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Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 15

As my fellow worker kept driving, winding his way down the two lane mountain road, in the San Diego foothills, it was evident by the gleam in his eyes that he had insight I didn’t possess.


He knew the answer to the persistent question plaguing in my mind relentlessly for an answer. It was a simple but profound answer. I was completely surprised by the clarity of his straightforward explanation.


“He’s threatened by you. He thinks you’re going to take his job. He can see that you have the skill set, the business acumen and a clear advantage on him in several ways. Consequently, he doesn’t want you around. He’s only using you out of necessity because it serves his immediate interests, not because he cares about you as an individual. He fears you.”


Though that was news to me at the time, it’s something that I have had to deal with repeatedly over the years. Sometimes how good you are actually puts you at a disadvantage.


I know that sounds boastful, but bear in mind it wasn’t a natural conclusion I drew. The initial notion was someone else’s conclusion.


The fact is, I was well-versed in numerous areas that my project foreman wasn’t. I’d already operated a business, advanced rapidly as a young tradesman, excelled at every level, and he just didn’t have a background like that. Consequently, he wasn’t comfortable with my presence.


This is all too common in the business world. Managers make a horrible mistake when they are so insecure that they snuff out anyone who offers what they perceive to be some kind of threat in their organizations.


To manage well, you must believe in yourself. And if by chance you feel that someone is trumping your efforts to manage and making you look bad, the simple answer is to step up your game, get with it and get better.


Truth is, we need each other. A wise manager will fully utilize the strengths of those they manage and make sure they get full credit for what they achieve.


What you don’t do is hinder your own management team. Instead, embrace and utilize their strengths. Don’t hold them back, help them move forward.


Back to the story. Unfortunately for him, his worst fears were eventually realized.


Though I went out of my way to treat him as well as I possibly could, as destiny would have it, slowly but surely I continuously advanced.


After pleading with the then-owner for a chance to take on more responsibility after being employed for about two years, he finally gave me that opportunity.


Meanwhile, my wife had gotten pregnant with our last child, Jason. By the time he was born, I can remember running a project. I raced my way to the hospital. He is currently the acting president of Alta Drywall.


I’ll never forget the day the owner called me and asked me if my wife and I could come out to his house. He had a brand new work truck sitting in the driveway when we arrived. I instantly realized it was mine!


As I said, I was driving around in a junker. In fact, I was so poor that I drove around with no back window for over a year at one point.


But I was doing all the right things. Consequently, God’s favor was upon me. And the prophecy continued to unfold.


I insisted on doing the right thing at every turn, and things would go well—very well—in the future. I was on my way toward somewhere that I couldn’t never have imagined—never!


By now, Alta had two foreman: the one I had worked for when I was originally hired, and me. At times, work for either of us and our crews would slow down. When he was slow, he would come to my projects and work under me.


I know that this could be taken wrong and sound boastful as well, but the plain and simple truth is that I was very gracious to him.


As any tradesman knows, there are preferred tasks and there is grunt work, not be something a foreman would usually do. When he was on my sites, I took the grunt work and gave him the work that I would normally be doing.


I don’t know how he processed that, what he thought down deep inside, but that’s what I did, and I never really got much consolation for doing so.


I did it because I wanted to do unto others what I would want others to do for me. I’m sure that must sound familiar. It’s nothing new. It’s what we’ve already referred to as the Golden Rule.


The result? As it turns out …

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. Contact him at

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