Tasker Business Activity Summary and History
Business and Activity Summary
Tasker is a sole proprietor, Tom Truax, DBA Tasker. The fictitious business name was registered with Santa Barbara County in 2003, and an EIN was also received at that time. Tasker currently does not have full time employees, but may utilize part time employees as required. Tasker works as an independent contractor, directly for end use customers, and also as a subcontractor with affiliated Woodward Distributors and System Integrators. Tasker has Professional Liability Insurance in addition to Tasker's General Liability Insurance with non-owned and hired auto. Tasker has policy & programs administered by a 3rd party service provider for Drug Testing and Employee Screening. Tasker has completed certified Osha training and Tasker's Osha 300 logs are available on request.
Tasker installs and services Governor Systems for industrial applications. Governor systems control the speed of engines or turbines which are the power source for driven equipment like generators, pumps, compressors, and fans. The installation work involves upgrade projects to replace existing governor systems with a modern option that will more effectively accomplish a customer's operational objectives. In addition to upgrade projects, Tasker also provides service & support.
A typical job will include project management, site survey & objectives identification, scope of work, engineering, procurement & shop fabrication, installation supervision, pre-startup checkout, commissioning support, procedure review, training, and documentation.
The physical installation work typically involves running conduit, pulling wire, wire terminations, welding, and mechanical assembly. Tasker doesn't typically do the conduit work and wire pulling, but will often do wire terminations. Depending on how an agreement is written, labor not supplied by Tasker is often supplied by the end use customer's personnel, and in some cases by an electrical or mechanical contractor approved to work in their facility. The additional labor is typically paid directly by the end use customer, but depending on the agreement, Tasker may occasionally pay a subcontractor to perform on-site work, like running conduit.
Tasker works with multiple fabrication shops to produce custom components and devices as necessary. Some of the final welding often needs to be done on-site due to fitting and adjustment requirements. A customer will often supply a welder when on-site welding is required. Tom has personal experience running conduit, pulling wire, welding, and doing machine shop fabrication, but to operate at expanded bandwidth, it is typically more effective to have specialist perform these functions. The whole should be worth more than the sum of the parts.
Documentation and Project Management are core functions for Tasker. Electrical and control drawings are typically done in Autocad. Mechanical drawings are done in either Autocad or Solidworks depending on the objective. Control Panel and Subpanel artwork is initially done as an Autocad layer for registration, but then transferred to Adobe Illustrator for printing. Illustrator and Photoshop are also utilized for various documentation enhancements. Documentation is posted to Tasker's web site with individual customer access. See the [documentation structure] & [drawing structure] notes
See Tom's Resume' for prior background as a licensed Aircraft A&P Mechanic, Industrial Millwright, and Certified Electronic Technician.
Tom Truax initially became affiliated with Woodward in the late 1980s as an employee of Gerhardt's Inc at their Ventura California Office. Gerhardt's was a Distributor for Woodward Governors, Dynalco Controls, and Altronic Ignition Systems. Gerhardt's was based out of New Orleans and Houston with smaller shops in Ventura, Odessa Texas, and the east coast. Gerhardt's Inc. was sold to Wartsilla in 2005. Tom initially worked for Gerhardt's as an electronic technician under the guidance of Jim Wimp. Jim had retired in his mid 50s from Woodward after many years as a field service technician. Tom and Jim did a combination of field service and board level repair. Jim had the industry experience, and Tom had the organizational skills to fabricate test equipment, manage the parts inventory, and grow the shop capability.
Tom left Gerhardt's as a full time employee to attend business school at Ventura College and develop his CAD capability, but Tom continued to do projects for Gerhardt's as an independent contractor under the business name Valuation. When Gerhardt's Ventura office was sold to Hatch & Kirk in the early 90s, Tom worked for Hatch & Kirk on various projects as a contractor DBA Valuation. Projects included governors, ignition, emissions, lubrication, custom circuit board design & production, and documentation.
In 2001, Tom took a break from the industrial control sector to work full time as the lab manager for a startup company named Envernegy. Envenergy was developing a Multi-Protocol Gateway called the MPX. Envenergy did produce and sell some MPX's which are still in use today, but like many dot com startups of the day, Envenergy's revenue did not match their expenses, so they began shrinking after their third round of funding cash began to run out. They eventually died after merging with another company funded by shared venture capital partners.
After Envenergy, the engineering market was contracting broadly in conjunction with the dot com bust. Hatch and Kirk had withdrawn from Southern California to it's home base in Washington, and there were no Woodward Distributors in Southern California. Tom contacted his previous affiliates from Gerhardt's and Hatch & Kirk, who were now working for Peaker Services Inc, based out of Peaker's Brighton Michigan Facility.
Tom restructured his sole proprietorship in 2003 and registered the fictitious business name Tasker with Santa Barbara County. Tasker was chosen because the domain name Tasker.us was available and it described the core activity better than Valuation. Tasker was also shorter than Valuation, and for the root of a directory structure, shorter is better than longer. Other structural changes included an accounting shift from Excel to QuickBooks.
Tom began working for Peaker Service's Engineered Systems Group as an independent contractor DBA Tasker in the summer of 2003. Tom continued to work & dispatch from his home office in Carpinteria California. Tom's initial work for Peaker covered a broad range of Woodward products from EPGs to 505s. As Tom's satisfied customer base grew, his time resources were stretched. As Peaker expanded their workforce, Tom began to focus less on reciprocating machinery and more on steam turbine applications.
Tasker's web based documentation evolved because Peaker kept their documentation on a server in their Brighton Michigan home office, but Peaker did not have VPN access to their server. After about a year with Peaker, Tom began to assemble his documentation packages as HTML directories that could be posted to Peaker's server and emailed to customers as a zip file that would maintain the referential integrity needed for document links to work. Tom received positive customer feedback from end use customer's so he continued to refine his html templates to address the typical service and project activities. Because many of Peaker's service engineers worked from home offices, server access was limited to those occasions when we were physically at Peaker's Brighton Michigan facility. This limited access issue was problematic, but numerous request to Peaker's IT staff for VPN access to the server were declined, so Tom began posting his work product documentation to a Peaker Directory under Tasker's domain name. The web posting enabled access via a dial up connection from hotel rooms for ongoing project development documentation, service reports, and customer work product delivery.
With the economic implosion in the fall of 2008, the industrial sector began to contract, including the energy markets. There was some lag time because many projects have a long sales and or development cycle, but eventually, fewer industrial projects were funded. Peaker had expanded its workforce through 2006 and 2007, but by the summer of 2009 they were looking at downsizing. As an employee owned company, it is politically problematic to have contractors doing work when you are laying people off, so Peaker informed Tom Truax they would not be able to assign Tasker work in the near future. Tasker gave Peaker capability that they did not otherwise have, but Peaker needed to address their internal politics regarding outsourcing.
In the summer of 2009, Tasker began to add some of the admin functionality previously provided by Peaker, including General Liability and Professional Insurance, along with a drug testing program, employee screening, Osha certification, Osha Logs, and an 800 TFN PBX. Tasker's service rates increased to address the cost of the additional overhead, but are still less than larger organizations with more overhead.
As of today, (March of 2012) Tasker continues to do projects and service customers. Tasker must assure the end use customers are satisfied because without a dedicated sales force, customer referrals and reference are Tasker's main source of future projects.