The following remarks were made regarding the article “Do Successful Contractors Cheat?” written by Matt Michel, CEO of Service Roundtable, for The ACHR NEWS, published April 29:
STILL A PLACE FOR ONE MAN
I hear repeatedly about sole proprietorship companies being artifacts of the past, from corporate uppity-ups and in the pages of The ACHR NEWS.
I started as a single-man shop in Seattle in 1986. Within a year, I was a very busy commercial and residential mechanic. I believe my record for a day’s work was 14 service calls, where I would diagnose and plan a return as quickly as possible for repairs.
When one does not have easily tapped help (children, a parent, a like-minded associate), the issue of growth is problematic. It means you must be doing the work of two men before hiring and sending a dude off in your stocked truck to lose customers. So the first criteria for me was always skill with tools, then customer relations. It is a hard mix to find, but I accomplished the work volume twice before fate intervened. So when making a job for yourself is called “selfishness,” or when being the whole business is somehow a diminishment, I am qualified to say a few things.
Contractors realize that distributors seek to have input into their business and sell equipment — the more the better, and you could even become “elite.” But is this service?
Because nobody can do it all, natural associations and alliances emerge for the small business owner. I have always liked the idea of one- or two-man shops, and I thought for a time a person could populate an office with four or five single-man businesses, split the secretary five ways, and present a marketable picture of “hitters” to the public, one that was consistent and qualified. This would be a hard combination for many large companies to beat because the principals would have been invited into the group due to their excellence as contractors.
“Cheating contractors” are not the ones who cheat themselves or their customers. They are the ones who think a “real business” is a small business because they are where they want to be. They believe that “wildly successful” is simply doing what you like to do for people who like to have it done just that way. It is not any different for your doctor or your lawyer.
The future, I hope, is not filled making the trade a bright and shiny thing to appeal to kids with computer skills, but rather I hope it is the promise of challenging a youth to fill a tool bag with items of his choosing because he’s obtained the skills needed to master anything.
Carl Schiffeler, president
TempRight Mechanical Corp.
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