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Trade News

From the Desk of Mike Colon, Blue Collar Black Book Founder
Jul
04

State of “The Book”

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We are now fully functional and it's officially GO TIME! Let the hard work and the long road to prosperity and construction security begin. I'm going to keep this short and sweet. You'll get a quick rundown of our current capabilities, followed by a quick assessment of how you can use Blue Collar Black Book to your advantage.

 

There were 2 major features we wanted all our users to have:

-Client Reviews: The ability to Post a Client Review, whether good or bad & To be able to do a check of your new clients reputation before you start work.

 

-Trade Information: A database of information volunteered by users so we may all be on the same page as far as wages, benefits, bidding, service rates etc.

 

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Apr
12

Don't Call Me a Rat! The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend.

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Have you ever been part of a team and half the team thought they didn't need your half of the team to win? Take for instance football. Usually the offense gets all the glory but can the offense win a game without sending in their defense to stop the oppositions offense? HELL NO! Football is war, the struggle between labor and business is war, and in war there is always casualties. Cinch up your Jock, tighten up that chin strap and make sure your pads are strapped up.... we are about to play the smash mouth game of skilled labor.

Just like on the field, in construction there is a bunch of hard hitting, tough as nails, Type A personalities, who want nothing more that to go out there, handle business, day in and day out and come home and relax with their spoils of war. Problem is, over the last 30 years the “spoils of war” more closely resemble the spoils of a college dorm room refrigerator than a vikings plunder. What the hell happened you ask, well I'll tell you!

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Aug
12

The Next Generation of Tradesmen: Who the Hell is Training These People?

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The Baby Boomers are disappearing from the trades like teenagers at a party getting raided by the cops. Generation X is getting to the point where they aren't as strong as they used to be. I heard there was a Generation after them but if they exist you would have to point them out because I don't see a whole lot of them on my jobs. So who is going to do the work when we can't anymore. I guess it's time to head back to school....Literally!

Most people in the trades agree, our industry is not in the best shape. We are having a hard time filling the ranks with new fresh blood. Some of that fresh blood appears to be flat out rotten. I'm talking about people with bad attitudes, terrible work ethics, a complete lack of discipline, no patience for developing their own talents or paying their dues and a lot of them lack the basic mechanical skills to even start in the trades.

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Jul
28

At the Intersection Of Progress & Disaster: HOW to Make a Decision

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When driving it's easy to miss signs when you are concentrating on all the hazards of the road that are constantly changing around you. In the construction business, like any other business, the day to day issues, problems, “routine” business can distract you from the big picture which is the goal, the purpose, the mission. Gas up the truck lets take a drive to the intersection of Progress & Disaster. I know where I’m going so I'll drive you just pay attention to what's going on around us.

This issue has been racking my brain like a 90 lb jack hammer.

The object of my frustration: A small plumbing company I have intimate knowledge of and experience with.

The Owner of the business in question is a PHENOMENAL human being, a fantastic people person, a solid tradesmen but a terrible businessman.

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Jul
20

Hey Did Somebody Here Order an XL Large Box of Complaints?

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They Forgot to Include the XL Box of SOLUTIONS

Does the Construction Industry no Longer Solve Problems?

Talk is cheap.  It's also a totally worthless piece of crap when there is no action behind it.  Everyday we all hear people complaining, but when you put them on the spot they couldn't give you a solution to save their damn life.

I know it can be hard dealing with problems that seem bigger than yourself, but if there is a problem that is impacting your life so much that you have to cry to somebody else and make them listen to it, maybe you should spend some time developing a solution.  I dunno, but maybe I am just old fashioned about such things.

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Jul
14

What The Future Holds For Construction: How Contractors Can Improve their Odds

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Have you ever had a “Run In” with The Law? It doesn't matter if it was a traffic stop, something more criminal or if you called the police to file a report. One of the very first things that officer did was get your photo identification and radio records for a check of your personal record. I know exactly why they do it and I am sure you do too. What I am about to tell you is how this first critical step relates to your future in the trades and how it will improve your chances for survival. So sit down, relax and keep your hands where I can see them & don't make any sudden movements.

Before we get to the how this relates to construction, please be patient and allow me to get you into the right frame of mind for a moment.

In case you didn't already know, I will let the cat out of the bag. Police “run us out” most importantly for officer safety. Their survival depends on knowing who they are dealing with, and what that dispatcher tells them will affect how they interact with you from that point forward.

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Jul
06

HOORAY for ME and SCREW YOU! The Attitude that is Destroying the Construction Industry

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It's a complex world we are living in. Too complex and unnecessarily so, or maybe we have mentally devolved so far that we don't realize we are all connected and what effects one of us affects all of us. In construction the “hooray for me” attitude manifests in a gruesome game of killer take all (all that is left over). Strap on some body armor, in this article we will suffer the slings and arrows of OUTRAGEOUS Fortunes.

Why are Tradesmen willing to work HARDER to make LESS?

 

Answer me this: Why is it that Contactors, the people who build the world we live in today, are now dismantling their very potential to make a living? If you have your own business in the trades, you probably know exactly where I am going with this article.

 

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Jun
16

Who puts the "CON" in Contracting. Newsflash: It isn't the Contractor

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99% (that's a made up stat but I'm guessing it's within + or - .9%) of all learning on the job consists of trade skills. Unless you grew up around some sketchy people or witnessed a lot of people “hustling” other people you are probably under prepared for the shenanigans (by shenanigans I mean: throat slitting, back stabbing, step on your back as your drowning in a puddle of water games) that get played in the contracting business.

People joke around and cast dispersions about Contractors and Subcontractors being Con Men but who is REALLY doing the CON'ing? Put your wallets, keys and phone in your front pockets, take off all your valuables and look tough. We are going walking through a rough neighborhood on a dark and stormy night.
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Jun
10

The Customer Is often WRONG and Why We Should All Grow a Pair

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Ladies and Gentlemen this aint retail and you aren't some pimply faced teeny bopper - this is the Construction Trade.  If you have been doing your job right over the years, you are a highly trained, extremely knowledgeable professional in your chosen field. It's time to put aside whatever bull the Corporate talking heads have said about customer service, they're barely paid minimum wage themselves and are chiefly concerned with not embarrassing their overlords.  So strap on your big boy pants and grow a bigger pair, because this is going to get REAL ....  Interesting.

Let me start by saying if you're an apprentice, take notes but refer all client questions to your supervisor until way later in your career. In addition let's put aside all the ways a client can do you wrong, we will save that for another much longer and painful article. We are going to focus on the experience of getting a client from start to finish on a particular job.

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May
29

How Long Can You Go......In the Trades?

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How long can you remain a working contractor?  This is a topic that has always been on my mind and it guides a LOT of my planning and career choices. The topic came crashing back into the front of my mind this morning when I was walking into a Lowes and I ran into a contractor we have used for years. He was walking in for his first day of work ... AT frigging Lowes!

But WHY would he leave behind a good contracting career?  That's a good question with a long answer.  So put on your seat belt Marty, we're cranking this thing up to 88 MPH - and believe me - where we're going we don't need roads!

FACT:  Very few Tradesmen make it to Retirement Age

So what does this mean for the rest of us?

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May
21

To Union or Not to Union

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Unions! You don't have to love them or hate them but people do. Constantly. I don't think I have ever met a fence rider when it comes to talking Unions. It seems like such a no brainer to me but if you can commit to doing some exploring down a seemingly dark and bottomless pit of information, without the necessary safety gear, after 5pm without extra pay, then click on that flashlight and lets get in there deep because I want to get to the bottom of this issue.

 

Before we go further I will confess. My dad was a union plumber before he started his own plumbing company. To this day he still pays his dues. He also pays me to work for him and I have never been a union plumber but then again he trained me. Although as a police officer I was a union member. That being said lets get into the issues.

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May
21

Everything I Need to be a Great Leader, I Learned In the Boy Scouts

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A long, long time ago, before the greys, the kids, the house, the wife or the work I embarked on my first major journey. It was the path to becoming an Eagle Scout. I heard a lot of people carrying on about what becoming an Eagle Scout meant and all the lessons I would learn along the way. One term always popped up in every conversation, Leadership.

Almost 20 years later I look back and reflect on the experience that made me what I am today. Lace up them boots we are about to take a journey over some rocky terrain but I hear it's beautiful on the other side.

Before we start, STOP. Leadership is not a position or a title. It isn't handed to anybody from a superior. By it's very nature, it cannot be forced upon someone.

An Oath and a Promise

The first step is to take up the mantle of something bigger than yourself, your duty and purpose. In Scouts this was your oath, the Scout Oath. Duty to God & Country, Duty to Others, Duty to Self. First major clue here folks. Duty to self comes last. Most “Leaders” today put their self first. If you are worried about your self than you cannot be sufficiently worried about your other duties or the people you are responsible for.

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May
18

PASSING THE BUCK: Who Really Pays The Cost For Low Quality Materials?

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As I type, I am fighting a full scale war with my blood pressure over this topic. In life it seems the one responsible rarely bears the burden or pays the price for their actions and I believe that in the end we will find it to be true for this topic. If you seek out to get low quality materials then you really have no reason to complain. For the rest of us... where the hell do you even find good materials anymore? Dust off your riot gear we are about to do battle.

 Let's get down to the brass tax of this issue. What does this actually cost and who is footing the bill?


The Tradesman and or The Contractor

Bad materials cost tradesmen, contractors and business owners significantly every year. TIME. MONEY. REPUTATION. They are all effected.

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May
13

Construction Labor Supply: The Dinosaurs Will Rule Again!

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There is a growing concern among construction contractors, tradesmen and others that the supply of people entering the construction industry has slipped far below the rate at which people are leaving the industry. I whole heartily agree. Why are people leaving? Why aren't they entering? Who cares? Why DOES IT EVEN MATTER? Strap on a harness we're about to go for a ride.

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May
10

Are Generational Tradesman Legacies Ending?

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Throughout history people have passed down their skills and trades to their children. This seemingly timeless trend appears to be alive and well in politics and “white collar” jobs yet ending in the trades, but why?

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May
10

Today’s Trades: No Place for Wimps or Neanderthals

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Today's “blue collar” environment is radically different than that of say our grandfathers generation. The fundamentals are the same. You still have to be extremely tough to take a career of punishment but more that ever skills that were never necessary before are now essential. I am talking about education and lots of it. You can no longer be a guy that “just knows his trade”. I'll tell you why and in the process I will explain many of the areas of education from our generation forward that we will have to master in addition to our our trade skills.

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