55 The Magic Number – Change – 2011
Welcome back to moody speaks. In just a few short weeks the blog will be talking about my 25th anniversary in business. Just writing this blog has made me realize how fast time goes by and the ups and downs of life. I realize how much adversity we all overcome in our lives and we really don’t give ourselves enough credit for having the courage to see it through.
In 2011, the economy is still bad, and construction is not improving at all. Very few new projects are available to bid, and when they do exist the number of bidders is usually more than 15 – 20. To be a low bidder during the great recession was scary. Interest rates are at all-time low, but people are not building much, and those that are building are seeing prices too low to be true.
I must admit in 2011, I was losing my desire to keep fighting to build my business. When I look back I am sure some of my folks could see I was no longer having fun and the great recession was taking its toll on me, just like it was for every other business owner and employee. You didn’t see the economy getting any better. I would often think about 2008 when I was at an Ernst & Young event in Palm Springs, and Jack Welch was speaking. I remember him saying that the difference between the great depression and the current recession, is that there is plenty of cash available. During the great depression of the 1930s he said there was no cash at all available. That statement gave me hope. So when I wanted to give up on continuing running my business, I remember Jack Welsh saying that there was cash available and one day it will change for the better in the economy.
Also in 2011, I turned 55 years old. That was the birthday I realized wow, based on the normal lifespans, I had more time behind me than in front of me. I decided in 2011, I must find a way to rid myself of worry of panic attacks, PTSD and the other affects that being sexually abused still had on me. I was getting to the point that I realized I have spent my entire business career trying to build a business and recover from my past.
In 2011 I was fighting the desire to take some real-time off from the business and do nothing but try to find the life I believe existed without worry of panic attacks or the triggers that make my PTSD act up. Anxiety would be gone from my daily living.
We were building a great new science building for Atlanta Metropolitan College. It was a great design and a neat project for us to build. This was the project we had our first subcontractor walk away from a job. He had bid too low and he cost us $100,000 to cover his work to be completed by others. It was only a $250,000 subcontract, but we didn’t follow our risk management rules . When you don’t get a performance and payment bond from a subcontractor, you are supposed to do joint checks between the subcontractor and their vendors to protect your company. Unfortunately someone at my company decided they could trust the subcontractor and didn’t follow the procedures and that subcontractor took the money and ran, and didn’t pay his suppliers. Guess who gets stuck paying the suppliers, we did, and the subcontractor goes and files bankruptcy so they can’t be held responsible for the debt. I always find it interesting when people don’t understand why I am a stickler about following procedures. The moment you don’t follow them, it will blow up on you. My advice is to always follow great risk management procedures. This job was already on a tight budget, so the $100,000 hit didn’t help. By now I am thinking, why bother to keep fighting this great recession, and hoping you can trust people to keep their word and not mess over you. Things like this made me think about my childhood, someone was trusted with a child and just took advantage of them. I never understood how people can so easily take advantage of people and feel no remorse at all.
In 2011 we have over 70 employees and thankfully most of my staff was at the airport finishing up a great new terminal building. I really couldn’t enjoy the airport project much, because I was worrying about all of my employees and what work will be available after the airport is completed in 2012. I don’t have to tell any of you, the great recession was kicking butt all around the world.
Something major happened in 2011 that has changed my life forever. It was the Penn State scandal. The scandal of PSU and the sexual abuse to young men was the final straw for me. I knew then I had to find a positive and uplifting way to tell my story of being sexually abused and put another face with sexual abuse that hopefully could help others survive and thrive in life. I remember when I would work out and watch sports-center, how angry I would get hearing those stories. I had finally had enough of living in the shadow and not speaking up to help others. During the entire time of the scandal news breaking in 2011 and 2012, I was very angry that grown people could let this happen to these kids. My heart ached because I knew many of these young men had suffered so much already, and the road of suffering was not over for some of them. I wanted to reach out to those young men and tell them they can survive and have a great life with love and trust in other people. I wanted them to know we can’t let others take our joy forever. Magazines were doing stories on people who had been abused and they always look so sad and defeated. I knew someday God would show me the best way to share my story in a way that helps others. I have never been a writer so I never dreamed I would be writing a blog, but here I am, and it has been read in over 33 countries.
In 2011, my life was great; I was still waking up every day and could face the many obstacles that were still taking place. Even though I suffer from worry of panic attacks, PTSD, and anxiety, I still enjoy life more than those things can ever hurt me.
We got a chance to chase a project; I call a builder’s dream project. For me it had special meaning because of the history of the building. We were invited to chase the renovation of Tompkins Hall at Tuskegee University. We were going up against companies so big, that they could buy us out of their petty cash. I always enjoy going up against the big boys. I always say they are only bigger, not better than us. Anyway I will never forget the first day we went down for a site visit. I saw this grand old building all boarded up and not being used. It is a 75,000 square brick building, three stories high and originally built without any steel. The students manufactured their own bricks on campus and built the building themselves. They completed the building in 1910. For some reason this building just grabbed me. As I posted earlier in the blog, I believe a building is alive and the building can breathe, and you can feel the bones of a building. All of my architecture and construction dreams and love of the industry came alive in me. I walked around the building, I rubbed slowly on the walls, and I could feel the history as I rubbed on the walls. I marveled at the students building this massive structure, with no electric tools. I thought about how they went to school, studied and built their own structures on campus for themselves and future generations. I decided that day, I can’t quit trying to build a better company and going for my dreams, even though I was tired of the great recession and trying to deal with my past at the same time.
Tompkins Hall in one day of just visiting the site and touching that building saved me from giving up and retiring too soon. I realized that day how much I still loved construction and architecture. ( By the way , we won the bid in 2012)
I was still longing to be free of my past, and trying to figure out how I would tell my story to help others survive and thrive.
I closed out 2011, knowing better days were coming in the economy, our company would survive and I would one day find a way to share my story of hope and love to help others know they too could find happiness and courage in their life.
Life is great every day, regardless of the struggles. Every day we can wake up and decide to find a reason to smile. I choose to be happy even when I hurt. I know the pain is only temporary and happiness and love feels so much better than pain.
I thank God every day for giving me the courage to fight through my fears of my past and focus on my present and the future.
Please enjoy the pictures in the slideshow of the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College we built, progress photos of the AMC Science building and a few pictures of Karla and I being thrill seeking baby boomers.
I surprised my wife with a endowed scholarship in her name. The scholarship is where she went to nursing school. The funny part of the video, it took her a while to realize the event was actually to honor her. This was done 12/21/11. enjoy,
See you next week.