Career Story: Carpenter


Job Title: Ceo Of A Small Business

Type of Company: We are a medium-sized general contracting company that specializes in residential renovation.

Education: BA, Economics, Columbia College •• Certificate in Preservation Carpentry, North Bennet Street School

Previous Experience: I started as a self-employed carpenter and then incorporated.

Job Tasks: I own the company and am responsible for all aspects of the business. In the beginning, 10 years ago, I did it all myself: sales, bill-paying, payroll, design... the carpentry, the painting, the paperwork... Now I have a few people in my office to take some of the routine tasks for me. I am still responsible for sales, though. For that, I do my best to spread the word about my company and what it can do, I respond to all calls that come in and meet with all prospective clients to learn about their home renovation projects. If I feel their project is one we can do a good job on, I will try to get them to hire me by telling them about and/or showing them some of our past projects. I help them estimate the costs of the project and assist them in final designs. Then I introduce them to one of my 15 employees, who will take care of the actual construction. Usually that is the last I will work on it, unless there are problems with which I can assist.

My typical day involves lots of driving to look at potential projects and visiting current projects. I spend about 3 hours a day driving, 2 hours a day on the phone, 2 hours a day at the computer, 2 hours a day in meetings, and a few hours a week working with my crews on challenging parts of our work.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I am very lucky to be able to work on something physical and create beautiful things that are useful. I work on houses, which are frequently beautiful examples of historic architecture, and at the same time provide human shelter, the most basic of needs. I like to say I work at the intersection of sculpture and shelter. No two days are alike, no two projects are alike, which is great. I meet and work very closely with lots of interesting and talented people. I could go on and on about how great my industry is! It is extremely challenging. To pull this off is never easy, and I like that too. To think of something bad about my job is difficult: I help people, it brings me joy, I am good at it. There is nothing bad about it. It would be better if I could make more money, but that's OK.

Job Tips: Get practice by doing it yourself for some time. Then get more practice by taking some formal training. And get some more practice by working under someone who is experienced and very good. But be certain that you love the work. Get some training in the accounting, management and customer service parts of it, and the technical part of it too.

Additional Thoughts: Remodeling is a great industry!

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