A Contractor's Tale

by Jori B.L. Smith, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, Southwest Region President

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the site,

Not a creature was stirring, not even the millwright.

The hardhats were hung by the heaters with care,

In hopes that the end of day soon would be there.


The laborers were nestled all snug in their trucks,

While cravings of long beers danced in stomachs.

The Super with his laptop, and I with a headache,

Had just settled our brains for a quick winter’s break.


When out on the site there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter!

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and peeked thru the gash.


The sun on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of silver to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should alight,

But a miniature forklift, and eight workers so slight.


With a little old operator, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than turbos his workers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!


“Now Tinner! Now, Painter! Now, Glazer and Craftsman!

On, Sparky , On, Finisher! On, Plumber and Mason!

To the top of the steel! To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

The construction industry changes dramatically for many of us working in wintry climes this time of year.  I’m probably not the only project manager who has daydreamed of a chubby elf with superpowers who arrives to spur the work on.  Whenever I visit the jobsite though, in my mittens and long underwear, I am reminded what a challenging work environment it is, and that we need to appreciate the men and women who frequently work outside all winter, to keep our projects moving ahead.  It is not easy.

The challenges of winter work are just one of many factors that need to be taken into account when planning a new project.  I’m often concerned about just how many of our Owners and Architects are getting the opportunity to really hear about the construction side of our industry in CSI.  We pride ourselves on being a diverse professional association, and so we are.  The number of construction professionals in our ranks, however, is roughly 10% of the overall membership.  In my own home chapter, I am frequently the only constructor attending.   The reality is that this side of our industry in under-represented both in numbers and in the educational programming we offer.  Here are some ways that you can help improve this situation:

  • Encourage your local general contractors and subcontractors to attend meetings, and become members.  These building professionals frequently have the same education as the architectural and engineering professionals they work with – and are as interested in continuing to update their knowledge base.
  • Remind your program committees of the importance of offering education that represents the entire membership of CSI.  Help them do that by suggesting topics of interest, and possible speakers.  
  • Encourage presenters to pair-up with other members of the industry – to broaden the coverage of topic so that it includes the voices all of the project team members.  Everyone attending with be the better for the opportunity to hear all sides of an issue.

If this is a topic of particular interest to you, please join us in the new CSI Constructor Education Group.  We will be working to improve the amount of programming available that features constructor issues, sharing those resources throughout CSI, and simultaneously working to strengthen CSI through diversity of its membership.  Contact me at jsmith@bradburystamm.com to find out how you can help.

Season’s Greetings to all, and to all a good-night!