View Full Version : How receptive would you be to this?
02-02-2006, 09:58 PM
I am not new to this industry. I have experience in everything, except, hardscaping. I am really interested in learning more about hardscaping because it is such a tremendous part of landscape. I'm not proposing that I'm going to go out and start bidding jobs, at all. That will probably always be something I refer to another company simply because I don't have the experience or expertise. But I do want to learn more, mostly so I know what it entails from a design perspective and an installation perspective.
I attended a seminar today put on by a local supply co. and Versa-Lok and it was very informative. However, I really feel like I would learn so much more actually being out in the field doing some of the work. I just learn better by doing. As hardscaping pro's, how receptive would you be to someone asking if they could, I don't know, shadow you for a couple of weeks, do an apprenticeship for a time, etc.? The other side of this is that I want to start building some relationships in my area with companies that do Hardscaping, but I really don't know how receptive people are to letting someone from another company come work for them or shadow them to learn for a short period of time. How would you take it?
02-02-2006, 10:05 PM
I would not mind showing another LCO some tricks of the trade and/or having them shadow me, as long as they were not in direct competition with me. I would want every edge possible over my competition. For instance, I allow Mbella to ask me questions, because he is not my direct competition. I like to protect my livelihood.
02-02-2006, 10:46 PM
You're right in my neighborhood, but I'm definitely not the person to shadow. I think you would have to go outside the area to find someone to show you the ropes, Me being from lawrence I do installs in KC and topeka. You could try to set up to spend a summer in the northeast, that's where a lot of the guys on here are from
02-02-2006, 11:06 PM
I would recommend finding someone like myself who makes 50% of my living building on subcontract agreements by the square foot. The contractors I work for pay the wage I ask, and are more than welcome to observe or get hands on. Knowing that they have a company like me in their stable, they have more confidence when approached with a large project that they do not have the capability's of installing, or just don't have the time to take it on. You will have to do some research, and be fairly flexible. I help my contractors price out their projects, even going as far as dealing directly with the homeowners. I have built a trustworthy relationship with my customers. This is were the research part comes into play. I would ask around about some reputable companies that might provide this service. If you can't find someone locally, network. Alot of segmental wallbuilding companies will travel for the right money. I will travel five states right now and hope to expand even further in 2006 going after large commercial. Now is a good time to research with all of the flower patios and hardscape expos coming up. Check it out ,,,, and good luck to you.
02-02-2006, 11:22 PM
02-02-2006, 11:51 PM
I appreciate the advice.
I don't anticipate ever getting into direct competition with anyone in my area as far as hardscaping is concerned. I know my limitations and I know I lack the skills. It would be a disservice to my customer.
BLD - That's basically exactly what I'm looking for. Someone that I can call to consult with on a job, someone that I can learn from so I know how to set expectations for a customer or upsell them on other things, and can do that with the confidence that I have company xxxx to call, come out, look at the site, determine their cost/profit for the job, and that will do it correctly.
Going NE for the summer or going to Bella is pretty much not an option for me at this time. I'm 31, er, almost 32, have a husband, house, dogs, full time job here. The dogs would be pissed as Hell if I left for a summer. The husband on the other hand would probably be all for it. . .:p But quite simply, our finances just don't allow for me to take off to go do something like that. That's why I'm thinking about approaching some local companies. I wanted to talk to some companies today at the seminar, but you guys are all so serious!! lol. Very intimidating. haha.
I'll start checking around, contacting some companies, and if I get laughed out of their office, then I'll just completely stay away from jobs like that and continue to refer them to other big LCO's in town that I know do a great job.
02-03-2006, 02:26 PM
Just go to a job you see going on in your area and find a place out of the way..ask if they mind you watching them work and just watch and learn.Stay out of the way and don't bug them with questions while they are working.After you do this a few times they will ask you why your watching..tell them you want to learn and see where that gets you.P.S. Hardscaping guys are horndogs..dress conservitavely
but look good and do not react to thier direct advances and shrug off any sexual remarks with a smile or just have a good comeback ready that will embarass them enough to get laughed at by their fellow workers..that will nip that kind of talk in the bud quick and you can continue to watch without being annoyed.
02-03-2006, 02:27 PM
double post sorry
02-03-2006, 03:41 PM
02-03-2006, 05:20 PM
About 10 years ago, I was in the same situation. The way I learned was by taking in many seminars and classes at local distributors. I would advise finding vendors in the area, and ask them if there are going to be any classes in the near future in your area. They always offer classes for the do it yourself type people. Second, I would get your friends and family to let you install some patios and walkways at there residences, pro bono of course! Read up on Hardscaping as much as possible. Some good lit. can be found from pave tech, or ask a local dist. or nursery. Check out the ICPI website and they will have some locations of classes and books that you can learn from. But above all, get out and install, install, install. Just make sure that it is not for a customer until you get a handle. Once you think you have a handle, start with small walks and garden walls and work your way up.
Shadowing may seem like a good idea, and it is with some installers. However, there are many installers out there that do not have a clue themselves. You have to be really careful. Just because a walkway or patio last one year, does not mean it will last 15,25,or 50 years. Be well read on the process and learn as much as possible from trade organizations. I am not sure what area you are from, but look for trade shows also. Anyway I'll stop my rant, just be careful with the shadowing. We fix a ton of other installers projects every year. There are many really good installers out there to learn from, and then there are guys who won't be around very long.
If you want to shadow, find the most well established company in your area. I am talking about a guy who has been around for at least 15-20 years doing this work and approach him. I would offer to pay him to allow you to watch. Does not have to be much, but make it appealing. This type of guy may be looking to get out the bus. in 5-10 years and probably will not consider you competition. And who knows, you may strike a good relationship up and have an golden opportunity down the road. Just my long $.02.
02-04-2006, 01:08 PM
I think this is a good website to visit first. It is from England and Ireland, and they have a few things they do different but it is all good info. It's free and a great way to start. Enjoy!!!
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