In 1948, James Johnson and his wife Bonnie sold the family farm in rural Alabama to make a better life for their four children. They moved the family north to Indianapolis and restarted building a life. James had a 3rd-grade education but was a hard worker and was good with his hands. Bonnie had made it to 6th grade and was willing to try anything to make certain that her kids would have a high school education. They could be said to be good parents who were making hard decisions to move their family forward. It kind of reminds me of something I overheard at a conference a few weeks ago. “A good owner is one who makes decisions.” It resonated with me as being the very crux of what we do at C3.
We are about making decisions from the owner level down that impact the livelihood and well-being of craft professionals. Construction Career Collaborative is about making the same decision that James and Bonnie did in 1948. They sold a piece of land that had been in the family for nearly 80 years to make a better way for the next generation. C3 is combating the generations of deterioration of our industry and its reputation. Knowing that change has to happen at the top, C3 works to engage owners to make decisions to move us forward. But owners can’t do it alone. It takes all of us working to create a better path that provides for those that produce our built environment. Like James Johnson, we have to make a decision to change with no guarantee that it will in fact get better.
At the very least we owe these men and women the same respect and working conditions that we are given by their buildings that house our offices, places of worship, and schools. They build so we can flourish and yet we have created a world where they work in less than desirable situations and our industry is seen as a job, not a lifelong career. We often talk in these quick articles about the ways we benefit the contractor through our programming and how C3 can help you build your business through quality talent management. However, the crux of our why is because craft professionals deserve to be treated as professionals. They deserve to be employees who receive fair and livable wages in return for their quality work. They deserve to be protected against injury and provide the opportunity to grow their skills within their trade. At the very least they deserve to be in a career field that is respected for the amazing feats of engineering they bring to life.
Even without guarantees that it will get better, we have to continue to be good owners and good stewards of our construction family. Pushing our industry forward requires everyone to make the decision to do what is right simply because it is in fact the right thing to do for the craft professional.
Just in case you were wondering what happened to James and his family, he started working in a factory and eventually made his way to the masonry trade. James found a way to sustain the family at a middle-class level and see his two boys graduate high school and enter the trades themselves. His two girls also graduated and one went on to college and end up in real estate. Jumping forward to 2022, his grandkids, of which there are 10, all graduated high school and between them, they hold 7 Bachelor’s degrees, 6 Master’s degrees, and 2 PhD’s. It could be said that his family’s success was built on his ability to build. Their success was a direct impact of his being employed, valued, and allowed to achieve mastery of his trade but more importantly, their lives are testament to doing what you believe is right with no guarantee it will change anything. Making a decision to do it just because you know it is the right thing to do!
Angela Robbins Taylor, MHRM, MAPC