Stan Shook

Stan Shook was ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR's estimating columnist from 2005 to 2012. He works as an electrical estimator in California. Read his blog at or contact him directly

Articles by Stan Shook

January 2012
There’s a lot to learn from stories. In our industry, there are many stories being told: crazy, scary stories about bids and deadlines, addendums and job walks. Stories like, “One time I forgot to enter the feeder conduits for the fourth-floor electrical room. We won the bid by pennies! Why, if I hadn’t left those feeders out, we wouldn’t have been low bidder!” READ MORE
December 2011
This article is for all you junior and associate estimators who are trying to decide what you want to be and do for the next 30-plus years of your lives. I’ll begin with a simple but very serious question: Do you want to be a career estimator? READ MORE
November 2011
Six years ago, I wrote, “[estimating] software technology is not going to dramatically change” (“Smart Buys,” Electrical Contractor, September 2005). Wow, was I ever wrong about that. It has changed quite dramatically. Some companies have simply improved on their original designs and platforms, which may be a great thing for their longtime users. READ MORE
November 2011
I only have 1,200 words to tell you as much as I can about some of the best estimating software programs available on the market, so I’m not going to waste any of them chitchatting. Let’s get started in alphabetical order … YEE HA! READ MORE
October 2011
I recently spent a lot of time with a family member in a hospital. Not to worry. Everyone is fine, but while waiting for doctors and nurses to tell me what was going on, I couldn’t help but check out all the electrical installations that I’ve estimated so many times. I know. I’m sick. I can’t help myself—I’m an estimator. READ MORE
September 2011
Congratulations! Your client just called to inform you that you are one of the low bidders, and they would like you to come in for an interview. It looks like all your long, stress-filled days, late nights and working weekends paid off with a possible winner. This is great news, but the bidding game isn’t over. It’s just getting started, and you must make your next play carefully. READ MORE
August 2011
I recently heard a colleague say: “Don’t worry about winning a bunch of jobs with really low bids. You’ll make up the losses in volume!” Of course, he was kidding. Because you won’t; you’ll just lose a bunch of money—in volume. Here’s another thing I hear a lot: “No matter how tight I cut my estimates, my bids are still too high. I must be doing something wrong.” How do you know? READ MORE
July 2011
This article is for all the junior and associate estimators out there whose estimating clocks have run out. Your time is up. Addendum 7 isn’t coming, and that bid extension is not going to happen. It’s time to wrap everything up, finished or not, into an organized portfolio of solid facts, accurate figures and other critical information for presentation to your boss. It’s time to face the fire. READ MORE
June 2011
Job walks are one of my least favorite things. I don’t enjoy driving to a job site, waiting around for a job walk to start, then climbing around a dirty old building looking at stuff I have seen (and estimated) a thousand times or, more often, looking at an empty plot of dirt where the new building will be built. That’s the worst. READ MORE