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In Remembrance of Walt Stoeppelwerth: Godfather Of Remodeling To Many

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Feb 20,2013 @ 05:19 PM

In Remembrance of Walt Stoeppelwerth: The Godfather Of Remodeling To Many

Walt Stoeppelwerth


On February 18th, 2013 Walt Stoeppelwerth passed away.  Walt was the President of HomeTech Inc in Bethesda, MD for over thirty years.  I have always been an admirer of Walt and all he did for me as well as our industry. Walt Stoeppelwerth's obituary only offers a small piece of what he did in his lifetime. 

During my early years as a remodeler I observed that Walt made many predictions about the future of the remodeling industry.  Those predictions included trends, challenges, shifts, business systems and methods of production.   Many of his predictions came true.  For a whole variety of reasons, other predictions may have been challenged by a lack of continuous development or adequate leadership within the industry.  Regardless, Walt kept beating his drum about what our industry needed to keep top of mind.  Until that is, he could no longer fend off the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.


Walt help shape the Remodeling Industry

What I observed to be unique about Walt was that he not only predicted the future, he also participated in making it happen.  I suggest he was a visionary with a unique ability to identify, fully understand and solve existing as well as future challenges within the industry.  He would share his observations, speculate on the likely consequences if the challenges were not addressed, and suggest or predict the solutions he felt would address the challenges.   His brilliance was his ability to then create and provide the required solutions, and, through his consulting, direct others who wanted to participate in making the evolution happen.  

The Godfather Of Remodeling Although some feel such tactics might be self-serving, I disagree.  It is my opinion that Walt was a truly caring person who loved and gave his best to the industry, always willing to help people.  I think of him as a man who did and gave great things to the industry and the people he loved, and he found a way to be well paid while doing so.  By being well paid, he could afford to keep doing what he did and, perhaps more important, he kept getting better at it!  A good example for all of us to consider for our own businesses.

Walt was always up for a good debate about industry topics. 

Fortunate for me, I got to have many of those debates with Walt.  His purpose was never to prove anyone wrong or demonstrate his authority and knowledge.  Rather I observed his purpose was to always gain additional understanding and insight from others, so he could then use what he learned to complement what he knew and in turn offer better solutions to those he worked with.  I always left those debates with more knowledge and a greater understanding of each topic we explored.  In many ways he was a mentor to me.  I was and am still today honored to have taken his spot as a columnist for Remodeling magazine.

Carrying on Walt's example

The Godfather Of Remodeling Walt Stoeppelwerth


From what I observed, Walt lived the value of continuous improvement.  His business model was not reactive to the perceived and often misguided needs expressed by remodelers and industry partners, but rather proactive in creating and providing the solutions and the guidance remodelers and industry partners really needed to improve and foster true success.

In summary, Walt had the intimate knowledge, insight, creativity, resources, contacts, relationships and solutions to change the industry and cause tremendous social benefit at the same time. 

When people feel better about themselves and their businesses, they listen and seek for more of what helped them. Additionally, many then share what they have and know with others with the hopes that they too will benefit.  Walt was a master at setting that example and making it happen for so many remodelers.

I am grateful for his example and for all I learned from Walt.   He may have left our industry, but he will never be forgotten.  I know many of you feel the same way.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories about Walt and what he did for you and your business.  I’m sure his family will be grateful to know.


Thanks Walt.


Topics: Remodeler Education, Future of the Remodeling Industry, Careers in Construction, Lead Carpenter System, Mentoring/Coaching, Opinions from Contractors, Leadership

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Feb 17,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Mark Brown


Guest Blogger: Mark Brown is a student at BYU-Idaho where he studies Construction Management. He currently lives in Spokane, WA, working as a carpenter and studying online while his wife finishes her Bachelor’s degree in nursing. This article is a shortened version of an essay titled “Is Generation Y learning how to learn?” written by Mark for a research writing class. It has been revised to help contractors working with Gen Y employees.


Advice For Contractors On How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Generation Y in construction“Things just aren’t the way they used to be” is a lament often heard from aging generations. However nostalgic and skeptical this observation may be, it is definitely true. Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 2000) is growing up in a world completely different than their parents. Today we are surrounded throughout our waking hours by new technologies and devices that feed us steady and seemingly infinite flows of information, providing us with instant connection to knowledge that used to be much more difficult to acquire. Obviously, things are not the way they used to be. One can’t help but wonder; how do these changes affect our daily lives?  The way we work?  Our relationships with others?  The way we see ourselves?  How we learn?  

Contractors today face an especially daunting task trying to teach the business to a generation that learns completely different than the average hard-knocks PhD. Understanding these differences is essential to utilizing the huge talent Gen Y possesses and snuffing your own doubts of any hope for the future. 

The way Gen Y learns is fundamentally different than their parents.

Hiring Generation Y


They process information about ten times faster, they expect free and instant access to all this information, and they wonder what everyone else thinks about it all. Most have grown up learning on a computer from the time they were in grade school. Google is their main professor and they’ve learned to research as fast and efficient as possible. Capitalize on this. Gen Y can sail through tasks you find yourself poring over for hours like learning new scheduling software, Google Sketchup, or computer networking. They love to share what they’ve learned and can help you learn faster.



They can learn fast and perform consistently

Like a Southern California piece-work carpenter, Gen Y loves to have their work lined out and ready to tackle. This may be frustrating to those who value someone who can see what needs to be done and figure out how to do it, but think of the value of someone who can learn fast and perform consistently. Gen Y is also extremely adaptable, so they can learn how to be the leader who takes charge. They just need a better reason than, “Because that’s how it’s done you idiot!”

Can, will you give them what they want?

Contractors hiring generation YGen Y has often been accused of wanting everything right now that their parents spent 25 years earning. However fair the accusation may be, it definitely reveals something about Gen Y. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more ambitious bunch. If they know that you can give them something they really want, they will follow whatever path you draw for them to get it. You can build them in ways that you never could with a burnt out 50 year old carpenter who’s been swinging a hammer the same way since he was 18.

The construction industry has seen some dismal days as of lately and those who have spent nearly a lifetime in it may not wish others the same. But, I hope they can see the promise that exists in the younger generation and take some time to be coaches and mentors to those who are ready and more than capable of taking the industry to the next level.


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Mentoring/Coaching, Guest Blogs, Opinions from Contractors, Generation Y

Carpenters Should Read This Before They Interview For Their Next Job

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Feb 14,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Carpenters Should Read This Before They Interview For Their Next Job

career opportunities for carpenters


If you’re a carpenter looking for a better job and career opportunity you might want to consider a lot more than just compensation before you decide which remodeling or construction business you will work for.  Sure, what you get paid is important.  However, considering how much money you will make over the course of your entire career might make far more sense than only considering how much you will get paid next week.

At the Providence RI JLC Live Show coming up in March I will be presenting a seminar titledA Call to Action and an Opportunity for Carpenters and Business Owners” on Saturday morning March 23rd from 7-8:30 AM.   At the seminar I will be sharing some strategies carpenters can use to help them if they would like to improve their careers and compensation.  This same information can be used by business owners if they want to attract and keep quality carpenters for their production teams.

how to make more money as a carpenter Below is a list of some of the considerations an aspiring carpenter might want to use when searching and interviewing for a new job and career opportunity.  As part of my presentation I’ll be reviewing and discussing this list at the seminar.  My hope is that by discussing these considerations attendees can determine whether they are working at the right company already, whether they should consider looking for a new company to work for, and how to evaluate the businesses they interview with.


Topics to be discussed at the JLC LIVE Seminar

The Company You Keep: Financial Considerations

    • career opportunities as a carpenterDoes the business have a financial budget for the year?
    • Can and does the business run budget to actual reports to track progress?
    • Does the business have a formal estimating system and method?
    • Does the business share the estimate with field staff?
    • Does the business do job costing on a consistent basis?
    • Does the business share job costing info with field staff?


The Company You Keep: Company Structure Considerations

    • Carpenter careersDoes the business have an organizational chart you can look at?
    • Do they have a growth plan and organizational charts to show future staffing needs?
    • Do they have and will they share written job descriptions?
    • Do they use a production manager driven or lead carpenter driven production system?
    • Does the business have a place of business?
    • Does the business operate legally?


The Company You Keep: Opportunity for Advancement

    • Carpenter trainingDoes the business plan to advance employees as it grows or hire to fill future positions?
    • Has the business defined career paths for employees, in writing?
    • Do job descriptions include educational requirements and or expectations?
    • Does the business have an adequate budget for employee education?
    • Does the business have a formal and scheduled review process?
    • Does the business have an objective method for establishing compensation rates?


The Company You Keep: Current Leadership

    • JLC LIVE seminar with Shawn McCaddenWhat are the goals of the owner; Practice vs. growing business?
    • Is the owner a craftsman or business person?
    • Is middle management already in place?
    • Is the owner or manager “present” at the job interview?
    • Does the owner share financial information with employees?
    • Does the owner conduct him/herself in a professional manner?


Thinking about attending this JLC LIVE seminar with Shawn?

Below is the summary slide from my presentation.   In case you’re considering joining me that morning, the slide should help give you an understanding of what I’ll be discussing at the seminar.

Career options for carpenters


Other seminars Shawn will be presenting at JLC LIVE in Providence RI:

EPA RRP Certified Lead-Safe Renovator Training & Certification (Also covers MA and RI Certification)

Three Keys to Building a Profitable and Sustainable Business

Leadership Skills For The Lead Carpenter

Topics: Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Earning More Money, Mentoring/Coaching