HOW I BECAME A GENERAL ENGINEERING CONTRACTOR … THANKS MIKE BRANDT



A LITTLE HISTORY ON YOURS TRULY: 

FROM THE TIME I WAS ABOUT TWENTY YEARS OLD I HAD A SMALL LANDSCAPE COMPANY WITH MY FIRST HUSBAND. WHEN I WAS TWENTY SIX I DECIDED HE WAS A GREAT GUY BUT NOT THE RIGHT GUY FOR ME.  HE KEPT THE LANDSCAPE COMPANY AND HIS CONTACTS.  I STARTED MY OWN LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE AND INSTALL COMPANY, “BELLS MOW AND BLOW”. YES, THAT WAS THE REAL NAME.  I HAD A PUSH LAWN MOWER, WEED EATER AND A LEAF BLOWER, ETC, FOR THE MAINTENANCE ACCOUNTS. I RENTED SKID STEERS, SKIP LOADERS AND MINI EXCAVATORS FOR THE INSTALLS.

AT NIGHT I WAS TENDING BAR, DURING THE DAY I WAS DOING LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE AND BUILDING MY BUSINESS. 

A MAN NAMED MIKE BRANDT WHO WAS ONE OF MY REGULAR CUSTOMERS WHERE I TENDED BAR, WHO ALSO BECAME ONE OF MY LANDSCAPE CUSTOMERS. CHANGED MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE IN WAYS I’M NOT SURE HE REALIZES TO THIS DAY.

ONE DAY AFTER MOWING HIS LAWN WE WERE SITTING AROUND DRINKING A BEER AND HE SAYS TO ME “YOU SHOULD COME WORK FOR ME”. I SKEPTICALLY SAY “DOING WHAT?” HE SAYS, “AS A BACKHOE OPERATOR” I SAY “TEACH ME HOW”..

THE DEAL WE MADE WAS HE WOULD PAY ME TEN DOLLARS AN HOUR UNTIL HE WAS COMFORTABLE ENOUGH TO LEAVE ME ON JOBS ALONE THEN I WOULD GET TWENTY DOLLARS AN HOUR. I SAT ON THE WHEEL WELL A COUPLE DAYS THE FIRST WEEK, THEN MIKE BROUGHT A BACKHOE TO MY HOUSE TO PRACTICE. HE WAS CRAZY, HE JUST DROPPED IT OFF ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND LEFT. I PUT IN ABOUT THIRTY HOURS THAT WEEKEND MOVING A TWO BY FOUR BOARD AROUND ON THE SURFACE, GETTING TO THE POINT I COULD MOVE THE BOARD WITHOUT DISTURBING THE DIRT. I ALSO SPENT HOURS DIGGING A TRENCH AT VARIOUS DEPTHS, PUTTING THE BOARD IN THE TRENCH AND BACKFILLING IT, THEN CROSS DIGGING THE TRENCH TO LOCATE THE BOARD WITHOUT DAMAGING IT. ONE OF THE THINGS MIKE TOUGHT ME WHEN I WAS SITTING ON THE WHEEL WELL OF HIS BACKHOE IS HOW THERE ARE OTHER UTILITIES IN THE GROUND WE HAVE TO CROSS AND IF YOU BREAK IT, ITS VERY EXPENSIVE TO FIX. I WAS VERY CONCERNED ABOUT BREAKING SOMETHING SO I CAME UP WITH A WAY TO PRACTICE. BY THE END OF THE WEEKEND I TRAINED MYSELF. EVERY DAY I PUSHED MYSELF TO GET BETTER, FASTER AND CLEANER TRENCHES. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN BEING AN OCD WORKAHOLIC COMES IN HANDY.

IN TWO WEEKS MIKE LEFT ME ON THE JOB SITE BY MYSELF AND MY HOURLY PAY DOUBLED. THE NEXT TWO YEARS I LEARNED EVERYTHING I COULD WORKING FOR MIKE AND ABSOLUTELY LOVED OPERATING HEAVY EQUIPMENT. EVENTUALLY, I ENDED UP WORKING FOR GRANITE CONSTRUCTION AS A JOURNEYMAN OPERATOR. OPERATING EXCAVATORS, BACKHOES, SKIP LOADERS, ROLLERS AND BLADES TO NAME A FEW. I LOVED MY JOB..

THEN A COUPLE YEARS LATER MIKE CHANGED MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE ONCE AGAIN. HE WAS ON A JOB SITE INSTALLING A SEPTIC SYSTEM ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN AND NEEDED A SECOND BACKHOE. HE WANTED ME TO RENT A BACKHOE AND HELP HIM, HE OFFERED TO SPLIT THE CONTRACT WITH ME. I TOLD HIM I OBVIOUSLY WANTED TO BUT I WASN’T LICENSED HE TOLD ME I COULD WORK UNDER HIS UNTIL I GOT MY CONTRACTOR LICENSE. WITH SOME OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE SEPTIC JOB I BOUGHT THE NECESSARY STUDY GUIDES FOR THE GENERAL ENGINEERING LICENSE TEST. IT IS A DOOZY OF A TEST THAT TAKES FOUR HOURS TO COMPLETE WITH A 75% FAILURE RATEAND OF THE 25% WHO SUCCESSFULLY PASS ONLY 1% WERE WOMEN. AT THE END OF TGE LONGEST TEST I EVER TOOK, I WAS A LICENSED GENERAL ENGINEERING CONTRACTOR. I FIRST CALLED MY HUSBAND SCREAMING AND CRYING THAT I DID IT. THEN I CALLED MIKE TO TELL HIM I WAS OFFICIALLY A LICENSED CONTRACTOR.

I’M NO LONGER A CONTRACTOR BUT BEFORE THE HOUSING CRASH IN 2006 I HAVE DUG OVER 14000 RESIDENTIAL HOMES.

THANK YOU MIKE BRANDT FOR THE OPPORTUNITY, I STILL LOVE PLAYING IN THE DIRT.

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