Is He Or She Really A Lead Carpenter? Probably Not!
I was involved in the creation of the NARI Certified Lead Carpenter Program. NARI did a great job putting that program together. When the certification was created it included a definition for what a lead carpenter really is. Unfortunately even though experts on the system helped define for our industry what a lead carpenter is, many remodelers and construction companies have ignored that definition and have decided to create their own definitions. Without endorsing and enforcing a common definition across our industry every carpenter can have the title of lead carpenter. This waters down the title and leads to confusion for employees, employers and, more importantly, consumers. Also, I don't think it’s fair to true lead carpenters, those who have achieved the skills and experience to be a true lead carpenter, if we allow impostors to receive and use the title.
NARI Definition of Certified Lead Carpenter
“A lead carpenter is involved in tasks and has responsibilities beyond the technical production aspects of a project. He/she is responsible for customer contact and communication, supervision of subcontractors and employees, managing the job site, scheduling, and safety issues. The success of a remodeling project during the production stage is the primary responsibility of the lead carpenter.”
NARI’s Certified Lead Carpenter Training Program lists the following seven basic responsibilities for a Lead Carpenter:
- Customer Satisfaction
- Material Take-offs, and Orders
- Job Site Supervision, Protection, Cleanliness, and Safety
- Carpentry Labor
- Supervision and Scheduling of Subcontractors
- Building Code Inspections
- Project Paperwork
Are you misleading your carpenters and your customers?
Just because your carpenter is the most experienced at the job site, and or is the highest paid employee at the job site, those characteristics don't make him or her a lead carpenter and does not justify giving him/her the lead carpenter title. Plus, unless your business setup and systems have been specifically designed to support a lead carpenter system, how could a true lead carpenter actually perform their job duties?
For example, if your business can't or won't share the job estimate and pricing with a lead carpenter, how could he or she manage a project to meet the budget? If the project specifications are inadequate, and or the business doesn't have a sales to production handoff process, the lead carpenter will need to be micro managed and or will need to constantly interact with the sales person who sold the job to know what to do and what to do next.
If you hire a real lead Carpenter will he stay?
I am also aware of true lead carpenters who were hired as lead carpenters only to find out that they couldn't act as lead carpenters at the business that hired them because of the reasons shared above. When they find these conditions at their new job they quickly realize their opportunities for career and compensation growth are dramatically compromised. So many left for a different business and opportunity where they could use their skills and continue to advance their careers.
With the economy showing signs of improvement, and as the volume and pace of remodeling and construction increase, there will be high demand for the skills and responsibilities a true lead carpenter can bring to the job site. Businesses without true lead carpenters in the field will have much higher overheads than those that do. In a competitive marketplace businesses using a real lead carpenter system with true lead carpenters will definitely have a competitive and a profitability advantage.
So, is he or she really a lead carpenter?
Does your business really have a Lead Carpenter System?