup type to Automatic, click Start and click Apply. You can click Close to close the window and exit the SQL Server Configuration Manager. Continue directly to step 8.
    12. Select the Log On tab and click the Start button
    13. Click the OK button and close the Microsoft SQL Server Configuration Manager 
  8. Create inbound rules
    1. Create inbound rule named TurboBid SQL 1433
      1. Go to the Windows Firewall settings in your computer’s Control Panel. This is usually in your Security section
      2. Select Advanced Settings
      3. Right click on Inbound Rules and select New Rule
      4. Select Port and click the Next button
      5. Select TCP
      6. Select Specific Local Ports, enter 1433 and click the Next button
      7. Select Allow the Connection and click the Next button
      8. Check all three check boxes and click the Next button
      9. Enter the name TurboBid SQL 1433 and click the Finish button
    2. Create inbound rule named TurboBid SQL 1434
      1. Right click on Inbound Rules and select New Rule
      2. Select Port and click the Next button
      3. Select UDP
      4. Select Specific Local Ports, enter 1434 and click the Next button
      5. Select Allow the Connection and click the Next button
      6. Check all three check boxes and click the Next button
      7. Enter the name TurboBid SQL 1434 and click the Finish button
    3. Create inbound rule named TurboBid SQL sqlservr
      1. Right click on Inbound Rules and select New Rule
      2. Select Program and click the Next button
      3. Select This Program Path and click the Browse button
      4. Browse to C: > Program Files > Microsoft SQL Server > MSSQL11.TURBOBIDSQL > MSSQL > BINN > sqlservr and click the Open button
      5. Click the Next button
      6. Select Allow the Connection and click the Next button
      7. Check all three check boxes and click the Next button
      8. Enter the name TurboBid SQL sqlservr and click the Finish button
    4. Create inbound rule named TurboBid SQL sqlbrowser
      1. Right click on Inbound Rules and select New Rule
      2. Select Program and click the Next button
      3. Select This Program Path and click the Browse button
      4. Browse to C: > Program Files (x86) > Microsoft SQL Server > 90 > Shared > sqlbrowser and click the Open button
      5. Click the Next button
      6. Select Allow the Connection and click the Next button
      7. Check all three check boxes and click the Next button
      8. Enter the name TurboBid SQL sqlbrowser and click the Finish button
  9. Log in to the networked database
    1. Start TurboBid and when the login screen appears, click the Select Networked Database button
    2. In the MSSQL Server Name field enter <Your Computer Name>\TURBOBIDSQL
    3. Select Use Windows Authentication
    4. In the Database dropdown select TurbobidDatabase
    5. Click the Test Connection If the test is successful, click the Connect button
    1. Select to use the shared TurboBid database on the other networked computers
      1. The other computers must be on the same network as the server computer. When you are in your File Explorer, you should be able to see the server computer (this is the computer that has the shared database on it) and the remote computers
      2. Start TurboBid on the remote computer. When the login screen appears, click the Select Networked Database button
      3. In the MSSQL Server Name field enter <The Server Computer Name>\TURBOBIDSQL. Make sure that you are entering the name of the computer that the shared database is on.
      4. Select Use Windows Authentication
      5. In the Database dropdown select TurbobidDatabase
      6. Click the Test Connection If the test is successful, click the Connect button


Candels Estimating Classes

Candels Training Room

I recently had an opportunity to be invited into an estimating class via video conferencing so that I
could provide a demonstration of our TurboBid estimating software.

The company providing the class was Candels. They have a new state of the art training facility located in Southwest Florida.

The main reason that I’m writing this is to share just how impressed I was with the concepts that I saw being taught by Mr. Candels, and how they mirror the same concepts that we use in TurboBid.

While most estimate training classes will focus on the obvious aspects of estimating, it was refreshing to see Marc Candels taking the time to dig down deeper and help his students learn how to calculate their company’s operational costs, and then how to apply those costs to their estimates.

I was delighted to see that Marc had developed an Excel spreadsheet that basically matches the same context as the manpower burden calculator that we include in TurboBid. Both tools assist users in identifying and accounting for the additional cost, above and beyond the employee’s pay rate per hour, that their company incurs for each field employee that will be working on the job. The calculated annual burden cost is then divided by the employee’s annual billable hours. Annual billable hours are basically the number of hours that the employee will be on the job working each year. The result is an accurate manpower burden rate per hour that can be plugged into their estimates.

Mr. Candels also developed an Excel spreadsheet that follows the same concept as the overhead rate per hour calculator that is included in TurboBid. Both of these tools are designed to assist users in identifying and accounting for all of the costs that their company incurs simply because they’re in business. These costs have nothing to do with a project’s material, labor, etc. They include vehicle expenses, office supplies, office staff, utilities, etc. These overhead expenses must be paid each and every month regardless if their company is awarded 100 projects or, heaven forbid, they are not awarded a single project. The second step in the process is to calculate the company’s total annual billable hours. This basically represents how many hours all of their field employees will actually be working on projects over the course of the year. Once these values are determined, the annual overhead expense is divided by the annual billable hours. The result is the company’s overhead cost per hour. This overhead cost per hour is then plugged into their estimates.

When it comes to estimating, I constantly preach that a company must know all of their costs before they can decide what to sell a job for. Unfortunately, I’ve seen that far too many estimators don’t accurately account for their burden and overhead costs. This is why I was so pleased to see that Candels training classes dig deep into these subjects.

I am often asked where someone can receive estimate training. Candel’s will certainly be high on my list of recommendations.

For more information on Candel’s, please visit their website at https://www.candelsoncall.com.

Why square foot pricing is not a good idea

The ultimate goal of any company is to make money. What determines if your company makes money? You simply have to sell jobs for more than what they cost you to do.

Contractors that use square foot pricing run the risk of losing money on jobs because they neglect to identify and account for all of their costs.

The description of neglect in Websters dictionary is “to give little attention or respect to”.

If a company’s ultimate goal is to make money, why would any contractor use a method of estimating that gives little attention to or respect to identifying and accounting for all of their costs? I have to believe that it’s simply because they don’t know any better.

Producing highly accurate estimates in a timely manner is not at all difficult if you know how to do it.

TurboBid provides a simple step by step process of estimating and bidding that allows you to systematically identify and account for all of the costs involved in a job.

We take great pride is our ability to personally help contractors become better business people. We have a passionate desire to help our customers succeed. Honestly, there is no better feeling in the world than receiving a letter from one of our customers thanking us for helping them provide a better life for themselves and their family.

Following is what needs to be considered when estimating and bidding on a job. Would you prefer to do all of this manually or would you prefer to use the power of TurboBid?

Material costs and labor hours

  • The fastest and most accurate method of estimating is to use assemblies. An assembly should include your material costs and the amount of time to lay out and install the assembly. TurboBid currently includes over 45,000 per-built assemblies.

Assembly maintenance screen

Material Cost

  • Your material pricing needs to be accurate. TurboBid allows you to easily keep your material prices up to date.
  • If applicable, add a percentage of the material cost to account for misc. material.
  • If applicable, add a percentage of the material cost to account for material waste and theft.
  • Add material sales tax.


  • Manpower: In order to calculate your labor cost, you need to identify the manpower that will be used on the job. Your manpower costs should include the following:
    • The employee’s pay rate per hour.
    • The employee’s burden cost. Burden is the additional cost that you incur on behalf of your employees. This is typically in the form of payroll taxes, workman’s compensation, general liability insurance, health insurance, paid vacations/holidays/sick days, benefits, bonus’, etc.
    • View our manpower selection screen
    • View our labor burden calculator
  • Pay Raises: You should account for any employee pay raises that are incurred in the middle of the job and add the prorated cost to the estimate. TurboBid does this automatically.
  • Skill Level Adjustment: The material labor units used in TurboBid are based on a typical journeyman doing the installation. If you have employees that produce at a lower rate, they will cause the job to take longer to complete. You must calculate the effect that this lower productivity has on the entire crew and add it to the estimate. TurboBid does this automatically.
  • Additional Labor: This is where most contractors leave money on the table. Your estimate needs to include all of the additional time that you’re paying your employees for. This can include things like job set up in the morning, packing up to go home at the end of the day, material handling, meetings, paperwork, sweeping, travel time, etc. These tasks can be for one-time only, per day or per week. TurboBid automatically calculates these costs and adds it to the estimate.
  • Type of Work: You can’t use the same material labor unit to estimate all types of work. For example, residential typically has a faster pace and more repetition than commercial work. You need to be able to quickly adjust your labor units to accurately reflect the type of work that you’re estimating. TurboBid does this automatically.

Misc. Expenses

  • Misc. Direct Job Expenses: You must take the time to identify and account for all of your misc. direct job expenses.
  • Subcontracts: You need to add any costs for work that you’re paying a subcontractor to perform.
  • Tools: You should not only account for the cost of new tools that a job will require you to purchase but you should account for the cost of using your existing tools as it relates to tool replenishment. TurboBid automatically calculates this cost and adds it to the estimate.

Direct Cost Detail

Your estimate should clearly display the calculated values for all of the above.


It is vital that you know your true overhead costs. Overhead is what it costs to run your company. It includes costs such as office personnel, vehicle expenses, advertising, office supplies, utilities, cell phones, etc. It’s basically all of the costs that your company incurs simply because you are in business. It has nothing to do with direct job expenses. TurboBid includes a calculator to assist you in determining your overhead expenses. It also includes the ability to break down your overhead cost into a rate per hour. In our opinion, this is the most accurate method of adding overhead to your estimate.


The are two steps in determining the price to provide to your customers.

  • Estimating: Estimating is the process of calculating how much it will cost you to do a job. This is also known as your break-even cost.
  • Bidding: Bidding is deciding how much to sell a job for. You simply need to decide how much profit to add to your break-even cost.

When I was contracting, almost all of my customers wanted to negotiate a lower price. If I only had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “you have to go back and sharpen your pencil”, I’d be a rich man.

When negotiating a job, you have to decide, how badly do you want the job?

  • Maybe it’s for a new big customer than you want to develop a relationship with. This is also known as buying a job.
  • Maybe things are slowing down and you need the job to keep your key employees.
  • Maybe you need cash flow to cover your overhead expenses.
  • Maybe you need a paycheck.

Before I created TurboBid, I have to admit that, for whatever reason, I wanted to win every job that I bid on. What used to drive me completely out of my mind is that I didn’t know how low I could go before I would lose money on the job. At the time, I relied on my gut instinct but in reality, when I look back today, I didn’t have a clue. I’m cringing right now thinking about how many jobs I probably took at below cost.

One of the biggest benefits you’ll find in using TurboBid is that you’ll know your break-even cost. You’ll be in a position to negotiate your bid price without the risk of losing money. If it comes down to it, you’ll be able to tell your customer with conviction that as much as you want to do their job, if you lower your price any more, you will lose money. At that point, tell them in no uncertain terms that they need to be very careful about awarding the job to anyone that claims they can do it for less.

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For more information, please visit www.TurboBid.net or call (888) 417-2458 Ext 102

Click here to download a free trial of TurboBid

How Do You Find the Right Estimating Software?

Invest1How Do You Find the Right Estimating Software?

It can be a daunting task when you start to look for an estimating software program that is best suited for your own particular needs.  Every company is saying the exact same thing: Our software is easy to use, it is the most accurate, it is the most consistent, it will help you win more bids……… In fact, you might even start to think that they are all pretty much the same.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

TurboBid is quickly becoming well known for both its estimating software’s capabilities as well as it’s stellar customer service.  All you have to do is listen to what our customers are saying and you’ll understand why.  But as a contractor who is not currently one of our customers, you have had very little contact, if any, with our company.

So how do you know if what we are saying is true?  Doesn’t every estimating software company make the claim that they are better than the next?  Sure, you could do your research and peruse the various blogs and forums on the internet and see all the positive press for TurboBid. While it would certainly help, would you truly be 100% convinced?  Or you could even go to Mike Holt’s website and see that TurboBid is listed as the “Best Buy” among his listing of major estimating software solutions. You might even discover that TurboBid was designed around the principles taught in Mike Holt’s Illustrated Guide to Electrical estimating.

Again, how do you know which is the best estimating program for you?

Just remember: Without using the software in real life situations, on real bids, you are just making a decision based on what others are saying. Instead of casually looking at a limited trial version, we want to help you really use the software and prove that TurboBid is a winning solution.  We are offering you the opportunity to utilize TurboBid for 14 days, performing actual takeoffs. This isn’t just a trial where you download the software and find out that you’re left on your own to figure things out. This trial includes the full support of our company.

Download today and learn first hand why contractors across the country are so excited about TurboBid.


“You’re going to have to get estimating software.” – Mike Holt

For those of you that are not familiar with Mike Holt, he is a well-respected author and developer of software, books and video training programs for the electrical industry. Click here for more information.

TurboBid is the only estimating software that Mike recommends. He has worked closely with the folks at TurboBid to ensure that it follows the same terminology and principles that he teaches in his estimating course.

TurboBid’s founder, Bill Ruffner, was invited by Mike to come down to Florida and take part in filming his new estimating DVD. During filming, Mike made the following comment that made a lot of sense. The truth is that most guys that open their own shops are coming out of the field. While they might have been great electricians, running a successful contracting company takes a whole different skill set. You’re going to have to decide to become a business person.

Mike said “You need to make a decision. The reality is that if you’re going to be a business person, you’re going to have to get estimating software. You need to make the decision that, ‘I’m going to be a business person’. Once you’ve made that decision, that’s your goal. Then number two is, ‘What’s your plan? How are you going to get there? What are you going to have to do?'”

Following is a video excerpt from Mike’s Electrical Estimating Deluxe DVD Package.



The concepts that Mike goes over in his video are very important to the success of your company. Every day that passes by without taking action is a wasted opportunity. You owe it to yourself, your family and your business to take a few minutes out of your day to see for yourself how TurboBid can help you win more profitable jobs and improve your professional image.

Give us a call at (888) 417-2458 x102 or click here if you would like to schedule a specific time for us to call you so that we can have a brief chat or live demonstration.

Estimating for the Electrical Contractor

Success2Construction estimating software has evolved over the past 40 years. It first ran on large, costly mainframes and then moved to other technology platforms as they were developed, decreasing costs dramatically. Most of the larger electrical contractors have been using software for many years to help them save both time and money. They use the software to get every edge they can over their competition. These companies know that estimating affects every aspect of their business. They understand the value of using the right tool to get the job done.

So you have to wonder – Why are so many electrical contractors still not realizing the benefits of using a formal estimating process and software solution?

To understand this, you have to look at some of the attitudes that contribute to smaller contractors not implementing an estimating discipline. Here are the most common ones that I hear:

  • Estimating software is too expensive: The cost of TurboBid is a fraction of other leading estimating programs. In fact, when used properly, TurboBid is capable of an ROI measured in just a few weeks. If you think about it, if it helps you win just one profitable job, it has paid for itself. Or, just one avoided mistake on the right job would pay for the program.
  • The software I’ve looked at does not address my specific type of work: Everybody knows that you can’t use the same labor units to estimate commercial, residential and service work. TurboBid’s unique Type of Work feature automatically adjusts the material labor units to reflect the selected type of work.
  • I’m afraid of new technology: TurboBid is arranged in a user friendly format that guides you through the estimating process. We also make it easy to learn how to use the program through our large library of detailed video tutorials. There is also a live chat icon within TurboBid so live help is always just a click away.

Bill Ruffner, the founder and CEO of TurboBid, is an electrical contractor with over 24 years of experience. He knew using a computer to help estimate electrical jobs was the fastest and most accurate method. The problem was that he couldn’t find a software program that met the unique requirements of his contracting company. That’s when he decided to take the extraordinary step of creating his own estimating software program. After a few years of developement, TurboBid had turned out to be so good that Ruffner figured that there had to be other contractors that could also benefit from the program. In fact, TurboBid is recommended by industry expert Mike Holt who has designated TurboBid as the “Best Buy” of all major estimating software programs.

One contractor, Geof Gratny of GSS Electric, out of Kalispell, Montana, realized early on after starting his business that there was a strong need to do things correctly. Gratny says “I started my business two years ago. I have been wiring for over 30 years so I knew the industry from an employee’s perspective. Facing the challenges of being a contractor left me with much to learn. I realized that if I was going to succeed, I had to really understand what was involved in the estimating process.“

Gratny states. “In a visit to MikeHolt.com, I discovered TurboBid. Being the perfectionist that I am, and wanting to keep startup costs low, I found TurboBid to be a very attractive program. Other programs that I researched were two to six times the cost of TurboBid.” Gratny knew several small electrical contractors that had purchased these other programs. “I was appalled to learn that they didn’t use the software anymore because of its complexity and lack of support from the company. They told me that the software was overkill for the type of work they do and the learning curve just wasn’t worth it.“

TurboBid employs a unique wizard format that allows users to easily identify and account for all possible labor and material costs. Additionally, material and assemblies are automatically assigned the correct labor unit based on the estimates type of work. The software also helps the estimator identify all direct and indirect costs by utilizing specialized calculators. This allows the estimator to set-up the program to accurately reflect the cost structure of his own company.

As for the learning curve, Gratny not only found the video tutorials to be very helpful but took advantage of TurboBid’s live training. “The support staff of TurboBid was willing and able to walk me through the startup phases of TurboBid. They graciously took the time and led me through several live web based tutorials, numerous personal phone calls and emails to get me up and running. That sold me. I knew if I didn’t get a program with the right support, I’d be wasting my money.” Gratny said.

TurboBid offers electrical contractors the opportunity to test drive the software program for 14 days. During this period of time, TurboBid’s support staff places an extremely high value in helping contractors learn how to use the software. They even take the time to assist contractors in completing their estimates.

Drew Garza of Templar Electric, an contractor in the outskirts of Houston, couldn’t agree more. “I have used four other estimating software programs only to be let down or disappointed. TurboBid is hands down, the most efficient and user friendly estimating program I have used and for the price, it can’t be beat.” Garza added, “TurboBid’s customer support is top notch.”

Eugene, Oregon’s Antone Electric owner, Shelby Antone says, “The folks at TurboBid allowed me to select training times that fit my busy schedule. They have a convenient scheduling calendar where I could schedule my web based training sessions. I really appreciate the effort that TurboBid puts forth to accommodate my business.”

Gary Gomez of Dakota Electric in Sioux City, Iowa simply put it “Follow up and training is most excellent. TurboBid’s support hours are for the working class blue collar owner and beats all. I suffer no working time lost by being able to take training classes in the evening. This is really important to me because I am out in the field working on the residential, remodel and light commercial jobs that I won by using TurboBid.”

Geof Gratny also wanted a program that was capable of importing material pricing updates. “I found out that our three local distributors have pricing formats that are compatible with TurboBid. So I have thousands of prices at my finger tips that I use for reference in addition to bidding. It’s extremely valuable for me to have a program sort and index 60,000 items for easy pricing.” TurboBid is set-up to easily import material pricing updates from TurboPricer, Trade Service, EPIC and NetPricer. There are also a growing number of national and regional suppliers that have agreed to provide price files to their customers that use TurboBid.

The ability to quickly create accurate and consistent estimates is especially important to the small contractor that relies on a single person to do the estimate, submit the bid, negotiate with the customer and then strap on the tools in the field. There is very little time to do it all. As North Florida contractor Shaw Electrical Services’, owner Steve Shaw states “I have 20 years of experience as an electrician, but now that I own my own business, I realized that I needed help estimating. I looked into several different estimating programs. I chose TurboBid not only because it was tailored specifically to my types of jobs but also because I was impressed by how quick and easy it was to produce incredibly accurate estimates, as well as being able to automatically generate professional proposals to give to my customers.”

Geof Gratny says “I’ve used TurboBid to win jobs including small remodels, service work, large residential, medium commercial and several mid sized industrial projects. I really enjoy knowing exactly what my costs are, which enables me to negotiate more confidently. It has been very interesting hearing from general contractors and customers about how they were astounded at the clarity and accuracy of what my proposals included. Recently, a general contractor called and told me that the other bids that he received were 2 pages long and he really didn’t know what they included. The twelve page Room by Room Quantity Take-Off report that I printed from TurboBid gave him perfect clarity. He was able to relay to his customer exactly what I was including, instead of a verbal assumption. He used words like “Comforting”, “Confidence”, “Confirming” and “Clarity” in describing the proposal.“

Drew Garza adds, “The reports are absolutely amazing and they definitely give me a winning edge over my competition. I smile while I think to myself how it only took me five minutes to create it.”

Gratny concludes, “I am convinced that my success in this tight economic time is largely due to being able to produce a professional looking bid package, be accurate with the numbers and know my boundaries for pricing. I am very happy with TurboBid, the support and the flexibility that it gives me.”

For more information, please visit www.TurboBid.net