Matt Vetter (Schafer Construction) and Mike Kepsel (Campbell & Shaw Steel) were two of the first people to join our mission, probably because their companies are already living by the DO YOUR PART principles.
This GC/Sub partnership is built on respect, trust, and integrity. They show up ready to actively listen to each other, to collaborate in order to find solutions to challenges, and to focus on present performance, not past perspectives & stereotypes.
Hear their story first-hand and learn actionable strategies to build better relationships with your partners.
Autumn Sullivan 10:57
All right, awesome. Yeah, we had, everyone was just waiting room was waiting at the door. So we’ll go ahead and we’ll get started. Thank you, everyone for joining us today. Today is our very first webinar in our do your part campaign. This is our mission at mobilization funding, and hopefully yours too. Since you’re joining us today, to reframe the way people view think and talk about construction both inside the industry and out. If you have not yet joined our mission and taken the do your part pledge you can find it at on our website, and Scott posts about it on LinkedIn quite a bit as well. So I hope that you join us today I am delighted to bring you the CEO of mobilization funding Scott paper with our special guests, Matt better who is the Vice President of Shaffer construction, and Mike capsule, who is the General Manager of Campbell and Shaw steel. They’re going to share with you how their two companies have built a solid GC subcontractor relationship based on common values, clear communication and shared successes. Scott will be leading the conversation. We want this to be collaborative. So please put your questions in the q&a box. And I will let the guys know when you have a question. And with no further ado, take it away, guys.
Scott Peper 12:10
Awesome. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you for joining, Matt. And, Mike, I really appreciate you guys joining. I’m super excited about this topic I’ve been. Matt, you. And I’ve talked about this endlessly on previous webinars on different other conversations personally in private. And I just moved so excited that as soon as we thought about this topic we launched to do your part campaign mission of ours. We wanted to have live relationships on that could actually talk about how they do this the right way. And I knew reaching out to you, you’d have a great person and you’d have a great trade partner. And Mike, I’m so glad you agreed to join us. Welcome. And thank you very much. Welcome. Awesome. Well, as autumn talked about the do your part mission for us is really about just removing the stigmas that around the GC sub relationship. Ironically, I actually had a meeting at the local ABC chapter here in Tampa this morning, where these exact topics came up. Everybody in the room wants to have a different conversation. But yet everyone is sort of scared to start it off. And so we’re in a unique place to be in the middle of both. We’re not necessarily we’re not a general contractor. We’re not necessarily in construction. We’re certainly not subcontract or trade partners, materials, suppliers or anything in between, but yet we work with everyone. And so we have a unique perspective. I think, to that I want to share with everybody and doing that with my folks that I talked to routinely and even knew, I thought this would be a great forum. So I again appreciate you guys for doing it. And if you want I think it’d be great if everybody could just kind of give maybe a little one minute overview who you are your business. Where are you located? And then I have a list of questions. I’m excited to ask you guys
Mike Kepsel 13:59
go first man.
Matt Vetter 14:00
Sure, sure. I’ll jump in saw Matt Vetter. I’m actually now the president of Shaffer construction or a commercial general contracting firm we’re based in in Brighton Michigan, which is Southeast Michigan. We’ve been in business this is our 25th year and we we build everything short single family homes.
Mike Kepsel 14:23
I’m Mike Kepsel. And the general manager Campbell and Shaw steel. I business has been there probably 30 years we do commercial and industrial steel frames for buildings
Scott Peper 14:39
do key thing that’s what we need for sure. So how did you guys get into construction both then your businesses or decades all? How did you get into construction?
Mike Kepsel 14:52
Um, I think mine I was going to school to be an architect and somehow or another was drafting class. And I was approached by one of the teachers instructors that a local steel company needed, needed help as a draftsman or something. And I went to reply and got the job. And they offered me apprenticeship. And I basically ended up quitting school and became the structural steel detailer through them. And then it just progressed.
Scott Peper 15:26
I think you haven’t tried to go back and design buildings where you bend steel into a perfect arc. Do you try to keep them pretty straight?
Mike Kepsel 15:34
Now we’ve done it all. Yeah, curves don’t bother us yet places we Google stuff. Like, go ahead, Matt.
Matt Vetter 15:43
I was just gonna say I think you make it better steel guy than architect Mike’s, I’m glad you went that route. I got my start in my late high school years, because, quite honestly, I could make a lot more money moving lumber around job sites, and I could do almost anything else at that age. And, and so that’s really where it Springboard I built houses for a long time, moved into commercial in early 2000. Around that timeframe, and it’s just been kind of snowballing ever since.
Scott Peper 16:18
So one of the things that we’ve always seen is this, this natural tension that’s created sometimes, or seems like a lot of times and between a trade partner in any train, and also the general contractor. And some think that it’s maybe because of the nature of your own opposing views on the control on the actual contract itself, that you have the projects, you have others. Can you guys each give a little bit of background, or just a perspective on the way you viewed it? Maybe Maybe all along the your career or or if that’s changed at all?
Matt Vetter 16:57
I’ll jump first, Mike. You know, when I first started in commercial, especially, we did a lot of plan spec work. And it was all, you know, low bid shit that, frankly, nobody really wins in, you know, whoever ends up with a job was typically the guy that made the most mistakes on his estimate. And I think, you know, that that mentality of the the low bid construction is kind of what, what puts us at odds with each other, right? Because nobody wants to admit, nobody wants to lose money, first and foremost. But then to do that, nobody wants to admit fault. And so I think it creates this, this unnatural tension between between the GC and the trade partner. You know, we it gets pretty heated in that. And, you know, we’ve tried to avoid that now. But I can see it very vividly in my, in my memory of times, when that happened when it just leads to screaming matches, and it’s, it wasn’t any fun for me, which is why I got out of it. Like, what do you think?
Mike Kepsel 18:01
I kind of have to agree. You know, and that’s, I have I balanced that with the estimators at the office, and they’ll come to me the projects. And I guess first thing we asked, you know, who’s the contractor? How’s he gonna do it? And you’re like, yeah, that guy’s gonna do the low bid. Why waste your time where I’ve kind of changed the direction the companies go on to more partnerships, and not always have to chase the low bid, build relationships with the contractors, because when you’re fighting with them, or if you know, you end up in a battle, whether it’s no fun. And it’s at the point where by age, as long as I’ve been doing this sometimes, like it’s not worth the effort anymore. There has to be easier ways of doing it. Trying to reach out and build relationships going in trying to help with design ideas. Oh, seems to work out better. And chasing the little bits all the time just never seems to work.
Scott Peper 19:02
I think one of the key things you both just mentioned that it was exactly where my brain was going when we first got into this business was anytime we saw a low margin or low bid, write it everybody lost. And candidly, anytime we financed or work with someone in a low bid situation, we ended up losing two. And we had we went through the same evolution as you both described, but yet we were not a trade partner or general contractor. We weren’t even on the project side. It’s it’s you couple that with the natural, just challenges of a construction project, specifically cash flow and how a fault flows from the bank, to the owner and so forth all the way down. You’re right focusing on something that’s low bid is going to create problems for everyone. So the folks I listed on this I think that’s the key takeaway. We talk about all the time, performance rules the world and that’s the most important thing it’s not price and if you’re thinking price when you’re Estimating. Just know, you hear it, you’ve heard it here that price leads to problems and just change your focus on that. Which brings me to what’s the first construction projects you both worked on? And how did you realize you both had the same synergies and thought processes? The first project
Matt Vetter 20:18
we worked on together, yeah. Holy cow. So I met Mike. Got to be 10 plus years ago now. Yeah, I was running the pre construction department at a, at another company, another GC. And actually, at the time, Mike was at another steel steel supplier. And to be honest, at that time, I knew Mike because he was he was a grumpy as steel guy that you could call it questions. And I was the stressed out, you know, kind of asshole estimator who had no patience and want everything now. And, you know, we we worked together on a lot of projects, when we were both of those separate companies. I don’t remember when you when you move to Campbell, Shawn, Mike, I think it was a bit before I left, where I was at, I think, and tell me if I’m wrong, but I think the real synergy between us kind of happened after we both changed and took over different roles in new companies. Yeah,
Mike Kepsel 21:18
I agree with that. Yeah. I can always remember the conversation, we have the architect, an engineer on the motorcycle shop, on the big fancy canopy, and the architect was looking at it saying, well, the owner needs to get his arms around the project, or whatever it was. And so the only thing the owner gets his arms around is his checkbook, it’s not going to let go that
Matt Vetter 21:44
I remember that conversation.
Scott Peper 21:48
How did you guys manage through it?
Mike Kepsel 21:52
We basically totally architect an engineer, this is what we’re going to do to make it work. And you just have to go along with it. Because we know where the owner is. And all we have to do is pick the phone call up and this is what he’s going to pay for.
Matt Vetter 22:04
Yeah, we were, they were trying to strong arm us into, you know, going back to the owner, and basically saying, You’re a wealthy guy, you should start spending more money. And I can’t say who the owner is, but But Mike knows him, and I know him pretty well. And that wouldn’t have gone well, we would have ended up probably in a ditch somewhere to be quite honest with you. So yeah, it was, it was probably that day that that I really started pushing back on the design consultants, you know, because it’s real easy as a, as somebody with no skin in the game, to just say, just put this in there and pay more money, right, when you have nothing to lose, because you’re going to get your damn fee, hell or high water, whether the project goes, whether it falls apart or otherwise. And I’m not knocking on the design guys, completely. But I think it’s just a different mentality that, you know, the, you know, kind of the blue collar side of the of the industry brings to the table, we got to be more realistic, right, where we’re fiduciaries of our clients, of our clients dollars and of their needs. And that’s what kind of spawned this whole, you know, real design build that we do now, where we try to take the onus of that responsibility onto ourselves so that we can provide the best for our owners, Mike, and I still get along real well, at the end of the project, everybody makes money, and we all win versus yelling and screaming and pointing fingers.
Scott Peper 23:37
Interesting. You know, before you before you guys had these individual experiences, did you ever have any preconceived notions about, like Mike and your case, other general contractors that either were from previous experiences that cemented for you that a negative feeling or a positive feeling? And then your interactions with Matt, change some of that, or, or maybe others? Can you talk a little bit about that?
Mike Kepsel 24:04
There was always, you know, as coming up in the steel business as being in engineering and a detailer. And then I got involved with a larger contractor design build. And Matt used to work there. But this goes way back before Matt’s time, we were brought in way ahead of the design part with one of the partners and had to sit down we would have lunches and basically the napkin sketch. You know, we put it together figure out what it was. He had numbers he wanted to get to as budget and we’d work to help them get to that. And then they would bring in the design team. And so this is where we’re going to go with it. This is what our base sizes were heights, etc, all that stuff. And they design to it. But then you go back to the plan and spec and quoting that’s a whole different animal. that’s already designed and stuff. And then the contractors trying to work for the owner, I don’t know that or the owner trying to push the contractor or beating them up just to keep getting a better product for less money goes back to chase and low bid. A long time ago, I decided I don’t even want to do that. I just want to work with this and do the design, build stuff up front and be able to get in, you know, the front door within a relationship with the contractor. And then Matt came on, I don’t know, a few years later, probably about 10 years ago or so. And I think he caught on to the whole thing, or he was working towards the same thing. It just grew from there.
Scott Peper 25:44
Now on your on your side, you’re working with a guy like Mike who’s got the experience, he’s gone through the evolution of low bid margin, clearly can understand both sides of it. How do you shift when you’re working on projects that whether they maybe Mike’s not working on them, or you know it better yet, it’s just a whole different trade? And that business owner or person you’re working with has a different philosophy than Mike, how do those interactions go? And how do you try to coach them up? Or let him understand or feel comfortable that, you know, you can have a different thought process with you as a trade partner than maybe what the stereotype is?
Matt Vetter 26:26
It’s not easy, you know, that? That’s the simple answer is it’s not easy to convince some guys, that that we as a general contractor are not out just to hose everybody else. Because that’s, that’s the mentality that was driven by the low bid process by the the architects, frankly, that that pumped on that drum. So, you know, when we come across new subcontractors that are either looking at projects we’re working on, or we’re trying to build a new relationship, it takes a lot of work to foster that trust for for me to foster that trust from them that, okay, we’re not, we’re not going to string you out to dry. And I can talk all I want, you know, I can paint a real good picture of my vision and how this industry should work and where we’re trying to take it. But you know, at the end of the day, you’re dealing with folks who have quite likely been burned pretty bad in the past by this system that we were all kind of forced to work in. So it just, it takes time. And you know, Mike touched on relationships. That’s it, like, you have to build that relationship before it ever works. And, you know, to answer your question directly, Scott, there is no quick answer. I don’t think, you know, if they if they believe me right off the bat, and I sold them on my, my outlook then great. But I think more often than not, it just takes a lot of time, a lot of conversations, before we get to that point where there is a mutual trust.
Scott Peper 27:56
Mike anything you’d add to that?
Mike Kepsel 27:59
No, I mean, I agree with them. It’s all about the trust and conversation. Before I was with Campbell & Shaw I was with the previous place. And that’s still company, they chased the low numbers, they would lowball it. Because their attitude was we’re gonna make it up in extras and back charges, and then you’re chasing a whole different animal, you know, down that rabbit hole, it doesn’t work. And you get into all these conflicts with the contractors and it was just nuts. It was a nightmare.
Scott Peper 28:29
In conflicts cost money to
Mike Kepsel 28:31
Yeah, it was a lot of time to chase that. And, you know, in the end, it would settle for 50% of it, but you still everybody’s like, you know, you walk into a building or to a meeting and they know, okay, that’s the lowball guy. I didn’t want to be none of that and didn’t take long at all for me to get tired of it.
Scott Peper 28:52
So, you know, both of you have probably developed younger guys on your own teams, or are new to the business, how do you coach and teach and train inside your own organization to help shape the mentality to approach your new customers or customers you want to work with with the with the mentality that may they may they may have been precondition with before
Mike Kepsel 29:16
That’s what we’re working on now. And kind of bring people in and that’s part of the problem with this business is the lack of people that come in it’s Matt and I’ve talked trying to chase guys and get him into the business or bring kids in you know, they’re just not walking in the front door, throwing an application at you and and looking for a job right now. I mean, wait, go ahead. Go ahead. I’ve got two guys that I work with to help them and they were estimators I guess where they came from, and they were used to a certain thing, you know, plan and spec but didn’t do a lot of design build. I came along when the owner was there and start non teaching, because it’s a different way of doing things, working with different people and kind of turning that corner away from those contractors, like just throw things out the bed, because we know it’s a waste of time, and getting them to help, and I’m introducing them to contractors. I’ve got I’m missing the maths golf outings. So good to know those people. And it’s just changing, changing the whole the aspect of trying to do business.
Matt Vetter 30:34
Yeah, and, you know, we’ve done it on the, on the GC side, I’ve, I’ve tried to shape and mold numerous estimators in my career. And you can tell a very distinct difference when you get a guy that comes from one of the, you know, the big five construction firms versus somebody who comes from something maybe smaller or, or who has never done it before. And to be quite honest with you, I would rather the latter, I’d rather the guy who has no experience in construction whatsoever, but has an open mind and is willing to learn, then try and take the guy from I’m not going to use her name, but the giant paper pushers and bring him into my world and try and deprogram that that mentality because it’s it I’ve found it’s nearly impossible. Maybe I just suck at doing it. But I’ve gone through more candidates and more new hires, from that world trying to bring into mind that I care to even admit, it’s really difficult.
Scott Peper 31:35
Hard to deprogram and reprogram it takes a special person to have it that has a desire to want to realize, Hey, I’ve learned a bunch of things that probably don’t suit me well. And by the way, I want to accept the fact I’m going to blank them out and relearn. It is a special kind of person, regardless of your training skills, man.
Matt Vetter 31:56
Yeah, it definitely is.
Scott Peper 31:58
So what let’s talk a little bit I mean, we probably have, we have a lot of subcontractors, general contractors, material suppliers, different administrators of different companies that are here on this webinar listing. For folks, they’re like, what are some proactive, specific things that they can both do to help change the culture around the GC, subcontractor relationship on their projects? What would you recommend, first and foremost that they could they could do? They don’t have the trust, yet? They got a job jump out in their project, they have a culture around them. That’s either the way we’ve been talking about that’s the norm. And or it’s some combination of both. And how could they go do their part to help make it different?
Mike Kepsel 32:44
Talk? have discussions? Yeah. Have a discussion. The sad part, I think right now is we don’t have data, we don’t have enough face to face discussions, don’t have enough meetings, Graham, you have this whole virus thing that screwed that up. And technology today is made it easier not to have face to face meetings, and discuss things and get views. I think we need to go back to that person. I’m old school. So I guess that’s the old guy you’re talking?
Matt Vetter 33:21
Well, I’m not that much younger. And but I agree with you. I mean, this sort of stuff is great, because right we’re having a conversation from different different sides of the country. And it’s got its purpose. But you know what, what Mike and I do on a day in day out basis for our our actual jobs, you learn much more you communicate better when you’re when you can sit across a table from somebody, you can have an old fashioned set of paper drawings, and you know, highlighters and you can scribble on them. I think talking is a huge point. But I think just shutting up and listening more would would serve a lot of people because I’m gonna keep going back to the relationship side of it, you have to get to know Mike, right, you have to get to know where he’s coming from and what his mentality isn’t to understand how he’s approaching a project. And until you can do that, you’re just going to be spinning wheels. So I think overall communication is really the key. And as a society we’ve gotten away from that.
Scott Peper 34:24
Yeah, I agree. Yeah, it’s funny, um, I was talking to I had friends now for as I get older, and I’m almost I’m in my late 40s But while I get well I get lots I’ve gotten older and I’ve done different deals or negotiated different stuff, whether it’s either inside mobilization funding or out I’ve just you get more confident with yourself and as soon as it’s like almost like one day and you can think about along your journey people tell you hey, you’re you’re okay you know, you’re pretty good. Like Thank you take those comments. Sometimes you don’t, you don’t accept them and other times you start to get some on the one hand, so there’s you believe them all and you think you’re better than you are But ultimately, as you build some confidence, that competence also says, hey, look, I did a good job. But here’s all the other reasons why I did. And in this case, it’s you focused on performance, you didn’t do a little bit, well have the confidence to know why you are good. Be specific, hey, you know, I don’t bid low bid jobs, just be who you are, and that people are gonna either like it or not. And just be clear about who you are, what type of projects you want to work on. You know, if Matt’s telling you, hey, look, we did this one time, this is gonna be tough, but you just tell him, Hey, man, I’m not your guide. And I can’t do that kind of work. I can’t afford to carry the cost. But you know what, when you have this type of job, and this one, this one, I’m your guy, and I can do great on that frame. And here’s the reasons why, like, then Matt doesn’t waste time, you’re not wasting time and vice versa. And Mike, you don’t have to burn up your resources. I’ve just found over the years that if I get more clear with what I can do well, and what more importantly, what I can’t, it allows the other person to hone me in where, where they can see me fit well. And I think it applies to construction really, really well, in the same manner. Because every projects different. You know, they’re all the trades are different. Everything can be specific. I think if everyone just talks like you said, Mike, I mean, that’s the best advice, just talk. And when someone else is talking, now, you and the other side, listen, and do it without judgment. And everyone can get a little more confident to be vocal. And if you’re inside an organization, and you’re not the boss, or you’re not the head of something, ask questions challenge why people are doing it, you know, why do we do it that way? Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it. If you hear that answer, you’re on the home run spot and keep peppering that thing until someone gives you a better reason than because we always did it that way. Because to Mike’s point. It’s there’s a lot of technology out there now. And there’s better ways to do things. None of it’s better than sitting face to face, in my opinion. But there’s technology that definitely helps a construction project, there’s technology that definitely helps bids, and designs and workflows and all kinds of stuff. So those would be some pieces of advice that I would offer up on just listen to you guys conversation. I think you guys in well nailed them.
Matt Vetter 37:14
Yeah, you know, look, this industry is is stressful as hell. So the way I’ve started looking at it in the last, you know, half a decade or so is if I’m going to stay in this industry, and I’m going to sweat and toil to make a living doing what I what I do love to do. I want at least have some damn fun, right? And if if every day is stressful and miserable, because you’re not, you know, you’re always at odds with somebody, and then what the hell’s the point? Because nobody, nobody is getting mega mega rich doing what we do, we can do pretty well. And we’ve got other opportunities, but you know, you’re not hitting billionaire status by being a smaller scale general contractor in southeastern Michigan. Sorry, if that’s a newsflash to you, you know, you can do well, you can have fun, though, you can make a good living, but you got to be able to do it on your own terms.
Scott Peper 38:05
Yeah. Mike anything you’d offer up on that,
Mike Kepsel 38:11
No, I gotta agree with them. You know, it’s this business is stressful, it’s, it’s hard and can be long bass and times, and you got to figure out how to enjoy it. I guess I come to the conclusion here lately, you know, we build buildings, put a product out there. But I have to remind myself, and I’ve started to remind everybody else, one thing we do is we just built buildings, we’re not all surgeons, we make a mistake, can own up to it. Nobody’s gonna die an operating table, if we make a mistake, or something gets broke or something falls down. We can get back up tomorrow and fix it and keep going. And that’s just kind of the attitude we have to take and keep plugging along.
Scott Peper 38:57
So, here’s an opportunity for you guys. Let’s just say this entire webinar was being heard by all the major owners and bankers and architects and designers in the world. What what are the one or two things that you guys wish they were doing differently at the top of the waterfall that would help impact everyone positively?
Matt Vetter 39:24
You know, I think it comes back to communication but learning to you know, we have a constant struggle seemingly lately, especially with with lending institutions that do not understand the design build model of construction. They only understand and they only have on paper, you know, the rules that that govern the old, the old school design bid. Right? And trying for us and that’s been one of our biggest pain points in the last few years is as we’re growing as a company and working on larger and larger projects where we’re, by the nature of the beast dealing with more and more banks and lenders firsthand and trying to educate them that. Look, this isn’t the way that you think it’s done. This isn’t the way you’ve been told, it’s always been done, we do things differently, there’s a different approach here. For example, architects, in our model, I hold the architecture contracts, where in previous models or other models, the owner does or the developer does, we have a constant battle with lending institutions to even get them to understand that I’m in a battle right now I have a have a call with my attorney after this, to discuss this very topic, because we have a bank wanting me to get my architect to sign over rights and to agree to a bunch of nonsense, should the project go south, so that he would essentially then be working for the bank? To which I said that it’s not impossible, right? We hold their contract. So so maybe we could have that relationship with the lender. But, but it can’t be a way around, and it’s just, uh, you know, I’m not knocking on them. But it’s, it’s an old school mentality, or that they don’t, they don’t seem to want to figure out or want to learn how it is that we do business. It was a long winded answer around it. But you know, we were seeing it constantly, it seems, and I don’t know how best to fix it. Because just talking hasn’t, hasn’t helped.
Scott Peper 41:34
I think developing relationships in the banking world are just as important. You know, I, I’ve found a lot of friends that are developers or partners, and they, you know, who their bankers and how they develop those relationships and educate them along on what they do and how they do it. Is, is important, you know, if you think back if banks can land into the world, where they’ll allow a developer to clear a piece of land, and they’ll understand that there’s going to be ultimately a building on it, and they have a lease with a tenant that for something that’s going to be built, they’re going to turn it over, they can understand the construction side, too. They can they’ll get the design build some of them. But you’re right. It’s not it’s not every bank, it’s certainly not the big ones, either. I can promise you that. Big banks are not going to be the ones that gonna take time to figure that out. Um, is there any, is there one or two things that you guys have found that are in that AIA Contract that you wish for change? Or you do change often, to benefit one and I?
Matt Vetter 42:41
I mean, I do by not using them? We’ve, we’ve moved away from them completely. We still have some legacy projects that were under AIA documents. But But there’s other options out there. You know, and, again, I sound like I’m shitting all over the architecture profession. I’m really not. But an AIA document was written by architects, and is designed to protect the architect and the owner and it it does nothing. For the general contractor. It certainly does nothing for the subcontractors, and it causes divisions in and of itself. So there’s other options we have used. Consensus docs has a pretty reasonable set of documents that protects everybody, but it’s got it was written with input from subs and from GCS, not just the design side. There’s, there’s other forms and formats. That would be my answer, just stop using them.
Scott Peper 43:41
Yeah, it’s interesting, because it’s why I brought that up. Mike, anything you want to use? What do you see working with different folks
Mike Kepsel 43:48
to agree with him? I mean, I’ve done some routes from what Matt calls the Big Five area, and I’ve gone through their contracts that use those and I’ve redlined them and marked a mountain. So I’m not going to do this, or I don’t agree with it, or, you know, and I’ll send it back to him that sign and so you need to change, revise it. And I’ve literally had their legal call me and say, You can’t mark it up as well that I’m not signing the contract. You know, you’re going to go to the next guy. Next thing, you know, no red, line it and blank it out and I’ll get the contract. But it’s always a nightmare. And if you don’t take the time spent a whole day reading the contract and going through it. You’re leaving yourself exposed. Yeah. Matt says there’s there’s better ways.
Scott Peper 44:38
Matt, is this contract something that you have that you guys have created or modified? Or is it something that everyone can go get on their own? At least start with from a template perspective?
Matt Vetter 44:48
Nope. Consensus docs. I think it’s consensus docs.com Or someone something around that it’s it’s not free. I mean, you got to pay for it but But anybody can go and buy their their template. That’s, which is what we’ve done. And then we modify them accordingly, you know, based on based on project based on need, you know, we, you can start from scratch. You know, my, my attorney is always asking me to let her create us a contract. And while I appreciate the intent, I think more of it is to get the billable hours and doing so. But, you know, again, the consensus docs, it’s not perfect. It’s not perfect by any means. I don’t think there is any perfect contract. But it’s, in my mind, from what I’ve seen, it’s, it’s way more well rounded.
Scott Peper 45:34
You know, I can say, from our perspective, having read reading a lot of contracts that are executed that come to us, the AI is definitely and most of our con, most of our customers are subcontractors. And it’s definitely not a favorable contract without some tweaks to it. And you’re you hit the nail on the head, Mike, matter of fact, one of the webinars we did was with an attorney having to be out of Texas, but very familiar with the doctrines and he recommended the five or six places that you really should like, make some modifications. If you want to have like, any, if anything bad happens, you’ll at least be in a somewhat okay spot versus just a disaster. And so I recommend everyone go do that. We can post that later on and show but you got the money you spend on those contracts. Redlining is worth every penny and a couple hours you spend your trade new than it is getting in a fight?
Matt Vetter 46:26
For sure. 100% agree. Yeah. So many people don’t read them. You know, and that on the GC side, the sub side, the owner side, so maybe we’ll just, you know, if we could all work on a handshake, that’d be great. I’d love it. But that’s not the world we live in. And if you don’t take the time, and spend the money to really understand what the hell it is you’re signing. Good luck to you.
Mike Kepsel 46:52
Yeah, you need to read them.
Scott Peper 46:56
I’m gonna look and see here we have some questions. It looks like there’s been some comments, I want to ask you guys a couple of right from the audience here. Um,
Autumn Sullivan 47:04
We do have questions. We have one from Ben, that says, What have you done to educate the project owners who are hesitant to do the design build approach, it seems they’re hesitant because they don’t personally know or trust, a GC or subcontractor. So they feel like they’ll get taken advantage of Whichever one of you wants to jump in first,
Mike Kepsel 47:30
I guess I probably got the longer exposure. We sit down, going back to that one contractor, and he would bring a lot of his trades in and meet with the owner face to face. And we will put numbers together. And he was shown those numbers. It was basic, open book. We had a profit margin, but I could do it with Matt, anybody, I’d sit down and show you our cost for all of our materials, show your labor hours, and our profit margin. Do. You know, if a contractor is willing to do that with an owner? I, I don’t see how it couldn’t work. Maybe they’re not showing up. So maybe that’s how the honors who like maybe they get taken.
Matt Vetter 48:21
I think that’s just it, you know, Ben, he mentioned that they don’t know or they don’t trust the person that that’s the first three rules of sales, right? You got to you got to get your client to know like, and trust you. And if you’re trying to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes, why would they trust you? You know, we operate still, like Mike just said on a on a very open book, I’m happy to sit down with an owner and any of my trade partners that that are there and and we’ll show them every number, I’ll show you exactly what what I’m gonna make Michael show you what he’s gonna make. You may not like it, but, you know, at least it opens up the door for conversation. And that’s the way we change this industry is we have to start having those conversations, to gain the trust from the ownership community as a whole. Because it, you know, design builds been around forever. But for a very long time, it’s just been a catchphrase. You know, it’s been like hanging your core values on your wall and calling that good. People would throw it around to use it as a marketing term. We have to do better as an industry to really teach people what the hell it means and how it can actually work and benefit not just us but the owners also.
Scott Peper 49:34
The owners want their buildings built that mean that they’re not interested in the construction of the building doesn’t help them what that’s not the purpose of the building. It’s not certainly not going to make them any money. It’s not going to occupy itself. So I think we you just hit the nail on the head both of you is the confidence to actually say I’m making money on the project. By the way, guys, like I’m definitely doing that number one, and here’s how much I’m making. And I don’t feel bad about making that money and There’s a lot of risk, like on paper right now I make this money if I could put my fingers and it’s done, yeah, that’s what I’ll make. But you know what, there’s a lot of things in here that have risk I have to perform, I have to manage people, there’s a 10 month project, it’s a two month project, whatever it is, a lot has to go. Right for me to make that money more often than not, I’ll make less, sometimes I might end up making more if I can be efficient, but who cares? Like, you know, I’m making money. That’s it. And it’s that’s the brain shift that I’ve seen in our group, while we work with different folks that, and I’m sure there’s folks on here now thinking like, that’s insane. I’ve never done that before, I promise you, if you do that, you’re gonna win more bids. Because I believe it’s the unknown that people don’t trust, not what they know, if they know you’re, you show them all the numbers, they know, you’re gonna make 25%. And they think you should only make 15. They’re, they’re happy that you’re not making 30 As if that was on the table before 40 or 50, or whatever. And they feel like, okay, 25 is more, but they know, at least they know and they’re like, Alright, then they can talk to you about the things that are actually important, right? If I give you this, you’re gonna do a good job, like you promise you’re gonna do a good job. And this is why and here’s how I think they can run with that.
Matt Vetter 51:15
That’s what I believe. Well, why the by the F, wouldn’t we do that? Right? It’s, it’s, we have already talked about how stressful the industry is. It is fun, I like building stuff. But it’s not that fun that I want to do it for free. I’ve got plenty of things I could occupy my time with, if I wasn’t making any money, and it wasn’t concerned with paying bills, and it probably wouldn’t be building buildings. So we do it as a profession, we do it to make a living to put food on our family’s plates, you know, why the hell not have those conversations? And if the owner doesn’t like that, I’m putting 15% on it. We can have a debate, you know, but But you get back to that, that age old conversation. Well, what is my experience worth? Because you can’t do this yourself? That’s why you’re talking to me, you know, just like, I can’t do surgery, but I can build a hospital. You know, and and Mike’s got, you know, decades of experience under his belt, why the hell Shouldn’t he charge for that? Because nobody else has that you can’t, you can’t reproduce that, you know, there’s no technology ever that can reproduce that sort of thing. So we’ve all got to stop being so chicken shit about making money. We’re that’s why we’re doing this. That’s why we have these conversations is why we’re in business.
Scott Peper 52:36
I couldn’t agree more. You know, um, the other point I was gonna make was as you as you start to jump into these, you’re having these conversations about dollars and cents and money. You realize also Okay, yeah, 20% is whatever, like, that’s the margin, let’s say, for example, but they’re holding 10% of retainage. And they’re talking about 20%. And you’re like, Listen, man, I’m running the job on 10, which is hard. Like, how about I hold 50% of your profit? I mean, 10 seems like 10. But it’s really 50% of the profit. I mean, then you can might be able to get into a conversation where the owner might say, Okay, well, if you could bring your margin down to, you know, 5%, then I won’t hold any retainage. And then you have a choice, then you can make some decisions one way for you advantageous to you, maybe you’d rather have more of your money up front, and you can do it for less. Or maybe you can say I get a hold, you know, you can pay my guys or I can pay this or I can get better terms if you allow me to do this as a nurse. So yeah, I’ll do that. If you give me 10%. Up front, I’m a contract. And I can actually get out and get started and do this more efficiently. Now you can get into the meat of real conversations that actually will make the job more efficient, you can actually make more money on it. By spending less, you can get into some conversations, if you get past the price. And when everybody’s making just slap it on the table. That’s my personal opinion. I’ve seen that in my own world, with different business ventures. I’ve definitely heard folks like you guys who do that just just like this. And they’re every one of them are more happy. They do better projects, they avoid problems. And there’s less ambiguity, always.
Autumn Sullivan 54:13
Yeah, there’s an added benefit to talking about money. Oh, I’m sorry, not in that the perception of construction is that it’s and we talked about this in the Do Your Part campaign, that the perception of construction as an industry is that it’s a dead end job. And that you have to go to college and you know, all the stories that we all know, right? But if the if, if, if the industry is willing to start talking about what you actually can make and construction if we’re just like you said less chickenshit and willing to talk about the money that can be made here. It’s it that’s part of changing the perception, you know, for the for the younger people who are coming into the industry, that it’s an actual viable career where you can make real money
Matt Vetter 55:00
Yeah, you don’t have enough time to get me on that soapbox. That could be a whole nother episode, but I will be 100% agree with you awesome.
Autumn Sullivan 55:13
Yeah, we’ll have you on for that one, I promise.
Scott Peper 55:17
Also say if everyone hangs out on this and complains about the topics we’re having, and do nothing different than I guess you deserve what you’re getting. But now that you’ve been on this and listened, try it. Pick the person have the best relationship with go show how much you’re gonna make on their project. Ask them if there’s anything you could do for them to help them better. Think about it from their perspective and ask them to think about the project from your perspective. And you’ll both find a lot of value in that and probably a great relationship. I promise you the unknown. This is a long lasting as the unknown is what people don’t trust more than anything else. The unknown.
Autumn Sullivan 55:59
Yep, very true. All right. And if you haven’t yet, go to our website, take the do your part pledge. Join us in our mission. Thank you guys so much for joining us. We don’t have any other questions. So I’ll go ahead and give you 15 minutes back to your day. Scott, did you want to close this out?
Scott Peper 56:17
Yeah, there was one in the chat. I think we answered it. It had to do with Luis, I saw your earlier will we be sharing this recording? Yes, absolutely. We’ll send out a link to this to everyone. We’ll also put on LinkedIn, it’ll be live. I’m sorry, not live. It’ll be on YouTube, you can always go get it. You can see this as and as many times as you want and slow motion. Rewind. And fast forward. Are you able to see it all? Um, I think we Matt mentioned that consensus docs was another question in the chat about where the documents are. And everyone that’s had so many positive comments, I thank you very much. We appreciate it. And most importantly, Matt and Mike, thank you guys so much for your time, I appreciate you guys having the courage to share this. Your own relationship and journey and interaction. I applaud both of you for having the confidence to do it the way you do it. And most importantly, this do your part mission you guys definitely represent and are already leading the way on it. And I’m so glad we chose you guys to Nashville, and most importantly, you accepted to jump on, it’s great to watch the both of you and what you’ve cultivated. And I’m certain one or a few people, if not hundreds, hopefully will be impacted by this and start to have a little bit different conversations. And soon enough, the world keeps spinning. And it’ll permeate out farther and farther. And will all of a sudden one day someone’s going to come to you and show an owner is going to walk in your guy’s dorm show you how much money they’re gonna make and ask you how much you’re gonna make. And maybe they’ll even give you a little more taste on.
Matt Vetter 57:50
That Scott, I appreciate you having us on. It was it was fun as always. Mike, I’m glad you came. Thanks for Well, thanks for helping along the way, buddy.
Mike Kepsel 57:59
Oh, welcome. Thanks for having me.
Autumn Sullivan 58:01
Thank you guys so much.
Scott Peper 58:04
Please join us in the do your part mission. There’s some cool guests, there’s lots of stuff we’re doing, it costs you absolutely nothing. We’re going to help educate things just like this type of topics, more gas, more conversations, different blogs, different ideas. Our part in this deer park mission is launching our cash flow tool that we will have we’ve gone through webinars on this before, but it’s a cash flow tool. It is 100% free. Anyone can download it right on our website, what is the cash flow tool, it basically helps you figure out if you haven’t been in an estimate and a schedule you need to keep. It’ll show you exactly how much cash you need to execute that job. And if you don’t have enough cash, just imagine knowing that in advance, and then you have the options and tools to be able to do it. Perhaps you take that tool into your GC or your owner and you show them Hey, man, I need $5 million to run the project because you’re taking too long to pay me if you pay me in 30 days, I only need 2 million. So help me out or hundreds of 1000s or whatever it is. But that tool is very impactful that may help you make proactive decisions and it’s 100% free. And all the tools are there for you to use it and show it and work off of it. So thank you all again, Mike. And Matt. I really appreciate you guys. Thank you so much. Thanks. Take care, everybody. You too
The construction industry is a lot like an American muscle car.
I want you to picture a classic American muscle car. In fact, let’s all take a minute and appreciate this 1968 Ford Fastback Mustang GT.
The GT was built with purpose. Every mechanical component, every aesthetic choice, every button, knob and light all work together to communicate and fulfill that purpose: POWER.
That car was built to dominate the road, to kick ass and take names.
When you sit behind the wheel of an expertly-designed, expertly-engineered, and expertly-manufactured vehicle — be it a classic American muscle car or a king-of-luxury Bentley, you know this vehicle was built with PURPOSE.
The construction industry used to feel like that. The industry had a PURPOSE and was built to fulfill that purpose. Every second- or third-generation contractor will tell you that their parents used to take pride in being part of the industry that was building America.
Now imagine that same 1968 Mustang sitting in a front yard somewhere. The paint is faded, the upholstery is cracked, and a family of squirrels is living in the engine. This amazing machine, capable of such power and greatness, left to gather rust.
That’s how the construction industry felt for a long time. Dismissed by society as a “lesser” track. Pushed aside in favor of expensive college degrees. Taken over by bad actors.
You know what, though? That Mustang can be a powerful machine again. It just needs to be rebuilt.
Construction IS an engine of PRIDE and PERFORMANCE.
It just needs to be rebuilt.
Who is going to rebuild it?
We’ve spent a year defining our Purposes, establishing our Core Values, and building our Work Cultures. (If you’re new here, click any of those links to catch up.)
Now it’s time to take all of that purpose and energy and use it to impact the industry that we love.
Roll up your sleeves. Break out your toolbox. It’s time to get to work.
Subscribe to our newsletter to learn exactly how we are going to do it and how you can help!
Purpose-driven goals shifts a company’s objectives away from performance and financial targets and toward larger goals that help fulfill your company’s purpose. Don’t worry — we’re not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to sales, revenue, or new client acquisition. You absolutely should, we do too! But one way to ensure you reach those goals is to align them to your purpose.
Give your financials goals a purpose-driven WHY.
Why More Money isn’t the Goal
Raise your hand if your company’s biggest or only goal is tied to a revenue number.
Wrong idea. Put your hands down.
Why isn’t more money the primary goal? Because unless it is tied to something purposeful, more revenue doesn’t mean you will have more money or have power to improve your life, the lives of your team, or your larger community. For example, we talk to lots of business owners who have grown their company from $1 million in revenue to $5 million. They thought more money would lead to less stress and bigger paychecks but found that the opposite was true. They were working more and taking home the same paycheck with way more stress!
WHY was the money necessary? What was it supposed to do and HOW was it supposed to do it? A purpose-driven goal aligned to a top-line revenue goal would have helped solve that.
Growing your top line revenue from $1 million to $5 million will probably change your business, but it might not necessarily change your life or the lives of your team members unless it is profitable, sustainable, and rewarding. Rewarding is defined as tied to a specific purpose that you and your team are aligned to.
In fact, if your team is already feeling overworked and unfulfilled, more revenue only means more work to do and an even greater lack of fulfillment.
Why Purpose-Driven Goals are Good for Your Team
Purpose-driven goals are shown to inspire teams and improve performance. Money without purpose can drive short-term performance, but it can’t stop things like burnout and employee unhappiness. In fact, Harvard Business Review says that when money is the goal, burnout is more likely. The research was related to entrepreneurs, but we can all relate to feeling drained by work rather than energized by it.
You want to see your team jump up and hustle? Give them a goal they can care about. It might be directly related to your company — like building an outdoor lunch area or a company retreat — or it might be something external, like supporting a charity or organization in your community. Whatever it is, make THAT the goal, and draw a line directly from it to the team’s increased efforts. They’ll stay motivated and more revenue will naturally come from their inspired performance.
Making money is the thing that facilitates the goal. It’s the fuel in the car that is getting you to your destination. It’s NOT the destination.
Our CEO Scott Peper shared an example of purpose-driven goal setting at the Tampa Build Expo, in his class Building a Business with Purpose. He said:
We have a culture initiative at MF called “The One More email.” It is from a line in our core value LEADERSHIP THROUGH ACTION. It says, “Do one extra thing for each person you come in contact with each day.”
To encourage this core value and celebrate each other’s hard work, every MF employee sends out an email on Friday with one example of a “One More” that they did for someone else.
They also get to nominate each other for something extra. The winner each week wins a prize like a gas card, Starbucks card, or even an extra PTO Day.
I expect 100% participation. Here’s the interesting part: The prizes are not enough of an incentive. My expectation that they all contribute isn’t enough of an incentive.
So, I set a goal. The goal is not “100% participation.” The goal is “up to $600 for a charity you care about.”
See, leadership puts money toward the donation every week that we have 100% participation. The team selects the charity every quarter. It is always something they care about passionately. We have donated to K9s for Warriors, the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and a charity called A Kid’s Place, which works to keep siblings in the foster system together.
The team absolutely crushes it. Why? Because they rally around the CAUSE they are supporting.
Find something your team can believe in, something that will improve their work, their lives, or their community. Make THAT the goal. Then show them how increased revenue will help them achieve it.
Tips for Purpose-Driven Goal Setting
Set individual KPIs. Once you have a goal tied to a performance or revenue objective, you have to make sure that each team member understands the key metrics in their specific role that will contribute to the overall company goal. Work with them to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) around their own work that show progress toward the goal.
Goals should be ambitious. They should motivate your team to work harder and collaboratively. But, setting goals too high can have the opposite effect; unattainable goals set by management can feel like a setup for failure. Make sure your goal stretches your team but doesn’t break it.
Milestones should be achievable. If goals are ambitious and lofty, the milestones you set to show progress should be achievable. Think of it like this — if you have a goal to run a marathon, your indicator would be “miles run daily” and your big milestones might be one mile, 5k, 10k, half-marathon, and full marathon.
Set a goal that is bigger than your business, defined by your Purpose Statement, and easily measured by a relevant indicator. Communicate the goal with your team, why it matters and how you will track progress toward the eventual finish line.
Join us in making 2021 your Year of Purpose. Subscribe to our newsletter and we will walk through this journey together.
Mission, vision, core values, and purpose statement — there’s a lot to unpack when you’re transforming your business into one driven by purpose, not just profit. Each of these statements will be one piece in your overall business strategy, along with your key products or services, financial goals, and the activities you will undertake to achieve them. We’ve already discussed how to identify your company’s purpose and draft a Purpose Statement. Today let’s dive into defining your company’s core values and how they work to inform all the other pieces of your business plan.
What are Core Values?
Core values are not a “soft skill” marketing exercise. They are the essential principles of your organization; they are the beliefs that you will use to guide ALL company decisions. Your values should dictate the behavior of your team and leadership. Think of your corporate core values like the values you keep at home and instill in your children. In fact, your company’s values need to start with YOUR values. You are the head of this “family,” and it is up to YOU — your actions, decisions, and even the words you use to communicate — to lead through example.
Think about the values you instill at home. If you say to your kids, “We tell the truth in this house, always,” then honesty might be one of your core values. If you believe in the “pay it forward” philosophy at home, you can extend that altruism and generosity into your company’s culture.
You need to decide what you, ultimately, stand for, and what you will NOT stand for. Those are your core values. They should grow to become the values of your company.
One more thing about core values — you need team buy-in. Which means, they need to look at the core values you’ve laid out and say, “Yes, this sounds like how we operate” or “Yes, this is something I want to stand for and be a part of.” If your core values aren’t true to you, or if they don’t extend to how you manage your team and your business, your team won’t believe in them and they will become empty, meaningless marketing jargon.
Take a deep breath, this part may be difficult. It is possible, even likely, that not every member of your current team will embrace your core values. If you start a business with strong values from the beginning, you can hire a team directly aligned with those values. When you are introducing core values to an existing team, however, you need to be ready for the fact that not everyone will accept them. Some may choose to leave, or you may need to help them find a position with another company that is a better fit for them.
Core Values in Your Business Plan
Your core values are just that — the CORE of your company’s identity. They need to be the foundation of your business strategy, so it makes sense to include them in your business plan. Ideally, right at the beginning.
Don’t confuse your mission statement or vision statement with core values. Your mission statement is a statement of what your company already does. Your vision statement is a big, aspirational goal for your company. Core values dictate what your company will do, and what it won’t do, to achieve your mission and your vision.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips for writing corporate value statements:
- Keep them short. Too many core values become confusing and hard to remember in moments of conflict or stress (when you need them most). Keep your list between three and five.
- Keep them simple. If you need 300 words to explain a value, go back to the drawing board. Core values are convictions shared by you and the entire team. They should be easy to grasp and remember. Think in bullet points, not paragraphs.
- Keep them specific. Your core values should be more than one generic word. Spell out exactly what the value means to your organization, in clear, simple language.
As you construct the rest of your business plan, keep your values at the front of your mind. If one of your core values is “We give, serve, and love our community” then you should consider baking into your business plan a community outreach model. If one of your values is “We believe work and fun in equal measure delivers great results” then you should keep in mind culture initiatives as you build out your company’s practices and operations.
The Benefit of Corporate Values
Your corporate values will make or break your reputation. People will want to work with you, and FOR you, if they know your values are more than lip-service. In construction and manufacturing especially, business success is built through strong relationships.
It is easy to look around and think, “Values don’t matter. PRICE matters.” Don’t be fooled by this short-term thinking. If you engage in unethical practices to win business, or sacrifice quality to cut costs, your TRUE values will show themselves, your reputation will be built on those actions, and your customers will soon be looking for new partners.
Ethics matter. Values matter. Relationships matter. What you say matters. A low-price is only attractive until you see what it gets you.
You build your reputation by setting an expectation and living up to it. Share your core values with prospective clients and new team members so they know what to expect from your company. Then, do the work to meet those expectations. Let’s say you are a manufacturing company and “Accountability” and “Honesty” are two of your corporate values. Your customers should expect that your team owns every project from start to finish, and that they communicate transparently regarding price, schedule, changes, or challenges. Do that successfully, and you will build a reputation for being a manufacturing partner customers can count on and trust.
Herb Keller, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, explained the relationship between core values and business success like this, “We always felt that people should be treated right as a matter of morality. Then, incidentally, that turned out to be good business too. … We said we want to really take care of these people, we want to honor them and we love them as individuals. Now that induces the kind of reciprocal trust and diligent effort that made us successful. But the motivation was not strategy, it was core values.”
Your core values should be a public promise to everyone impacted by your company — customers, employees, partners, vendors, community, and so on. Live up to that promise and your company will reap the rewards of business done right.
Like what you just read? Subscribe to our newsletter and join our Purpose-Driven journey.
Active Listening is the Secret Skill You Need to Grow Your Business
To transform your company into a purpose-driven business, you need to become a purpose-driven leader. A purpose-driven company aligns its business goals to an external goal or mission. Success and purpose live hand-in-hand for these businesses, which tend to experience faster growth, enjoy greater camaraderie, and deliver better customer experiences.
A company’s purpose has to be authentic to its leader, the person who will nurture and sustain that purpose as it disseminates throughout a team or organization. Defining your leadership purpose can also help you become a better leader. Purpose-driven leaders exhibit characteristics such as self-awareness, flexibility, confidence, and innovation.
This year, we are on a mission to help as many business leaders as possible transform their business into something MORE—a vehicle for personal fulfillment, community outreach, philanthropy, civic action, WHATEVER your purpose is.
It starts by finding your leadership purpose.
Finding Your Leadership Purpose
When pressed to define their purpose, many executives and business leaders will say something akin to, “To ensure my team’s success” or “To best activate strategies that result in achieving our planned objectives and goals.”
Those are NOT your purpose. They are important aspects of the role, but they are not WHY you get up in the morning and go to work. This is especially true if you are the owner of a small business. You didn’t decide one day, “I’m going to start a textile manufacturing company so I can achieve planned objectives.”
You also didn’t start your business just to make money. You did it for something BIGGER than that. To feed your family, to make your parents proud, to stay out of trouble, to offer a better product to customers or a better work environment for your employees. Start here. WHY you started your business is a great place to mine for leadership purpose. If you fell into your business on accident or by circumstance then why did you stay in it?
Now, what about that “Why” energized you enough to go through the challenges of starting and running a small business? What fed your fire, kept you going when times got tough? Was it offering a job to people who deserved a second chance? Was it watching your kids’ college fund steadily growing? Or was it opportunities to clean up and beautify neighborhoods in your small town?
These exercises will help you get to the heart of your purpose as a business leader.
Create a Purpose-Driven Leader Statement
There is an undeniable psychological impact to writing something down. When you know your leadership purpose, give it the weight it deserves by writing it down. Don’t smother your leadership purpose in business-speak. This isn’t a company Mission Statement; this is your Leadership Manifesto.
According to Harvard Business Review, Dolf van den Brink, the CEO of Heineken USA, declared his purpose statement as: To be the wuxia master who saves the kingdom.
He’s a big kung fu movie fan. He is also a fan of taking action in high-risk situations. This kind of dramatic purpose statement feeds your energy to do the hard work your role requires, whether that is the risk-taking action hero or the wise, diplomatic team-builder.
After you have written your purpose statement, describe how that purpose will help your company succeed. Set goals that utilize your purpose and move your company forward. Having a roadmap will help you harness the power of your purpose and transform it into meaningful action.
Now you know your value as a purpose-driven leader in your organization. The next step is to expand that purpose into an Organizational Purpose Statement. More on that soon!
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Construction has a major skilled labor problem. Working with registered apprenticeships or creating a private apprenticeship program can help your company fill your talent pipeline with skilled workers ready to go to work for YOU!
In this episode of Built for Growth, Kyesha Robinson and Natasha Sherwood share how building apprenticeships, mentoring, and education into your company’s business plan can dramatically increase your team’s productivity, improve morale, and help your company reach its goals for growth.
Full Transcript Below
Scott Peper 0:34
Hey, good afternoon, everybody. Welcome. I’m so glad to bring you guys our newest episode of built for growth. I have two great guests here with me today. First is Keisha Robinson. She is the managing officer of the Workforce Innovation at Pinellas Technical College. And Natasha Sherwood, Executive Director for independent electrical contractors of Florida on the West Coast chapter. Both of you welcome. It’s great to see you guys.
Natasha Sherwood 1:00
Kyesha Robinson 1:01
Well, thank you. So happy to be here. A really important topic and I’m so grateful that one of our partners, Miss Sherwood was able to be here and represent every day.
Scott Peper 1:10
I think for the audience and the people that are here would be great if you guys can maybe take two or three minutes and just explain a little bit about each of your organization. Who you are how you got into it maybe a little bit about this, the specifics of the organization act and things that are happening now. And of course, how you guys know each other too. And then we start diving in some of the topics. Sure, I’ll let you guys arm wrestle over who goes first, but don’t make me pick.
Natasha Sherwood 1:33
Why don’t you go first because then you can go in and we’ll talk about our partnership for the end.
Kyesha Robinson 1:38
Yes. Again, my name is Kyesha Robinson and I am the managing Officer of Workforce Innovation. pretty long title. But the work that we do in this department is marketing and advertising. And then intentional recruitment of individuals who are interested in or may not even know about the opportunities that await for them in technical and tradition of vocational trade. There are two campuses that this department serves with Pinellas Technical College. One is in Clearwater, the other is in St. Petersburg. At this point, we have over 50 different career technical education programs that we serve, that we offer to the community, as well as a host of apprenticeship opportunities that we have with our employer partners. And we also enter into strategic partnerships with different components in different parts of the community and business industry as needed. So again, very happy to be here and look forward to being a part of the discussion. And having Miss Sherwood, one of our partners with IEC to talk more about our relationship as well.
Natasha Sherwood 2:43
My name is Natasha Sherwood and I’m the executive director, as he said of IEC. Yeah, we don’t do the whole long name either. It’s way too long. And so I
Scott Peper 2:52
I already butchered that one.
Natasha Sherwood 2:54
Yeah, it’s okay. I do too, and is an association. It’s a national organization. And we are the Florida West Coast chapter. And we are pretty much the entire state from Tallahassee across the Jacksonville down. I’m except for about five counties on the east coast. I’m in South East Florida. And but we do things for all of our contractors. So they’re all independent contractors across the state. But the largest portion that we do is our apprenticeship program, and PTC is one of our largest partners. So we have over 400 apprentices each year across the state from all the way in Tallahassee, Tallahassee Community College, HCC and Reach Tech in, Travis tech and Polk marchman. Tech in Pasco. And right down the street at Pinellas Technical College, and clear water, we have almost 150 students and right there in Clearwater, and it’s a four year program that I want the greatest part. So if I get into it, if the students don’t pay anything to tuition, it’s done all through their partners, and their contractors. So PTC helps fund this amazing for your education for them and their contractor employer. And these students graduate in four years, and with making more than most of us make, and skills that are as we’ve all learned, essential, the new word 2020, we all know what essential is now, and they go on to make some really great careers for themselves. And so it’s been a really neat, I’ve only been here about a year and it is one of my new found passions. I was a principal before. So this is just a continuing and passion of mine is that education for students. And like he said in areas that sometimes students don’t realize is an option.
Scott Peper 4:22
Really cool. You know, I’m coming from the other side of it talking to actual clients of ours that own their own subcontracting companies, many electrical companies, but even all the other trades. And one of their biggest problems is they do not these skilled labor, they just have a real issue finding not only labor, but good labor, and even sometimes as one of my clients is Scott at this point. Yes, I love good labor, but I just need labor. And if someone’s not trained or educated, at least if they are willing and able and capable, I will train them or we’ll find some training for him. How do you guys feel the role of apprenticeship programs like this has either evolved or changed or will need to change to meet today’s kind of need and world or is it similar?
Natasha Sherwood 5:06
I think it definitely will. Um, it’s definitely grown just in the time I’ve been here. But prior to that I was working with a local chamber on the lack of skilled labor, specifically in the Tampa Bay metro area and how low it was. And it’s just an amplified by here we are constantly one of the services we offer our members is trying to find them people to hire. And as you mentioned, they’d love to find a journeyman electrician, that is a unicorn, what they would rather find what they’re happy to find is someone that’s willing to work and learn and just yesterday, and I had a gentleman who’s right I helped him with a resume who was a former yoga studio owner, and he wanted to get into something that was essential. He had a family and something he could do work with and say we have a guy with a business degree who owned a yoga studio going into the electrical industry because it’s consistent and but we also have kids right out of high school. And so the apprentice program I think in general will grow. And I think, obviously, our governor has put a really high priority on it with the pathways to career grant. And and also, I think what you’ll start seeing is these pre apprenticeship programs growing and trying to really work with students in high schools to be able to provide this as an option. And I think that’s one of the biggest things we see is that really, our students being presented the option of career and technical education, and that a four year college degree, not only is it not necessary, it’s not the right path for everyone. And not just kids that come times used to think that career technical education was if you couldn’t get into college, but I think what I saw as a high school principal as well as now, it could be for the valedictorian who loves doing hands on and really wants to go into an industry where you can make $100,000 a year with zero debt, you know, so I think that we will continue to see it grow because of finances because of 2020. And because of that lack of skilled labor is so huge, we’ve just lost a whole era of that skilled labor of that has retired and we have more electricians retire every day than we can replace.
Scott Peper 6:42
Kyesha, are you seeing similar issues from on your end? In your the specific apprenticeship program? Have you seen enrollment or bigger changes? Is there anything that’s gone on in the actual facility that’s been helpful or harmful?
Kyesha Robinson 6:57
Absolutely. And Miss Sherwood made a number of wonderful points that we all are experiencing and observing here in technical education as well. So we do know that we have an ageing workforce, and individuals within those faithful employees for all those years are entering or nearing retirement. And that graph that gap, there is an ever increasing, there’s a decrease in employment in some sectors of industry. Not only does that mean that the labor capital is leaving, but that institutional knowledge is being lost along with it. So we’ll talk about that unicorn. We also know that there are some younger generations that are more likely and more readily transition from one opportunity to the next in favor of a host of conditions that best suit their personal needs. And so individuals are not always maintaining long relationships with some employers, because they take advantage of the opportunity to find what best suits what works for them. And so this can make it very difficult for industries to acquire and maintain relationships with employees. And with all of that changing happening, our industries are continuing to expand and grow, there is no decrease in demand for electricians, for example, or in building construction. So these are the types of situations that make it critical for all companies to really consider having some kind of apprenticeship program. apprenticeships are a tool that employers can use to take advantage of assets that they already have. And then to attract some that they need. Having an apprenticeship program demonstrates to others that you have a culture that believes in investing in its own personnel. And I think it apprenticeships support sustainability and growth. So by having these apprenticeship programs, you are able to attract these new employees that have some wonderful entry level skills to get themselves in the door. And then you can provide some additional years of training that will make them best suited to meet whatever your needs are to make their to broaden their abilities and to improve their skills and make them more useful in in your industry. So I think that as companies notice more shifts, more trends and changes in technologies that affect their industry, they’ll be even more willing to adopt a apprenticeship relationship between themselves and some post secondary institution that’s most convenient for them. And I think it helps companies when they have apprenticeships, because instead of looking externally, they can look down their own channels and into their own departments to identify apprenticeship graduates at some point, who are more than ready to fill some of their workforce needs.
Scott Peper 9:22
So if you know I’m thinking about it from a business owner, looking what we talked about, kind of like one of our clients, they have this issue and they need, they need new labor and they say, you know what, I love this apprenticeship program, but what do I do? How do I start glad to start it myself? So I find someone to partner with like you guys. And you know, here in Florida, it’s great for all of our local customers, they can go right to you, but we see clients all over the country. So if I was a business owner and talking to you guys, how do I start an apprenticeship program? Is that a large investment on my part? Is it better just a you know there’s registered apprenticeship programs And unregistered. Is that does that matter? Should I just partner with one of you guys and say, Hey, here it is, and I have a budget for and please you train my folks or help me train people. How does that work?
Kyesha Robinson 10:06
Well, I’d say we welcome both me Sure, we will welcome anyone that wants to partner with us to develop an apprenticeship on their own. So contacting your local Technical College, or your local trade or professional organization Association, would probably be a great first step for anyone who’s interested in establishing an apprenticeship with their company or organization. I mean, there’s no need to recreate the wheel, when there’s something that you can join and be a part of that already exists, or has a model or template that can be adjusted to fit whatever your needs of our training or apprenticeship may actually be. So I would recommend that a person kind of start there with their local Technical College trees or associate professional or trade association, the they’re also the Department of Education, you know, this is a institution that every state has. So for us is the Florida Department of Education. And if you want more information, maybe you don’t even know where to start with your local organizations, maybe just reach out to that state level. Everyone has a website, ours is FL do E. And by going to that website, I know that they will definitely have information on apprenticeships, and how to be a part of one that is registered by going through that channel.
Natasha Sherwood 11:22
And yeah, it’s very similar. So obviously, if you’re an electrician in Florida, we’d love to love to help you out. But we also are national organization. So apprenticeships across the country are differently. And so the Department of Labor nationally kind of oversees apprenticeships, but each state has plenty of their own rules. So I know Oregon is way different than Texas is way different than Florida is even different than Georgia. And so individual states are going to have a few different rules. In some places it falls under Doa Department of Education like it does for us. Some places, it’s Department of Labor, some place has workforce. So I would say that either starting with those technical colleges or community colleges in the area, that’s usually where the programs already exist, Oregon going to your department of labor, education, and is a great place to start. And I would say there are some benefits if you’re going to, you know, a technical college or to an association that already has one because a lot of the and just to like minutiae, the details are already set up the accreditation, the certifications of it, the guidelines. And but that being said, one of our one of our members is does electrical work, but also does all kinds of other stuff. They’re a general contractor, and similar. They do welding and so they came to me and they said, Do you all do welding? I’m like, No, we do electrical, but let me call and actually called PTC. And I called one of the members of our PTC, do you have a welding program? They said, Absolutely, we have a welding program, here’s the person’s name for welding program. So um, I mean, I would just reach out to the resources that you have. And last week, I had a major home national home builder in my office saying we don’t have enough, my subs don’t have enough people. So I can’t get my houses built because they can’t get the drywall up and the concrete and I said, Okay, I don’t do drywall on concrete. But let’s find out who does. So together, we reached out and we reached out to PTC into HCC, we reached out to some associations that even we’re a member of. So I build in some other places to find those resources. And I think what we found is that everybody’s willing to help each other because my, my electricians can’t get done. If the walls aren’t done, the walls can’t get done. If my electricians don’t get done. They can’t get it done. If the, you know, the framing is not put up. So everybody realizes that it is a group project, you know, it’s it is the group project from high school, if everybody doesn’t do their job, you don’t get the grade you wanted. And so it has become and I don’t know if the whole 2020 COVID. We’re all back at home zooming. But I will tell you, it’s been interesting. And maybe it’s the growth but we have worked really well crossing kind of borders. And so mptc organized a lot of it, but sometimes it’s been ACC or the Home Builders group, sit down in a room and figure out how do we help because there just aren’t enough bodies that we can find right now. So the best way is with how to service them and work together. And if electricity is not right for someone, but they really do like a trade. I can call up one of my contacts at one of my locations and say okay, let’s get them in somewhere. They love this program. And so we kind of grown up but then we’re right now we’re trying to grow down like we’re working with high schools and middle schools where they’re starting to see those ideas because if you wait to their senior year it’s not necessarily been a something that’s been proposed to them or they’ve considered so um, I’d say though this step going back to your question apprenticeships is really do reach out to your I think probably your first step easiest is those local community colleges or technical colleges or your association. So whether it’s home builders or you know, general contractors, ABC IEC, there’s a different letter combination for everybody.
Scott Peper 14:08
I think this may seem like a silly question, but is there a difference between a registered apprenticeship program and a non-registered one.
Natasha Sherwood 14:14
And there are some differences in it and it’s different in each state. And I know there are some different unregistered ones, which is more of a training and for ours is registered because it leads to the journeyman certificate. And based on the hours in the apprenticeship program, if you were just an electrician you entered, you didn’t go through an apprentice program, you have to do 12,000 documented hours of on the job training. So it’s 12,000 hours that are documented through your before you can take the journeyman license exam as an apprentice because all of our everything’s gone through and certified. We’ve got all of our courses in kind of guidelines set through the prime education, the students only have to have 8000 hours. So they finish our course we certified they’ve gone through our course, they do 8000 hours and we document their oj when they turn it in, we document it and keep it. So give or take that saving you 4000 hours, which is two or so years of labor where you can get your journeyman license. So in the state of Florida, you know, those are those specifics. But I also know someone who runs a great crane, you know, training individuals to be crane operators, which again, you don’t think of it like that doesn’t cross your mind, like in kindergarten, what great, what do I want to be I want to be a crane operator when I grow up. But they make great money. I told them, I do have a first grader and I told him he should be an electrician or crane operator. Because he gets math and he likes messing up things with his hands. And there’s isn’t a registered one because there’s not a registered one with the state yet they are moving that way. But we need them. They’re still hiring them. There’s just not a registration for it yet. So those are some of the main differences. I and those are, it’s all I know Mayan probably knows a little bit more than I do from a larger standpoint on that.
Kyesha Robinson 15:31
I would have to agree with what your observations were about registered apprenticeships, because that is the direction that PTC has chosen to go in, especially because we are associated with the Pinellas County school system. So we definitely offer registered apprenticeships to individuals, we pride ourselves on making sure that whatever persons in their programs, which is something that translate translates to industry, it is in alignment with industry standards, so that whatever certification or license they walk away with is something that’s nationally recognized to it when possible when applicable. And so all of our apprenticeships would be registered.
Natasha Sherwood 16:10
I think we’ll see more apprentice programs pop up, that’ll take that time to get in because I do I know, PTC is even working on some innovative apprenticeship programs for teachers. So where you don’t come in through the, you know, not the same typical four year education six year education college that we’ve seen for so long. And I know they’re being innovative. And I mean, California has like apprenticeship programs for like lawyers and stuff. I mean, like coming into new ways where we will learn, and we will learn in a more practical mindset. You know, I went to college for way too many years. I’m not doing anything that has to do with anything in my degree. And I think we will more Yeah, you know, like, I mean, my mom will probably hate this if she sees this. And but I think we will see more of that as people start to realize what they want to do. And there may be different paths. I mean, as a technical world evolves, and skilled labor becomes more important. I think we’ll see apprenticeships rise.
Scott Peper 16:54
Yeah, well, it’s funny how conversations got Evan flow, because I’ve had hearing him here as you guys talk, I’m hearing things I’ve been having conversations before I’m hearing from clients, I’m hearing from referral partners of ours or other folks that are working in and around the construction industry, even general contractor clients and equipment rental companies that are selling into this this space. And they talk a lot about apprenticeship programs and mentorship programs. And I need to start a mentorship programs like work with the younger businesses, not by age, but just by maybe experience I can help graduate these people that are really, really good, but they’re that they do the size jobs and I want to give them a job that’s five times the size. What do you guys are what is your experience or opinions between mentorship and apprenticeship programs? And how are they different and when do they need to overlap and I guess
Natasha Sherwood 17:31
You’re talking about students that are employees that go from a smaller job to a large job, we have an apprentice who’s a fourth year apprentice, he’s and you know, a year ago is an apprentice now he’s doing a huge hospital site and his hospital, just the site he was on just won a national award. So because he’s been mentored and because they’ve moved through those steps, and I think that’s part of that, and what part of what we do as a continuing education part of it. So it’s that mentorship becomes a personal aspect of it that maybe isn’t written down so much. It’s just more part of the culture. I also see the mentor ship company to company. So some of our larger, more established companies, I have seen them invite in contractors that are smaller or newer, or go out and tell them and share best practices. And so there’s that mentorship aspect that I think is important. And again, we’re seeing trades, start to share that and even internally, so like our companies sometimes bid against each other on large jobs or even small jobs. But there’s still trying to help each other best practices because as they better the industry as a whole. And as they mentor other corporations to follow those cultures. I think the industry as a whole begins to be able to hire and it goes into the workforce is the better the industry is the better reputation it has, the more everybody can find better employees, you know, and let’s be honest part of it is so that mom and dad when the kids in high school and who says I want to go into skilled labor doesn’t go once. College and you know, you’re like, Okay, great. $30 an hour in four years and zero debt. Sounds good to me because I have a senior going to college and it’s expensive, you know, and I’m like, Sure you don’t wanna be an electrician, you know, you’re a female, you’d be like right up there and like no time flat. So I’m in the mentorship is a large portion of that.
Scott Peper 18:55
Um, it’s funny because we have a, we have a two we have two series. This is our built for growth series, which really brings in different topics. And then we sort of have what we call a little pun on our names. You can see my my head, the mF, or as we call them, real mF ers and obviously, it’s upon on mobilization funding, but they come on and there are clients and there are other folks that are in the construction world. The two folks in particular came in they’ve talked about apprenticeship and mentorship. One gentleman named Charles Covey, he talks about this unicorn in his business, and he does waterproofing, and he’s like there is no, there’s really not a lot of good apprenticeship programs. So he has to focus a ton on training and build that in within. He says I one of the things he does is he has an apprenticeship program training, but then he immediately puts them with a mentor or someone that’s at a senior level and experience on the job together. And what they do is they kind of unfold and move together. And I said, Well, that’s interesting. Do you have enough of those? He goes, Well, no, I have essentially one unicorn who knows everything about everything, no matter what every problem, all that we’re trying to extract as much information out of that person’s brain before they leave or before they retire. And he’s like, they just don’t have this education level anymore. So he’s had to build this whole thing around these unicorns and he talked about that. Is there anybody? Do you feel it’s the same in the electrical world or other trades? And how do you guys kind of utilize your programs of find that carnal knowledge?
Kyesha Robinson 20:08
Right. And I know that mentoring is for some companies in closer reach, easier to achieve than the investment that apprenticeships may require whether they are registered or not. But it’s something mentoring is something that everyone can implement if they are willing to commit the time to think about what mentoring would look like or is needed for their employees. And mentoring and cross departmental training or even a shadowing can better help people to understand. And I mean, employees that are understand the entire ecosystem, that is their company, which is all about eliminating the fact that there are some situations where there’s a few people who have quite a bit of institutional knowledge that just hadn’t been written down or hasn’t been shared. So mentoring and cross training can help to also expose some areas of opportunity within the company and how things can be done a little bit differently or better. When everyone again, understands the full ecosystem and understands what happens in their department, as well as what’s happening. And others. I mean, you’re certainly reducing risk by not having this small collective of individuals who are your only go to persons or certain tests, or when certain vendors need to be called upon or contacts that are needed. So I think also that having these mentoring relationships can give individuals the opportunity to invest in their the proliferation of their organization and program, because all the information can be in your head, it has to be shared, it needs to be written down in a way the systematic and organized and procedural. So not only is an investment in your employees, but it’s also an investment in yourself for in an abstract, you know, kind of way you don’t want for an emergent situation to arise. And that’s when you decide, well, maybe we should have had more than one unicorn in a company or any organization. And I think it also it helps employees to know that they’re dealing with a organization that sees value in them. And while there may or may not be an opportunity for them to move into a new position right away, they are seeing that they’re being invested in and so no matter what’s happening with that company, they’re more likely to soldier on to remain encouraged, remain supportive of the brand or that company so that they can continue to be an asset and then they are there when needed to perhaps step into some greater opportunities. They’ve had the opportunity to present themselves as wanting to know more and wanting to do more. So you don’t feel like as an a business owner, that you have to look outside of what you already have. You already have a good candidate pool that started to develop, if you’re willing to take a little bit more time and to impart some knowledge onto some new people,
Scott Peper 22:56
Hire and hire and fire based on your core values, and you’ll teach and train all the skills. And what I’m hearing you guys say that so resonates with me well is that this is really a, it’s a, not only is it a recruitment tool, but really keeps your people happy and whole and with you. And in a world where there’s not a lot of labor, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to have your own your labor that you do have, it means the people that do things, the best they’re going to get, they’re never going to have a labor issue, because they’re going to have all the best people. And people can be a lot of options in a small labor market is the employers really need to make sure their game is, is on point because one, that’s how you should run your business anyway. But number two, you’re going to lose people, they’re going to pick up a lot of options, and people are going to recruit, they’re going to go and more important, they’re going to stay where they’re taking care of and it’s they’re treated the best. And it’s not all about money. It’s a lot about education, it’s about values about what they stand for. It’s their their are they aligned with the thoughts and vision as I feel like it’s very transparent. And what I’m hearing you guys say is these two programs both have meant apprenticeship and mentorship. They tie into that really well. But in different places early on, apprenticeship may be really important. But mentorship is like the second wave of your education. But it’s also something to aspire to be. When you get to an organization I Well, you know, I want to be a mentor to the next wave. And it’s that progression is really, really valuable, I think.
Natasha Sherwood 24:06
Absolutely. I mean, and we have an apprentice of the year competition every year. So they take an academic test and then top 10 get to do a hands on test. And then the winner actually goes to a national competition and and I got to spend time with our young man this year But um, he said, we were sitting and chatting. He’s like, you know, you know, sure what I want to teach, do you think I could teach I’m like you were signed up the teacher, I made your class. He’s like, I just learned so much I remember. And he you know, I remember this instructor, I remember the very first class I went in, and everything he taught me, I know, I can do that for someone else. And I was like, spot on and you’re hired, he’s like, for real, like, for real, right? Like, right now you’re hired. And this is a kid who never missed four years never missed a class inner miss one of his apprentice class top in his class every year and finish wire off number one, so really could do anything will move up and his company quickly does not need the extra money for being an instructor but I definitely think that they realize that that culture and that those steps make a difference. And I do like the way you said it like apprenticeships kind of the first investment that the company makes into the student. And then the mentorships, kind of the secondary investment. And then the return is when they mentor someone else, it’s kind of the repayment of that investment. And so it makes like a nice, you know, good circle going. And I do think that’s how you keep you know, I have one company that I rarely see, lose, they don’t ever lose employees, they may have to let an employee go, but I have not ceased employees leading them ever. And I know the culture of that company, is why they don’t leave, they play well, they pay well. But they don’t pay the highest of all of mine. In dollars and cents they pay well in a culture that is conducive to growing.
Scott Peper 25:35
It’s so interesting to hear how you’re climbing clients are similar and saying and you’re seeing the same things that I’m seeing, but from a totally different side in the same exact business and industry because I try to tell folks all the time that your problems are not alone, like everybody has them. It’s just you know, they’re parts of business, but you can do things about it. And this is a great tool. I feel like people in construction leaders in construction, whether they own the company or they’re in management or they’re aspiring leaders that are in a introductory role but want to develop into that they can stand in these roles and anybody can be an apprentice in anybody. I mean anybody can be a mentor to anyone about whatever it is they know that someone does and helpful. Um there’s one last time I got this is a good segue to is just continuing education. You know, depending on the trade, there’s some continuing education One that is needed and sort of mandated. How does do these apprenticeship programs and also mentorship kind of get credits towards continuing education? Or is that all separate classes in the trades? How does that how do they go together if they go together at all?
Natasha Sherwood 26:29
For electrical, it is separate until it’s after the fact. And there are requirements from the state, it’s 11. It depends on which is which part of the electrical industry, but for the basic part, it’s 11. And then there’s some specific requirements, just like so if you’re an educator, he had to get certain CPUs, these are specific, and there’s some business ones, technical ones. And then if you’re in the fire alarm, then there’s specific fire alarm if you’re, you know, an H back, and so forth. So there are certain ones and we provide to the association, we do those monthly. So every month, we provide free ones for our members, and we do them. And so it’s everything from legal aspects of running a business, like you said, so some of them are business related to tool safety, and OSHA, all of those. So those are all specific ones that are required. And there are a certain amount that they have to get every two years is the cycle. And but then in addition, those are kind of the required ones. And those are important, don’t get me wrong. But I think the bigger part we offer ones that aren’t necessarily required by state, they still get the EU credit, but it’s the ones to make their business better. So whether it’s a code, change seminar, electrical code, I’m sure it changes for everything else, like every three years, let’s just change the code. And so kind of go over what those code changes are, or they have to be certified, whether it’s fire alarm safety. And they do that. So we offer those as journeyman prep classes. So for maybe students who didn’t, or electricians who didn’t go through the apprentice program, have those 12,000 hours and want to apply for you know what to take the test for the journeyman Pratt, we’ll do that kind of see. And we’ll also do a training just on leadership. So it kind of ties into that mentorship program. So now you’ve been electrician, you’ve got you know, done the apprentice program. You’ve got your journeyman license, you kind of started moving up, do you see yourself as a foreman? So the first class would be what is foreman? What does that include? Like? Do you know if it’s raining? Yeah, you send people home, even your best friend, because that’s what a foreman has to do? And then what is the supervisor look like? And then what is, you know, further leadership into estimating? I mean, what is estimating? So how do you go from electrician into estimating? How do you go into all the other aspects. I mean, as you kind of said, construction, any contractor is a business besides being the trade. So there’s HR, there’s, you know, education and training and public relations and estimating and finance. And so we offer a little bit of all of that, and they again, making your company better is investing in the education of those employees. And I think when they feel valued, and I think the education part makes them, you know, feel valued. So whether it’s bringing them to a legal aspects of electricity to or it is a fire alarm, safety years, a journeyman or leadership prep. And so those are the ones so some of them are required, and some of them are to actually grow the individual and the industry.
Kyesha Robinson 28:40
Yeah, at Pinellas Technical College, we do offer continuing education courses, as well. And similarly, they are separate from apprenticeship experiences, as well as from our full time courses. And we like to refer to these types of courses as our last lifelong learning experiences. So if we want to support a vibrant workforce that is able to adapt to change, and truly recognizes the value in ongoing education, or even seeks to continue to be a part of and support advances in their own technologies in their respective industries, we really have to all continue to be lifelong learners. And that’s where that concept comes from. I don’t know that you can really have a lot of innovation and creativity or even remain relevant on an ongoing basis if you don’t invest in so far in yourself, or continuing education or in your employees for the same. So I think that investing in continuing education can help businesses to remain relevant and in step with various changes that are happening in their industry. Just thinking about electricity, we know we’ve come a very long wave, Edison, you know, and there’s still more to come. So the appetite of consumers and customers businesses, for you know, environmentally conscientious is also going to continue to change the way and to create a need for ongoing education as new technologies, and new ways of delivering services is happening. So we do offer that those continuing education are those lifelong learning courses, and we encourage people to take them whether it’s an obligation to maintain your certification credential or your license or not. It’s just something that’s good to have if you want to remain a well-rounded and informed employee.
Unknown Speaker 30:30
I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s actually one of our core values of mobilization funding is to be a lifetime learner. You know, you got to continually be educating yourself, you know, things change, people change, you become more valuable to yourself Most importantly, but you as you’re more important, you’re more valuable to yourself, you’re more valuable to everybody. And that’s the most important thing to, to stay in the game and not get passed by, or let yourself pass your own self by.
Kyesha Robinson 30:44
Scott Peper 30:46
You guys have been awesome. I really appreciate you guys going through this, this has been really great, much more surprising topics and conversation than I thought we’d get into. I like the topics, of course, but I really like we’re winning. And I’m just shocked at how much it ties into all the conversations I have every single day, in just anecdotal ways. And I really feel like if we get this video off, everyone watched it, see, they’re gonna be able to really understand it and have some good tactical action steps of where they can go and where to go next and how to do it. That’s the most important thing that we’re trying to help.
Natasha Sherwood 31:16
I think that’s one of the biggest parts is and I always joke that I mean, I’ve lived in Tampa my entire life. And I consider it a little, you know, small, big town. But still, what resources I didn’t know, were out there. And you know, what resources, I come across contractors all the time, just like this home builder, large. I mean, if I told you the name, I won’t, because they’ll kill me, large, large builds tons of homes in our area, you know, didn’t know what options are out there for like apprenticeship-wise and getting people trained. And so houses are behind. And I think sometimes people just to say, hey, I need some help. What are you doing? And that hasn’t necessarily, I think been, you know, a strong point in construction in general is because it’s been competitive. And I think right now it’s everybody realizes somebody can help them out a little bit. So if anybody ever needs any, I’m more than happy to reach out. And sometimes it’s to PTC and sometimes it’s ABC, and they all seem to be letters. And to find out, you know, where does someone go? And I don’t know the answer. And same thing I found PTC if they don’t know the answer, they’re more than willing to help find the right one or Hey, you want to start a new email to the head of a PTC, you want to start a new pre apprenticeship program next year? Yeah, sure. Okay, let’s write a grant. So it’s all good. And I think that’s the neat thing I found in this industry is it is a is evolving into a help each other out type situation.
Kyesha Robinson 32:31
So yeah, enough, can’t be said about collaboration. Gone are the days of operating in silos. I hear something that we don’t do, just like she shared. We’ll partner with whomever to get the job done. And then maybe later on down the road, there’s a way for us to adopt some new programs or technologies ourselves, but there’s no way that we can continue to serve industries, and not have these types of open dialogues and build relationships. We just have to do it.
Scott Peper 32:55
So I’m going to make sure that the audience and everyone knows they can see your guy’s email address that question right here below on your name. And I think which in myself as well. And I’m more than happy to speak to anyone anytime they want to reach out and talk. And I know you guys have been very gracious with your time too. And hopefully people will take us up on that.
Natasha Sherwood 33:16
Kyesha Robinson 33:15
Thank you for allowing us to share on your platform. This has been great.
Scott Peper 33:20
Well, everybody. I hope you guys enjoyed this conversation. Thank you so much. Natasha, thank you so much, Keisha. And please let us know how we can help and enjoy the rest of your afternoon and day. Thank you very much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Are you ready for your business to do more? To become a true leader for your team? To build camaraderie and loyalty and drive success through your team’s aligned efforts? If you answered Yes, you are ready to transform your business into a purpose-driven company.
If you answered No, keep reading. Purpose-driven companies tend to grow faster, attract and retain better talent, and exceed customer expectations more often than their counterparts.
That sounds good, right? Because it is!
What is a Purpose-Driven Company?
A purpose-driven company aligns its success to a greater mission or goal. This alignment starts with a clearly articulated Purpose Statement that everyone in the company understands. Your Purpose Statement is WHY your company exists, beyond the obvious goal of being profitable. For example, our Purpose Statement at Mobilization Funding is, “To help the people we come in contact with.”
A Purpose Statement is more than a feel-good moment in your company handbook. It should guide your business strategy and inform your team’s actions.
That’s a lot of heavy lifting for one sentence. To shoulder the weight effectively, your Purpose Statement must be crystal-clear. Your team should be able to recite it from memory. It also needs to resonate powerfully with everyone in the company, starting with YOU and all the way down to your newest employee.
Creating your Purpose Statement isn’t easy, and the deep-dive, soul-searching it requires of you as the business owner could be a blog in and of itself (and will be). Here is a hint to get your started – your purpose statement needs to come from what is really in your heart. It must be about serving your customers and your team FIRST. If it is all about what you want it will not be nearly effective enough or something your team or customers will embrace and follow.
For now, let’s talk about WHY you should align your company’s efforts around a shared purpose.
Becoming purpose-driven is a journey. Don’t go it alone. Subscribe to our CEO’s newsletter for tips and insights from his own purpose-driven journey.
Why Become a Purpose-Driven Company?
According to a Deloitte Insights Report, “Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow on average three times faster than their competitors, all the while achieving higher employee and customer satisfaction.”
Attitudes about brands are shifting. More and more customers want to know WHO they are doing business with, and this trend is not restricted to B2C industries. Whether you sell directly to consumers or business-to-business, your clients and customers want to know who you are and what you stand for.
Having a stated company purpose tends to increase team morale, collaboration, and productivity. Once your entire team is marching to the beat of your purpose, it becomes easier to identify, attract and retain new employees who also believe in your purpose. It also makes everyone’s job clear and easier because the purpose is understood. It guides each and every person’s decisions.
Loyalty, from both customers and workforce is, a forceful growth agent. Happy customers who align with your purpose become vocal brand evangelists, and a team joined around a common goal is willing to push harder to achieve it. Your purpose is a powerful differentiator for new business as well, and when you get the big job you’ve been dreaming of, you know you have the team to get it done.
Examples of Purpose-Driven Companies
What does a purpose-driven company look like? Well, we are one, for starters. Here are a few slightly more famous purpose-driven companies:
CVS. Remember in 2014 when CVS stopped selling tobacco products? That revolutionary and controversial decision was guided by their stated company purpose, “helping people on their path to better health.”
The decision wasn’t made lightly, and it wasn’t made in a silo. Leaders from almost every department discussed the potential ramifications. In the end, CVS took a $2 billion loss in annual cigarette sales in order to live its purpose.
It paid off. The company ultimately ended up with a 10 percent revenue increase.
TOMS Shoes. This shoe-maker combines purpose with profit. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donated one pair to a child in a developing country. TOMS has since shifted from this one-for-one model, but continues to directly aligns sales with its purpose. For every $3 the company makes, it donates $1.
IBM “Smart Cities.” The tech giant’s purpose to advance innovation led to the creation of the Smarter Cities Challenge, which has helped over 100 cities so far solve complex environmental, infrastructural or social challenges. It also drove revenue for IBM, as part of the Smarter Planet campaign, which generated over $7 billion in revenue.
2021: Your Year of Purpose
We are launching a campaign this year to help as many construction, manufacturing and other businesses as possible make the transformation to be purpose-driven companies. Why? It’s part of our purpose — to help those we come in contact with. We know the fulfillment and pride that comes from being purpose-driven. We want you to feel it, too!
Join us in making 2021 your Year of Purpose. Subscribe to our newsletter and we will walk through this journey together.
You are going to dig deep to find and define the true purpose in your work. You will scrap those meaningless core values created in a boardroom and replace them with values true to YOU. You will carve a path for your team to follow. You will LEAD them toward your vision for the company.
We can’t wait to see what you become.
In our new YouTube series, Built for Growth, we talk with experts about some of the biggest issues facing the construction and manufacturing industries. For our first episode, we were honored to have Loretta Calvin, Diversity & Inclusion expert and CEO of Monroe Strategic Business Solutions, join us to discuss diversity in construction.
It is no surprise that construction faces a diversity issue. The stereotype of a white, male, middle-aged construction worker has been largely accurate for decades.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction professional workforce breaks down like this, in terms of diversity:
- 9.9% women
- 6.2% Black
- 2% Asian
- 30.7% Hispanic/Latino
Why diversity in construction matters
Calvin spells out why construction business owners need to invest in diversity and inclusion. For one thing, the workforce is aging out of the business. The median age of a US construction worker is 42. Investing in diversity efforts can open up new pools of talent.
Construction is a great career track, with an industry average salary of just over $53,000, plenty of career stability and opportunities for upward mobility. With expertise in a construction trade, construction management, or construction administrative services, you can work almost anywhere in the country, or even the world.
According to Calvin, the industry should invest in training and educational programs for high-school students, women, and other under-represented groups, in order to increase awareness about construction as a career track and build early relationships with future recruits.
- Diversity also opens up new opportunities for government and municipal projects. General contractors and large subcontractors can partner with minority-owned businesses to win government contracts, which often have diversity workforce requirements.
Last but certainly not least, investing in diversity and inclusion supports your business’s productivity, workplace culture, and innovation.
If you are interested in working with Loretta Calvin and Monroe Strategic Business Solutions, click here to send an email.
If there were one skill you could learn that would make you a more effective leader and business owner, would you invest in mastering it? Of course, you would! Active listening, the act of giving your complete, undivided focus to what someone is saying, can improve your workplace culture, help you build relationships with partners, and even help keep your employees safe.
Active listening is listening with 100% of your focus on the person who is speaking. It means paying attention to body language as well as what is actually said. Active listening exercises empathy and cognitive thinking, so you understand the issue from the other person’s perspective as well as your own.
Chances are you’ve wished someone else would practice more active listening, even if you didn’t know the literal definition. Have you ever tried to talk to a General Contractor or Project Manager about an issue on the job, only to have them constantly check their phone, cross their arms and sigh defensively, or interrupt you with what THEY think the issue really is? That’s the opposite of active listening.
It’s frustrating, right? When someone isn’t listening with intent, it can leave you feeling frustrated, ignored, and dis-empowered.
Now, can you think of a time when you haven’t given 100% of your attention to someone speaking to you? Whether it was a colleague, an employee, a spouse, or a child, chances are you left them feeling the same way you felt when you were the one not being heard. Frustrated, ignored, and shut down. Ouch.
Luckily, you can teach yourself to become a better listener. All it takes is a little bit of discipline, and a few helpful tips to get you started.
Active listening requires more than your ears.
Peter Drucker, the godfather of modern management thinking, has this famous quote about listening, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” A lot of communication is actually non-verbal. Researcher Albert Mehrabian defined communication as roughly 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% actual words spoken.
If you’re only hearing the words, you’re only getting 7% of the conversation. That’s bound to lead to misunderstandings and negative emotions.
Active listening requires you to pay attention to the other person’s body language, the historical context around what is being said, and the emotional impact the topic has on the speaker. It means being an active participant in the exchange, gently challenging assumptions and offering new perspectives.
The benefits of active listening far outweigh the effort it takes to master it.
Active listening increases productivity.
If you successfully model active listening with your team, you can also teach them through example to actively listen to you and each other. When your team is participating in active listening, they understand and retain more information than when they are distracted. This increases the likelihood they can complete tasks with fewer questions, misunderstandings, and, most important, costly errors and corrections.
Active listening improves workplace safety.
It’s important for your team’s safety that they feel empowered to raise concerns, ask questions, and show vulnerability. Otherwise, they are apt to try and solve challenges on their own to the best of their ability. That could mean working alongside unsafe workers from another company, or failing to perform a task correctly because they didn’t ask for more instructions.
As the business owner, 100% of the consequences of your crew’s actions will fall on you. In order to keep them as safe as possible, you need to be 100% involved in the conversations and decisions that impact their safety.
When you create an environment of active listening, your whole team is safer. Team members know they can admit they have questions or are unsure of instructions. This level of vulnerability can, in and of itself, reduce workplace accidents. And, should an incident occur, active listening can help you quickly and more effectively gather information that will be important when it comes to the employee’s Worker’s Compensation claim.
Active listening creates a better workplace culture.
When your team trusts you to listen, their overall trust in your leadership increases. This can have dramatic effects on your workplace culture. Team members feel empowered to share ideas and solutions to challenges. You may find you have innovators and future leaders hidden among your workforce, just waiting for the chance to speak up and be heard.
Active listening is good for business.
One important piece of effective listening is creating a safe space for the speaker. That means putting aside distractions and, most important, your desire to speak. This requires a quiet confidence in yourself. You don’t need to rush to prove to the speaker that you know how to solve their problem. First, you’ll make sure that you understand the problem and how it is impacting the speaker.
This is an incredibly powerful tool in business. Most of us are in such a rush to answer the question, fix the problem, and close the deal, that we forget to pause and actually listen. This rush to a solution often comes with a lot of energy behind it, and the combination can quickly lead to misunderstandings and conflict.
Active listening, on the other hand, removes the conflict and focuses on creating an environment where issues can be discussed in detail. Solutions can come later. For example, let’s say you’re a construction subcontractor, and the Project Manager for the General Contractor on a job approaches you with an issue. They believe your crew carelessly disposed of excess materials and created a safety issue. You’re almost certain it wasn’t your guys.
You have three possible choices in how to respond:
Choice #1 Argue & Defend: This is the “brick wall” response. Refuse to listen to the other person’s point of view, shout down any arguments, accept no responsibility, and reach no satisfactory conclusions. Good luck getting the other person to listen to you when it’s your turn to bring up an issue.
Choice #2 Jump to a Solution: This is where you listen to the verbal problem alone, and you rush to solve the problem as quick as possible. Unfortunately, without understanding the WHOLE problem, you’re unlikely to solve it. Both sides end up feeling frustrated.
Choice #3: Listen with Intention. Listen carefully, paying close attention to body language and tone of voice. Let the other person talk as long as they need to. Ask clarifying questions, and respond first with empathy rather than solutions or defenses. When you choose this track, you show the PM, and the GC, that you will own up to issues you might have caused, and will help solve ones that you didn’t! That’s a valuable partner.
Now imagine the next time that GC sees your company’s name on a bid. They remember how you performed in a moment of challenge. Calm, confident, and willing to listen. You’re building a reputation as a trustworthy, level-headed, and collaborative problem-solver, just by listening with intent. Relationship-building is paramount in construction, and really just about every other industry, too.
5 simple tips for more effective listening.
Most people think they’re great listeners. They make eye contact, refrain from interrupting the speaker, and can recite back what was said. That’s NOT active listening. That’s basic listening. How much of what you heard did you understand? Did you communicate to the speaker that you cared about the outcome of this conversation? Did you help them find possible resolutions?
Here are five simple things you can do to become a better, more intentional listener.
Create a listening environment. When someone approaches you and asks you to listen, check to make sure you actually can at that moment. Are there distractions you will not be able to ignore until they are completed? Are you in a noisy work environment where you are likely to be interrupted? Show the speaker you care about this conversation by creating a time and space where you can listen free from distractions. If necessary, ask for five minutes to wrap up an urgent task that is likely to steal your attention. Then, close the door or walk away from the larger group, mute your phone, and focus your attention on the speaker.
Act like a good listener. Make sure your body language is relaxed and attentive, not defensive or distracted. Make eye-contact with the speaker. These actions send a signal to them that you are listening and sends a signal to your own brain that it is time to get down to the business of listening.
Listen with your eyes. Pay attention to the speaker’s body language. A lot of our communication comes from the way we act, rather than what we say.
Listen with your heart, too. Empathy is a key part of active listening. Understanding how the other person is feeling and validating that experience builds trust between the speaker and listener. It also helps you generate ideas later in the conversation that can solve the problem and neutralize potential negative responses.
Ask questions that prompt new lines of thought. A lot of people assume good listening means sitting quietly and saying nothing. But, that actually makes it harder for you to focus on and understand the concepts being presented. It’s better to ask clarifying questions and prompt the speaker for more details when needed. It helps you stay focused and lets the speaker know you’re invested in the conversation.
Asking questions is also an effective way to get people to challenge assumptions, consider alternative perspectives, and accept new ideas. Rather than telling someone what they need to do to solve a problem, ask questions that help them see the solutions for themselves.
Listening isn’t a talent; it is a learned skill that comes from discipline. It takes practice to become a habit, but everyone can do it. The potential benefits — a safe, productive, and happy team, as well as a positive reputation with business partners — make the effort well worth it.
If you found this blog helpful and informative, you may also enjoy our newsletter, with tools and resources to take your construction business to the next level. Click here to subscribe.
Trying to be a great leader can be like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. You can’t force it to happen. For many people, the mere act of trying to be a great leader — whether among your family, friends, employees, or colleagues — results in exactly the opposite. Leading is done through your actions and being who you say you are!
It seems counterintuitive, especially in a stereotypically alpha industry like construction, but one key quality of being a leader is your ability to be vulnerable.
Benefits of Being Vulnerable
Why should you embrace vulnerability?
Being vulnerable signals to others you value their trust and feedback. Trying to always appear as the dominant person in the room doesn’t always get results. In short, being vulnerable means understanding the other person’s point of view before being understood. Taking the time to listen — really listen — to the other person before responding with your own thoughts, opinions or agenda is a great way to start introducing vulnerability in your leadership style. When a strong leader embraces vulnerability in their approach they focus on solving problems and helping others achieve shared goals.
Here’s how showing vulnerability often plays out:
Employees feel more comfortable bringing you questions, which means they can learn faster and minimize mistakes.
Employees, contractors, clients, and others feel safe and valued, which increases loyalty and trust.
Other people will begin opening up to you, which allows you an opportunity to better understand and help them in ways you wouldn’t have known about before.
This approach may be a bit different at first, but over time, you’ll find that it takes less energy to listen and you’ll get better results than a defensive approach. And the result of showing vulnerability consistently actually leads to greater confidence for you as the leader in the long run!
Vulnerability is the Key Ingredient for Confidence
Have you heard of a B.S. detector? Just about everyone has one. It goes off when things are too good to be true.
Someone who claims to be able to do anything and everything, who always agrees with you, and who always has the answers to everything is not vulnerable. They’re full of it. You KNOW just by the way they talk and carry themselves that there’s something they’re not telling you, or that they’re missing something important because they’re trying so hard to impress you. No one has all the answers, and at some point, you can bet that those falsehoods will come through.
When you’re being straightforward about your vulnerabilities you actually show more confidence, not less. You stop worrying about hiding what you don’t know and focus on highlighting what you do.
True Confidence Drives Sales
Consider this instance: You’re the owner of a construction company that is typically a 1st tier subcontractor to a General Contractor. It is your goal to attract and retain successful General Contractors that you want to work with. Here are two approaches during a meeting with one of these potential GCs. Which one might improve your reputation and lead to long-term success for the company?
Your primary focus is on the overall price and you say, “I’ll get the job done in half the time for way less money than those other guys!”
“Yes, our bid may be higher than our competitors, but I’ve taken into account X, Y and Z factors that others probably haven’t already accounted for, and this will ensure we stay on schedule and everything gets done right. How do I know? Because I’ve made those mistakes before and I’ve learned from them.”
The first approach is cocky and filled with empty promises. Even if awarded the job, the general contractor may approach each billing with a particularly critical eye — encouraging the project manager and billing department to be extra cautious before approving payments or accepting proposed change orders. In the long term, this approach is destined for failure, conflict, and no repeat business opportunities.
The second option is humble, vulnerable, and confident — all at the same time. Having a hard conversation that your competitors are too scared to have can show value to the General Contractor. It sends a clear message: This person is experienced and is going to tell the truth even if it means losing the bid.
The thing is, the most confident people are willing to talk about their mistakes. Because they’re not LIVING in them. They’ve learned from them, and they’re not afraid to talk about it. They’ve learned by being vulnerable.
In a sales scenario, those who display confidence and empathize with the customer normally close the deal. The salesperson listens carefully to what the customer wants or needs and then coaches and guides the potential client to an outcome that they can be happy with and the salesperson can deliver on.
A good rule of thumb: A customer doesn’t have to know everything about what the salesperson is talking about, they simply need to know that the SALESPERSON knows what they’re talking about. (Again, the key is honesty and trust.)
You don’t know everything about your industry, your customers, or your employees. Being straightforward about your experiences, struggles and accomplishments — and open to hearing about theirs — gives you a chance to provide them with true value, or adjust your product to better meet their needs.
Rarely will someone open up to you or fully trust you if you don’t first practice vulnerability.
Leadership and Vulnerability
Vulnerability and all the qualities that go along with it can make a huge difference for your life, both personally and professionally. Exhibiting vulnerability through honesty, active listening, and transparent communication makes you a better boss and leader. It fosters respect and loyalty. It builds trust and strong relationships with clients, vendors and other external partners you come into contact with.
And when something does go wrong and you own up to the problem, you’ll find that people believe you when you say you’re going to make it right.
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