Local Impact

Bill Medina, CGR, represents all that remodeling excellence embodies.

May 31, 2000

Bill Medina, CGR, represents all that remodeling excellence embodies. His local activism has helped raise public awareness of professionalism in remodeling, and his dedication to local children and education has inspired many. One student, a 17-year-old junior from Salina High School South in Salina, Kan., was particularly encouraged as a result of Medina's presence in his life one day in November 1999. Kyle Burt shadowed Medina last fall as part of his school's efforts to introduce kids to the real world of work. Kyle came away with a renewed interest in construction as a career and a fresh understanding of the business of remodeling.

Medina's contribution to Kyle's life last year has earned him the 2000 Pinnacle Award from Professional Remodeler magazine. The Pinnacle recognizes significant contribution to or accomplishment in the industry, an event that raises that remodeler to the pinnacle of professionalism.

Children play a large part in Medina's civic life. He's been involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters as a volunteer board member for six years. "My dad was in the military," Medina says, "and I didn't have a lot of support from my father. Big Brothers and Big Sisters captured my heart. I've had several of the kids say that the program's made a difference in their life. The mentoring was why I decided to volunteer for this school program. That's what I liked about Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the [job] shadowing: to be a positive influence in someone's life."

In previous years, two other high school students have spent time in Medina's Salina-based company, Medina Construction Co. One student shadowed Medina for a day, worked four months, went on to study architecture, and ended up as an interior architect in Germany. The other worked at the company for six months and decided construction was not for him.

The personal influence of mentoring dovetails with the professional influence Medina hopes to bring to bear on students and children in the Salina area. "Personally, it fulfills that part of me that wants to mentor and be a positive influence," he says.

 

Casting a Shadow

Here's how Bill Medina made sure the time Kyle Burt spent shadowing him would give him full exposure to what remodeling is all about.

 

Casting a Shadow

Here's how Bill Medina made sure the time Kyle Burt spent shadowing him would give him full exposure to what remodeling is all about.

 

Casting a Shadow

Here's how Bill Medina made sure the time Kyle Burt spent shadowing him would give him full exposure to what remodeling is all about.

 

Casting a Shadow

Here's how Bill Medina made sure the time Kyle Burt spent shadowing him would give him full exposure to what remodeling is all about.

 

Casting a Shadow

Here's how Bill Medina made sure the time Kyle Burt spent shadowing him would give him full exposure to what remodeling is all about.

 

Casting a Shadow

Here's how Bill Medina made sure the time Kyle Burt spent shadowing him would give him full exposure to what remodeling is all about.

 

Casting a Shadow

Here's how Bill Medina made sure the time Kyle Burt spent shadowing him would give him full exposure to what remodeling is all about.

 

Casting a Shadow

Here's how Bill Medina made sure the time Kyle Burt spent shadowing him would give him full exposure to what remodeling is all about.

 

"Professionally, it shows [students] that the construction industry is a proud industry; it's a career, not just a job. Building is a very special industry. You can go out on a flat piece of land and create something. I think that's something kids aren't seeing today."

Medina says the program benefits the community, too. "Honestly, what you make starting out in construction is less than what you make on an assembly line," Medina says. "To want to get into construction, I like to think it's because they have a passion. If you have happy people, the better off the communities are going to be. They'll be involved in civic duties, in church. I know people [working in] factories who are locked in with benefits that hate to go to work in the morning."

Barb Coleman is the school-to-career coordinator at Salina High School South who connected Kyle and Medina, and she agrees with Medina that students are not seeing what's available in career opportunities. "We looked at our community: Where are the jobs, where is the growth?" she says. "We felt that students were not aware of what's really and truly available to them."

 

Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.
Medina Construction Co.

She sees the community benefit, as well. "We're [also] trying to prepare future citizens: How can we shape them now to make them more productive? We want to produce a better educated student, with a better work ethic: be on time, be there every day, give a day's worth of work."

The school district career-awareness programs are in place hoping to "hook" students, Coleman says. "'If you see something you want to do, what's the education you need?' We want the kids to have exposure [to the career]. What are the features of the job? What's related to it? In construction, there's drafting, there are specialties. We're looking to take the classroom out into the community."

Because of Medina's involvement in the community in general, and his previous work with students, he was a natural for the program Coleman was implementing. "[A good mentor] has an interest in kids," Coleman says. "You've met people who wouldn't give kids the time of day. Mentors are kid-oriented and see the value [in mentoring]. Bill's concerned, he's willing to help. With kids, he's personable, approachable. He's a leader."

Pinnacle entries were screened based on the completeness of the application, including a 500-word essay explaining the contribution or accomplishment of the entrant. Members of the Professional Remodeler editorial advisory board then judged finalists on their essays, their level of professionalism, and their community and industry involvement.

 

The high school shadowing/mentoring program begins in the sophomore year. Students spend a half or full day with a business leader in the field, gaining a perspective on that career. In a student's senior year, the school attempts to link with a business for a semester-long internship or full year on-the-job training.

Kyle's time spent with Medina began after lunch on the chosen day. Medina introduced him to the office staff, walked him through the design department, and had him listen as he fielded phone calls in his office. "I tried to show him good phone etiquette and how to handle yourself on the phone," Medina says. "I explained the qualifier sheet we use on cold calls, and I showed him what I do to follow up on that call."

The rest of the day was spent in the field, visiting jobsites. One visit was actually a sales call, where Medina measured a floor. "We spent five minutes talking to the client about the job and 20 minutes talking about our kids," Medina says. "That was a perspective, when we got back into the truck, that [Kyle] didn't understand: that remodeling is about relationship building. It was a past client, so we spent time catching up."

After taking some time back at the office to talk about Kyle's career plans, Medina asked him if the day was what he had expected. "I asked him if this was anything like what you expected a construction company to be like," Medina says. "He said, `No.'" They characterize it as dusty and dirty, and we have to get past that. I think his opinion of our office and his exposure to this construction company was different."

Coleman says that students either find out they don't want to be involved in the career, or as with Kyle, find a reason to renew their ambition toward the career. "There's a click that happens with some kids," she says. "It doesn't happen with all the kids."

She credits that to the quality of the mentor. "If we can find someone who can identify and hook with these students, it really makes a difference," Coleman says. "They get recognition, they get a pat on the back, it may guide them to achieve more. There are a lot of leaders in our schools that we don't identify because they're in the middle," she says. "We recognize the gifted and the at-risk students. [This program] is about looking at the middle group. They can excel and do a lot more if we notice them."

The benefit to the school, she says, is that these students will respond with better attendance, they'll take more challenging courses, and the graduation rate will increase. Kyle, she says, is an example of such a student. He's a bright young man, but was unmotivated. Now, she says, he has a real desire to do what he's doing. "Kyle's more focused in school," she says. "He's more excited the past couple of months since he was with Bill. There's a spark that wasn't there before, in school in general. He's had a different attitude."

 

The Student's Perspective

Seventeen-year-old Kyle Burt didn't know what to expect when he made arrangements to spend half a day shadowing Bill Medina at his remodeling company.

"I really didn't have any preconception [of remodeling]," Kyle says. "I was expecting to just sit around and talk," Kyle says. "I didn't think he'd take me to jobsites."

In fact, the eight or nine jobsite visits were what caught Kyle's interest. He saw the kind of work that remodelers do, and the personal contact struck a chord. He saw how remodelers "help other people out, by improving their houses."

He also saw how running schedules and labor is important. More important for Kyle is the fact that the visit changed his plans for next year. "I wasn't going to do anything with [the program] next year. I've changed my plans. I want to take a course this summer in bricklaying.

"I'm definitely looking forward to the internship or shadowing next year."

Next year, as a senior, Kyle will have the opportunity to go back into the community for on-the-job training or for an internship program. Will he go back to Medina? The option's there, Coleman says. "It depends on [his] interest and what's available," she says. "It's more of a time commitment from the business. It's a significant investment."

As for Medina, he's in the program as long as they want him. "For me to take a youth out of school and show him what we're doing is special to me," he says. "As long as I can bring a smile, and share and spread the word of what we do, it's a positive thing."

Coleman says Medina's influence on Kyle Burt is indicative of his influence as a mentor in general. "When there's somebody you respect, and he notices you as a kid, that makes a lot of difference."

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