Q: How long have you been in the business and what drew you into the industry?
A: My career in construction began right after graduating from Randolph-Macon College in 2003. My first job was with a large general contractor in Richmond. But, I had certainly been around the construction industry for years working with my family’s building supply company. Once I got a taste of the project management side of the business, I knew this was the only thing I wanted to do.
Construction in and of itself is intriguing and can be very gratifying. You may start with a piece of dirt or a dilapidated structure and, when the project is complete, you have a tangible, functional product. In our case, the finished product is a beautiful new home where a family will create years of memories.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of your job?
A: My favorite part of my job is the breadth of it. Through the years I have experienced and learned so much! I have learned how to build houses, manage projects, create internal systems and build a business from the ground up. I love being challenged and finding better ways to accomplish goals.
The least favorite aspect of the job are the hours. Some self-imposed but some a product of the industry.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A: In construction, every day varies. I usually get in the office early to address tasks that take more focus before the phone starts ringing. I like to meet with my team earlier in the day to map out our day and address any issues they we be facing. I may work on budgeting, scope sheets, estimates, product specifications, financials, home designs, or just general business planning. In the afternoons I may visit job sites, conduct sales meetings, walk lots, meet with clients and, of course, follow up with emails and phone calls.
Q: What is the greatest challenge to the industry right now?
A: The cost to purchase and develop raw land doesn’t lend itself to affordability. In addition, labor and material prices have continued to rise. The labor pool has not recovered since the last recession. Young people are not entering the trades as they once did. This shortage of tradespeople only increases the cost of labor which, in turn, also forces home prices upward.
Q: What’s the most memorable project you’ve completed?
A: Earlier this year, we built a large home in the city that turned out beautifully. The client’s budget allowed for the incorporation of some really cool design features and functions. All the elements ranging from the wrap around stamped concrete porch with gas heaters, to the full basement, knock out kitchen, Olympic size mudroom, and stunning finishes made for a very memorable project.
Q: How big of a role does new technology play in your industry?
A: Technology plays a huge role in our industry. On the manufacturing side of construction, any process that harvests, mills, cuts, or assembles a product uses specialized machinery integrated with computers to optimize the process and minimize waste.
On the consumer side, our society maintains an insatiable desire for technology. New products come to the market seemingly every day that offer homeowners a solution to any conceivable inconvenience. Many of these products are app-based and, therefore, very accessible.
At Vertical Builders we use a cloud-based project management software to create scopes of work, perform estimates, schedule jobs, budget and correspond with clients and subcontractors. This technology has helped us to streamline many procedures, database information and ultimately scale and grow our operation. It has also proven to be extremely beneficial keeping the office, field and clients interconnected.
Q: What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of work?
A: My interests and hobbies primarily revolve around my family. I have three young children who certainly keep me busy outside of the office. I really enjoy coaching my son’s sports teams. If I am not coaching, I try to fit in a few games of basketball at the YMCA. I also enjoy anything outdoors, reading and trying to beat my wife in Scrabble.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: I will always remember my mother telling me to “write it down or otherwise you will forget it.” I really live by this and constantly work from a to do list. It helps me to not only stay on top of tasks, but to organize and prioritize them.