This timely quote arrived in my email the other day.
We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.
Thomas A. Edison
Why is this timely?
First, it is Labor Day! A public holiday held in honor of working people.
Second, I’ve recently contacted a number of friends, family members and acquaintances who are general contractors, to potentially address some fairly significant projects at our church.
When I say general contractors, I don’t mean the kind that drive around in old, beat-up, rusted-out, trucks, with a ladder on the roof, a mess of construction debris in the back, and cigarette smoke billowing out the windows. I’m referring to professional general contractors who earn SIGNIFICANT (6-figure) incomes from their vocation. They live in large, well-kept homes and drive bright, shiny trucks that serve as rolling billboards for their successful businesses.
In my conversations with these gentlemen I’ve heard things like:
- I am crazy busy. We are completely booked until the end of the year.
- I’ve had to turn away over $250,000 of business this year. I just can’t find dependable workers needed to address the demand.
- The younger generation is no longer entering the trades. And, the older generation is exiting the trades (retiring).
- When I subcontract work to other general contractors the quality is too often not there or they don’t do what they said they would do. They simply are NOT professional.
Why am I writing about this?
It would seem there is a lack of quality labor which has left an open opportunity to earn a substantial income, for those who decide to pursue “work” and do so professionally.
I know, some will say: I don’t want to sling a hammer or perform manual labor for the rest of my life.
Let’s start with those who are in, or have recently exited, high school or college…
If you go to work for a highly-qualified, professional general contractor, you have the opportunity to learn the ropes of the trade.
Yes, you will get to dig ditches, carry a seemingly endless pile of lumber from point A to point B, lug buckets of mortar up a ladder, etc. In short, you will “get” to work – HARD!
For those “very few” who actually bust their butt doing so, and behave professionally, the general contractor will increasingly provide opportunities to oversee their team’s work, not just perform it. And finally, I know that one day these general contractors want to completely turn the day-to-day operations of their businesses over to someone they whole-heartedly trust.
You see, these general contractors are in “business.”
They are NOT into doing “all” the hammer slinging and manual labor themselves. These gentlemen are in their early to mid-50’s and generate enough revenue to pay a highly qualified person (in the trade) to run their businesses, allowing them the flexibility to pursue other endeavors (i.e., business opportunities, travel, adventure, etc.).
Once the opportunistic person has climbed the ladder of the trade, working for someone else, they can then consider buying-out the owner of the general contracting business, or start their own.
Seems pretty lucrative to me: a career path that can lead to the launch of one’s own business.
However, to start, one must behave professionally! What does this mean, as relates to the trades?
- Arrive at work on-time (better yet, early), well-rested and…sober.
- Take NO smoke breaks: ever!
- Do NOT curse.
- Be polite and courteous to coworkers and customers.
- Wear reasonable attire: no t-shirts with obscene gestures or offensive remarks.
- Don’t stop working to talk. You are being paid to WORK, NOT TALK!
- Wait for the boss to ask if you need a break.
- When you complete the assigned task IMMEDIATELY ask the boss: “What’s next?” Never sit down or stand around waiting for the next assignment.
- Take the initiative to learn new things on and off the job. Ask the boss for guidance on this.
- Do MORE than is asked!
Some may say: The above is pretty rigid. And, heck, it’s a free county: I can smoke, swear and wear any shirt I want.
Yes, you can: earn an average or low income.
But why would you want to settle for that?
You see, there really is VERY LITTLE COMPETITION TO ACHIEVING HIGH LEVELS OF INCOME. And, true professionals can do so in “the trades.”
In closing, if you’d like to earn a substantial income, realize…You MUST start at the bottom. You MUST work your tail off. And, you MUST always be professional.
If you are ready, and would like to consider an opportunity in general contracting, let me know. I “may” put you in touch with one of my friends 🙂
Happy LABOR Day!
Excellent post Craig! I have engaged many trades over the years and experienced the good and the bad. It doesn’t take much to be on the ‘good’ side… I’m also proud to say my 22 year old daughter pursued a construction job for months (looked fun!), finally got one and is now working hard as a laborer, learning lots of cool stuff and having fun! She works with a great group of guys who respect her because she does all the things you describe above, and they are happy to teach her everything they know. Great stuff!
That is awesome Patrick! Thanks for sharing!!!
Great article, Craig! I dare say that even outside “the trades” all your points are valid – many in the younger generation are not willing to get their hands dirty and put in the hard work on the first rung of the ladder. In the production business people come out of film school wanting to be directors but do not want to start as a grip, lugging cables, crates and coffee. They don’t see this time at the “bottom” as an opportunity to learn everything from everyone around them. Good stuff bro!