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Thank you for joining us for Episode Four of the Perlo Podcast! Host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo, is joined by two Perlo superintendents, George Trice and Mark Helling, to talk more about their experiences in the field.
George started with Perlo in 1994 as a carpenter in the field before moving into a foreman role and later a superintendent role in 2005. He has completed dozens of projects for Perlo with a focus in industrial tilt-up buildings. Mark, on the other hand, was a carpenter for 30 years before moving into a foreman role in 2006 and a superintendent role in 2012. Mark has completed a variety of projects since being a superintendent for Perlo, including multiple wineries, food service buildings, and industrial projects.
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Typical Day in the Life and Coming Up Through the Ranks
According to George, although the environment on the jobsite can be serious, there is a lot of room to make everyday fun. Mark notes that the ultimate goal is to make sure the gets job done while still boosting team morale. The most important aspects to accomplish this are showing up early, making sure that jobs are ready to go, and ensuring the crews know what they’re doing. However, no matter how much preparation goes into the day, there will always be unforeseen circumstances that come up.
George remarks that he and Mark “read in the gray” back when they were partners. This meant that they didn’t receive the same supervision that we currently have to ensure everyone gets home safely at the end of every day.
“A carpenter and a rebar tier fall into an elevator pit, who comes out first?”
Tales from the Field
With many years of experience, it is no surprise that George and Mark have many stories from their time on the field. Elissa asks: “A carpenter and a rebar tier fall into an elevator pit, who comes out first?” According to George, this experience (which was intended to be a friendly wrestling joke) became a fall into an elevator pit back in the early 2000s!
George and Mark reminisce on working “back in the day,” where there was a lot more room for joking around without the same safety standards we have to think about nowadays. George notes one experience with another Perlo Superintendent, Fred Lutz. After Fred hit his hand with a sledgehammer, George’s response was to “put some dirt on it.” However, after going to the doctor, the team realized that Fred had been working two days with a broken hand!
Mark notes that a lot has changed since then, when you were expected to just figure things out without the extensive planning that now goes into projects. In the past, carpenters were thought of as being “more seasoned” due to completing the same types of projects over and over again. With that being said, Mark notes that we are still getting great talent here at Perlo. While the newer crews may work a bit differently than they did 20 years ago, they are accompanied by much more technical skill that many did not have back then. George agrees, and notes that in those days, it was always more of a competition to be the best worker and do the best job.
According to Mark, “All it takes is one good worker to make the rest of the team better.” He notes that not only is Perlo finding great workers, but we’re retaining them. We have also noticed an increase in mentorships, even if somewhat unintentional.
“I would say that is why I like Perlo. The history, relationships, and handful of great people that you’ve worked with back then and today is who you associate the company with,” says Mark. In response to this statement, Elissa notes that there has indeed been a lot of change over the years, especially in safety and culture initiatives that are now dictated by the clients and the industry. “Evolve or die,” Mark states. Although they are hyper-focused on getting the job done, they remark that it is still important to make the extra effort day in and day out.
How Mark and George got into the Construction Industry
When Mark was in high school, school wasn’t his main focus. Later down the road in his schooling, he found a father-son duo with a construction company that had two generations of skilled workers. The duo decided to bring construction into high school classes to mentor students and give them different perspective on trades to get into. Not only did Mark relate to the younger son, but he also found something that he felt could finally be his focus.
He notes that the class was filled with more difficult students that enjoyed pulling practical pranks on the teacher for their class. Three mornings a week, the students would pile into two vans and travel to jobsites. Their practical pranks included filling the air vents on the van dashboard with dairy-free creamer and filling the hubcaps with rocks! Jokes aside, this teacher ended up offering Mark a full-time job after leaving high-school. Mark remarks that he’s not sure what he would’ve done if it hadn’t been for this program and his past teacher.
George got into construction right after high school, as well. George and Tim Kofstad, Perlo General Superintendent, were best friends for about 17 years and around 1993, Tim asked George if he wanted to be a carpenter, and George accepted.
What is Rewarding About this Job?
To George, when he drives by a job with his family, a great feeling comes from being able to say, “I did that.” Mark enjoys a hard day’s work and seeing everything that has been accomplished at the end of the day.
Nowadays, it is sometimes harder to find satisfaction within a day because there are always obstacles and frustrations that arise. However, from the supervision aspect, it’s rewarding when you get people to work together. To Mark, if you can keep everybody positive and productive, that’s the most rewarding part of the job.
“Treating people better makes people work harder for you.”
What Should you Know Before Getting into this Industry?
To George, the biggest thing to know about this industry is how to deal with people, and that treating people better makes people work harder for you.
From Mark’s perspective, going into construction is a great living, even though there are many different paths to this career. Mark got advice from his high school teacher’s father that said, “If you’re going to be in construction, you need to be prepared to work with some rough people and develop a thick skin. It’s a career, but the job is not the career – the trade is the career. Every day, you’re working yourself out of a job just by completing it.” With that being said, Mark prioritizes the fact that in this field, you have to be able to find a new job and be okay with contacting different people to find your next hustle.
Both Mark and George agree that they’ve been extremely fortunate with Perlo over the years and that at the end of the day, you just need to have the drive to grow in life. Perlo is always looking for new talent to join our team. If you’re interested in a superintendent role, contact us now to find out about our open opportunities and visit our careers page today.