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The Ugly Side of Beautiful! (Part 3)

So then, here we are with 2013 looking better and 2014 looking better yet. Beautiful, ahhhh … now we can finally sigh with relief. NOT! Houston, we’ve got a problem. What the heck is the problem with an increasingly better housing market that seems to be firing on at least six of its eight cylinders? After all, isn’t this what we’ve all been waiting for? Yes, it certainly is. It seems to be exactly what we’ve been waiting for. So then, what’s the problem now?

The Problem with More

More is a problem. More: What do you need more of? Everything! Equipment, working capital, office staff, workforce, management and so on. Our needs to simply circle their way back around to the word, everything! The problem is exacerbated by the fact that we have been soooo slow, and now we’re ramping up fast in many regions. Are you ready to meet the demand? It depends. It depends on what you’ve been doing during the downturn, what you’re doing now and what you’re going to do in the future.

The Beautiful Side of Ugly

If you’re smart, you took advantage of the downturn. Take advantage of the downturn? Yes, that’s what I said. Hopefully you recognized the “beautiful side of ugly.” No, I’m not playing with your mind by simply babbling ever-clever titles or playing word games. You can turn the title of this article on its head and find the reverse truth. There is a beautiful side of ugly, and that’s what every great business is out to take advantage of when a downturn occurs.

How about this? Why not use the downturn to take advantage of the opportunities you have when things are slow? Do the things you could never do when you’re busy. Like what? Like refining your organization, its processes, SOPs, job descriptions, and getting your business poised and ready to take full advantage of the upturn. Hopefully, you didn’t just let your business fall apart and now you have to start from scratch.

Going into the downturn, the challenge was more than one of survival. We did so with a very clear edict: “Use the downturn to refine our overall organization so that we are poised to take full advantage of the upturn.” Did we do it? Well… the truth being told, I’d be a liar if I told you that we, that is to say our organization, did so to the extent we were aiming for. We fell short. We’re not where we wanted to be.

But I would be equally deceitful if I said we didn’t make progress toward that goal. We worked feverishly toward it, and we achieved a modicum of success. We made progress and survived thus far. But, we didn’t get it done. Then again, is it really ever done? Sorry to those of you weary souls who build and install the walls of the world. I don’t think so. Not to my tastes …

All of our planning and striving and straining toward our goals and yet some of them were not achieved. But some of them were, and for that I’m proud in a humble sort of way. We made progress. We aren’t the same company we were; we’re definitely different, mostly in a good sense. We gave it our best and we’ll have to see how things play out from here. But we definitely went into this with the right intentions. We saw the beautiful side of ugly and did our best to give ourselves a facelift and transplant some vital organs. We’re not in the emergency room but you might say we’re pulling out of the hospital parking lot. You have to feel good about that when you know the morgue is full of dead bodies, right? I’ll answer that: Yes!

Dumb and Dumber

So then, getting back to the problem with “more” and the here and now, manpower seems to be the most critical factor. It’s the piece missing from just about everyone’s puzzle. Let me begin by telling you what not to do. It’s counterintuitive. You must resist the knee-jerk reaction to respond to the problem by throwing money at. The stupidest thing you can do is to pour gasoline on a fire. Even though you may feel congested, don’t cough up phlegm and spit into the wind. Don’t turn this into a bidding war with your competition and surrender control of labor pricing to the workforce—not unless you’re a complete idiot. Sorry… came on a little strong there, but you wouldn’t believe the dumb things some contractors do.

I realize that many of you are union organizations. We were, but currently are not. Yours is a different situation. You have apprenticeship programs, but even you aren’t exempt, not when it comes to the ugly side of beautiful.

Sorry! Time’s up. To be continued … .

Doug Bellamy is president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall in California. He is known for his original thought, innovative approach and the personal development of unique processes, systems and procedures. He is available for consultation, business management seminars and training. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at

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