State of the Trades
When was the last time you went to Gatlinburg and watched someone carve something out of wood, blow glass into amazing shapes, hand-craft a pair of boots or craft any type of product right before your eyes?
There’s something inspiring and nostalgic about it…
Like a skill set that’s been lost with the passing of time and this artist is one of the few remaining in our midst who can do what they are doing.
A sense of respect and reverence washes over me when I see something like that.
The last time we took our kids to Dollywood, I remember walking in to one of the shops and a man was behind the counter carving an eagle out of a solid block of wood. He was focused, concentrating on his art, but at the same time had the capacity to answer my questions and smile while he worked.
It just struck me how incredibly talented and engaged he was.
He was a true craftsman and you can spot it immediately, although you may not realize what it is you’re seeing.
Craftsmanship today is primarily a spectacle you’ll see in a special place like Dollywood. It’s generally not a term we associate with the people we hire to do work on our homes.
And that’s a problem.
The Real Reason You Cringe at Hiring a Contractor
Dreaming about ways to make your home better is something my wife and I do all the time.
It’s fun to think about how to best use the space, how to add on to our home to accommodate our growing family and what it would feel like once our project is finished.
We go so far as to imagine coming home from a hard days work and experience life in our re-engineered space with all the things we need to make our chaotic lives with small children a little simpler and easier to manage.
Do you ever do that?
Imagine ways to improve your home or dream of ways to make it better?
My mother recently did and her experience was, unfortunately, not an uncommon one.
She was given a great reference by someone she trusted. She called and left several messages before she got a call back. Once she explained the scope of work and talked through what she wanted, she never heard back from him again.
So she searched for someone else.
It took time, but she finally got someone to agree to do the work and said it would take two weeks.
Once it was all said and done, it took 5 weeks. The contractor regularly showed up around noon and worked until after 9pm most nights without asking if that was conducive with her schedule (it was not…).
Finally, my mother accepted the sub-par work just to get him out of her house knowing she would have to ask me to come over and fix several things he did wrong and patch up some ugly spots.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Simply put, it’s the mishandling of the trust you inherently place in the hands of whomever you hire to do the work.
You open yourself up and share your vision, your dream. You share from a place of hope and anticipation. In a very real sense, you make yourself vulnerable…
And the unfortunate reality is that more often than not, your dreams are treated carelessly and you’re left with an experience that makes you never want to have to do it again.
Your dream becomes a nightmare and you’re subconsciously taught the lesson that you cannot trust people who do that type of work.
What Got Us Here?
No one person is to blame. What got us here was like death by a thousand cuts.
It wasn’t one thing in particular, but Mike Rowe from the hit show “Dirty Jobs” has been a long time advocate for fixing the problem and explains it very clearly in this video.
It’s only 6 minutes long and is very impactful. Check it out:
So as a result of all that Mike Rowe mentioned in this video, we have a major vacuum that is pulling in people who may or may not be capable of the job, AND who may or may not care much about your dream.
They just see a need, try to fill the gap by doing what they can to collect a check.
It’s not pretty, but it’s the unpleasant reality of our current state of affairs.
But there’s another compounding issue that comes from the “higher education vs alternative education” mentality.
As a culture we have subconsciously adopted the mentality that the “alternative education” and the trades based jobs that come from it are somehow less-than jobs.
They’re blue collar.
They aren’t sophisticated or glamorous.
They aren’t as valuable as white collar jobs and therefore we aren’t willing to pay as much for the services.
What we’ve done, consciously or not, is we have demanded that more and more work be done at a price that doesn’t allow people to earn a decent living.
By and large, carpenters in general haven’t had a pay raise in over 20 years!
If the price you’re being paid for a job isn’t enough to take the time necessary to do it right, you’re forced to cut corners so you can get it done in a timeline that allows you to be somewhat profitable.
That creates a downward spiral when combined with the gap in skilled workers to begin with.
Society doesn’t value manual labor so the laborers don’t value themselves. We force them to do the same work at a lower price which further devalues them and the work they do, creating an even bigger incentive to get work done quickly regardless of the quality.
Because, who cares anyway?
I realize this is a rather grim picture, but it’s pretty accurate.
You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know a problem exists.
Only after we clearly identify the problem can we begin to work on digging ourselves out of the hole.
What Finish Point is Doing to Help
First and foremost we value our work. We love what we do, we know it’s work worth doing and investing our lives in and we take it very seriously.
We refuse to sit around and let an outdated and defeating mindset determine the value we provide through the work we do, so we’re proactive about defining it ourselves.
Secondly, we provide value through craftsmanship that is defined by both a mastery of the trade as well as the experience of our clients. We recognize the role you play in our success so we do everything we can to provide incredible customer service.
Lastly, but by far the most important, we have a multi-step hiring process followed up with paid training multiple times a year for those who join our family.
We make sure the people who join our team align with our values. We invest heavily in our team members through paid training and benefits like a personal tool budget that allows everyone from apprentices to master carpenters to constantly upgrade and improve their tool inventory.
We’ve pioneered an apprentice program that expedites the time it takes people to learn the trade and begin to contribute to the quality work we do every day.
All these things combine to create a place where people absolutely LOVE their jobs, are excited to come to work, and are proud of what they accomplish every day.
It’s because of this culture that we hire a fraction of the people who apply with us because we refuse to compromise our values for anything.
Why it should Matter to You
The reason any of this should matter to you is because you are the one who will directly benefit from it.
By making carpentry a fun, prestigious, well respected trade to be a part of, we are attracting the kind of people who are naturally inclined to take pride in what they do.
If the people working on your house take pride in what they do and refuse to cut corners because their conscience won’t allow it, you’re inevitably going to get a much better product.
As these carpenters work around other trades, the mindset of quality and pride in performance will inevitably rub off on other people.
Our hope is that we will inspire a similar change in the way those people work, essentially causing a butterfly effect that will result in an elevation of the trades in the minds of everyone.
From the folks on the ground doing the work to the people we work for, we’re pushing for respect, value, trust, integrity and honesty to be the terms that come to mind when you think about your next project.
Not dreading the impeding experience of watching your dreams get trampled on.
As we work to elevate the trades in our own company and community, we are bringing you the absolute best craftsman Knoxville has to offer.
It’s a long game that will not be won overnight. It’s a 100 year goal that our grandchildren will have to finish for us.
But that’s how legacies are made, isn’t it?
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be part of a noble cause bigger than myself than just go to work every day, do the minimum amount of work required to stay employed and collect money that will be gone tomorrow.
Our industry is hurting and it needs help.
We can make a big impact, for sure, but we can’t do it alone.
Will you help us push the boulder up the hill?