Thursday, May 10, 2012

Construction Work Ahead–Part 3 of 4

Guest

Editor’s Note: This is part 3 of a guest post series by a dear friend, A. Scot Tedisco.  See Part 1 and Part 2 to get the full story.

You recall, I was doing Randy a favor by walking a job site, where I’d met up with a previous contact from a project, Angela.  She’d made it clear that she hoped I’d land the job, even after learning I was no longer with Bernards!

Angela and I had exchanged some final words and said our goodbyes. All that was left for me to do was to tell Randy of the meeting. I couldn’t help feeling a little odd over how Angela and the rest not only remembered me, but with such … fondness? Not something I am used to anyway.

Now I have to call Randy, AND tell him that I will be interviewing with Sam at Erik’s old Company! I give him a buzz later that day and tell him about the walk and my acquaintance with Angela. He’s not surprised about the project, nor how I am remembered. He tell me it was through my efforts that Bernards was able to get an invitation and was recommended to write proposals for design-build project (vs. design, bid, build) for the LA Community College District.

When I tell Randy of pending interview, he takes a long, deep breath. He tells me “know which questions to ask.” I ask him to elaborate and he lets me know that the company is very demanding and expect long hours. I let him know that I don’t want to cause any issues with him and using me in a proposal. He says it’s ok and that I should do what I think is right for me. His tone is clear: he doesn’t think that the other company will appeal to me. I take his view (as he suggests himself) with a grain of salt.

Sometime in that same time frame, Randy asked if I would be interested in a solar power project he was looking at. I can’t remember the details of when this happened vs. the other items. He must have mentioned it sometime before the interview with the other company. (In hindsight, this was important in that Randy was trying someway to get me on board with his company). More on this later...

Taking Randy’s suggestion about finding out more of this other company for the interview, I try to get a hold of Doran to get his perception, but I get no call back. C’est la vie.
So Friday comes. It’s 9 AM and I’m down in Irvine. I find the place without an issue and wait in the lobby. I’m a few Minutes early and the receptionist tells me she will let Sam know I am here.

Quite some time slips by. A few people walk through the lobby from the offices, but none appear to be looking for me. Finally, Sam comes out. He apologizes for being late, the reason being he didn’t check his email for the message from the receptionist letting him know I was waiting. (huh!)

We make it to his office, which is littered with drawings and boxes everywhere. He starts heading to his desk.  I see my resume on his desk.  He asks if I would like something to drink. I remember that I left a water bottle out in the lobby and I go fetch it.

While doing that, I realized he intended to conduct the interview across his desk. This doesn’t appeal to me. His office also had a small couch with a “lobby-type” chair and coffee table. He sees me come back to his door and he says he’s going to get some coffee. When I enter, I take the couch. He comes back in and pauses, then gets the resume off his desk and takes the chair across from me.

We start talking about some generalities of my experience and the questions keep coming from his side. I figure I can wait till the end to shoot off some of my own. About 15 min. into this, his cell phone rings and he answers it. When he gets off the phone, we go on for a while more, with two main points that indicate that the company expects results that I am not willing to put in the hours to achieve, basically 80 hour weeks.

He asks if he could get some references and I ask from which segment of the industry: Subcontractor’s, Owner’s, Architects? He says sure and maybe a Superintendent. Now I start thinking it’s close to 10 and I need to start getting some of my questions in. I get one or two minor ones in and he looks at the clock and tells me he has other appointments to get to, pretty much shutting down the interview. I let him know I will get the references to him on Monday.

When I get home, I start thinking about the list of references and if I really want to be with Sam’s company. Well, sending the refs is what I said I would do and doesn’t commit me. So… I contact a superintendent and a Project Manager (both with Bernards). “Sure,” they say. I can use them, I need not even ask. I like to ask anyway. So, next I need a reference from the owner’s side. Wasn’t Angela just giving me some positive vibes? So I call her up.

A couple of rings later and I am ready to do some minor chit chat and confirm to use her contact info. Right after our greetings, she asks, “ Are you still looking for a job?”

“Well, yes, that’s why I’m calling. I was…”

“Good,” she says. “I was talking with Chris Dunne [he’s the overall manager at the City college campus], he is looking for a Project Manager, and I told him I saw you and thought he should talk to you about the job.”

“Wow, sure, I can definitely talk to him about what he has in mind.” I let her know I was surprised, because I was just calling to see about using her as a reference. She says that’s fine too just in case the other thing is more appealing than what I’ve seen so far. I thank her, let her know I will get with Chris, and hang up.

Now I may be working for a Construction Management group? I’ve spent the last 12 yrs. or so trying to target General Contractor positions. Recalling a little irony though, I also vowed not to work at fast food. What does 7-1/2 yrs. at In-N-Out mean? OK, so it’s not even an interview yet, let alone an offer. So let’s first see what’s the opportunity.

I leave a message for Chris and he calls me back a little while later. He lets me know he’s hiring a Project Manager and a Project Engineer. The Project Manager (me) would be working on a new Student Services (SS) building, which would include demolition of the old library building.

Under the same contract would be a renovation to the building next door to the new SS. This was somewhere in the realm of a $42 million contract, combined. It all sounds interesting to me (and I need a job), so I let him know I will shoot him a copy of my resume and we set up a date for a formal interview, where he wants me to meet the other Project Managers. Chris also mentions in the conversation about the good job I did at the CDC.

I still have this Solar Power thing hanging out there with Randy, so I let him know I will be interviewing with Harris & Assoc. He says he understands that I’m not just waiting for him and he doesn’t want to string me along. He let’s me know the solar job isn’t turning into anything... yet anyway.

Then there is Sam and his company. I shoot the references over to Sam with a request to get back with me. That book is now closed though: he never got back with me.

So the interview with Chris and his Project Managers at Harris’s offices is at the LA City college campus. As is usual, I am a couple minute early...

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Photo Credits

A. Scot Tedisco