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

February 2006
In this highly competitive industry, you need to bid more work than you are capable of doing. Most of this work comes with unforgiving deadlines and requires many hours of estimating. Hours you don’t have. Estimators you don’t have. So, what do you do when you need another estimator or an entire team? You just can’t pick up the phone and hire one. Or can you? READ MORE
January 2006
In my December column, I recommended you review last year’s estimating strategy. By examining what worked and the reasons for losses, you understand how to be more successful next year. Well, guess what? It is next year and the estimating clock started ticking two weeks ago. If you did your homework, you should have prepared a list of statistics on last year’s estimating. READ MORE
December 2005
My final thoughts for 2005 are for all the owners, chief and senior estimators out there—the team leaders who bear the responsibility of determining which direction their estimating department will take their company. You are the ones who decide which jobs will be bid, passed on, taken too cheap and bid too high. READ MORE
November 2005
Even with the best software, training and proficient users-a program is only as good as its parts database. A parts database must be accurately built and consistently managed. Just like your company trucks, it is an important tool. You wouldn't let your trucks sit around broken and growing old, would you? No. You service, repair and upgrade them-and they continue to make you money. READ MORE
October 2005
The destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina is unfathomable to me. To think about the reconstruction seems premature and pointless; a self-serving distraction to take my mind away from the tragedy. But as Americans, this is what we do, and I believe it is why this country succeeds. We push forward—through the destruction—and we come out on the other side ... better, stronger, united. READ MORE
October 2005
When I was asked to write 1,200 words on how to train an estimator I thought, “This should be easy, I train estimators every day.” After a few hours of organizing my thoughts and writing my outline, I realized 1,200 words will barely scratch the surface. At best, it might be the introduction to a book. Any attempt to educate someone, even at the most basic level, in 1,200 words would be futile. READ MORE
September 2005
There are many estimating software systems on the market, competing for your money. Accubid, ConEst, Estimation, McCormick Systems, Timberline, Vision InfoSoft—the list goes on and on. READ MORE
August 2005
The simple days of “base bid only” are long gone. Today’s bid form is alive, changing on a moment’s notice and getting meaner every day. It doesn’t know who you are and it doesn’t care how you laid out your estimate. It doesn’t care about drawing numbers or how many levels and offices the building has. Face it: the bid form doesn’t care about you. Neither does the owner, architect or engineer. READ MORE
July 2005
A new week of estimating has begun, giving you another chance to beat your bid schedule. You tell yourself that this week you will take a lunch break every day and go home on time. You will not be distracted. You will make every minute count, and you will not work on Saturday. Unfortunately, maintaining a crazy bid schedule is one of the most difficult tasks an estimator faces. READ MORE