Business and Dumb Luck

Construction Business

I started a framing crew before I even knew how to frame up the rafters.

I was a Chaplain Assistant in the Army and when I mustered out late October, 1975, starting a business was the furthest thing from my mind.

I tried a few jobs and eventually got a job as a glorified carpenter’s helper. I say glorified because I was good with carpentry tools and could do the work. But I new zilch about framing up an entire house.

A framing contractor, hired me and I started learning a lot real fast. But then he let me go to make room on his crew for his nephew. Seemed unfair to me at the time and it sort of made me mad. But in hind sight, I would do the same thing for my family if I had to. Blood is thicker…

Dummy starts a business

But I was young and dumb and didn’t know it. I figured running a chapel in the Army was a lot tougher than running a framing construction business. So I decided to start my own framing crew. I ran an ad in the Times Record News (the local Wichita Falls newspaper) for framing carpenters. At the same time, I went around to local builders and told them I had a framing crew and was looking for work.

Framing Square

When I started my construction business, I didn’t even know how to use a framing square.

I was taking a big chance because I was still learning how to frame a house. I was a whizzbang up to the top plate. But I was still learning how to frame-in the rafters. Being young and dumb has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Unwittingly, I exercised a good leadership maxim when launching or running a business – hire people whose strengths counter your weakness. Thankfully, when I put together a framing crew, I hired an old rummy that was a wiz at framing. I learned a lot from him about framing-in the rafters and using the old fashion framing square.

My first business client

Chuck Dennis, owner of Dennis Company in Wichita Falls, Texas, gave me my first home to frame. I probably framed a dozen homes or so here in Wichita Falls. Also, I framed a custom home in Vernon for the son of one of the auto dealers that was there back then. Then I moved to Houston and rode the housing boom for awhile.

That is when I met Dennis Stevens and learned how to build counter tops from scratch. I made more money with one helper than I could running a five man framing crew. A lot less headaches too.

So I started my second business.

But that is another story for another time.