training

Ep.97: Getting a Handle On Training with Chris Peterson

Training to help move team members up the ladder is important to any remodeling company and its ability to move fast and make money. 

Chris Peterson has seen the importance of training from his first days in the field as a carpenter through to his present leadership position. He says it’s a concrete way to coach and promote great people from the ground up. 

In this episode, Chris explains his company’s training methods to Tim and Steve, and shows you how to create your own education program.

Chris is a co-owner and vice-president of production at Schloegel Design Remodel in Kansas City, MO. Chris has been with the company for more than 23 years. He started in the field as a carpenter and progressed to lead carpenter, project manager, and production manager. In 2018, he purchased the business with his partner, Charlie Schloegel. He’s seen the need for better training from many angles. 

There’s a real connection between emphasizing training and successful financial growth, says Chris. His company has started Schloegel University, which is in its initial growth phase. Some of the training is after hours on a volunteer basis, and there are mandatory meetings. Chris explains why making it cross-functional with classes that include field and office staff is important, as well as:

  • Reactionary vs. proactive training
  • Explaining how quality ties into profitability
  • How much to spend on training
  • Structuring a training program
  • Understanding education is already happening
  • Setting standards so things are done the same way, every time
  • Putting the responsibility on the learner
  • Creating enthusiasm around the process
  • And more …

Dedicating the time to training, even if it’s informal, will help your people be successful, leading to better quality and more jobs for your company, says Chris.

Ep.95: Teaching People to See with Ian Schwandt

Today’s guest believes that training tradespeople is an overlooked part of solving the labor crisis the remodeling and construction industries continue to face. 

Ian Schwandt says that lead carpenters are in the best position to have a positive effect on the development of young tradespeople. As a lead carpenter, he practices what he preaches. 

In today’s episode, Ian talks to Tim and Steve about teaching young tradespeople to see, understand, and think about why they’re doing something, rather than only demonstrating the mechanics of the task.

Ian is a lead carpenter and estimator with Hudson Valley Preservation in Kent, CT. He started with the company in 2017 as lead carpenter after working with the owners as a carpentry sub. He took over estimating in 2019, and rebuilt the Excel-based estimating program. He wrote a four-part series about the idea of the Worker-Centered Crew in JLC. 

Taking on the estimating task gave him added insight into how crews are put together, how they’re trained, and what they’re capable of. Ian started as a laborer out of high school, but found he loved carpentry work. He got a four-year apprenticeship program when he joined the carpenters union in Milwaukee, WI. His training there put him on a life-long path of learning. He talks about his views on training, and others can approach it, including:

  • The Triangle of Obligations
  • The importance of being organized
  • Setting your field team up for success
  • Building teaching time into the labor burden
  • Teaching how to cheat
  • The difference between working from the neck up and neck down
  • Explaining the “why” of the whole project at the beginning
  • Using YouTube videos and magazine articles to prepare your field staff
  • Putting a package of PDFs together that can be accessed on site
  • Asking the right questions to make workers think and understand the work
  • Creating a working environment that will attract young workers
  • And more …

Ian also writes his own blog at The Pen & Hammer — A Lead Carpenter’s View Inside the Office.

We Want to Hear From You

If you have a suggestion for a topic or guest for the podcast, send an email to Tim at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

Ep.93: Women in Leadership on Site with Dejah Léger

We talk a great deal about ways to beat the labor shortage, including the importance of training and education in keeping good employees. We’ve also discussed how to promote the trades as an attractive career choice. 

There’s a third component — finding the right people. And that may mean changing your thinking about what, or who, you’re looking for.

Dejah Léger came into remodeling with no experience, but was “trained from scratch,” she says. Due to her motivation and ability to learn quickly, she was promoted to lead carpenter within a year.

In this episode, Dejah talks to Tim and Steve about her experiences changing careers to become a carpenter and project manager, the challenges, and why women are a big asset on the job site.

Dejah is a lead carpenter/project manager at Irons Brothers Construction in Shoreline, WA. The first project she led was a major kitchen remodel, and she has continued to lead multiple jobs since then. Her role as the only female lead carpenter in Shoreline is a huge advantage on many levels. It points to the many reasons women should be recruited to be bags-on, even if it means large initial investments in training. 

Dejah’s remodeling career started when one of the company’s owners recruited her at her daughter’s baseball game. Her coworkers trained her on-site, she studied everything she could at night, and Irons Brothers sends their team to training and trade shows. She talks about what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated industry, changing careers, and the advantages it gives her in the field, including:

  • Establishing authority and leading on site
  • Why the labor shortage leveled the playing field for her
  • Communicating with clients 
  • Creating relationships with subs and vendors
  • Finding safety equipment that fits
  • Training on her own
  • The physical aspects of the job
  • Using her graphic design background to understand plans
  • Why to recruit more women
  • And more …

Getting past preconceived notions of what a carpenter or project manager has always been is the first step toward recruiting and retaining good team members — and that includes women.

Ep.87: Rising from the Ashes with John Murphy

We all occasionally think about the worst that could happen, like a disaster befalling your business or family. The kinds of thoughts that creep into your brain in the wee hours of the morning, that prompt you to think about how you might handle it. Luckily, for most of us, those imagined catastrophes never materialize.

For John Murphy, though, that nightmarish scenario came true when a building fire broke out in his office/warehouse and shop that housed the company’s paint and fine finishing division. The fire destroyed the building and nearly all of its contents. 

In this episode, John tells Tim and Steve the story of the fire, the immediate aftermath, and how his business survived.

John started Murphy Bros. Design | Build | Remodel in Minneapolis, MN, in 1983, just over a year after he graduated from college in 1981. John had worked part-time in construction starting in high school, and thought his degree was the ticket out of hard physical work. He started his new career in life and annuity insurance sales. After a year, he’d made only about half of what he’d earned as a carpenter. He was married with a new baby. Rather than ask for his job back, he decided to go it alone. The company was first named John Murphy Builders but became Murphy Bros. about a decade later — John’s brothers had joined the business. He says he’s still not sure his degree paid off, but he hung up his tool belt around 1997, and promoted himself to an office job.

Early on the morning of May 23 — the business’s anniversary date — John’s phone lit up in the kitchen. He heard it from his the bedroom, but didn’t answer it until it started ringing again a few minutes later. Picking up, he learned only that there was a fire at the business. He jumped in his truck, got to the office and saw all the emergency vehicles and their flashing lights. He says at first glance it didn’t look terrible from the front. The damage was immense, however. This wasn’t the only thing on his mind, either. His brother had been battling lung cancer, and died only days after the fire. John talks about how he handled it all emotionally and professionally in the short term and beyond, including:

  • Assessing priorities after the fire
  • The benefit of having strong community relationships 
  • How he and the company dealt with jobs in progress
  • The help offered by other remodelers
  • Keeping the business going forward
  • The benefits of having a second office and showroom location
  • Maintaining their public image
  • Why proper record keeping (and storage) is necessary
  • Making the company leaner, stronger, and better
  • Dealing with insurance companies
  • And more …

To help disaster-proof your business, John recommends storing your records and operating in the cloud, an annual detailed review of your insurance policies with your agent, and taking safety training seriously. Here’s the link to the security video of the fire on the Murphy Bros. blog.

Ep.77: Building a Trade School From Scratch with Richard Laughlin

The skills gap is real, but when we all talk about it, it often takes a negative turn. It seems like it’s always a complaint, with nobody taking any real action to solve it.

Richard Laughlin is the exception, and is taking a grass-roots approach in his small town in Texas that’s already growing in other parts of the state.

In this episode, Richard talks about re-starting a local trades program with Tim and Steve, and what it does for the students and employers.

Richard Laughlin is the owner of Laughlin Homes & Restoration in Fredericksburg, TX, and is the 2019 recipient of The Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He grew up in large-scale commercial construction with his dad and grandfather, who were general contractors. He attended Fredericksburg Trades school from 1975-78, and won statewide awards in carpentry skills as a sophomore in 1976 and cabinetry in 1977 with a custom built-pool table. He started his own design build custom home business in 1984. LHR has been recognized with dozens of state and national Awards. Richard filmed several episodes of Junk Gypsy on HGTV and was on Extreme Makeover

While Richard has great memories of his own trade education, the program was later downgraded in favor of a more college prep-focused curriculum. Kids were no longer getting the kind of time and attention necessary to get construction skills. About four years ago, Richard stepped into the breach, and he appealed to his state representative to get legislation passed that would create an opportunity for skills-based education again. Richard and other builders in his area pulled together to create a trade program that gives students hands-on experience building a custom home over the school year. He talks about how the program got off the ground, and how you can do something similar, including:

  • Showing the school systems the benefits
  • Raising money for a trades program to beat the budget argument
  • Putting together a strategy
  • Getting your subcontractors on board
  • Soliciting tool and materials donation
  • Working for sponsorships
  • Being persistent
  • How it fills jobs later
  • Structuring a non-profit
  • Creating a curriculum
  • Making the time to do it
  • And more …

Restarting the trades program has been very rewarding, he says, and spreading it nationwide is the goal. Read more about it on Richard’s website, or on the Casa Uber Alles Facebook page.

And Have You Heard About Tim’s New Book?

We are excited to announce that Tim’s newest book, Dear Remodeler, Lessons on Life, Leadership and Production is now available in the Remodelers Advantage Bookstore! Just in time for Holiday shopping!

Ep.75: Promoting the Young Guy with Ryan Murphy

Finding good employees and managers can be difficult — there just aren’t that many qualified workers out there. Hiring somebody young without much training is an investment, but it can pay off in the long run. If you find the right person.

Ryan Murphy is one of those people. He didn’t know anything about construction until he started working in the field when he was 19. Six years later, he’s a project manager.

In this episode, Ryan talks to Tim and Steve about his experience and growth, and how your company can find great workers and train them to move up within your organization.

Ryan is a project manager at Elite Construction Services Inc. in Santa Cruz, CA. He joined Elite three years ago as a carpenter after gaining two years of experience elsewhere. He worked his way from apprentice to journeyman after his first year. Six months later, Ryan began training to become a project manager, while still doing some carpentry as needed. 

You have to have a constant and consistent conversation with everyone you meet to find the right people, he says. Talk to family, friends, and clients even before you have an opening. Ryan talks about his experiences in getting hired, his training on the job, and how you can promote people from within, including:

  • What to look for
  • Using a visual workbook
  • When to let workers go on their own
  • How to train for growth
  • Providing a safety net
  • How to teach the office tasks
  • Teaching people to answer their own questions
  • Using technology to run jobs better
  • And more …

The biggest key to finding and keeping young workers is making them feel like they have a real future in the industry, and especially within your company, Ryan says.

Ep.68: Teaming Up with Manufacturers with Aaron Wingert

While you’re trying to please your clients, hit your schedules and margins, and juggle everything else, you can use all the help you can get. One way to bring in some assistance is by reaching out to your product manufacturers.

In this episode, Aaron Wingert discusses the benefits of having a relationship with your manufacturers with Tim and Steve. He gives us a view from the manufacturer’s perspective and insight into how a manufacturer’s representative can improve a remodeler’s business.

Aaron has been a market development manager for Louisiana Pacific for two and a half years, and his territory includes parts of Kansas and Missouri. LP is the largest engineered wood building products manufacturer in the world. Prior to working for LP, he spent nearly 16 years as a building codes inspector in the Kansas City area. 

Builders and remodelers are his main responsibility, and Aaron finds himself on job sites almost every day. Some of his visits are more like sales calls, but often it’s to troubleshoot an installation or answer a question about the materials. The biggest benefit to a remodeler to establishing a relationship with a manufacturer is understanding the products you’re selling as part of the entire project, as well as:

  • The questions to ask your reps
  • How plant visits can help your company’s sales
  • Taking advantage of rebate programs
  • Getting leads from your manufacturing partners
  • Training and education opportunities  for your team
  • Cutting down on errors in building
  • Using co-op dollars in your marketing
  • Getting SEO and social media help
  • Tapping into a manufacturer’s data
  • Best practices in handling product issues
  • And more …

Set yourself up for success by creating relationships with your manufacturer’s reps, take advantage of what they offer, and put yourself ahead of your competition.

Meet These Manufacturers at The Annual Remodelers Summit

Speaking of Manufacturers… Come meet these amazing companies at the Remodelers Summit in Orlando, FL on September 24-25!

Ep.66: Production in a Large Remodeling Firm with Bruce Case

Most remodeling companies are small businesses with simple structures, and team building can be difficult. Imagine the challenges of building a real team with more than 70 people in the field and an almost equal number working in the office. 

In this episode, Bruce Case talks to Tim and Steve about what it takes to keep a large remodeling company running smoothly — especially in the production department.

Bruce is the president and CEO of Case Design/Remodeling Inc., one of the largest full-service remodeling firms in the nation. Operations are focused in the Washington, DC, area and bring clients a unique mix of design/build and home improvement services through Fred The First Name in Home Improvement. Case has extended its reach across the U.S. through a network of licensees and franchisees. Since its founding in 1961, Case has won more than 100 national  remodeling, design, and business awards, and the Case network has completed more than 100,000 renovation projects for more than 60,000 clients. Binding these initiatives is a focus on inspiring team members and clients.

Bruce started working in the business when he was 12, but initially pursued a career in insurance. He came back to the family business and had to pay his dues, working in almost every department of the company in the 12 years before taking the reins. This gave Bruce an increased level of empathy and a greater perspective on the roles within the company. He discusses the importance of the culture at Case, and how to keep it together with the right mix of people — even if that means cutting a top performer loose — as well as how Case works in production, including:

  • How to develop structure and processes
  • What it takes to change processes
  • The timeline for change
  • Taking the time to develop your people 
  • Proactively growing and promoting from within
  • Case’s professional development program
  • Reimbursing for continuing education
  • How training helps you hire, keep, and inspire people
  • Why you should micromanage a new employee — and when to stop
  • Gatekeeping the project’s process
  • How to bring ideas forward and be positive
  • And more …

Keynote Speaker: Bruce Case

We’re excited to have Bruce delivering the keynote address at the 2019 Production Conference in Orlando, FL, on Sept. 26. This event will bring more than two hundred Production Managers, Project Managers, and Lead Carpenters together for a one-day journey through the inner workings of some of the industry’s most successful and efficient Production Departments.

We are filling seats fast so don’t miss this opportunity to learn, network and connect with other industry professionals just like you!
Register today!

2019 Production Conference

Ep.59: New Energy Opportunities with Jacob Corvidae

“Going green” has been a part of the remodeling and building industries for a while. But much of the eco-conscious activity has been reactive. There’s real movement now to be proactive, and that’s especially true in the energy industry. It’s undergoing a massive disruption — and that has big implications for remodelers and builders.

In this episode, Jacob Corvidae talks about what’s coming in the energy industry, and what it will mean for your business, with Tim and Steve.

Jacob is a principal in the Buildings Program at Rocky Mountain Institute, where he leads the Residential Energy+ initiative. After nearly two decades of work in sustainable community development in Michigan, he now works from RMI’s Boulder, CO, office. He’s also a co-author of The Carbon-Free City Handbook, and The Carbon-Free Regions Handbook, two guides to help local governments around the world take action faster, and reports to support contractors and builders.

Jacob’s focus is on practical methods to get to a cleaner, more prosperous energy future. The discussion ranges from macro to micro topics — from the global impacts to why residential gas stoves can cause asthma attacks. Find out what changes in energy production and infrastructure will mean to the building and remodeling industries, including:

  • What the dropping price of solar may mean for you
  • Changes in utility rates
  • How energy-efficient building will save, and possibly, earn money
  • Solar on homes as part of a community “farm”
  • The economics of clean energy
  • Infrastructure challenges and solutions
  • The rise of the all-electric house
  • Enforcement of energy-efficiency through local standards and codes
  • Staying ahead of the curve to become a local market leader
  • Educating your customers
  • The sales opportunities for you
  • Getting a strategy together
  • Reaching out to manufacturers
  • And more …

Including where to go for more information and education. To start, Jacob recommends his own organization and additional resources:

Ep.55: How Your Team Responds in a Crisis with Don Brees and Alex Pajic

It can take one stroke of bad luck to take a remodeling business’s leader suddenly out of the picture — either temporarily or permanently. The repercussions can be wide and economically traumatic if the remaining team can’t pull together and keep the business running.

When Rosie Romero, the owner (and primary salesperson) of Rosie On The House in Scottsdale, AZ, had an off-road UTV accident that left him severely injured, his team had to regroup quickly in an emotional time to keep the business running.

In this episode, Don Brees and Alex Pajic talk to Tim and Steve about how they — and the whole company — handled the unexpected absence of their leader and friend. For six months, the team relied on each other to continue selling, building, and performing at their peak while Rosie was recovering.

Don started working for Rosie On The House Remodeling in 2016 as the Remodeling Project Manager, and is now a Production Manager. An Arizona native, Don worked for Rosie the first time back in 1993 before venturing out to start his own remodeling, paint and drywall company. He has 37 years of construction and remodeling experience under his belt.

Alex began working with Rosie On The House Remodeling in 2017, and is a Remodeling Project Manager and Sales/Design Consultant.He has 18 years of planning, real estate development, and construction experience. Originally from Croatia, he grew up in Vienna, Austria, and worked on residential developments and projects throughout Europe. He has a passion for sustainable building, architecture, and new technologies in building design and project management.

Don and Alex talk about the first hectic days after the accident, and how Rosie’s wife Jennifer offered her support and guidance to the team while dealing with so much else. It was a traumatic and turbulent time, but they both point to how many details were already in place in the organization to help them all pull together and keep moving forward, including:

  • Why hiring the right people is so important
  • The importance of building information-sharing into your operations
  • Having outside resources in place for support
  • The adjustments they made
  • How to prepare your team for emergencies
  • Reaching out to trade partners
  • Keeping client satisfaction at the center
  • Who plays what role, and how to decide
  • The importance of having someone to trust to sign checks and documents
  • How they dealt with the emotional trauma
  • Why they’re traveling separately from now on
  • And more …

It was a trying period, but the company’s structure already in place and the team’s abilities and attitudes got them through it. Most important, Rosie’s back on his feet and continuing to improve after the accident.

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