Mailbag: Readers add criticisms, more advice for contractors and newbies looking for success in the construction business

Updated Apr 9, 2014

email-stickerWe received quite a response from a couple of recent editorials, “The newbie’s guide to surviving your first week in construction,” and “The six habits of highly successful construction company owners.”

So we thought we should share some of the additional ideas and suggestions we received via email from our readers—both the praise and the criticism.

You’ll find the suggestions we received below. They’re all good and will help anybody do better in this business. If you’ve got additional suggestions (or criticisms), email me at [email protected]. And I’m working on a full response to the criticism of the “Newbie’s Guide” for later this week.

Responses to “Newbie’s guide to Succeeding in Construction”

I would offer two things: my advice to young workers is to remember what they are taught or they face some tough times moving forward in a career; and then maybe include both female and male workers in your articles.

Patrick Donavan

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I always look for new articles to provide my employees after 20 years of business. We needed to hire new employees this spring, this week, so I was glad to read your article “ The newbies guide to surviving your first week in construction.”  We photocopied it to hand out to our new hires , but I modified it. I crossed out all the young MEN/Man references and changed it to young PEOPLE.

I was really surprised that the whole article was written to a newbie “male” . I’m a second generation family construction person, and when my dad first started, his boss was a women , and that was in 1972!  

I have one son and 3 daughters and I truly believe that it doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl, construction is for everyone who enjoys working hard, being outside and no 2 days are the same, ever!

I’d love to see this article rerun addressed to all new employees….unless the women already have all these tips figured out.

Carrie Speshock

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I recently read your Final Word article in the March Issue on Newbies Guide to Surviving Your First Week in Construction and have a few comments.  

What I found off-putting in the article was the dated characterization of a construction worker who spits, chews, cusses and gets there a little early to smoke, joke, scratch and settle bets.  That is a construction worker, man or woman, that we don’t want on our jobsites and our company’s work force would be insulted by that description.  

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We also don’t want the “young man whose life is going nowhere” to do us “a favor” and pursue a job in construction; we want a young person who may be lacking in experience but is motivated, willing to learn and ready for a challenge.  

The gender-neutral sensitive language sometimes goes too far but why begin an article on an appealing topic reinforcing the attitudes of our aging workforce? The young men I know, future leaders in construction, who read the article didn’t care for the “old school” attitude and were offended by your portrayal of a construction worker and also offended on behalf of their female counterparts.  

The focus should be on encouraging the interest of young people in the construction industry, both men and women, when we are so clearly lacking in this area now and in the future.

Terri Boland

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I read your article on new hires in construction in the March addition of Equipment World and would like to share some advise I give our guys.  This may not be “politically correct”  but since I’m over sixty years old and have been in/around  construction a long time here it goes.  I tell them they have 2 eyes and 2 ears and only 1 mouth if they keep that shut there is a 4 to 1 probability that they just might learn something.  My sons now run the business and tell me that is not how it goes today.  Back when I started you very seldom said anything but it seems today newbie”s know more that you and if not they can find it on computer/cell phone etc.

Ed Matincheck

Responses to “The 6 habits of highly successful construction company owners”

This is a good article that covers most of the desirable habits but maybe one more habit should be included.I think consideration should also be given to the subcontractors (as well as employees).  First, a successful contractor attracts qualified subs, coordinates and communicates effectively with them, and pays them in a timely and honest manner. successful contactors establish positive business relations with both subcontractors and suppliers.

Jerry Dover

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To be a success you need to spend many hours in the office. (I am here usually 6 to 6). I open all the mail to keep up with checks and bills. Also review the bank statements watching for anything weird. I help all my employees with interest free loans and advances. Also I am big on taking them to training conferences and seminars. Contractors do not spend enough $$$ on education.

Jim Schier, P.E.