Apr 09

Lessons Learned!

We never became good friends but there were a lot of reasons for that. Differences in age, background and general outlook on life prevented that from ever happening but I had tremendous respect for his business acumen and I learned a great deal from him. The company I was working for acquired his company in 1983 and I was assigned the task of coordinating the assimilation of his operation into ours. He didn’t always make that assignment an easy one for me but we learned to co-exist and for me, it was a good thing. You see, in spite of the fact that our company was several times his size and had a very large and supposedly sophisticated administrative operation, it turned out that his business was in many ways much more advanced than ours when it came to IT matters and even certain cost accounting procedures that he had personally developed. So while I was trying to sell the benefits of having joined our company to him, I was also trying to sell the advantages of his superior processes and procedures to my company. Neither effort came easy. This was all a long, long time ago but one of the many things I retained from my time with this individual was two of his favorite sayings … and you know how I love sayings.

One of those sayings was “any idiot can sell a job – the money is made in the production of the job.” Now I don’t totally agree with this and I think the good sales/estimator is worth his/her weight in gold, but I understood what he meant. It’s easy to drop prices or over promise to get a job and there are idiots out there willing to do exactly that. We quickly celebrate the “sale” of a large job or the securing of a large order, but often, the price for which it is sold is simply inadequate for the amount of work required to be performed. Piano 013_format

The other saying we’ll get into next week but the picture above is a clue. It has stayed with me for over 30 years now and I believe it is totally accurate and I have tried to follow its implied approach to business ever since I heard it. Hope you’ll check in next week to hear about it.

Now Here’s a First

I met John Luckett (Glass Designers) for breakfast a few days ago and a truly strange thing happened. In fact, it had never happened before and John and I go back a long, long way. I would guess that over the past 25 years or so John and I have shared a breakfast, lunch, or dinner together at least a few dozen times. And never, prior to Friday, March 28, 2014, had Mr. Luckett paid or even offered to pay for one of those meals. Then it happened … when our waitress brought the check (and some of you might want to sit down before you read any farther) John Luckett took the check and paid for breakfast. I know, hard to believe, but it is absolutely true. A first to be sure.

Congratulations, Mike Current

Engineering News Record has named Mike Current, vice president at TSI Architectural Metals, as one of its “TOP 25 Newsmakers” in the construction industry for 2013. Mike was awarded this honor for (as ENR puts it) “Defying skeptics by successfully erecting five site-preassembled glass-clad pedestrian spans into a narrow slot between two office buildings in Washington, D.C.” Congratulations, Mike to you and the entire TSI team. This is a tremendous honor and our industry is proud of you guys.

Good Luck, Tom O’Malley

I had a chance to spend a few minutes this morning with Tom (we share a favorite breakfast spot which is just up the street from me) and over some coffee and eggs, he brought me up to date on his new venture, Clover Architectural Products. Tom’s long been one of my favorites and I wish him well. In case you need it, Tom’s phone number is 708/572-8856.


I have been reporting, along with many others, that the construction industry is heating up nationwide and really getting hot in several metropolitan areas. Now comes concern that the industry is going to experience labor shortages (at the skilled trades level) in months to come and some employers are starting to worry that even if they take work, they won’t have the labor forces needed to adequately produce it. A lot of tradespeople left the industry during the decline of the past few years either opting to pursue new careers or retire, and now there could be a shortage of qualified people available. In a way, this is a good problem, but it also has a dark side to it as well. Going to be interesting to see how all of this plays out.

The Sports Thing

Wow, what a great NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Seemed that everything was up for grabs and many were surprised that either UConn or Kentucky made it to the finals. And in spite of the fact that nobody even came close to winning the billion dollars available for anyone who could predict every game of the tournament accurately, it was an exciting tournament.

Yes, the Detroit Red Wings are apparently going to make it into the NHL playoffs after all (it didn’t look so good there for a while) and I for one am glad to see it. Some of my Blackhawk fan friends wanted to see the Red Wings miss the playoffs … there is a tremendous rivalry between the two teams that goes back forever … but they are a solid franchise that has always played at a high level. I respect them and the city of Detroit can use all of the positives it can get right now and the Wings making it into the playoffs will help. I don’t think they will make it past the first round, but again, I ‘m happy for them.

The Quotable Thing

Walt Chambliss provides this week’s quote and it seemed timely to me. It was said by Winston Churchhill.

    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings,The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”     


Have a Safe and Prosperous Week, Everyone!


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  1. Chuck Knickerbocker

    Saying for the piano picture: you can tune a piano, but it’s hard to tuna fish?

    No, probably not, but something along the lines of anyone can play a few bars, but it takes a master to play a symphony?

    1. Lyle R. Hill

      Chuck … you are one of the few guys I know who would come up with the “tuna” thing and probably the ONLY guy I know that would put it in print and take credit for it publicly. You continue to amaze me. Lyle

  2. Warren H

    Okay, here’s my guess on the piano. I think it’s something about staying on center (it looks like the piano is centered on middle C). Staying focused and sticking to your knitting without getting distracted is definitely a good practice.

    1. Lyle R. Hill

      Warren … not bad and certainly some solid advice, but not right. Hope you come back next week for the answer to the clue, which I admit is not a great clue. Lyle

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