How Do I Respond? – 2002
Welcome back for another week of the moodyspeaks blog. It is 2002, and I have been in business for 14 years. The business is still growing and I have realized that the fun part of construction and architecture was getting further and further away from me. In my earlier posts, I wrote about how much I love architecture and the action of construction. In architecture school I studied architectural history and I learned about the master builders of some of the greatest structures in the world. I marveled at how the great cathedrals in Europe and elaborate structures of Africa were built without machines. I was amazed at the craftsmanship and the ingenuity of the people who built those structures and that those structures still stand today. The master builder was an architect that oversaw the construction. Today that is the general contractor, but back in history the architect was also the general contractor. My dream was to be a master builder. I realized my true calling was purely construction, because my architectural skills were just average (smile; Dean Harry Robinson). I threw myself into construction, learning daily and wanting to run a business that was like the old school master builder. I believe that is why some people who have worked for me over the years probably think I am hard, to demanding on quality and I have high expectation of their performance. I know no one is perfect and I don’t expect perfection. I just always go back to the architectural history I studied, and think about what I learned, when being craftsmen was a position of honor that was passed down for generations. A person had to be asked to be craftsmen, the craft choose you, and you didn’t choose the craft. Back in history, craftsmen made sure the wall was square, the mortar joint was tight, the stain glass window was beautiful, and the craftsmen took personal pride in their work. It was an honor to show the work you performed and people knew who did what portion of work by the quality of the work. Your quality was your signature. I was realizing by 2002, very few people looked at construction like I did about being a master builder. I respect the institution of construction and architecture to much, to settle for less than how work was performed over 500-1000 years ago. Even today I still expect the old master builder type of performance from people, and sometime I wonder if I am out of touch thinking that it is still achievable today. I still believe if you have the mindset and can perform like the old master builder, you will always have plenty of work, because you will be requested by many people around the country.
In 2002, we were invited to bid on a 4 story office building by a major company on their campus in Richmond Virginia. We had been ready for some time to build this type of structure, but as usual, I was hesitating because I never want to fail and ruin our name. I knew we had the people, the systems and the drive; it was me and my fear holding us back. As usual, I pushed through my fear and we won the job. Pictures of the project are in the slideshow. This project was so exciting and fast paced. At first we were welcomed to the campus by the other general contractor that did most of the work for this company and was building another project while we built our building. I could tell they thought we would fall on our face. Once they realized we were very capable and good, they stopped being so friendly and giving us helpful advice about the sub market. This client had plenty of construction to go around and we were now a threat to win more work. Once again just like in Orlando, we were welcomed by everyone but the other local contractors. As usual, it was weird. I started getting the comments, why are you here? Go back to Atlanta, you are taking our work, we can’t come to Atlanta and work. I would just keep moving and doing a great job. Our company got involved with the local Technical high school. I believe a company should always give back to help others go for their dreams. Now we were getting great reviews from the community and I was being asked to speak at different events in the state of Virginia. The project was a good project for us and boosted our confidence, and once again we proved we could do the job. I must admit I often get tired of having to prove ourselves to new clients, but it goes with the job.
As I stated earlier in this post, I was getting further away from the things about construction that I loved. The action of the job site, digging into the drawings, visualizing the incredible quality of the finished project and developing the plan on how we would be successful. As we won more projects and more people were hired, my role had changed greatly from when I first started the company. I was no longer able to be a superintendent, a project manager or estimate a project. I was now the leader and responsible for many other people and their livelihood. I had come to realize as an entrepreneur, the things you loved about the business when you first start the business, eventually you will no longer do if you wish to grow your business. When I started the business I never thought much about how my role would change and take me away from the action in the field and make me more of an administrator and a professional cheerleader. I call myself a professional cheerleader because I have to keep my team excited and fired up to be the best they can be in their profession. I have to help my teams believe and know they can do it and do well. My time was also being requested to serve on community boards and meet with students as much as possible. I know it was my duty, but I sure missed the days of being in the field and being a part of the action that was making the drawings come to life. (You know buildings do breath, so they are alive) We were building some nice projects in 2002, churches, college buildings, schools, and office buildings. We were still winning awards for construction and safety on our projects. I was excited about the future and still growing as a person.
In 2002 my son was turning 17 in March and my daughter was turning 16 in November, and both kids were driving. For us, we loved our kids driving and they were now the gofers. I couldn’t believe that the next year our son would be graduating and going to college. When we started the business he was just 3 years old my daughter was 1 1/2 years old. In 2002, our family was still grieving the loss of my son’s best friend from the previous year 2001. That really rocked our world, and as parents it scared us. How could a young man that seems to have everything going for him take his life? This really shook Karla and me to our core. My son asked me the most difficult question I had ever had asked to this date by one of my children. My son says to me “dad, will my friend go to heaven now after taking his own life?” My son had grown up watching me read my Bible daily, meditate and pray. He grew up going to church and Sunday school and participating in church activities as a family. My kids knew the church and our faith was central in our lives. As you know, your kids think you have the answers to everything, even when they often don’t listen right away. Well my son had asked me a question that I had to sit and think about how to answer and what do I believe in my heart. My answer came from my heart. I said “Charles, in my heart I believe he will go to heaven, because he was still a child and God forgave him”. That question made me reflect and realize I needed to get more education about my faith and religion. I also realized I needed to ask God why bad things happen to kids. Because deep down inside I knew I needed to understand how God could let my childhood be stolen and let me be sexually abused. Even though my faith was strong, I needed to deal with that in my heart. I was never mad with God, nor had my faith slipped, it actually became stronger after panic attacks started, because I knew only my faith in God and love could help me recover. I also wanted to learn what I had to do with my story. As you can see, it took me 10 more years after 2002, before I was comfortable telling my story so anyone could hear it and hopefully help them heal. I started my blog in 2012, so it took 20 years after first saying I was sexually abused to go get comfortable saying it to the world. I spoke with my Pastor Gary Dean and we decided I should take classes to be a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church. I remember the ceremony was held at Snellville UMC where we officially became certified lay speakers. It was a large group of people from many churches and we came to the altar for a special prayer and our charge as certified lay speakers. I remember as we knelt, my pastor touching me and the warmth I felt that day. I knew I was on the right track on my spiritual journey. Later in 2002, I took a continued education course at Emory University called mini-theology 101. I took that course to learn more about the history of religion and to learn about other religions. I really enjoyed the classes and learning. My son’s question and my hidden question of why about my own childhood, made me go deeper into learning about my faith and religion.
My dad used to always tell me a few things about religion when I was kid and they became valuable as an adult. He told me when I was around 14 years old, just as he said his mother told him. He said “David, I can’t go to heaven for you, it will be on your own actions, therefore live your life knowing you will have to answer for it one day” That had a great impact on me at 14 years old and I got it. The other key thing he said was” son if you ever have to tell people you are Christian and they can’t tell by your walk and your actions, then something is wrong and you need to reevaluate your life”. I got that too. My dad was the one that set the example for me on daily bible mediation reading and praying every morning. My mom was and is quiet in her faith, and her actions show her faith and beliefs. I am not a person that will hit you in the head with the bible or try to prove how much of a Christian I am, I just pray my actions, and my heart and my walk will show you. If you ask, I will tell my story about all the ways God has been there for me throughout my life.
I hope you are enjoying my blog, my journey of building a business and getting through my fears and not allowing my joy and happiness to be stolen from me. Life is challenging and the joy for me is working through it all with a smile and hopefully bringing a smile to someone else every day. In 2002 Karla and I were celebrating 20 years of marriage. Man does the time go fast.
I love you and come back next week for year 15 (2003). Please enjoy a quick video of why I love construction. The video is of one of our major renovation projects at Tuskegee University and I love the action.