Life Lessons from the First Week of the NFL Playoffs

Last weekend, January 14-16, 2023, there were six NFL football playoff games played. Great games – some expected outcomes, two surprisingly close games and an upset. I can’t wait for this weekend’s games, but first let’s take a quick look back and see what, if anything, we can learn and apply to our life.

The Game I wanted to Watch Most from the First Week of the Playoffs:

The game I was most excited about entering the playoffs was watching the Jacksonville Jaguars, and specifically watching Trevor Lawrence. I see so many comparisons with Sidney Crosby and Lawrence – both built monster reputations prior to making the leap to the professional level and both are amazing leaders at a young age, plus both appear to place mastering their craft as a top priority (I’m not seeing/hearing any mention of either one taking political stances or any other distraction that shifts their mind from their mission) and both make average players on their teams better. The latter is the biggest connection I see in that both take a normal professional athlete and make them something special. Since I see a little Sid the Kid in Lawrence, I was excited to watch the Jags first playoff performance with him at QB. I was not disappointed and here is my takeaway from this game that can be applied to life:

If things don’t start the way you wanted them to, who cares get over it and stick to the mission. The Jags were down 27-0 before they got on the scoreboard and Lawrence’s first postseason pass was an interception. Lawrence would throw four INTs in the first half – it was ugly, but the coaches and Lawrence felt confident. In business you need a buy in to the mission and this is top down. The leadership in your company needs to set the course and it has to be communicated to the team. Constant communication can keep the team engaged and this was demonstrated on the Jags sideline when the team kept talking and sharing ideas on how to improve each play. For me it was enjoyable to watch the scheming on the sidelines of the Jags with everyone involved – I saw Lawrence breaking it down with coaches, skill players and linemen. On the flipside, there were shots of the opponent’s quarterback, Chargers’ Justin Herbert, sitting by himself. Takeaway: keep everyone together and make sure lines of communication are open to share best practices.

Will Lawrence and Jags go on and hold the Lombardi trophy in a few weeks? I doubt it, at least for this season, but I think it will happen soon, maybe next season or the one after. Going back to my comparisons of Sid and Lawrence, remember Sid was exited quickly in his first playoff experience (and in his second playoff experience he got really close but was denied again but the third season it happened). Get better every practice and successes will follow.

Here are a few of my takeaways from other week one NFL playoff games:

In the words of Eminem: If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment would you capture it or just let it slip away. Both Brock Purdy and Daniel Jones seized the opportunity and put together complete, awesome games in their first playoff game. Either one could have had nervous jitters that could have led to errors and no one would have thought less of them and people would have just considered it a learning experience, but each stood tall and relied on their abilities to lead their respective teams. Trust in yourself and trust in your team and good things can happen.

Keep it simple. Buffalo Bills found themselves in an unexpected close game against the Miami Dolphins. And I thought David was going to upset Goliath but…. When it mattered most the Dolphins overthought the situation which led to their demise. It was fourth down and one yard to go late in a game where they were huge underdogs and the Dolphins found themselves in a situation where they could have won the game or at least tied it up and extended it to overtime but instead they got a delay penalty – just run a quarterback sneak and move the chains. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.

Ignore your naysayers. We’ve all heard the Dallas Cowboys are choke artists and the players have heard it too. The last time the Cowboys won a road playoff game the grey-haired author of this article was a junior in high school. Where were you in life thirty years ago? A lot of the players on the Cowboys weren’t even alive the last time their franchise won a road game, but oh they heard about it as the media kept asking about it for their stories. The best way to shut your critics up is to produce. Not everyone is going to believe in you, but who cares just do your thing and do it well.

Have fun. Lastly make life fun and celebrate your successes. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals found themselves in a barnburner, a good ole AFC North slugfest. With it all tied up late in the game the Bengals team captain, defensive end Sam Hubbard grabbed a loose football and took it 98 yards for the go ahead game-winning touchdown. He’s a team captain and should have handed the football to the refs after scoring right? No way, spike that ball and have fun celebrating with your teammates in front of the fans. The only thing better would have been if Hubbard did the griddy dance, but hey he just ran the length of the field and was a little winded so we’ll cut him a break. Take time to celebrate your successes.  

Life Lessons Are All Around

Recently I was driving with one of my daughters and as we went through the construction road project she says, “dad do you know that guy?” She was asking about the flagger who was directing traffic as we entered the construction zone.

I told her I did not know that individual and how I wave to all flaggers. She responded with, “yeah I know you wave all the time, but that guy smiled when he waved back, and it looked like he knows you.”

After we drove through the jobsite, I went on to explain why I wave to the flaggers: Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes in life. If you have a job where you see people all day long, would you rather see people who look at you, appreciate your role and give you a friendly smile? Or would you rather encounter people all day long that ignore you?

Every job is important and serves a purpose, that’s why employers pay workers for their efforts. Using the construction flagger as an example, can imagine life without the flaggers – it would be chaos without them, and I appreciate the order and safety they bring to our roadways.  

I didn’t expect to have this discussion with my daughter as we drove to her cheer practice, but I’m glad we took advantage of the moment. Life lessons are all around, just look for the signs and make the most when the opportunity arises.

A Veterans Day Message from the Keystone Contractors Association

This Veterans Day let’s all step up our appreciation for our country’s heroes. It’s a nice gesture when we see a Veteran to say ‘Thank you for your service’ but it doesn’t have to end with that. Ask the Veteran how they’re doing or how they’re day is going or if they’re looking for a civilian career.

As you may know Veterans have one of the highest suicide rates in the country. In the recently released 2022 National Veterans Suicide Prevention Annual Report by the Veteran Affairs, it was reported that in 2020 (the most recent data) 6,146 Veterans took their life. Suicide is now the 12th leading cause of death in America and it continues to hit the Veteran population hard. According to the recent VA report, Pennsylvania was the fifth highest on the list with 240 Veteran Suicides. Our state’s annual number has dropped every year since 2017 when we lost 294 Veterans, but at 240 we have lots of work to do and we’re not moving fast enough as we strive to reach zero.

Finances and lack of purpose could be two reasons why one might contemplate this fatal decision. The construction industry offers family-sustaining careers in both professional and labor positions. Construction professionals take pride in building Pennsylvania and with the strong work ethic Veterans are equipped to be successful in this industry.

This year the KCA, in partnership with our labor allies, went to great lengths to educate organizations and individuals who work with Veterans as they transition from the military to civilian life. The Carpenters and Laborers unions have been excellent stewards of the industry and together we worked with both to talk about the benefits of working in this industry, the type of positions and guidance for entering. We are not done either. For the remainder of this year and for the foreseeable future we plan to continue this outreach. If you are interested in learning how you and your organization can get involved, please let the KCA know.

In closing, this Veterans Day saying ‘Thank you for your service’ is appreciated, but remember you never know what a person is going through by simply looking at them and giving a passerby message. A little conversation can go a long way and can be the best way to show your appreciation.

The 2022 Construction Opioid Awareness Week – July 25-29

Have you ever felt like you’ve gone back in time? Or that someone hit the rewind button on you? That’s how I feel when I look at the opioid issue and its impact on the construction industry. 

In 2016 the Keystone Contractors Association conducted a needs-assessment of Pennsylvania’s construction industry. Concerning our construction labor workforce, one glaring topic needed attention and that’s education in the area of opioids/pain medication. Construction is tough on the body, no one denies that statement. When the aches, pains and injuries come, many turned to pills so that they could keep working. Five years ago, we heard story after story on how opioid addiction was wreaking havoc on our industry and our communities.

As a result of our findings, we knew we had to do something. Sure, there were ads to warn against opioid abuse from the government and healthcare systems, but I did not find channels that spoke directly to construction workers. Since I did not have much luck, in the summer of 2017 the KCA worked with industry allies in our state to create the Construction Opioids Awareness Week. This recognition week is the last full week of July and for it we arm construction employers with lots of resources to discuss pain medication use/abuse with their employees. It’s hard to gauge the success of a movement like this, but one indicator that I believe is crucial for success is if we get the construction industry talking about the issue. And over the next few years we had the industry talking – employees were talking to employers.

But then 2020 arrived. The KCA workforce went from building Pennsylvania to being non-essential (NOTE: Pennsylvania was the only state to shutdown construction during the COVID-19 pandemic). For a month and half during the Spring of 2020, the construction industry was shutdown and only healthcare and other projects continued. Then on May 1, 2020, Pennsylvania’s construction industry reopened, while the majority of businesses and schools remained closed or operating remotely.

2020 put a lot of stress on the construction workforce in our state. They went from being unimportant to some instances where workers were the lone person of a household to go into the COVID-19 elements and returning home not sure how to feel or how to interact with their family. Or for the workers who lived alone, it was worse – they went from being non-essential, sitting at home all alone to returning to work but not having the normal human contact after work at such places as church, restaurants, etc.

Along with an increase in stress levels in 2020, the construction industry also experienced an increase in addiction and suicide rates. The sad part is that we were heading in the right direction entering 2020, but this unfortunate downward trend continued in 2021.

In 2022, we are ready to tackle the challenge of reversing these horrible trends happening in our communities. And like 2017, we are ready to make an impact on opioid awareness. We are going to make a difference by returning to the 2017 playbook – conversation is key to building a construction industry in Pennsylvania where people feel comfortable enough to seek help.

For this year’s Construction Opioid Awareness Week, we are encouraging construction companies to reengage on the topic and work to get valuable resources to the workforce while making sure our workforce knows they are respected and appreciated, plus they know it’s ok to ask for help. We want the same energy and passion the industry displayed in the years leading up to 2020 to help our workforce.

This year’s week is July 25 to 29. During this week we encourage companies to participate in the week by offering the following safety toolbox talks:

  • Monday – Pain Management
  • Tuesday – Signs of Impairment
  • Wednesday – Reducing Stigma in Construction
  • Thursday – Importance of Employee Assistance Programs
  • Friday – How to Use NARCAN

We hope Pennsylvania’s construction industry will join us for a trip back in time when we were helping the lives of our fellow construction professionals. Hopefully, we can create an environment where those needing help know that we are there to assist them.

For more information on the 2022 Construction Opioids Awareness Week, as well as toolbox talks on the topics listed above, please visit: https://keystonecontractors.com/Opioid-Awareness/.

It’s OK to Ask For Help: Addiction Stories from the Construction Industry

NOTE: The following article was featured in the recent National Safety Council’s Family Safety & Health. It was written in the Fall of 2020 collaboratively between Jon O’Brien, Executive Director of the KCA, and Howard Bernstein, President of Penn Installations.

In October of 2016, Jon O’Brien started at the Keystone Contractors Association, which is based in Harrisburg, PA and has member companies spread around the state. After this relocation, the first thing he did was to schedule a tour of the state, visiting current members to learn more about them – their history, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, etc. The same issue kept popping up in conversations: opioid abuse is hurting the industry and communities.

After reporting the results of the statewide tour to the KCA Board, KCA leadership knew they had to do something. Mr. O’Brien did some research to see if concentrated efforts were underway in construction to tackle this opioid epidemic. Sure, there were ads to warn against opioid abuse from the government and healthcare systems, but he did not find channels that spoke directly to construction workers. Since he did not have much luck, in the summer of 2017 the KCA worked with industry allies in state to create the Construction Opioids Awareness Week.

This recognition week is the last full week of July and for it we arm construction employers with lots of resources to discuss pain medication use/abuse with their employees. It’s hard to gauge the success of a movement like this, but one indicator that the KCA believes is crucial for success is if we get the construction industry talking about the issue. Conversation is key to building a construction industry in Pennsylvania where people feel comfortable enough to seek help, with that in mind here are some perspectives from labor and management:  

Labor: Meeting-Makers Make It, Mark’s Story

Mark St Cyr’s story: His sobriety date was December 28, 2007. But his story began way before then and it’s all part of the plan per Mark: “God puts the toughest people through the toughest situations to help others.” As a young boy, he was molested by his uncle after his uncle returned from the Vietnam War; in high school Mark smoked weed and drank alcohol too; as a young man he became addicted to opioids; in 1986 he had a fire in his home that severely burned his wife and over 30% of his one daughter’s body.  Mark’s a tough person, but that’s only half of it – helping others is the other half.

On that December day back in 2007, Mark’s world changed and because of his life’s experiences up until that date, he is now able to change the lives of others too. “Because I drank alcohol so much at a young age, I was emotionally immature, and I was unable to talk and connect with others. Being sober changed all that and at meetings I’m able to tell my story. By sharing, others are able to relate as they have been through similar situations.” Some examples: Diane had a burnt child and listening to Mark was inspirational; Sean and Jesse shared similar experiences as Mark growing up and Mark’s story is able to help them. Jesse has relapsed twice over the past 12 years but has been clean for the past two years with the help of the sharing sessions. As Mark says: “Meeting makers, make it!”

Over the past few years, Mark and his team of supporters started a non-profit organization in Washington County, PA called Club Serenity, Inc. This organization currently operates a recovery home for women and a second home for men is coming soon. “We’re able to remove people from their environment and place them in a home with like-minded people. It’s working,” said Mark.  

Management: ‘We’re There to Assist’: Howard Bernstein Shares What He’s Learned

Having grown up working summers in construction, Howard Bernstein saw his share of drug and alcohol issues as a young man but now as a husband, father and employer, he looks through a far different lens and he feels powerless over the growing problems we face with addiction. In trying to assist people in both the field and office, he has learned the cliché often about not being able to help addicts until they seek help themselves. Although self-awareness or interventions may occasionally lead someone towards recovery, it is sadly more often that legal troubles, divorce and/or job loss lead to the “Rock bottom” needed to seek help.

What he has learned is that “Getting help” can mean many things, from counseling, to outpatient rehab, to intensive inpatient rehab. Out of pocket expense, income lost, and embarrassment have all been barriers to taking these steps and there can be a wide difference in the experience and success rate of various professional programs. Even the best programs have success rates that can seem defeating, but relapse need not be seen as a failure and is more often than naught part of most people’s recovery. There is no one size fits all but just as with our carpenters, the more tools that one has in their tool bag, the better prepared they can be to meet each day’s challenges. Additional tools for recovery include the support of friends, family and co-workers (many of whom may have been hurt by the addict and may be wary of helping), support groups, an experienced sponsor, recurring counseling and finding positive outlets for the time that was spent previously using. Vivitrol is an injectable form of Naltrexone which lasts for a month and has been a game changer for many addicts and alcoholics who say that it reduces their cravings and can be one more tool.

Hopefully, employers can create an environment where those needing help know that we are there to assist them as the cost of not doing so could never be measured in dollars alone.

Helpful Resources:

Construction Opioids Awareness Week: https://keystonecontractors.com/Opioid-Awareness/

Club Serenity Inc.: https://www.clubserenityinc.com/

Improving Project Outcomes: Advice to Owners, Designers & Builders

Improving Project Outcomes is an ongoing, open discussion among construction industry stakeholders in Pennsylvania.  Established in 2017, these collaboration colloquies are held three to four times a year and have been hosted by leading construction organizations in our Commonwealth. 

In 2020, CMAA Central PA, COAA PA, CSI Central PA, DBIA Alleghenies and KCA set out to find the best pieces of advice for industry stakeholders.  With the construction industry well represented by all stakeholders, we held three different events: 1. Advice to Owners from Builders & Designers; 2. Advice to Designers from Owners & Builders; and, 3. Advice to Builders from Owners & Designers. Below are the three lists that our five organizations believe can help Improve Project Outcomes:

To watch the unveiling of these lists at an Improving Project Outcome session visit: IPO 2021 Kickoff featuring Advice to Stakeholders.

Advice for Owners!

1. Involve more End-Users/Maintenance personnel in the design process (early)! 

2. HOLD Team Members Accountable! 

3. Expect Lean Techniques/Principles, continuous improvement process 

4. Stand behind QA/QC schedule 

5. Review Qualifications before price! 

6. Increase FEES! 

7. Improve communication flow Architects/Vendors

8. More clearly define Stakeholders 

9. Security/Safety, same as everything else! 

10. More Time Upfront and better Early Stage Decision Making, alternatives/innovation 

11. Project Delivery decision, earlier

12. Support the Use of Technology

13. Continuity of Expectations 

14. Design for Future Flexibility 

Advice for Designers!

1. More transparency into the design process – more collaboration and better collaboration early! 

2. Improve leadership during preconstruction and construction

3. FUN, more FUN

4. More construction visits and better strategy for CA. 

5. Make sure young designers get field experience!

6. Design to Budget, process in place. 

7. Must consider tolerances in Design! 

8. More exploration for Renovation work!

9. Adhere to agreed upon Design Schedule. 

10.Get to know each other, Team Building! 

11. Decision-Making! Include life-cycle cost analysis!

12. Understand the complete budget! 

13. Open to and Understand DA

14.Continuous estimating and Lean principles, get smart.  

Advice for Builders!

1. Open Lines of Communication – more collaboration and better collaboration early! 

2. Bring Solutions to the table, not RFI’s! 

3. More FUN! Team Building! Trades too. 

4. Realistic/Achievable Schedules, do not over promise!  

5. Understand Scope and Goals for project, ensure quality time during preconstruction when invited! 

6. Utilize Value-Adding Technology, develop plan for project and get the model to the field. 

7. Involve Entire Team in Pursuit Presentations, want to hear from key Superintendents/Project Managers/Foreman! 

8. Remove the Waste, explore prefabrication, bring it! 

9. Push for Design Assist, we need to stop complaining about the design!

10. Continuous Estimating, figure it out, please! 

NOTE: Safety is extremely important to all organizations, companies and professionals associated with Improving Project Outcomes.  Each session starts with a Safety Minute and we have held Safety sessions too.  It was discussed that Safety is an area that Owners, Designers and Builders embrace, and all the stakeholders care about the health and welfare of everyone associated with their projects.  While Safety is not a Top 10 list, we felt it was important to include this item on our publication because we all celebrate Safety!

To request information on Improving Project Outcomes or to be alerted of upcoming sessions, please contact Jon O’Brien – 717-884-2801 or Jon@KeystoneContractors.com.

EVENT: 2020 Lessons Learned from PA Safety Directors

A Zoom webinar titled “2020 Lessons Learned from Pennsylvania Safety Directors” will be held virtually on Tuesday, January 26 at 3:00 PM.

2020 was a year like none other. The commercial construction industry had to change the way it operates to keep its workers safe. Hear from safety directors from across Pennsylvania as they share lessons learned and look ahead to 2021.

The esteemed panel features:

  • Darren Rech of Alexander Building Construction Company
  • Don Tracey of Quandel Construction
  • Mike Penrod of Rycon Construction
  • Tom Scott of McClure Company
  • Moderated by Bob McCall of the Master Builders’ Association

To register please email the Keystone Contractors Association (SethKohr@KeystoneContractors.com).

KCA Announces Virtual Legislative Event – Feb 1 at 10 AM

TITLE: Legislative Insiders Provide Insights to the 2021/22 Pennsylvania General Assembly Session

WHEN: Monday, February 1st at 10:00 AM

VIRTUAL: KCA’s Zoom Channel

If you’re wondering what may happen in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania during this upcoming legislative session, then this is the event for you. Listen to respected capital insiders as they share their opinions on the upcoming legislative session.

This event features:

  • Stephen Caruso of Pennsylvania Capital-Star
  • Alex Halper of Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry
  • Jan Murphy of PennLive/ The Patriot-News
  • John Wanner of Wanner Associates
  • Moderated by Jon O’Brien of Keystone Contractors Association/ General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania

To register please email the Keystone Contractors Association (SethKohr@KeystoneContractors.com).

Building PA Podcast Season 1, Episode 13: Building a Safety Culture at Leibold Inc.

Introduction: When I was hired at the Keystone Contractors Association, I explained how 90% of my construction contacts are Pittsburgh-based and I would welcome being introduced to others in the industry located around Pennsylvania.  KCA Board of Director Dave Jones of Cresswell Brothers was one of the first to offer help: “Hey Jon you should call Clayton Leibold.  He runs an impressive operation and places a strong emphasis on safety.” I’m glad Dave made that suggestion.  Clayton operates Leibold Inc., a mechanical contractor based in Pottsville, PA.  His company is highly respected in the industry due to its reliability, production and excellence in safety.  But how did Leibold come to be a safety-first operation? Listen to this Building PA Podcast interview to find out.

 

To listen to the entire interview visit: Building a Safety Culture at Leibold Inc.

Jon O’Brien (00:03):

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Building PA Podcast, a construction industry podcast taped and recorded right here in the great state of Pennsylvania for our wonderful construction industry. I am Jon O’Brien from the Keystone Contractors Association.

Chris Martin:

And I’m Chris Martin with Atlas Marketing, and we tell stories for people who build things.

Jon O’Brien:

Awesome. Good stuff. Hello, Chris, how are we doing today?

Chris Martin:

Hey, Jon, how are you doing today? I’m looking forward to our discussion today.

Jon O’Brien:

It should be fun. We’re talking safety today. We have a Clayton Leibold from Leibold Inc.. A fine mechanical contractor based in the great town of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Hello Clay.

Clayton Leibold (00:47):

Hello. How are you doing today?

Jon O’Brien (00:49):

Good. Doing great. Doing good. Well, you are joining us and we’re going to talk safety. And this is part of our safety podcast series we’re calling, Building a Safety Culture.  Your company has been a member now I believe three years, going on three years at the KCA, which is awesome. And during that time, your company has taken home two of the KCA safety awards for safest subcontractor under 50,000 man hours worked with, this is the important part, with zero injuries. So you’re going on a two year streak here, zero injuries. So who better to speak with concerning safety culture, then an award winning safety contractor that places a strong emphasis in the area safety. So welcome to the podcast. Yeah like I said, we’re gonna talk safety here. So you know, you want to touch on your company and just first off, maybe introduce yourself and your company and then we can kind of delve into the safety topic.

Clayton Leibold (02:07):

Sure, sure. So, as you mentioned my name is Clayton Leibold, the owner and president of Leibold Incorporated. We’re a full mechanical HVAC sheet metal and piping contractor located here in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. We are going on eight years in business. My company has been going to be in business for eight years here, but I personally have been in the construction industry and in the field for going on 24 years as a union pipe fitter. So that’s kinda my background. And then as I mentioned, my company was formed about eight years ago and we, you know, serve as all of, pretty much all of Pennsylvania and surrounding States. And we do, you know, emphasize safety as a very important part and aspect of our job and our day to day activities in, in the field.

Jon O’Brien (03:16):

Now, concerning safety, is something that was kind of instilled in you during your 24 years working in the field prior to starting your company?

Clayton Leibold (03:27):

Yeah, it was early on, I could tell that obviously safety is important in the field and it was kind of brought to our attention on a regular basis and we always strive to do things in the safest manner. As you know, going back 24 years, as it’s starting out as an apprentice, obviously you are learning every day and things and certain incidences come up and hopefully you learn from them and can grow and understand how things work, how and why safety is so important, especially in the construction industry, in our field with so many things that could happen you know, on the job site related to heavy objects, multiple things that can occur that we may or may not have control of.

Clayton Leibold (04:31):

So my foreman, project managers I feel did a good job from early on instilling the simple fact that safety is so important. And if you want to continue to do your job, be healthy and continue to be able to do the job that you’re wanting to do it in the proper correct manner. And just be aware of your surroundings and always have it on your mind and kinda remain, not get too laid back in your day to day activities.

Chris Martin (05:13):

Clayton with your experience and clearly you have some amazing experiences leading into this, but what do you see as the biggest challenge for not only the safety industry, but more importantly, the construction industry as it relates to safety?

Clayton Leibold (05:31):

Probably maybe overcoming the jobsite hurdles, the things that are constantly brought up and in the day to day active daily activities of being on site, your timelines are getting shorter and shorter. Things are being accelerated, whether whatever the reason maybe, but I think we all have to keep in mind that can’t compromise the safety of how the job is getting done. And the manner that you do it. So I would say the more recent trend maybe of trying to do as much work as possible in a very short timeframe you know, we just can’t, we can look past or beyond the fact of just doing it in a safe manner.

Chris Martin (06:30):

You know, the construction industry has a, we’ve been talking about it with clients on our end. And I know Jon and I have spoken about it multiple times, and that is a worker shortage. Are you finding that in the safety industry as well? Are you having a hard time finding qualified safety professionals?

Clayton Leibold (06:53):

You know not as hard as someone may think. It is I guess the fact that the construction industry is experiencing a shortage in some fields with us being a union mechanical construction company, we have a good source for competent well-trained individuals up and coming through our apprenticeship programs. So the good key individuals are there to be found. And we’ve had good luck with taking some key employees – foreman, project managers – and kind of molding them into good safety individuals. So, you know, it kind of worked out real well good for us because I feel they’re the best and most competent because we’re taking their field expertise and knowledge and just fine tuning that and molding them into a good safety individual to lead and lay the foundation for the rest of our company as far as the safety program goes

Jon O’Brien (08:17):

And concerning new hires. And when you bring someone on new, either in the field or a project manager is onboarding a challenge at all, as far as making sure that these new hires also believe in safety and they buy into the safety cultures. Is that a challenge at all with new people?

Clayton Leibold (08:40):

Yeah, it can be especially maybe the younger generation or someone that’s not had the experience of being in the field, seeing examples of how safety is so important and possibly not experiencing near misses or smaller accidents that might catch their attention. If they don’t have that knowledge and if they’re coming from a field or something, or straight out of maybe, you know college or high school that just don’t have the experience it is harder, but we just have to take the time to educate them and give them the proper paperwork, the information the protocol of how we operate as a company. And we just have to make sure they understand it and abide by it because it’s not going to be taken lightly. And that’s what I would expect from all my employees. So it’s something that needs to be done and done correctly, or it’s just not going to work out.

Jon O’Brien (09:55):

Yeah. And I’m getting to know your company more and more, you know, we’re a few hours apart, but I’m getting to know your company more. And it seems as though there’s a buy-in amongst your foreman and your top people in the field and in the office on safety, and I’m sure that’s extremely helpful when it comes to onboarding. Do you have any advice to other companies, like how do you get the buy-in or I don’t know if you can touch on that a little bit.

Clayton Leibold (10:23):

Sure, sure. It is difficult at times to make sure that everybody is buying in. It’s important to have the top guys in our safety program leading by example showing that their fellow employees have someone to take after, or look up to, or just bounce questions off of, or conditions of a job site maybe, or someone there to offer some advice or guidance if they would have questions. But as long as they’re there leading by example, getting the rest of the crews to buy in and understand, that’s a way of doing business, that’s the way that I want the culture of the company to be like. And you know, they’re there to make a point that we’re going to discuss safety on a weekly, even daily basis.

Clayton Leibold (11:28):

And that’s what is expected and it is gonna have to happen. And if you just keep driving home that point eventually they believe that it does make sense. And there is proof that it works obviously we’re winning some safety awards and are zero injuries in the field speaks to that so if they see the results and as the results are compounding and building we are on a, knock on wood, a pretty good streak here of not having any work injuries in over three years. So they see the results. And I think it’s easier for them to buy in and accept it as a way of the daily routine.

Chris Martin (12:30):

Yeah. It’s obviously no accident in three years. That’s a great run. And obviously the buy in is there. Also maybe touch on outside resources? I mean, do you reach outside the company to help with maybe training at all? You mentioned the unions, are they helpful at all?

Clayton Leibold (12:50):

Yeah. Yep. They’re very helpful. We belong to a couple different associations, similar to Keystone Contractors Association. We affiliated with SMACNA Sheet Metal Contractors Association, also the MCAA, the Mechanical Contractors Association, and they do offer a wealth of continued education, safety seminars, conferences you know on a regular basis. So we do lean towards them with providing additional valuable tools such as the toolbox talks, the guidelines, some additional safety information that we can implement and add to our portfolio. It cannot hurt to have too much information. You don’t want to keep repeating certain things or harp on certain conditions or aspects. It’s always good to mix it up a bit.

Jon O’Brien (13:58):

Do you have any advice, maybe you’d like to share with a young entrepreneur that wants to start out in industry advice, safety related obviously. There’s various pieces of advice you can give someone, but when it comes to starting a construction company, anything you’d like to share

Clayton Leibold (14:21):

I would say there’s no real, no good example where taking a shortcut in safety, whether it’s your employee, yourself, your fellow employees, or your coworkers, there’s no good reason to do any shortcuts that would compromise the safety of anyone. It would really benefit anyone and would certainly do more harm than good by possibly causing accidents. Whether, like I said, to yourself or to others just for the simple reason that it might be quicker to do a certain task, one way that may be a little bit more unsafe or whatever the reason may be. I just wouldn’t recommend any shortcuts or trying to compromise doing something in a safe way. I actually have had the experience where I had to make a tough call and tell my guys to pull off of a job just for the sole reason that it was unsafe. And it wasn’t a popular decision. The customer was not happy, but in the long run, after further explanation from my point of view, he understood it and ultimately was okay with it and then thanked me. So that’s just a brief example of doing something correctly to not compromise potentially unsafe condition.

Chris Martin (16:11):

Clayton, that’s a great example of safety first, not only for your company, for your employees, but also for the client and the fact that the client came back and said, thank you, hats off to you for that, because that just doesn’t happen that often. But, but my question to you is do you find that a lot of your clients aren’t really focused on safety?

Clayton Leibold (16:38):

You know, honestly I don’t, we don’t. We are finding even more and more of our customers and clients are gearing up and leaning more towards a much safer environment, working environment and job site conditions and working conditions and doing the certain tasks that we were hired to do in the most safe, the safest manner possible. So maybe it’s cause we have some pretty good customers and clients, but I do feel.

Clayton Leibold (17:12):

We definitely work in some very sensitive facilities where that the unsafe type of work is just not tolerated. So we can’t afford to do anything but the job, but do the job safely because we just won’t be working there any longer. So I’ve found that the more, I can honestly say most of our customers and clients expect us and hold us to a very high safety standard. And that’s probably one of the main reasons we continue to be safe is we, we also have that in the back of our minds that if we don’t do this the right way, we may not be working here, not only for my company, but at that facility anyway.

Jon O’Brien (18:06):

Right, right. And I think too, you know, to your point that the entire industry has obviously put a huge emphasis on safety over the last 20 to 30 years, at least, we’ve even seen it with our clients you know, working with trade unions and, and contractors that we go on photo shoots and we know we can’t take photography or video of certain elements because there has to be a certain safety functionality to it. If not, it shows the wrong story or gives the wrong message if you will. So I think you’re right. It’s a balance of everybody understanding how important safety is to move the industry forward and get out of the typical thoughts and perception of the industry itself. So I’m glad to hear that from both you and your company and your clients. That’s great. That’s great. Right? Yep. Kinda done a lot to me. We touched on a lot here today, Chris, any other questions or comments or to say Clayton thank you. This has been really enlightening. And hopefully we can ask you back in the future and we can talk more about safety as it relates, not only to your company, but talk a little bit more about your company in general too.

Clayton Leibold (19:29):

Sure. Sounds good. I appreciate the time that we’re able to take in and continue to shed some light on a safety culture within the skilled trades sector and of the construction industry, and I’m happy to happy to help.

Jon O’Brien (19:52):

Absolutely. And you have been an award winning contractor. Of course, we’d like to have you back on, but I got to have one request. If we have you back in the future, we have to record it at your company. Chris, you have to see the farm. He has goats, horses. I believe you have horses and pigs and you name it. I love it.

Clayton Leibold (20:18):

Sure. We’re happy to show some folks around when we have visitors. We just had a baby donkey last week. So she’s she’s pretty darn cute. So she’s hanging around here, she’s always fun to hang around with. So it works out pretty well. Yeah.

Chris Martin (20:36):

Well, yeah, I’m there, man. I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby donkey, so that’ll be interesting.

Clayton Leibold (20:46):

Sure, absolutely.

Chris Martin (20:48):

All the stuff we talk about here. It’s not just about construction, right. It’s awesome.

Jon O’Brien (20:53):

Yeah.

Chris Martin (20:54):

Very cool. Yeah. Well, thank you for your time here. This is an excellent conversation and we look forward to seeing the baby donkey.

Clayton Leibold (21:05):

That sounds good. Anytime. Thanks for having me.

Building PA Podcast 2020 Year In Review

The Building PA Podcast made it to the 2020 finish line. The Keystone Contractors Association enjoyed working with Atlas Marketing in this endeavor as we talk construction with Pennsylvania’s construction professionals. Afterall, it was the guests who were the true stars of this podcast and we thank each and every guest we’ve had on the show. In 2021 and beyond, we look forward to getting more of you to join the conversation!

For more information on the Building PA Podcast, please visit: https://buildingpapodcast.com/

Building PA Podcast Shareable 2020 Fun Facts

Building PA Podcast published 46 episodes in 2020. The first was Business of Construction – Crisis communications published April 03 and the last was How Drone Technology is Impacting the Construction Industry published December 14. Did we improve this year? (Tweet)

In 2020, the most popular episode of Building PA Podcast was Apprenticeship Training – Sheet Metal Workers, published April 05 and downloaded 208 times. What was your favorite episode? (Tweet)

In 2020, Building PA Podcast was downloaded 902 times from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; our most popular city! Where do you listen from? (Tweet)

In 2020, fans of Building PA Podcast listened most using Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, and Your Buzzsprout Site apps. What’s your favorite app for listening to podcasts? (Tweet)

In 2020, Building PA Podcast published 46 episodes totaling about 21 hours of content. That’s about 1,250 minutes or 75,018 seconds for your listening pleasure. What was your favorite episode?(Tweet)