Pete D’Angelo came to work at SMC in 1987.  Five years later, he became an owner.  For the past decade or so, he has had the complex job of planning and managing all of our small jobs and maintenance work.  In any given year we do repair work and small improvements/additions to roughly 50 different houses that we previously built or renovated.  It’s an important service. Co-owner Peg McKenzie manages the office end.  Pete manages the field.  Two carpenters and a collection of subcontractors support their efforts.

For 18 years he has also managed our indescribable annual Chappy golf tournaments.

When Pete came in recently and told me he had decided to retire, my heart sank.  He’d be hard to do without.  All that institutional knowledge, all that can-do problem-solving, all that relentless dedication to improvement . . .  and those pithy, irreverent hilarious e-mails and comments – just gone?  Just like that?  Are you kidding?

Yes, just kidding.  He’s not retiring.  But it was close.  It’s hard to express how pleased I am that he’s staying on half time, continuing to do all the most important stuff that he does, continuing to care for all the houses and clients we’ve put heart and soul into and continuing to add his always-entertaining offbeat commentary.

For many years, during discussions of upcoming company events, Pete said that we should all go to a Red Sox game together.  Here’s one note he sent when we asked people in the company for suggestions for company events:  “What the fuck? Trip to Fenway. We rent a bus. Stop at Jordan’s and load up on furniture cause it’s gonna be free, stay too long at the Cask and Flagon, catch a game, tattoos on the way home. Now that’s an event!!” Nobody ever listens to his pleas, but this time, as we contemplated his upcoming end of ownership and shift to half time, it seemed like a good time to listen. Continue reading »


We do not have a new Production Manager. We do not have one at all, but we intend to. We need a new Production Manager, and we have embarked on a quest to find the right person for a big job.  The responsibility:  to translate design intent into cost-effective, efficient construction and to further systematize design integration and construction processes company-wide.

What does that mean?

It means making certain that our designs are thorough, that our buildings get built as designed, that we maximize quality and efficiency and minimize errors, that the right amounts of the right materials arrive at our jobs, that scheduling is right on the money and people have sufficient time to do the job they are assigned, that we stay on budget, that the detailing is impeccable, that our buildings work the way buildings are supposed to work, that we exceed our clients expectations time after time, and that our estimating, scheduling, tracking, and building systems are capable of supporting and encouraging all the good things in this very long sentence.

It means we are hiring someone to spend 100% of his/her time doing exceptionally well some essential aspects of our work that I now spend less than 20% of my time doing adequately at best (some might say that even that is an embellishment!).

This is not the first time we have made this attempt; during the past five years we have tried and failed three times.  That’s a lot of times to screw something up.  We have learned from our failures; this time we plan to succeed.

The qualifications are rigorous:

• College degree (Construction management or related degree preferred)

• Five years experience in a similar position in the construction industry

• A leave-the-ego-at-the-door, company first, deeply collaborative spirit

• Excellence in the use of office and project management software such as Excel and Filemaker

• Love of numbers

• Great written and verbal communication skills

• If not a Martha’s Vineyard resident, willingness to re-locate here.

We are engaging in a thorough and deliberate process.  We will leave no avenue un-explored as we seek the right person.  We have even hired a recruiter – something we’ve never done before – because we think there’s a possibility he will help us to reach some people we may not otherwise have reached.  It’s an experiment; there’s nothing to lose (except some money).

If you know anyone who might be interested, and suitable, let them know about this opportunity, or let me know who you have in mind.  The full job description is on our website at


The piece below was written for and posted on the Green Building Advisor.  I thought I’d share it here too.

We like to measure how we’re doing in as many ways as possible.  Like other businesses, we have a collection of metrics for financial tracking: profit and loss, budget projections and actuals, job costing of each project, value of our several funds (pension, equity, and reserves) and more.

We also measure social factors:  employee education costs, compensation ratio top to bottom, length of employee tenure, average employee age, charitable contributions, and community service.

We consistently track (measure) our work backlog to help us plan for our immediate future.

We try to predict our longer-term future, too – through strategic planning, creating five year plans, projecting organizational charts, and making succession plans.

In design and project planning, we do extensive measuring (space planning, engineering) to ensure good building performance, structure, and utility.  On our completed projects, we monitor energy use and other factors (like relative humidity) to help us learn what works and what doesn’t.

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A BRIGHT INVESTMENT (& Stop ‘n Shop Update)

The last post of this blog entry was mis-formatted, so I am re-sending.  If you got it and it actually looked right, sorry to bother you again.


The postscript to my last blog entry about Stop and Shop is that they withdrew their application!  They heard the concerns, saw the writing on the wall, and pulled back.  Our hope is that they will come back with a new plan that more addresses the wishes of Vineyarders and works for them too.

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The following is a re-print of a piece Nis Kildegaard wrote for his Sounding column after a long chat with Rob Meyers, our Energy Services Manager.  It appeared in the Martha’s Vineyard Times on June 5th.  I thought he did a fine job with it.



Maybe you never heard the news about solar power, or it was drowned out by the noise of the 13-year controversy over the Cape Wind project on Horseshoe Shoal.

But if you still think that putting solar electric panels on your roof is a prohibitively costly way to declare your environmentalist bona fides, it’s time to think again.

I sat down for an eye-opening tutorial last week with Rob Meyers at South Mountain Company (SMC) in West Tisbury. Meyers is manager of the company’s fastest-growing department, energy services. Here’s some of what I learned.

The high cost of electricity on Martha’s Vineyard can be a burden or an opportunity, depending on how you look at it. Rates now stand at about 21 cents per kilowatt-hour, and they fluctuate over the short term, but over the past two decades they’ve increased by an average of 6 percent, per year.

Paying some of the highest rates in the nation, NSTAR customers on Martha’s Vineyard see big bites taken out of their pocketbooks for electricity every month. But if you look at that money as capital, here’s the opportunity: You can shift that capital, so that rather than paying NSTAR, you’re paying for the solar photovoltaic (PV) system on your own roof.

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