OLD SCHOOL TILE INSTALLERS AND CONSTRUCTION CRAFTSMEN VS. NEW MILLENNIUM CUSTOMERS AND WHY I LOOK FORWARD TO RETIREMENT
My grandfather was a stone mason and his son after him, now me as a tile mason. It is so hard now to find young folks who want to learn this trade and many others because of the labor intensity of the crafstman trade. Many young people comming into the service trade industry choose to do computer related services and real HANDS ON service is fading fast. Furthermore finding a fair priced honest ethical HANDS ON service professional is becoming harder and harder to find. There are several prominent reasons for this, one being all the immigrant service providers who do such work at prices American one family providers cannot match. Most of the immigrant workers live in groups together and have very low living expenses coupled with the value of thier money sent home(out of the country) they can make a profit on much less then any american craftsman.
Another huge factor that many old school craftsmen will attest to, is the noticable change in the new millinium customer. I can personally tell you after 37 years installing tile the customers have really changed in attitude and appreciation in the last few years, they want more and more for less and less, part of this is certainly due to the amount of immigrants within the work force and the costs of the services they provide.
I will start this analysis by explaining my specialty and talent and how this new milliniam customer effects me. My career started as a stone mason laborer mixing concrete and breaking and providing rock for the masons to install. This is very labor intensive pushing 200lb wheelbarrows of wet concrete through knee deep mud out on the job to provide for the mason to lay rock. Between wheelbarrows of concrete you hade to break rock into installable pieces with a 25 lb steel sledge hammer, load the rock into the same wheel barrel and then get them to the masons. All
this happened within a time frame so the masons never ran out of any material or your ass was grass.
So to make a long story short I learned at a early age what real hard work was. I've carried this work ethic until today pushing myself to my limit every day laying tile and getting the work done in a fast paced production manner. I have at times in my life laid as much as 500 sq ft of floor tile in one 8 hour working day. I am a production tile guy ,during the Olympics building boom in Atlanta(94-96) I laid 300 sq ft of tile every day in new hotel construction for over 2 years straight while running a 10 man tile crew.
My specialty is getting it done within the bounds of the American tile association standards which specifies the boundaries of quality given to what standards fall into a quality tile installation. I've learned how to get it done with quality , price and ethical practice in mind. I specialize in quality installations for a really good price because i know how to get it done fast and right with the highest quality materials at the most economical price.
Today i do about 100 jobs per year by myself with no helper or assistance, I take great pride in my work and do no less in a customers house than i would have in my own .But over the last few years ive encountered more and more a type of customer who couldnt be satisfied even if you laid their tile in gold inlay. I try to weed out these customers but they can be very tricky to identify. The mistake of taking one of these customers jobs can be devastating to the reputation finances and heart of any craftsman who has great pride in their job. These customers are controlling, arrogant and most of all vindictive and selfish, If you dont kiss their ass, jump through their hoops and bow down to their wishes they will lie cheat and steal to destroy you and your reputation, and the internet is their most potent weapon.
Now out of the 100 jobs i do each year only 2 or 3 of these customers have bullshited their way into my daily routine in the last 12 years or so .But when they do slither their way in it truly is a "worm in the apple" "hole in the boat""nail in your tire" kind of a moment. Ive came to be very tired and discouraged over the last couple of years because more and more of these customers seem to be emerging in numbers. These customers will tell you how great you are and what a wonderful job ur doing til about 3/4 of the way through the job then comes the 180 degree turn around then suddenly they are picking every single aspect of you job apart under a microscope. Very seldom do you get paid your money and they trash you on line as if you were pond scum. If you talk to any contractor around you will hear story after story with the same story line about these kind of customers. The policies of the online review sites allow anyone with a computer to say anything they want with no proof or substance regarding the service you provided them more than often just outright lies.
Soon I will retire from personal installations and probably transition over to tile art and make tile art products from home and sell them here on the web site. We will sometime soon transition over from installations to sales. I will continue to write the blogs and share my experience with others
so they can learn how to find a honest tile contractor or do their jobs themselves. I love to help people and each day i do tile work for others I give themquality installations at a price that they normally might not be able to afford. I get great satisfaction from what I do and will continue to make sure I help others learn to install quality tile or hire a honest ethical tile man in their house. But tile artwork with my hand will keep and maintain my work ethic and skill honed and stone and mortar is in my blood... Thanks for reading and please make comments about this blog if you've experienced the same things about NEW MILLINIUM customers as I have. THANKS