Our annual 40 Under 40 issue gives the editors of Professional Remodeler the unique opportunity to delve into the lives of 40 y
Innovation and Change
Here we are at the beginning of 2007. All is possible at this time of year because we're leaving the past behind. Working in the remodeling industry is certainly a good way to learn about new beginnings. Change has been one of the few things we can count on! As a high school student working summers starting in 1965 with a builder on Long Island, N.
Here we are at the beginning of 2007. All is possible at this time of year because we're leaving the past behind. Working in the remodeling industry is certainly a good way to learn about new beginnings. Change has been one of the few things we can count on!
As a high school student working summers starting in 1965 with a builder on Long Island, N.Y., I worked with a brace and bit; a Yankee screwdriver; and other non-battery operated tools. I never imagined how constant and unpredictable the extent of innovation would be. Laser levels, battery-operated everything, nail guns — 31 years later it is impossible to imagine remodeling without these tools.
When my wife, Nina, and I moved to San Francisco in 1974 we loaded everything we owned into and on top of (what else?) a VW van. With a mattress in the back and our cat joining us, we set out to discover the rest of our lives. The sense of possibilities and driving to the unknown were wonderful to experience. We had a place to move into but had no jobs and knew virtually no one. Taking that chance was a turning point in our lives.
In 1978, I had a chance to build a house. To do that I would need to be a licensed contractor. I didn't want to do that. That would mean I would be one step closer to being a businessman, and that was something I never wanted to become! As a member of the counter-culture, I wanted to keep at arms-length anything that hinted at my selling out.
Needless to say, I did get the license. The house was built, and taking that chance gave me the opportunity to learn more about estimating accurately and building in an urban environment. I was often attracted to projects that were unusual and challenging but not always easy. Money? Profits? Yes, I knew they were important but thought, life is short, — and it was going to be so cool to drive 50 miles one way to do a library restoration or try to figure out how to build a third-story addition on a house with no parking in front.
Over time, being a businessman became more comfortable. Today, I still look for challenges, but I decided to run a business that makes money. If taking on a challenge came with making a profit, I was interested. I got into this industry to shape reality, to bang nails and watch change happen in the world I was working in. I did not start building and remodeling to become a salesperson. Then I realized that I already was a salesperson and I could only become a better one. Doing the same project for more money was a no-brainer. So I decided to learn a selling system and develop my sales skills. We resist doing what we know we need to do. If you are lucky, you realize that you need to introduce innovation into your mindset sooner than later. Often it is more comfortable to simply do what you did the day before — even if is painful or ineffective — because it is familiar.
As we move into 2007, each of you will be faced with new choices and challenges. What have you been postponing? Make a pledge to yourself and your loved ones that you will introduce at least a little of those activities and experiences into your life now, while you have the time to enjoy them, instead of waiting. Remember, all you can count on is that you never really know what the future holds. Find your trip from Long Island to California soon. Change your perspective and live your future today!