Another person that I worked very close to, during my entire time, with Clifton Engineering Company, especially Corps of Engineer work, or any other work that required us to furnish the material, was George Smoll. George headed up the Wolverine Equipment Company, another one of Mr. Clifton’s satellite companies, of which he had several, until the IRS put tighter controls on such things. He did, however, continue to operate Wolverine because it functioned, under George’s supervision, as a supply company and was an agent for various manufacturers of pole line hardware and related equipment. Such an operation gave us, the Clifton Engineering Company, a little advantage on jobs that required the contractor to furnish both the labor and the material. All of the Corps of Engineer work was of that nature.
When we would receive a request to bid a Labor and Material job, I would prepare a material list, from the prints and specifications, and give it to George. He would get supplier’s prices, apply the prices to the units and give the list back to me. I would then apply the unit labor prices and prepare the bid. In some cases it would be helpful if George and I both visited the job site, before a bid was submitted. In several instances, George’s input was found to be extremely helpful, even after the contract had been awarded. One such case was a pre-construction conference at the Kincheloe Air Force Base, near Sault Ste Marie, Michigan.
In all cases, soon after a Corps contract had been awarded, a pre-construction conference, at the job site, would be scheduled. It didn’t make any difference whether it was a big job or just changing light bulbs, you had to attend the conference and be prepared to tell them the name of your Superintendent, the number of people that you would employ, where you would store your material, what your progress and pay schedule would be, who your Safety Person would be, and Lord only knows what all. For some reason, George and I thought it best if we both attended this Kincheloe conference, so we drove the 350 miles up there and reported to the Base Commander, with plenty of time to spare.
As we sat in the Commander’s office, the meeting time came and went, but the Commander did not show up. Finally, after about an hour, he came in and apologized, all over himself, for being so late. His reason was, that he had been at another meeting, in another office, with people who were in charge of safety at all SAC Bases. He told us that, as the meeting progressed, he was able to, pretty well, smooth over most of the violations that his people had been charged with. The Commander told us that, just as the meeting was about to break up, a GI came charging right through the side of the concrete block building, with a tow truck, and got it stopped right in front of the desk where the officer in charge, of the meeting, was sitting. He told us that he thought that his standing with the Department of Safety of the United States Air Force was shot all to Hell, and he didn’t think that, under the circumstances, a pre-construction conference would serve any real purpose, so George and I drove the 350 miles back home.
The Commander knew me and he knew our Company, and I am sure that he trusted the both of us. I just imagine that his Log, for that day, showed that a pre-construction conference had been held and all factors, relative to the performance of the work, had been properly discussed. Personally, I felt that we had accomplished just about as much at that conference as we had at most of the others that I had attended, in the past.