Set Your Goals Now
Contractor tip of the month
By Damian Lang
Do you have a plan – a goal – as to where you want to go? Or, are you just waiting to see where you end up? Some studies show that you can accomplish 50 percent of your goal by simply setting it. More importantly, sit down with your team and make plans – paint a picture of the future – as to what part each of them will play in accomplishing that goal. If your goal is realistic, this adds 25 more more toward accomplishment. Wow, once you’re 75 percent of the way, the rest is just a matter of holding everyone accountable for doing their parts along the way. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
After bucketing grout one day some 20 years ago, I was exhausted. I and my six-man crew put three yards of grout in the wall in 1.5 hours with five-gallon buckets, and we took a physical beating in the process. What made matters worse was that, due to fatigue, our production laying block the rest of the day dropped to a fraction of what it was before we began grouting. I felt there just had to be a better way.
Shortly after that day, I set a goal to figure out how to take grout from the ground and put it in the wall without manhandling the weight of it. It looked so simple. We were setting mud pans full of grout down on the scaffolding with a forklift, picking it up again in five-gallon buckets, by hand), and putting it in the wall. Why set it down in the first place?
So, Dan Kern, my part-time shop welder, Buzz Thieman, my part-time truck driver, and I started tinkering with gravity-fed buckets, making changes to make each model better than the last. After 10 years of changes and field testing by my masonry crews, we developed the Grout Hog®.
After field testing to make sure it really worked, it was time to set another goal. At 2 a.m. at deer camp in 1998, Dan Kern and I were leaning against the refrigerator that housed the beer keg.
“Dan, you know that machine we built to put grout in block walls?” I asked. “We’re going to build a bunch of those and sell them to mason contractors all over the world. To get started, you will need to quit your job, so we can start building them right away. What do you think?”
“Sounds good to me,” Dan replied.
A couple weeks later, I ran into Dan again. I said, “Dan, you remember what I told you at deer camp about building and selling those grout machines? I was serious about that.” Dan replied that he was serious, too.
Soon after, Dan quit his job, and the rest is history. Looking back, it all seems like such a blur, and like we achieved the unthinkable. But we did what we set out to do. The one thing that pushed us so hard to get where we are today is that we set a goal and made a plan as to how we would accomplish it.
Goals paint a picture of the future. Think of it like the paint-by-number paint sets you had when you were a kid. Each piece of the picture had a number that corresponded with the paint color the shape should be. So it didn’t matter who worked on the picture – you, your sister or brother – you were all working to complete the same picture.
Make sure your people know your goals and the role they play in accomplishing those goals, so you aren’t painting the picture all by yourself. Once everyone envisions the finished picture, your journey is 75 percent complete.
About the Author
Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-749-3512.