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Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 21

I’m going to wrap this series up by year end 2019, and those of you who have a continuing interest will be provided a venue through which you can gain access to the remainder of these writings. There is plenty more to say, and I look forward to getting it said—and read as well.


Throughout the course of these writings, I have tried to consider those who may not agree with my conclusions and provide them enough space so as not impose on them and their personal beliefs. I’ve kept myself free from guile and tried to avoid controversy as much as possible. At the same time, I’ve told the stories without hyperbole, truthfully, without exaggerating the facts, conveying them candidly and exactly as they are.


Perhaps my concerns about possibly offending others kept me from emphasizing prayer to the extent that I should have. I have said very little about prayer, though prayer played an integral part in every situation, as each of the stories unfolded neatly, albeit miraculously, into reality.


Here I go again. Inevitably crossing the line, pressing the boundaries, saying things that are questionable yet nonetheless necessary, in the context and purpose of both this column, the magazine, its readership and the story itself. Unfortunately, and perhaps even more so, fortunately I have found all of it completely unavoidable, as is what follows.


I’m thinking back to a time, very late in 1989, when I had an extremely difficult decision to make. By that time, I had learned to carefully and prayerfully make my decisions in the spirit of obedient submission and attitude of prayer. In fact, I would “typically” find guidance through personal intercession.


I was faced with a large equipment purchase. It was a matter of prayer, just like any significant decision. I had negotiated my way to the point with Rob, the president of Alta, that I would take on a department as a subcontractor in addition to my current role as general superintendent. It fit, like a ring on a finger, with ease, and soon to be (as I saw it) in the continuance of my duties and current role and would provide substantially more personal income—additional income that would be so easily managed. It made perfect sense to me.


I’ve never been completely certain as to why, but it was clear that there was some reluctance on Rob’s part to surrender that portion of the business to me. I could feel it in the air. He didn’t want me to do it. Nevertheless, I pressed him on the matter and, eventually, he conceded.


Perhaps he thought of it as a potential distraction and that my interest would be divided, creating a conflict of interest. In his view, I suppose it was possible that I would be more focused on something other than the primary reason I was employed. However, quite honestly, that would never happen. I was fully invested in his business. Not in dollars and cents, but in heart and soul. I treated it like my own. Little did I know that someday was destined to become reality, but that story is for another day and too lengthy for the here and now.


As far as Alta and my role was concerned, I passionately provided 150 percent nonstop and in every instance. That fact would never change. Rob had voluntarily acknowledged that—more than once. He had repeatedly told me time and again that I had more drive to see the company grow than he himself did, and that I did my job twice as well as anyone he had ever seen, including himself. Being a military man, he often referred to me as “the general.”


In the next breath, he was quick to point out that he was better at what he did for Alta than I would be, but it was clearly prefaced by the fact that we both did an exceptional job. We were the ying and yang of the local drywall world. A dynamic duo. The personification of synergy, where one plus one equaled three. It is a possibility he felt the change would ultimately threaten that.


Again, I’m uncertain as to why, but I could clearly sense that he was conflicted and, consequently, I had to persuade him to allow me to take ownership of the department. To be specific, the department was our texture department, which was typically subcontracted out to others. There was extremely good money to be made, which would not subtract a single penny from the company in its current structure. I had to do very little in addition to what I was already doing in order to benefit substantially from that department. So, it seemed completely reasonable for me to do so.


Looking back, his concern (or whatever it was) was justified, even though it didn’t have to be. Ultimately, it would undermine our relationship and lead to a 15-year separation with nearly irreparable damage, driving an unmistakable wedge between the two of us. But for him to be right, he had to do something undeniably wrong.

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

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Let me be as clear as new glass, polished to a sparkle. Rob turned out to be an incredible friend. We were extremely close by his untimely and unfortunate