In 2004 I started as a laborer in my dirt work career. By mid 2005, I could run every piece of equipment that my boss had, big or small.
Every size excavator from 3 to 30 tons; backhoe, skid steer, loader, roller and dozer. I also got my B CDL license.
I’ve been operating equipment for nearly 20 years. In the last five years of running my company, my butt has gotten less time in the seat of machines and more time in my office chair.
I know this is a natural transition and part of growth for a company. The boss can’t always be on-site.
This is where the butt of an owner gets bigger, as he gets lazier or “too busy” to get out in the field once in a while.
I think that is soft. If you are the owner of a dirt company, you should get out and operate once a month.
Even though I’ve moved less dirt in recent years, I make sure not to lose my touch.
I will purposely do jobs from time to time to make sure my skills stay sharp.
One reason for doing it is that I’m a really good operator.
I am efficient in any machine and can manage the job effectively without wasting time. I never want to lose the skills that brought me to where I am.
Another reason to keep operating skills intact is so that your crew will respect you. If a boss told me what to do and how to do it, but I know that they can’t do it themselves, then I won’t believe them.
Even if my operators are better than me, (which is awesome) they know that I’m still an operator. They can respect the fact that I can hold my own. If they have a better way of doing something, then great, I will go with their idea.
My favorite dirt companies, no matter the size, have owners who have been in business forever and you still see them in the field once in a while.
Jessie Spencer of Spencer Homes was my favorite. They started small and then eventually got into building subdivisions from the ground up.
Their mission statement was to build affordable homes for Maui residents. They have put thousands of Maui people (including myself) into life-changing situations by providing cheap houses to own.
It was one of the reasons my company was able to grow in the early stages.
You would always see Jessie Spencer, well into his 80’s, operating equipment on site.
I’m pretty sure he did not have to be doing that. I think he just enjoyed it. It probably kept his mind sharp.
I hope that one day I can be a Jessie. Still getting after it, never being soft.