Lead Carpenter System

Ep.72: The Labor Shortage from a Small-Town Perspective with Wally Staples

While driving through Maine earlier this year, Tim started wondering how a client of his there deals with the labor shortage in his small town. So he called and asked, and found out that while there are different challenges, what he does to attract and retain his people can be done in any size labor market.

In this episode, Wally J. Staples talks to Tim and Steve about how his company combats the labor crisis outside of the major metropolitan areas, where there just aren’t as many people to choose from.

Wally is the owner and president of Wally J Staples Builders Inc., of Brunswick, ME, founded the company in 1993 when he was in his early 20s. A carpenter by trade, Wally worked in the field building new homes and completing renovations until 2001, when he hired his first lead carpenter, who’s still with WJSB today. This allowed Wally to work on growing the company, and now they have five full-time, in-house carpentry crews, and have completed more than 3,500 projects. 

Brunswick has a population of about 20,000, and is somewhat of a retirement community. It’s located between two major employers —  L.L. Bean and s big shipbuilder. There’s also a strong sense of independence — many carpenters and tradespeople would rather work for themselves. Wally talks about the things you need to do to attract and keep good people in a smaller market, including:

  • How to help people adjust to new roles
  • The benefit of offering benefits — especially paid time off
  • Providing a profit-sharing program for retirement plans, and keeping it in focus
  • Talking about the importance of your safety record regarding profits
  • What not to care about in hiring, like tattoos or age
  • Getting the word out about job openings
  • Appealing to the self-employed 
  • The power of branding in recruiting
  • Why training helps keep employees
  • The zero-question job binder
  • Developing good job descriptions and processes
  • And more …

Including the company party featuring a contortionist. Wally’s tips and tactics aren’t limited to succeeding in a small market — his insights can help any company, in any market.

Ep.71: Switching to the Lead Carpenter System with Steve Nash

When remodeling companies start up, typically the owner is working in the field, making sales, estimating, and doing almost everything else to run the business. There comes a tipping point as the company grows, and one person can’t do it all. That’s where the lead carpenter system comes in.

Transitioning to that system has its challenges. Steve Nash has used the lead carpenter system for 25 years, and understands its ins and outs — and how to move to it smoothly.

In this episode, Steve talks about making the switch with Tim and Steve, how it helps a growing company, and how to avoid the common pitfalls.

Steve began working as a carpenter for his father, from his childhood all through his teens. He founded Upscale Remodeling, in Freeville, NY, in 1991 shortly after college with a bucket of tools, a new truck, and a whole lot of ambition to build a great remodeling company. Today, Upscale Remodeling is a full-service design/build firm specializing in kitchen and bath remodeling, additions, basements, and window and door replacement. The company operates out of a 5,000-sq. ft. showroom, which helps with design and product selection as well as communication across all team members. Upscale Remodeling has been using some variation of the lead carpenter system since the beginning.

He recently teamed up with another remodeler to help a growing company in their Roundtables peer group make the switch to the lead carpenter system. He walks us through the process of transitioning your team, learning as much as you can beforehand, and how to make it work, including:

  • How it can help you cope with the labor shortage
  • Understanding your lead carpenter will be managing
  • Identifying the qualities that make a good lead carpenter
  • Why your best craftsman may not be the best manager
  • Empowering your lead to make decisions
  • Pushing your lead back to the paperwork
  • Being transparent with your lead carpenter
  • Why not to treat it as a promotion, just a different role
  • How to handle a different pay scales
  • The recruitment process and identifying candidates in-house
  • The importance of involving your lead in the sales process
  • Avoiding awkward moments in front of the client
  • Coaching your lead to stay within the scope
  • How to change your markup and job costing to safeguard profits
  • And more …

Keep Those Suggestions Coming…

This topic was another one suggested by a listener — and we hope you keep them coming! If you’ve got an idea for a topic or guest, drop Tim an email at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

Ep.70: Mastering the Look Ahead, Part 2, with Ben Reynolds

When you work in a remote area, where your materials are shipped on barges to small islands, and a quick lumber yard run just isn’t possible, everything just takes longer. 

So having all the details planned ahead is crucial, says Ben Reynolds.

In this episode, Ben talks to Tim and Steve about the challenges of working in Ontario’s cottage country, and how accurate look aheads are a key component in getting jobs done on time.

Ben has been the production manager at Kawartha Lakes Construction, Lakefield, ONT, Canada, for five years. Prior to that, he was a project lead — the lead carpenter managing a job site. Before joining KLC, he ran his own small company which mainly focused on new post-and-beam construction. When he was wearing the tools, his projects always hit the pre-set milestones, and he had an extremely high success rate of delivering a project on time.

KLC has different challenges than many other design-build companies, especially logistically. They deal with limited parking, moving material on boats and barges, and remote job sites. So planning ahead is key. And part of planning is looking back, keeping an accurate history of what it takes to complete a project. KLC has detailed time sheets, and can refer to experiences in the past to get accurate ideas on what it truly takes to complete a project. Ben talks about what KLC’s production process looks like, and how they plan ahead, including:

  • The different people that need to be involved
  • The two-year look ahead
  • The five-day plan
  • How to use your historical data
  • Eating the elephant one bite at a time
  • The level of detail needed in the five-day plan
  • The master production brief
  • Achieving better time management
  • Getting buy-in on the plan
  • Solving conflicts in planning
  • How to run an efficient production meeting
  • And more …

If you missed our first episode dedicated to creating your own version of the look ahead, listen to Episode 64: Job Site Look Ahead with Tom Batman & Mike Topper, of Harth Builders in Spring House, PA. 

Ep.41: Remodel My Business with Shawn McCadden

We hear it all the time — you can’t find good help anywhere. But finding new employees is necessary for growth. You have to add staff, and keep them — not just in your company, but in the industry. We have to step up in a big way when it comes to offering employees reasons to stay.

The first thing you have to do is define what you mean by good help. “What are we talking about,” asks Shawn McCadden. “Is it good carpentry work? Running a job? Or just a good person in general?”

In this episode, Shawn hashes it all out with Tim and Steve. They talk about finding, and keeping, good employees and creating a path for them to become great.

Shawn’s the president of Remodel My Business in Brookline, NH, and is a prominent figure in the remodeling industry. He obtained his builder’s license by age 18; founded, operated, and sold a successful employee-managed design/build firm. Shawn co-founded the Residential Design/Build Institute, and then become director of education for a major national bath and kitchen remodeling franchise company.

Today, Shawn is a frequent industry conference and trade event speaker. As an award-winning columnist he contributes to many industry publications, blogs, and writes a monthly column for Qualified Remodeler magazine.

The future of the industry lies with Millennials. Shawn discusses how to stop disparaging them, and start figuring out what motivates them. Turns out, much of what Millennials are looking for will also help you attract and retain employees of every generation. He advocates instituting a profit-sharing plan and creating an actionable progress plan for carpenters to move up, including:

  • Avoiding fake job titles
  • Why you have to train Lead Carpenters, not clone them
  • Creating confidence in the team
  • Using thermometers to measure GP and volume
  • How to graph a workers career path
  • Building penalties into a bonus for leaving the company
  • The importance of sharing estimates with your Lead Carpenters
  • Why job responsibility is crucial to job performance
  • And more…

You have to make something happen, says Shawn. Stop making excuses and learn what motivates your workers, and create a plan that will help them achieve.

Give Us a Shout!

Do you have a great idea for a future topic or guests? Shoot Tim and email at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

Ep.21: How to Transition from Lead Carpenter to Production Manager with Ray Hornsby

It’s a challenge to hire the right people for the right jobs. Finding a Production Manager is especially difficult — so many remodeling business owners think about moving a Lead Carpenter into that role. It often doesn’t work out, though, because the management skills needed for each job are vastly different.

Ray Hornsby drops by to talk to Tim and Steve about how he did it, the challenges involved, and what he looks for now when considering moving a Lead Carpenter up. Ray’s experience gives him a unique view of what it takes — for everyone involved.

Ray started in construction in 1977 as a painter, and over the next nine learned every facet of the trade. Ray joined Hopkins & Porter Construction Inc. in Potomac, MD, in 1986 as a carpenter, then became a skilled Lead Carpenter. He moved into the Project Manager role for new home construction, then became the Production Manager (replacing Tim), then General Manager, and now owner.

Having looked at the change from both sides, Ray has great advice for owners about what to look for in a Production Manager candidate, and also what Lead Carpenters should consider before making the leap.

The key to a successful transition lies in preparation, communication. and creating a great support system for the new Production Manager. Ray talks about the characteristics that make a Lead Carpenter a good fit for the Production Manager role. “People don’t think about the complexity of the role,” Ray says. “You can’t avoid conflicts, you need to put your foot down, and you have to be good at construction, budgets, and efficiencies.”  He offers other tips for making it work, including:

  • The importance of talking with former peers about the new working relationship
  • Why Production Managers need to let things roll off their backs
  • The challenges of sitting in an office for at least eight hours a day
  • How to structure the transition for success
  • And more…

If you’re a business owner looking to move someone up from Lead Carpenter, or you’re a Lead Carpenter who’s thinking of making a leap, you need to listen to Ray’s experiences, insights, and good advice. Click through for more about Hopkins & Porter.

FIVE Reasons to Attend the #1 Remodeling Production Event in the Country 

  1. Great Speakers / Great Content
  2. Learn from Industry Thought-leaders and Peers
  3. Networking Opportunities & Connections
  4. Cool Venue in an Amazing City
  5. Spend the Day With Tim Faller!

Learn More & Register Today!

 

Ep.11: Successfully Utilizing the Lead Carpenter System with Sean deLaunay

Tim has been an evangelist for the Lead Carpenter System for almost 30 years and speaks on the subject extensively as he tours the US and Canada.

As emerging remodelers grow quickly and transition from one truck, one job and limited crew to multiple jobs happening all at once, the Lead Carpenter System meets the demand of, and addresses the importance of, having someone onsite driving production and insuring client satisfaction.

In Episode 11, Tim and Steve explore the various aspects of the Lead Carpenter method and welcome Sean deLaunay to the show to talk about how his firm, Winn Design + Build, successfully utilizes the system.

Sean is the Production Manager at WINN Design+Build, an award winning, successful remodeler in the very competitive Northern Virginia market just outside of D.C.

According to Winn’s website, construction has been a part of Sean’s professional career for nearly 20 years. Sean works closely with Winn’s design team to provide critical input on the architecture as well as value engineering and budget preparation. As the Production Manager, he specializes in construction management and oversees Winn’s production team through the entire construction process with his main focus on client satisfaction.

Tim, Steve and Sean talk extensively about the Lead Carpenter System that Sean inherited when he joined Winn Design + Build. Their discussion includes:

  • Benefits and challenges to using the Lead Carpenter system
  • Where is it a good fit? Where is it not?
  • The importance of value, quality of work, customer relations, etc.
  • Role and responsibilities of a Lead Carpenter within Winn’s system
  • Proper client engagement and running efficient client meetings
  • Support needed from the home office
  • How to identify / hire the right person to fill the role
  • And more…

To learn more about Winn Design + Build, visit their website: https://winndesign.com/

 

Super Early Bird Registration for the 2018 Production Conference Closes June 15! Save $200 By Registering Today!

After an amazing turnout last year (more than 100 attendees) we are excited to host the 2nd Annual Production Conference, held alongside the 2018 Remodelers Summit in beautiful New Orleans, coming up in September. Register Today!

 

 

Ep.02: Using The Lead Carpenter System in Kitchen & Bath Companies with Steve St Onge

We are off to a great start and we love hearing such positive feedback from our associates in the industry as well as new friends we’ve made by putting The Tim Faller Show out there.

In episode 2, Tim and Steve cover the Lead Carpenter System, specifically being used in the Kitchen & Bath segment of our industry. As Tim points out, the Lead Carpenter System works great for companies focused on smaller, fast turn-around projects… and often Kitchen & Bath renovations and remodeling projects fit that description.

In order to dive further into the topic, Tim and Steve welcome a guest who has extensive experience using the Lead Carpenter System within his company; Steven L. St. Onge, Founder/CEO of Rhode Island Kitchen & Bath in Warwick, RI.

In 1989, Steve St. Onge founded RI Kitchen & Bath, an award-winning design/build residential and light commercial remodeling company specializing in kitchens, baths, and multi-trade interior renovation projects. Steve and his team have built a strong, loyal customer base within the Rhode Island, Southeastern MA, East Bay, and nearby Connecticut market.

Steve’s company utilizes the Lead Carpenter System extensively throughout his company and in this episode we learn more about:

  • Where the Lead Carpenter System came from, how it started, etc.
  • What works with the system and what doesn’t; lessons learned
  • Why it works for making quick decisions & managing multiple projects
  • How the system affects Customer Satisfaction
  • Establishing, building and using a Specification Book
  • The process of implementing the system & getting team buy-in
  • Hiring and finding the right people to fit with the system
  • How Quality Control is achieved within the system

Thanks to Steve for joining us and sharing some great information with us… If you have some experiences in using the Lead Carpenter System, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.

We will see you next week with another great topic and guest.

 

Are you a raving fan yet?

We hope so! If you have a topic that you would like us to cover or know of an industry contact, author or thought-leader that you think others would like to hear from, let us know.

If you’re enjoying The Tim Faller Show, please spread the word and post reviews on iTunes and Stitcher.

MASTER NAVIGATION
MASTER NAVIGATION