Contractor Tip of the Month

I was recently on a journey with customers and friends in my motorhome. Our destination is 26 hours one way to go elk hunting. Handling a 40-foot-long, 33,000-pound vehicle with a 14-foot trailer full of gear behind it – down all types of roads in varying weather conditions – gave me ample time to network and think about life, business and learning.

Like driving this bus into the 11th consecutive hour, once in 1995, I was going through a stressful situation. I came up with a mission statement for myself, jotted it down and hung it on my office wall where it still hangs today.

It read; “You must learn to operate and produce under confused and disorganized circumstances. Like a fog, you must be patient and persistent until it clears. Chances are it will never completely clear. Just keep moving forward.”

Every time I look up and read it, it reminds me that things at the companies don’t have to be perfect; they just need to move forward.

I attended a BIZ Group meeting held by George Hedley. He asked if people in my companies would be able to identify our vision, core values, and motto without hesitation. I had to admit that nine out of 10 would not. That day, I realized I had these written out, but forgotten to reinforce them to our people during the last few years.

In 2004, my top manager and I wrote a draft of a vision as well as core values for the companies. We printed and framed the principles, and displayed them on the wall in every manager’s office. Our vision and values would inform our managers the company direction as they operate, at times, in foggy conditions.

The wording may not have been perfect, but it read:

“Vision for Lang Masonry Contractors/EZ Grout Corporations:

Everyone must pull together in the same direction to remain a cohesive force. If there are divisions within our own company, we become weak and the competition will destroy us. On the contrary, it doesn’t matter what the outside world thinks of our company. As long as we are united within, they can’t stop us from reaching our goals.

We will provide a place for people to work and grow based on the value they add to the company. A place where one’s only limits are those they place on themselves. A place where people grow based on what they do, not who they are. Those who grow the fastest will be those that can get results while working in harmony with the greatest amount of their co-workers. This is obtained through training one another without jealousy or fear of others rising with us or beyond us. The power gained by empowering every other ally at the company will help to carry one on his or her journey to the top. Promotions will not be made based on emotions, but on performance and facts.

We place a high value on honesty, good judgment, and action.

Ask yourself daily:

On Honesty: Do co-workers feel they can trust me to tell the truth? Can they also trust that I care about their well-being in the decisions I make or the actions I take?

On Good Judgment: Do I make decisions that are based on what is in the best interest of the companies, and not on what makes me feel better because it was my idea? Can I make tough decisions, or do I leave them all to co-workers?

On Taking Action: Do I have courage to get things done without waiting on someone else to move forward? Or, do I wait on others to make things happen instead of making them happen on my own?

What we have done the last 20 years to get where we are is not what will keep us in business the next 20 years. What have I done today that will change the way we do business tomorrow?”

My action plan from the BIZ Group meeting is to refine our company vision, core values and motto. The next time I am posed the question of how many employees could easily quote what we stand for in each of these core areas, nine out of 10 can!

If you have not already done so, develop a vision, set of core values, and motto for your company. Then, communicate it to your people. This business blueprint will help your people stay focused on the direction the company needs to go during the foggy and difficult conditions through which your own bus will be driving. You may not get it perfect the first go around. Do it anyway. You can always refine it over time. With your people going in the same direction you laid out, you will reach your destination.


Damian Lang owns and operates four companies in Ohio. He is the inventor of the Grout Hog-Grout Delivery System, Mud Hog mortar mixers, Hog Leg wall-bracing system and several other labor-saving devices used in the masonry industry. He is the author of the book called “RACE—Rewarding And Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry.” He writes for Masonry Magazine each month and consults with many of the leading mason contractors in the country.

All rights reserved, © 2014 Damian Lang, President of Lang Masonry Contractors, Inc., and EZ Grout Corp.


Last Updated on Friday, 21 November 2014 15:59