Maniacal Project Manager

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by TPendagast, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,085

    I have recently come to work for a business I think/thought had great potential.
    I have worked in the Green Industry for 22 years and have effectively retired twice. I have experience with the largest, the smallest, and everything in between when it comes to landscape companies, but I have never come across the current situation.

    This couple started a company in 2002. Essentially, The wife worked in it for 2 years, before the husband quit (or was possibly fired, depends on how you hear it from) his job and came to work for the company. He immediately poo-poo'd all over the wife's maintenance work as being insignificant, and went out to get construction work. In the years that followed (after examining the books) they did rather well in commercial construction, all the while stealing promising employees from maintenance, so anytime someone good for maintenance came along, they were stolen for the all important construction division.

    The company used to have the most dominant maintenance in their area, but they have since been surpassed by two other companies, significantly. Then the husband got bit by the "design bug" and shifted is attention to residential design build. They have steadily lost money for the past four years. I knew the first few weeks something was wrong when he told me his closing ratio was "85% to 90%".

    There are three major things going on with this guy: 1) he sucks at design. That's not to say he doesnt have good ideas, but they are usually not what the customer is looking for (that particular customer) and if the customer shoots down his ideas, the sells them what they want, and then adds his own stuff in for free.
    2) he changes his design mid stream in the middle of the job, often multiple times.
    3) not only does he give extras away for free, it slows down the momentum of the build, ticks off the customer, costs more money and time, drawing crews away from other builds, BUT he's missing the double whammy that he is cutting off his own foot by missing out on upsells!

    The wife is the majority owner of the business, the husband has put in $12000.00 years ago and $35000.00 of his moms money last year. Since then he whined and cried to get his wife to put his name on he land (something she owned and put tons of her own money into years ago before they met) and then once his name was on it, engineered and upside down loan, leveraged the land to the hilt and wasted it all on crap. Then to top it off, he has dozens of equipment loans out there.

    I have bought some of the wife's interest in the company (to put some much needed properly placed monies into the company) and as such have an equal (if not possibly larger) share of interest int he company than the husband does.

    The main problem is the husband wanders around town telling everyone he is the owner (not true his wife is, we are project managers with interest) and he makes and over rides any decisions anyone makes behind their back.

    I have sold $200,000.00 in residential design build this year and double the size of the maintenance division (mainly in an effort to keep up with the monstrous overhead the husband has created) and $75000 in snow, he has sold $45000 in Residential Design Build, and spent all year meddling in my jobs and screwing with my crews "making decisions".

    His arguement for this behavior is that he had to oversee me, because I didn't have experience in "Alaska" ( i just recently moved here) however I lived in Alaska in the 90s and built a golf course here, so water, earth and turf in this environment and I are not strangers (by the way in the decade of my absence it's become the states most popular course)

    IF this guy wasn't married to the boss, I would have fired him!
    He's redonkulous. He won't sit in meetings, look at P&L's are hear about what needs to be done. Just if he gets more of his ridiculous behavior from more people he could really make things happen!

    The problem is the marriage, or rather the fact he's married to the boss.

    I have suggested selling everything to pay off bills, I have suggested chapter 13, I have suggested selling off of partial things we don't need to go lean and mean. the problem is the husband wont have any of it becuase they are all his "toys" and possessions.

    He doesn't understand that his spending habits (he frequently buys stuff making it impossible to have enough money to pay payroll...and yes we have recently taken away all his credit cards) and in field behavior are the problem.

    He gets angry and shouts and yells at everyone so they say "fine whatever you want" insteasd of dealing with it.

    He has no crews left, so then he steals mine for his projects and then yammers about my jobs not getting done, really? so Im supposed to design, sell, teach the wife how to run the office, listen to my crew members complain n the phone about this guy and do all my work with no workers?

    The key issue is his stance as "the company owner" which he legally is not.
    WHAT do we do about this guy, the marriage just complicates things.
  2. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,737

    I would sell off my share and run as far away from them as possible.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    All depends upon how your interest/share in the business is structured.
    The acquisition agreement you have (you do, don't you?) should list who is responsible for what, and to what degree. Also indicates who has final decision making authority as well.
    If you do not have any sort of structured/signed agreement all you are is witness to a domestic train wreck that hasn't completed de-railing yet.
  4. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,085

    Acquisition is spelled out in articles of re-organization.

    24.5% ownership for project managers (myself being one) and 51% ownership for the "owner" (wife).

    The other guy is a problem because he's not manageable/containable. He wants to do what he feels like when he feels like it. He makes vague accusations as to his superior skills (compares his 8 years to my 22 years) by trying to claim all my experience is in "finance" while his is "field" experience.
    Won't stay still and actually leaves meetings when he's confronted with facts like "every design build job he has run in the last four years has lost money".

    He's supposed to run commercial construction, Whilst I run Residential Design Build, and consult the owner on her maintenance division. Problem is the husband wants to do residential design build....but whenever he does he looses money. He doesn't lose money on commercial because he is "contained" by the parameters of the existing contract from the GC or other source. On RDB, he starts jobs with no signed contract, begins without finalized/authorized designs, has no budget and just "wings it" any which way but loose.

    There is no "stopping him" he grabs equipment, and drives off to jobs unknown before monday morning meetings. Like a yard ninja or something. Then when he gets too deep, its me an my crew that has to wade in guns blazing to save him.

    Most recently, he took on a job that should have been done by a civil engineer not a landscaper (a fabric folding wall over 20 feet in height). I knew nothing about the job until the customer called claiming the job had been abandoned.
    I asked the owner about it and she rolled her eyes saying we should never have taken the job, its too dang dangerous.

    I asked to see the contract and she said he didnt get one drawn up.

    I met with the client to understand scope of work, what needed to be done to finish the job and set some of my crew to do it.

    One of my crew members declined to do what I told him needed to be done (we had a freeze up deadline with water in the hydroseeder and a payout that needed to be received to make payroll) so I had to leave what I was going to do, return to the job and jump in the skidsteer, I was in hurry because I was supposed to be somewhere else, not here, and had given the taks to an operator where he had nearly all day to do it.

    The job was harrowing and very close to an edge. I ended up falling off the side of the cliff inside the skidsteer and rolled it.

    The other project manager I was told almost lost the front end loader and the skidsteer off this same edge over four other times. (which might have been why he wasnt on the job completing it)

    Then I get MR snide with his remark, "what have you learned from this experience" let me think.... never take a damn job like this? dont do it under rushed circumstances? complete it in the time allotted? do ALL THOSE ring a bell? 6 weeks to complete a job with four men than was supposedly to take two guys 10 days.

    Then he wants to heckle my harley rake job at the end, helllloooo tinker bell, it's not even MY JOB.

    That's the type of stuff we deal with. doesn't necessarily fall under the black and white lines of articles of acquisition.

    By the way, the skidsteer and myself took zero damage from the roll. I've got over 10000 hours on a skid steer, and I was able to control it's decent somewhat, In fact it almost didnt roll at all despite it being 20 feet lower from where it started.... All he does is make joke behind my back to other crew members how he doesnt roll skidsteers.... funny, he also hasn't finished a job ALL YEAR, either.
  5. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    You gotta get some pics
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,085

    wait? Pics of what? the rolled over skid steer? I do have some of those
  7. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,085

    arg why wont pics post
  8. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Your plight is not that uncommon. Unless the husband has a major medical issue that leaves him incapacited or worse, I believe nothing will change. I would have a sit down with the two controlling interest and make your position clear once and for all. No real point going down with the ship, unless you can save yourself and recover any interest left from this business venture.
    easy-lift guy
  9. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Problem is you.

    You bought into a company where you became a minority owner just as the husband is a minority owner.

    You need a check up from the neck up. Why? Because you were dumb enough to risk your money by placing it in the control of the majority owner and you expect the wife to control her husband. Two strikes against you before your first day at work on the new job.

    Have the wife buy you out now while they can afford to give you a dime for every dollar because you wait you won't even get that once the business goes belly up.
  10. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,290

    OP, did you used to live in Connecticut?

    Does your first name ride with red, perchance?

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