Negative stereotypes about those who work in construction are part of the reason the industry is struggling to find workers. But I have been working with wall and ceiling contractors for more than 20 years, and I’ve definitely seen the softer side, the side that others think is nonexistent in people who build for a living.
Sure, there is competition among businesses and there are even some good old-fashioned rivalries within families, but deep down you’re not a bad bunch at all. An example is when a contractor lets me know that one of his competitors is doing such a good job with his safety program that we should write about it in the pages of this magazine. That’s how we got the story you’ll find on page 40. In this informative article, John Falewitch of Falewitch Construction Services Inc. discusses his company’s safety program, what has worked and what hasn’t. Clearly, what they are doing today is working: Claims in 2015 cost the company $1,500, but that number was as high as $175,000 just three years prior. So even if you think your program is perfect, read the article to see if you might be missing something.
Another example of ignoring the fight of local competition and doing what’s best for the industry as a whole is the article that begins on page 32. This is about training, a hot topic that involves first attracting young people to the industry, then getting them out on the site as soon as possible. But how do you do that safely? You can’t just put a green newbie on a job and set him loose! Read this article to find out how contractors, unions and local training centers are providing training opportunities all over the country. Yes, some are giving away some secrets, but it’s all for the greater good. Also, there is a chance you may have never heard of some of the groups mentioned in this article, but they can provide you with the labor you seek or at least steer you in the right direction.
The third feature article that begins on page 48 takes a look at the competitive bidding process. S.S. Saucerman, an estimator with more than 20 years of experience in the business, recounts (in a serious but seriously funny way) the pitfalls of the competitive bidding process. He delves into what he calls the “dark side” of the industry—incomplete bid documents. The root of all evil, am I right? It’s where all the trouble begins. It starts out with friendships and handshakes, but once the bidding begins, it’s every estimator for him/herself (and his/her imagination).
After a small absence to make room for our buyers’ guides, the Problem Solved is finally back in this issue. It’s the age-old “level 5” question, and it got a lot of responses and some different advice. You’ll find it on our last page, page 56.
Before I go, I want to remind you to visit www.awci.org for the latest issue of this magazine and other industry news. And I want to thank everyone who participated in AWCI’s Website Scavenger Hunt, which ended last month. The winner of the $500 Home Depot gift card is Nikki Mezic of Telling Industries, LLC, the second prize ($300 Home Depot gift card) winner is Dean Lakey of TJ Wies Contracting, Inc., and third prize (a $200 Home Depot gift card) goes to Addie Raleigh of Raleigh Drywall. Congratulations to the winners!