In today’s world, we generally think that bigger is better. We shop in “big box” stores, we order “supersized” fast food and we generally seek to get the most out of life by looking for the next “big” thing. But when it comes to the “blue collar” trades – such as grading and excavating and other niche industries – the “bigger is better” premise does not necessarily hold true. There is something to be said for the small construction companies whose owners are also operators; the guys who have skin in the game; the ones who love their craft and value a hard day’s work and a job well done. It is here where opportunity lies for young men and women who are looking to build successful and fulfilling careers.
The small companies like Grade Tech – often times family-owned and operated – are treasure chests of opportunity for those looking to build careers that will sustain them for a lifetime. In these small companies, expertise has been developed and honed over decades and generations, and passed on to the future generations. Here you will find multigenerational tradesmen that have learned by doing; men and women who’ve learned from their forefathers and passed that knowledge on to the next generation of craftsman who then become owners themselves. It is the natural progression, which has, unfortunately, taken a back seat to big companies, owned and ran by financiers whose main goal is to make money.
Yes, the big companies are successful. Many small owners have sold out to them and many workers flock to them. And if you want a job that’s just that – a job – then you can find it at a big company. But if you want a career that can grow with you, one where you can learn from those who have paved the way in the industry, there is no better place to be than at a small company like Grade Tech.
“I am a big believer in small companies that were built with blood, sweat and tears vs. the big guys that are in it to make money,” says Rory Hall, Co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of Grade Tech. “It’s a matter of pride; that sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that you get from knowing you did the job and did it well. There is nothing like the feeling you get from creating something that you can look back on with pride.”
If anyone knows the value of learning from the experience of the previous generation, it’s Rory. A third generation operator in excavation and grading, he has followed in the footsteps of his father, Billy, and his grandfather, Bill, before him. He watched and learned as his father not only owned and operated companies, but also got out in the field and operated the equipment – moved dirt – every day.
That opportunity to capture the wisdom built over generations and to learn the business from the ground up is still alive at small companies like Grade Tech. And Rory believes that there is no better opportunity for young people looking to start a career. “It’s not too late for young people to capture the wisdom that has been built from generation to generation,” he explains. “When you work for a small company you get your training out in the field, learning by working side-by-side with those who built the industry. That is such an advantage over getting training from a book, technology, classroom trainer, or 1st generation bosses.”
“And just to be clear,” he adds, “Just because our company is small, it doesn’t mean that we lag behind in technology and equipment. We invest in the latest, most advanced equipment available – we have to in order to stay in the game.” He goes on to say that what makes Grade Tech and small businesses stand out from the others in the field are the skills and expertise that were developed from doing things “old school.” Technology and the latest equipment are an added benefit – there is no substitute for the skill learned on the old equipment. It’s what helps us get the job done when the latest equipment, or technology fail.
A small company like Grade Tech is the ideal place to start a career. Young men and women can step into well-paying jobs straight out of high school, learning the craft through hands-on training, mentorship, certificate programs and on-the-job experience…all while getting paid good money. Small companies offer the opportunity to advance into leadership roles that pay as much or more than many office jobs that require college degrees. They also offer the opportunity to absorb wisdom from a generation that is leaving the work force. Bottom line: the opportunity for a lifelong, fulfilling and successful career is alive and well at small companies like Grade Tech.