This episode of Work Done Right features a conversation between Assignar’s Chris Nixon and Work Done Right host Wes Edmiston that originally aired on The Dirty Boots Show. In their discussion, Chris and Wes touch on impactful ways to accelerate your career in construction, the importance of using technology to make existing procedures more efficient, and how the accessibility of information is helping to tackle everyday construction problems.
Top 3 Episode Takeaways
During Chris Nixon’s interview with Wes Edmiston, the two discuss Wes’s experience in the construction industry. Here are the top 3 takeaways from this episode:
- For continual career growth, it is crucial to learn from others and be willing to soak up knowledge wherever you can. Striking up a conversation with anyone and everyone will help you to learn from their experiences—a great way to supercharge your career in any industry.
- Solving the labor shortage is about more than just getting more people onto sites, it’s also about enabling people to be optimally efficient. Bluetooth tools and connected worker technologies represent a great opportunity to do this. By integrating them into manual work processes, both owners and contractors can take their existing procedures and make them more efficient
- Current estimates state that 35% of construction worker time is going to non-productive activities, such as searching for information or performing rework. The most successful people and solutions will figure out ways to reduce this wasted time, which will only serve to improve project margins.
“I think that the person that you really need to be targeting is your foreman and how we can better enable foreman to better manage their people.
Because again, if 35% of our time is going toward non-productive activities, that seems like a really big opportunity in and of itself. Because if you think about this in a different perspective of what would happen if we brought 35% more people on project, would that solve our problem?
Because that’s solving the labor shortage. That’s largely what it is that we’re saying we need more people. So is 35% more people? Is that enough? What if we just help them to be more efficient with the people that they already have?
I think that that’s a big part of it for me. Solving the labor shortage isn’t just how do we get more bodies onto sites, I think it’s how do we enable those bodies in order to be optimally efficient.”
About The Dirty Boots Show
Sit down with us as we pour a drink (too early in the day) and talk to the people moving the construction industry forward. Hear from professionals like yourselves with stories to tell, and gain insights into the topics that affect us all. The Dirty Boots Show is brought to you by Assignar—the all-in-one construction operations software that empowers contractors worldwide to build more.
Hey, everyone. Chris Nixon here with the Dirty Boots show, one of the co-hosts.
I’m pretty damn excited today to get Wes on the show and I know he also hosts a podcast, Work Done Right. But we’ll get to that in a second here.
Wes, how are you doing?
How are you?
Things are good, man. So give us a little bit of the lay of the land. Like who is Wes? Why are we talking today?
Who am I? There are a lot of different hats that I wear at any one time. But as I say in the introduction of the Work Done Right podcast, I am a construction industry veteran.
I spent about 15 years in the industry and now I’m the director of product and industry strategy at Cumulus Digital Systems Technologies and Innovations company. Much like assign R, right? So, yeah, that’s me.
I started off actually to go way far back when I was in fifth grade, the town that I lived in here in the Midwest got blown down by a tornado. And so all of like 6th grade and 7th grade, I was helping my stepdad to rebuild houses.
And that’s where I really. First cut my teeth in all things construction.
Were you there?
Yeah, I was in the basement, yeah. So the side of town that I lived on, everything was great. This little town of 850 people, everything on the eastern side of the railroad tracks was pretty much just leveled.
But no. So fortunately, to my recollection, there weren’t any fatalities, no casualties or anything. It was just a lot of construction. And really, again, kind of a good opportunity, if anything, to look for the silver lining.
A good opportunity to start learning the basics of construction, as I used to say all the time, kind of whenever you learn how to read a tape measure, what plum level square is, and you can apply that to just about anything.
Then whenever I was in high school, I was working in a restaurant, and I had to pick up a second job. It’s a very long story, but I started working in a fabrication facility as well, and I would do anything and everything that needed to be done and just started learning as much as I could.
Did you like it?
I mean, it worked. I was also going to school full time. I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. Again, that’s a very long story, but no. So eventually I ended up dropping out of college, and I had a friend of mine, he was going to be going to Texas to start building offshore oil platforms, and he asked if I was interested in going with him.
So I took him up on the job and I went down there.
Why’d you say yes? Sorry to interrupt you. Why’d you say yes?
There was a lot of personal reasons that we’re going with it, but, yeah, there some turbulent times going on in my life to kind of COVID that and just glance over it.
But also I was already working 70 or 80 hours a week, and I was just kind of spinning my wheels, and it seemed like a great opportunity, right? It was a big gamble. At the same time, I had never really left the Midwest too much.
Yeah, it just kind of seemed like the right thing at the right time to do. And I went down there and started building offshore oil platforms. I was a pipe fitter and just kind of kept through that. It was always actually, to be honest, it was always a plan that I had to do that long enough where I could start getting a little bit ahead and end up going back to school.
That was always my plan. And somewhere along the way, I started very much enjoying what I was doing. I like talking with everybody. I like learning everything that I can from anybody and everybody that I can.
So while I was a pipe fitter, whenever I would finish up a job in one area, I would go over and I would learn from the structural guys, I would learn from the coatings guys, the painters, the insulators, the guys doing architectural work, anything and everything that I could learn.
I was there just trying to soak up as much as I could and ended up got promoted to Foreman. Actually, pretty quickly. I did quite well and then just kept building on that momentum. Went to a couple of other projects, built some natural gas facilities, built carbon capture facilities, and held other roles along the way, sometimes going back onto my tools, sometimes working up to general foreman and on a couple of projects.
I worked on a couple of different shell projects, working for contractors and subcontractors and the shell reps that would walk around the project. Whenever I was 21 years old, I made up my mind that’s what I want to do.
I want to be one of those guys. I thought that they were always wanting to kind of curmudgeon and difficult to deal with sometimes, but also they were very capable people and always learned a lot from them.
And I was working a project, and at this point. Had already been, like I said, foreman, general foreman. I got my CWY along the way. Also, I’m a certified welding inspector, and I was leaving a project.
We finished up our scope and it was a Shell project again. And as I was leaving, one of the inspectors was coming in from lunch that he used to take quite long lunches, because this was well after when he should have been back.
And he’ll listen to this show and he’ll know who I’m talking about. But he asked me, where are you going? I’m going home. Actually, I’ll probably end up going at this time I was in central Texas, probably go to Houston.
A buddy of mine wanted me to go be a superintendent for him. And he said, no you’re not. He said, send me your resume. And about a month later I was working for Shell. I was an inspector for Shell and just kind of started down that path.
I was doing inspection for piping and welding and all of that fun stuff. Ended up after about six months, I became a lead inspector and then after about nine months started doing completions management for them.
Went to another project, polyethylene facility in Pennsylvania. Ended up rather large project, about $15 billion project. And there I was, the senior inspector. I had domain over all things piping, mechanical, civil, structural, a lot of the insulations and coatings and really just about just about anything other than electrical.
That’s the one thing that I haven’t figured out. Still. I watch YouTube videos on my Saturday mornings and I still just can’t I have a mental block? And my construction director on that project, I had worked for him before in the past, so I was also dual hated.
He ended up after COVID asked me to report to him. In various capacities. So I was doing project management for him over all of our the commercial buildings that were being built on site and off of the co generation facility, three on two combined cycle power plant, while also doing all of my inspection duties and all of that stuff elsewhere kind of along the way to tie it up.
How I ended up in the role where I am now. Cumulus, we have a product called Smart Torque, the Smart Torque system, where we interface with bluetooth tools to the mobile application. And I met them, this team on my first project working for Shell.
They were actually incubated within Shell, within Shell’s TechWorks division. And the product, at first, it was a little bit shaky, just as any beta project is. Right. And I had a project manager come up to me.
I was the young guy, and he had one of the wrenches, a tablet, and he set it down on my desk, and he said, make this work. And he just walked away. All right, where do we go from here? Right? Yeah, exactly.
That’s how I got introduced to these folks, and along the way built a tremendous relationship with the team. We have a really good group of people here with Cumulus and took them up to the project in Pennsylvania as well.
Worked with them, really got the product in an amazing position and expanded it out. And I left Shell at the beginning of 2022, and whenever I left them, I met our CEO. He asked again, as he’d been asking for a couple of years, hey, do you want to join our team?
And I consented. I obliged. Been here ever since yeah.
I think you’ve what it’s been, a year?
Year and a half, yeah. 14 months ago.
What I want to dig into Cumulus a little bit before I get there.
What would you attribute, um. Your rise. It sounds like everywhere you’ve been people have wanted you and have been recruiting you. Can you pin it on something? I mean, I know it’s number one thing, right?
It’s like a series of things. But what do you think may have contributed to that?
If I had to say the number one thing that has helped me to get ahead, to get promoted would be just a general level of curiosity and humility.
Like I said, I like asking a million different questions, learning everything that I can. And to take that approach, you have to understand that you don’t know everything. So I think if I had to say the number one thing is just again, like I said, is this idea of continuously learning and expanding my knowledge in whatever way I can and just doing what I can to help projects along.
It’s like when I was asked to do project management dual hated while also having responsibilities over quality, the question was raised, well, do you think this is going to be a conflict of interest?
Because there were certain areas that I had ownership over the quality and the delivery. And I told anybody and everybody and I’ll tell everybody this until the day that I die. There’s a right and wrong way to build a plant and we’re going to do it the right way.
I will not sacrifice the integrity of the facility for any reason and we’re going to do the the right way. So if I would say again just kind of the number one and number two things I guess it would be is just a general level of curiosity and continuous learning and improvement and just integrity doing the right thing.
Yeah. And I know you mentioned it. And also add in the humility part, because I don’t know if you’ve met anyone like this, but sometimes our egos get in the way of some of those learnings. Right. I know I’ve been guilty of it.
I’m not sure you have, but I’ve met plenty of people that are .
100% yeah. This isn’t to say that I’m the most humble person. If there were some people that I said this to, they would probably bust up laughing because there are areas of my life I can be quite arrogant.
Sorry to interrupt you. I wanted to do a whole different podcast episode just on that topic.
I’ll probably squeeze it in here and there. But there’s a quote that I learned whenever I was younger, which is, employ your time improving yourself by the works of others so that you can come easily by what others have labored hard for.
So it’s basically read books and ask questions because other people dedicate their lifetime to learning these bits of information. Especially in the day of the age of the Internet, it’s more true than ever that there’s so much opportunity to learn.
And yeah, that’s the biggest part of it for me. It’s a heck of a time to be alive, especially considering the Internet.
100%. Yeah, you said reading books and asking questions. So you’re not advocating for watching reality TV and keeping to yourself?
No, not in the least. That’s one thing that I just don’t do. My wife will watch The Bachelor as a guilty pleasure, but I can’t stomach it.
We all have our thing. For me, it’s golf, and I have two kids, so it’s how often can I actually play with two?
They’re a little bit older now, but still not completely self sufficient. I’m not sure they ever will be with that. Director of Product, Strategy and Innovation. I don’t mean to be malicious here at all, but. What the hell does that really mean? Like, you know, break it down for us.
Yeah, very good question. That’s the question I had whenever I first joined. What exactly am I supposed to be doing? And if I could say on the product side of things, I think that kind of speaks for itself a little bit better.
Right. So we have a product line with fundamentally we are a SaaS company, software as a service. And the my responsibility is to control the roadmap and help to drive the product to get to a position where it best serves our customers and any new developments that we have to really kind of pioneer what it is, which directions we go, and get the correct level of customer insights and personal insights to define the products in the best way possible.
Again, to be able to best serve our customers. So as far as the Director of Product, that’s the direction for that. And the other title is Director of Industry Strategy.
Okay, yeah, I said innovation, but I think I meant industry strategy.
And they can be somewhat synonymous.
So yeah, and then as far as that goes, what I do there is the interaction with more toward the sales side and our customer success teams. So this is just kind of, generally speaking, again, providing that we’ll say expert customer insight in order to be able to help them to best understand kind of our customers experience so that whenever they’re going through their efforts, whether it is that they’re calling on a potential new customer.
Or if we’re talking about going through the implementation process, whatever it is, it’s it’s how do we best, you know, position ourselves? How do we best communicate the message to the customer so that they in in a way that that they understand because it’s speaking the same language that so that our team can be successful and again, to be able to make our customers best successful.
Thanks. No, that’s cool. Cumulus, tell us just maybe a snippet on you, like global North America. Centric, I’m assuming you’re growing your customer base. What’s that look like?
Yeah. So we are a global company.
We have an office in KL. Our headquarters is in Boston. We also are setting up an office in Houston. Most of our customers are centralized around the Americas, but we do have a large presence in Southeast Asia.
And we’re expanding actually right now into parts of Europe. Our customers, we actually have a pretty diverse group of customers anywhere from conventionally like whenever we started with industrial oil and gas.
Right. That’s having been started within Shell, that’s kind of the logical main focus for our customer base. But we also are heavy into the data center industry, as well as expanding out into some other we’ll say industrial more commercial construction and other things like transport with rail and other forms of preventative and recurrent maintenance.
Our product is we’ll say it’s a connected worker platform. So again, we interface with some Bluetooth tools and other technologies in order to. To set values and record values, capture information throughout the completion of work activities.
Again. Our flagship product is the Smart Torque System. That was the first project we came out with where our mobile application guides a worker through completing, bolting up a flange connection, doing all of the inspection for that, making sure that they have the right materials put in.
For that and then guide them through the process of tightening a connection to assure that the connection upon startup and during operations is leak free. And from all the data that we’ve aggregated through the process.
And even we published a paper at GasTech last year that it works. We have about 100 times less leaks than compared to conventional means where people are just kind of going through the process and in a lot of forms guessing as far as what they’re supposed to be doing.
But at the backbone of our product is what is called the Cumulus WorkFlow. So this is where you’re able to take an existing procedure effectively and slice that into steps. Because the thing that we recognized is that effectively every activity in construction can be broken down into a step by step by step activity.
And what we do is we input various levels of, we’ll say, checklist questions and photos and all that stuff in order to guide the worker through completing the activity. Whether we’re talking about a concrete pour where they’re going to go through and set up, tie rebar and do slump tests and whatever else they’re going to be doing, or whether we’re talking about going through the coatings process and abrading the surface and applying whichever level of however many coats of the various processes and coding systems that they’re doing.
Whatever it is. We guide them through completing that. But also the thing that I found most valuable about the system when deploying it on my projects was that it also provides, like, a snapshot of the just in time information that the folks need to actually be able to complete the work.
So as a fitter, as a foreman, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had I’ve been walking around projects looking for the right person, calling somebody on the radio, whatever it is, just trying to get the right information.
What am I supposed to do right here? I think there’s a stat from Autodesk that says about 35% of worker time goes to wasted activities, non productive activities, I think is what they call it, where they’re looking for drawings, they’re performing rework.
They’re just not contributing to the real end goal of the project. And it’s no fault of theirs, right? They’re trying to get things done. They just don’t have the right information. So that’s where a product like ours is, in my opinion, great, because we’re able to just provide that information exactly what they need and also how to do it in a big way to help keep people productive.
So we’re not bringing in robots in order to take over somebody’s job. We’re just really helping somebody to be able to do it in a lot more efficient and effective manner.
No, that’s cool. And if you guys ever are looking to crack the Australia New Zealand market, that’s where we were founded. Our CEO and Co-founder is from Australia, we have about two thirds of our customers are in Australia, New Zealand. And funny enough, you said rail. And the way, and not to go too far off track, care about Assignar, but the way that Assignar was founded was our CEO owned basically rail services and maintenance company in Sydney, and was out in the market looking for a handy software to run operations like scheduling a crew, tracking their time, getting feedback from the field right. And a lot for more subcontractors, but couldn’t find anything and then created a signer.
And then eight-ish years later, here we are. So anyway, if you want any tips on that market I know you said Europe or Asia, but it could be an interesting conversation.
Oh yeah, absolutely.
I’d definitely be interested. I’ve talked with a few folks the project that I worked in Pennsylvania, the Contractors Organization had a massive presence of people from Australia. And so I worked with a whole bunch of folks from Australia, a bunch of really good people.
And I’ve talked with a couple of them since that have gone back to Australia but haven’t had any luck yet.
I’d absolutely be happy in order to have a conversation about what we can do in order to kind of crack that egg.
Yeah, that’d be great. And if there’s anything we can do to help with Assignar, that’s great.
No, yeah, I think that’d be awesome. So tell me about Work Done Right. I know you said as of this recording you just released your fifth episode.
You got a slew of episodes in the backlog or the hopper. Tell us a little bit about that and what you’ve learned.
Yes, the show is really very similar to this. Right. It’s all about just talking to industry professionals and putting out useful information.
Like I said, whenever I was coming up through the ranks and even whenever I was at my highest positions, I’ve I’ve always just loved talking to anybody and everybody and figuring out more of what we can do better on projects or in our personal lives.
Right. Talking about people, about their finances and just, honestly, anything and everything. Because to me, this is how we all. Get better, right. Is we share information, we don’t hold this in, and we just kind of learn from everybody that we can.
So the mission of the show is to talk with industry experts from manufacturing, construction, maintenance, to kind of tackle the issues that we all know are on projects, are in an operating facility, right?
And try to help answer some of the questions that we all have. There’s also a big aspect where I think everybody is understanding that there’s going to soon be a skilled management gap. And this is also a great way in order to put out useful information to people that are getting into leadership positions or getting into they’re a safety person on the project for the first time.
And I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing or how can I do better. It’s just really a great way in order to put out information from some people that I’ve worked with in the past, some of these people that I’ve just kind of been fortunate enough to meet in my roles with Cumulus or just because they’re interested in sharing their story on a podcast.
So that’s, again, kind of the mission of the show. And I guess things that I’ve learned since starting the podcast, one that these folks that are able to go out there and do like a three and a half hour show, they must have the best stamina in the world.
It is taxing. I’ve had days whenever I recorded and I’m sure you’ve had the same where you’ve where you record multiple episodes in the same day. I think the most that we’ve done is three in a day and I am dead.
I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I would rather train for 3 hours straight than podcast straight. It is totally different. Most of your calories are consumed by the brain, right? So it kind of just shows the significance of it other than just the general nature of how intense it actually is to go through the process of having these conversations.
I was talking on another show here recently. We were interviewing some folks and they had brought up some folks that actually have their own podcast as well, called The Site Visit. And they were talking about how one of them was saying that he’ll go back and he’ll listen to his old recordings as a way of kind of sharpening his skills, but also trying to make sure that he’s extracting all the information that he can.
And I got to say, I can’t agree enough with just it’s amazing how you can be engaged in the conversation and then hear it again later. And there’s just incredible sound bites that either I didn’t pick up on that during the conversation or just I was saying it to them the other day that one of the folks that I interviewed here recently was our fourth episode that we released, a gentleman by the name of Bobby LeBeouf.
I worked with Bobby six years, seven years. I’ve known him for quite a while now. And in the 35 minutes that I talked to Bobby after, again working with him for years, he was somebody that helped to mentor me whenever I was working with in Shell.
I’m still learning more from Bobby, right? Just the general nature of how it is that he conducts work whenever he’s now the director of HSSE for a large oil and gas company. The methodology that he uses in executing his job, and also how it is that he mentors people, it’s just like, God.
Out of all the conversations we’ve had, we’ve talked for days. I’m still learning more. So I think the message with all of that is kind of this recurrent message of you can always learn something from everybody, even the people that you think that you’ve learned everything you can.
God, there’s so much more out there that you can learn. It’s a big passion of mine, and I’m fortunate enough to host the show because there’s great information out there. One gentleman, for instance, by the name of Geoff Smethills, this was the first episode that we released.
He was saying, and this was just a staggering number saying that there was an estimate done by, I think, McKinsey, that in order to reach our goals for net zero by 2030 or 2050 or whatever it is, we need to spend globally something in the order of magnitude of like $5 trillion per year in projects.
$5 trillion per year. Largest project I’ve ever been on ended up being, we’ll say, somewhere in the ballpark of $15 billion. And that took four and a half years, right? We had labor shortages there. We had issues in.
Granted, it came through the pandemic, so that definitely had an impact on us. But $5 trillion per year? What are we going to do, right? How do we end up refining our processes to where we can actually deliver this?
So just even thinking about stats like that, I never would have learned this if it wasn’t for talking with Geoff. So I’m very appreciative of being able to host the show and learn information like this.
Talking with another lady, Jennifer Wilkerson from the National Center for Construction, Education and Research is telling me. All about how it is that they approach the situation with getting more people into the skilled trades.
Kind of the origins of where all of this comes from, from whenever the G.I. Bill was introduced, people started just kind of seeing university as the way to go and people stopped going into the skilled trades as much.
And that led to the situation where we have it now. And also just some of the net benefits that crews see from bringing in women and having women into the trades. Just kind of slicing this in a whole bunch of different ways.
I guess to answer the question directly is what all have I learned from hosting a podcast? I’ve learned a lot. I thought I already knew quite a bit, but I’m still learning so much. I love it. I really do.
Now, it’s interesting you said that, because the last episode we just released on the Dirty Boots Show was the Colorado President of Women in Asphalt. And it was just fascinating to hear her perspective.
She comes from industry. It’s obviously a woman in the industry and just her perspective on that dynamic and working and how it’s changed or how it’s not over time and it’s just yeah, well, now, I was going to ask, you brought up labor shortage a couple of times and I know we talk about it ad nauseam.
It seems like it’s all we talk about, but it’s interesting. Our very first episode was with actually a customer of ours. His name is Ricky Glass and he talked a lot and he’s a military vet, but he talked a lot about that path from everyone this prescribed, you have to go to university and then all the enormous amounts of debt that sometimes come associate with that and kind of the dearth of people going a different path or a different route.
Right. So I was going to ask you what your silver bullet fix was to the labor shortage, but I don’t know, maybe I don’t know if you have one or not.
Yeah. Silver bullet fix. I don’t know about all of that, actually.
I listened to that episode. It was really good episode. He had a really interesting perspective as far as getting the value that veterans bring to the industry. It was really good to listen to. But is there a silver bullet?
I think about my story and about my perspective, how it is that I got in the industry and it was very much, again, kind of begrudgingly in a way that I got into the industry. I never expected this to go the way that it did, and I am thankful and appreciative that it did because I’ve met so many amazing people and done so many great things that I never possibly could have imagined.
But I think it’s really just around the idea of changing people’s perspective on what it is to get into the construction industry. People really view this as, say, lesser than getting a college degree.
I have a degree. I finished that up last year. And I can tell you that I learned a lot more on projects than I ever did in university. People think about it as kind of a low brow sort of thing to do, is get into the construction industry.
And that is the furthest thing from the truth. So I think the changing people’s perspective on what it means to be a construction professional, I think that’s a big part of it. I think that one of the other things, though, in the space of the lay shortage that we could do, it’s not how do we just get more people in it’s, how do we use the people we have more efficiently?
That’s something that and I know there are a lot of companies out there that are trying to do trying to solve this problem, trying to improve it in some means, but. One of the things that I’ve noticed, and I was actually talking with my old construction director just earlier today, and he was bringing it up.
So I won’t even take all the credit for this portion of the conversation. This all goes to Wayne. But a lot of companies do a good job of helping projects to be more efficient. But a lot of companies are really focused on serving the project manager or serving the superintendent.
And he said it. Wayne said it earlier today. I’ve said it for a long time throughout my career. I am biased. I think that the person that you really need to be targeting is your foreman and how we can better enable foreman in order to better manage their people.
Because again, if 35% of our time is going toward non productive activities, that seems like a really big opportunity in and of itself. Because if you don’t think about this as I guess if you think about this in a different perspective of what would happen if we brought 35% more people on project, would that solve our problem?
Because that’s solving the labor shortage. That’s largely what it is that we’re saying we need more people. So is 35% more people? Is that enough? What if we just help them to be more efficient with the people that they already have?
So I think that that’s a big part of it for me. And solving the labor shortage isn’t just how do we get more bodies onto sites, I think it’s how do we enable those bodies in order to be optimally efficient.
You know what I mean?
100%. Yeah. And you think about that 35% and this is overly simplistic, but what we hear from our customers, at least our customer base, is revenue perhaps is going up, but margins are going down.
Right? So that productivity is a challenge, and obviously labor shortage is a challenge. But how do you that 35% presents a huge opportunity? I mean, you know where the margins sit and a lot of the at least our customer base is significantly less than that.
And if they could just do even a little bit more with what they have and be more productive, then that could change the game for them, right?
Oh, it’s huge. Anybody that’s able to kind of solve that problem of just working more efficiently, those are going to be really in the next ten years is they’re going to be the general contractor.
They’re going to be the subcontractor of choice because they’re just doing it better than everybody else. And it’s not about how do we attract the most people. To me it’s about, again, how it is that we are able to best utilize the people that we already have.
And I really think truly, that the person that that starts with is the foreman. And one of the things about that that I think is really interesting and this is something I’ve thought about since probably 2012 is the foreman again.
I think a lot of people can’t once you say it, they will agree. Like, yeah, it’s probably one of the most important people on the project in the sense that that’s really where the rubber meets the road.
That’s your first level of supervision. Those are the folks that help to set the attitude of all of the craft on the job. They’re the ones that plan the day in, day out activities. They’re responsible for helping to get materials and people and anything and everything done right.
They’re the ones coordinating at the ground level. They’re doing really it all all but most of them don’t really get any training. And that just blows my mind. Whenever I first became a foreman, really, honestly, one company I worked for, I worked for five different companies as, as either a foreman or general foreman.
And one company. On one project gave me training and this was after I’d already been doing it for five years. So that alone, I think is just odd. And this isn’t unique either to open shop or union. Whenever I was in Pennsylvania on the PennChem project, I was talking with one of the boilermaker foreman and great guy really, I’m very knowledgeable and I had noticed that he was gone for a couple of days.
So I’m talking to him one morning, I’m like, hey, where have you been? He says, oh, well, I went and took a training, a frontline supervisor training through the hall. I’m like, oh, that’s great. He said, yeah, I wasn’t going to do it because for supervisors the site will not cover the hours for frontline supervisor training.
They’ll cover it for the personal development, for the craft labor, but they wouldn’t cover it for the supervisors. And I went to the area construction manager and I said, listen, we have to change this.
These are the people that make it happen day in and day out. Why would we not invest in these people and enable them to improve themselves? If they want to do better, then we need to reward that sort of mentality.
And we had a shift on project and there was some kind of political aspect to it, but we ended up ultimately implementing a change and enabled them in order to go to trainings and still effectively be compensated needed through the project to do so.
But the fact that we have to have that conversation to enable this to occur is just bizarre to me. So I think that one of the areas that we can make a significant improvement in the industry is investing in our frontline leadership.
Helping to train them up. Whether it’s dedicating a portion of our time whenever we’re deploying technologies like Assignar’s technologies or Cumulus, we can dedicating time to serving them specifically, but also our contractors going out there and really giving them resources to understand how they can better plan, how they can better manage.
I think it’s a huge opportunity.
No, it’s absolutely fascinating and it sounds like that’s even a whole potential podcast episode as well. Just about that particular topic. Wes, I really wanted to not cut this short because we could talk for hours or days, it sounds like.
But I really appreciate you being on the dirty boot show. And I know you’re going to do some stuff with us on Work Done Right, but thanks, Wes.
Chris, thank you for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
I hope we can do this again sometime.