KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly

Editor Christina Koch married Bart Thoreson on Aug. 29 along the lake behind their Iowa home.

Editor Christina Koch married Bart Thoreson on Aug. 29 along the lake behind their Iowa home.

My new husband Bart is the one who shared the “work smart, not hard” mantra I related in my November/December 2014 “Raise the Roof” column, page 8. He’s constantly recommending ways to complete tasks that I have to admit are simpler than my own attempts. It’s not always easy for me to accept his suggestions because I’ve being doing things just fine on my own for a long time.

I can’t help but see the parallels to the construction industry—an industry that many say is slow to change. However, I think we can all agree that if a new way of doing things helps us work smarter, it’s worth a try. In “Business Sense”, Todd A. Jones and Katie Dunn discuss project delivery methods. Jones, an attorney with experience in construction law and litigation, points out that fewer contracts and more coordination with design-build lead to more efficient projects. Jones also thinks that as the construction industry continues to embrace design-build,we’ll see less litigation—a win-win for everyone.

Surely, as you’ve become more experienced in your position, you’ve developed “tricks of the trade” that help you complete tasks more efficiently. In “Tech Point”, John Jensen, president of Jensen Roofing Inc., Newcastle, Wash., and the training program manager for the Edmonds, Wash.-based Tile Roofing Institute, shares a couple “tricks” that will ease tile roofing layout. What are your “tricks of the trade”? Please share them with me!

Her Roofing family was in attendance (shown here at the rehearsal dinner). From left to right: John Riester, vice president of business development; Barrett Hahn, publisher, who served as the wedding photographer; and Becky Riester, who was a bridesmaid.

Koch’s Roofing family was in attendance (shown here at the rehearsal dinner). From left to right: John Riester, vice president of business development; Barrett Hahn, publisher, who served as the wedding photographer; and Becky Riester, who was a bridesmaid.

As winter approaches, it’s a good time to remind your customers how they can avoid emergency calls to your roofing company. In “On My Mind”, Connie Menard with Greenawalt Roofing Co., Landisville, Pa., shares seven tips your customers can complete to ensure their buildings are well protected this winter. Step No. 6 is “Clean your gutters”, something my husband does for our home and that of our elderly neighbor on a regular basis. Our neighbor says I’m lucky to have such a considerate husband. Bart says he’s just trying to avoid potential problems from arising. I’m pretty sure they’re both right.

Work Smart, Not Hard

My friend Bart was raised with the motto, “work smart, not hard.” When he was a teenager, Bart’s dad asked him to clean out a large cattle barn while his parents went away for a long weekend. Bart realized he would not be able to clean the barn himself with only a pitchfork in three days time. So he hired his family’s neighbor who had a skid loader to do the chore for him. When his father returned, Bart said his dad was proud (and surprised) he had accomplished the task. While bragging around town about what a good worker his son was, Bart’s dad learned from the neighbor that Bart had not cleaned out the barn himself. His dad returned home angry with him, but Bart reminded him that he had taught him to “work smart, not hard”. Bart explained he cleaned the barn using his brain instead of his back. His father couldn’t argue, and Bart carries this life lesson with him. He says he finds ways to work smarter every day.

As a roofing worker, the motto “work smart, not hard” seems easier said than done. Every day is physically demanding and consists of climbing, heavy-lifting and lots of bending. But there are ways roofers can work smarter, and Mark Carpenter, president of Tualatin, Ore.-based Columbia Roofing & Sheet Metal, shares a few of his company’s techniques in our “Safety” column.

Carpenter notes safety is his roofing contracting company’s No. 1 priority and, as such, he strives to keep his workers healthy and safe. Among his tactics is a program called “Save A Back” in which his employees are taught how to prevent back injuries through specific lifting methods and education. In addition, Carpenter’s foremen lead crews every morning in “Stretch and Flex” activities, which further help prevent on-the-job injuries.

I think Carpenter’s proactive approach to protecting his workers’ health helps them to work smart, not hard. After all, back injuries are difficult to cure and are expensive. Consider the following:

    ▪▪ More than 1 million workers suffer back injuries each year. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, D.C.)

    ▪▪ Back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

    ▪▪ One-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

    ▪▪ Thirteen percent of back injuries last two years or longer. (Source: National Council on Compensation Insurance, Boca Raton, Fla.)

    ▪▪ The average total cost of a back injury exceeds $24,000. (Source: The Journal of the American Medical Association)

As Carpenter states in his article, “You are never ‘money ahead’ making sacrifices related to safety. … The value of sending home employees and customers to their families in a healthy way—every day—is priceless.”