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My Construction Experience

As a child, I learned how to use tools and do simple repairs from my father.  He was no handyman or mechanic, but he knew how to do minor repair and improvement work around the house.

When I was 16, I spent the summer living in a tent on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in southern Virginia and worked for a small construction company which built docks.  During the following school year, I began working for a one man home improvement company after school.  He and I did everything from hand digging the footings, pouring the concrete, framing the walls, roofing, siding, ductwork, insulation, minor plumbing, kitchen and bathroom remodeling and manufacturing formica countertops on site.

Later, I started my own handyman business doing minor construction, repairs and improvements.


While in college in Mobile, Alabama, I worked for a company that sold small storage buildings.  My job was doing minor repairs on the local sales lot.  Soon, I began helping with deliveries and setup.  When the Sales Manager realized that I had more skill than just doing minor repairs, he began sending me to customer locations to do warranty repairs.  Then, I was hired to build buildings on customer sites when normal deliveries were not possible.  I was sent out of the area to do factory service that the factory service workers were somehow unable to complete.

I transferred to Auburn University.  While there studying Construction Management, I worked for a small home builder and then for a home improvement contractor.  While living in that area, I also did minor home repairs and improvements independently.

From there, I moved to Texas and began working for a Property Management company doing maintenance and repairs on apartment complexes.  Later, I framed houses as a contractor for Jim Walter Homes.

After that, I began doing after sale service for Pulte Homes in Maryland.  I was promoted to Superintendent and overhauled the construction process so that defects at time of sale went from 50+ items per house to less than 5 per house – at a rate of 5 to 10 houses per week.  From there, I was hired by a custom home builder in Virginia.  His homes were 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, and were built in approximately 3 months, each.  We completed one house per month.

After that, I joined with another carpenter and formed a trim carpentry business, mostly working for large tract builders.  We installed wood trim and kitchen cabinets.

Following that, I took a job in commercial construction.  I began as a Carpenter Foreman, taking charge on my first day of a 10 man crew who had never worked together.  I had to read the plans, assign work, and evaluate the abilities of all the workers from day one.  Eventually, I was promoted to Site Superintendent and later to Project Estimator and Project Manager.  Most of the projects I worked on as a Superintendent were restaurants, some were small retail stores.  I built shoe stores, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, Friendly’s Restaurant and Macaroni Grill, among other projects.

It was at this time my advancement stalled because I had not completed a Bachelor’s Degree.  So, I decided to go back to school.

After a few years of college, I was once again working in commercial construction as a Superintendent.  Then, I was promoted to assistant to the CEO.  In that position, I had to supervise lawyers, manage IT, upgrade phone and internet services, and re-write a standard contract for subcontractors.  Years later, I worked again for the same CEO, assisting with customer service and upgrading a chain of car repair stores during off hours, while the stores remained open.

While in the construction industry, I continued professional education in a number of ways.  I took courses in Construction Inspection at Northern Virginia Commuity College, and a course in Project Management through the local chapter of a national trade association, Associated Builders and Contractors.  I was a member of Building Officials and Code Administrators and Construction Specifications Institute, both national trade associations.

During my time in the flower business (read elsewhere), I designed and built a 4,000 square foot factory in Thailand.  I coached staff in how to take bids from contractors and how to negotiate the construction contract.  I managed the construction process from the US, using on site staff taking pictures of all aspects of construction and sending the pictures to me by email every day.  I visited the site every other month for the yearlong duration of the project.

Since moving to Lake County in 2018, I completed several small projects:  a room remodel, a carport at a small retail business, and the interior finish of a small sales office.

Now, at age 66, I think my days of actually doing the construction work are over.  But, I’m teaching my two teenaged sons how to do some of the work I used to do.