At SMCo we do many different things. People with many different skills and backgrounds do them: architects, engineers, project managers, sales people, financial people, administrators, solar installers, cabinetmakers, etc.
And then there are carpenters. We have more carpenters than any other type – about a third of the people who work here. Gradually, some of our long-time carpenters are retiring. We need to hire new carpenters.
But we think differently about carpenters than most do. First of all, when we hire a carpenter, we’re not just hiring a carpenter – we are hiring a future owner, someone we imagine will stay here and with whom we will share ownership in five years.
We’re not looking for someone who’s just looking for a job. We’re looking for someone who is passionate about carpentry, who wants to become an important part of an organization, who aspires to become a construction superintendent in the future, and who wants to become a member of a great team.
“Team” is the operative word here. The job has different requirements than in the past. In the old days (and the not-so-old days, like when I started out) things were simpler than they are today. Training (whether formal or not) was essential, and still is, of course. The more the better. But beyond that, all you really needed back then was a basic set of tools and a pick-up truck (usually with a level on the gun rack and a dog in the rear).
You still need tools and a pick-up, but it’s also about collaboration, co-operation, and information-sharing. Good communication and management skills are important. Computer literacy is necessary. Adaptability and constant learning are critical, because building is changing rapidly as new materials become available, performance standards rise, and building scientists make new discoveries.
Recently our newest and youngest carpenter wrote on his annual self-evaluation (in response to the question “Do you have suggestions for improvements?”):
“Just keep up the communication and teamwork.”
Nice thing to hear from a guy who’s barely 21. He also said, “A wise carpenter once told me that ‘one fuck-up sets you back six ‘attaboys’ “.
It’s not so easy these days to find young people like that, who love carpentry, who are articulate, who have a well-rounded set of skills and capacities, and who want to make a career out of it. But they’re out there. Why? Because it’s rewarding work – hard as it is – and it’s truly a calling, and some still recognize what a noble calling it is.
We’ve found them before and we’ll find them again. Hopefully soon, because we’re looking right now.
Here’s an ad that we recently placed in the local newspapers and in many online locations, both local and not. If you think of anyone who might fit the bill, send them our way, okay?