Dereck Hench works with me on almost all my projects. He co-owns Bottomline Contracting, Inc. which develops land for residential projects, builds lots of houses, has a sitework division and works in commercial construction. Dereck’s first commercial Construction Supervisor job was with me on the Lititz Library. That project remains one of the most beautiful, functional and cost effective projects either of us has ever done.
Starting as the clean-up kid for Hess Home Builders, Dereck learned the trades of carpentry, equipment operating, plumbing, roofing and the basics of a few others. He often worked under Andy Hess, an intelligent and competent Construction Supervisor who just understands how things work. Dereck says, “Andy let me learn by making mistakes. He’d tell me what he wanted and let me give it a try. He is a great guy to learn from.”
Dereck uses a similar approach as a Construction Supervisor, telling workers and subs what he wants, then listening to their ideas about how it may be done better. He considers this open mindedness an asset, as it develops the confidence and the respect of his co-workers.
I’ve noticed that Dereck continually seems to get great production and cooperation on job sites and asked him why that works so well. He responded, “You know, if I see a guy struggling with a task, whether moving a piece of HVAC equipment or stacking a cube of block, I tend to jump in and help him. I can see it’s appreciated (my employees on the jobsite also do this sometimes). Even though it’s not really our job, when you show you’re not afraid to work and jump in and help someone, everything just goes better on the project.”
Dereck’s favorite project to build was the The Oaks Professional Office Building in Lancaster, PA. It was a great design (Bob Hoffman with Beers and Hoffman was the architect), with an excellent set of plans and details and great Owners to work for. Using the Hambro steel joist system in a commercial building was also a good challenge.
Every time he drives by the building he says, “Isn’t that an awesome building?” His wife or his co-workers say, “Yes Dereck, you say that every time you drive by.” I understand since I do the same thing.
The most challenging part of Construction Supervision for Dereck is separating friendships from working relationships. Since we work with many of the same people on various projects, friendships develop. As Dereck says, “Often you want to bend for a friend, but usually I don’t budge. At the end of the day, there can only be one boss on the project.”
When I asked Dereck what people should know about him but don’t, he responded, “How hard I work to get answers for the trades…to keep things moving. How much time I spend bugging people (I bug everyone else as much as I bug you) to get me answers when we need them. I think lots of people say they will try to get an answer for a problem but don’t really push to get it done.”
Dereck’s most embarrassing moment was when he was really chewing out a Drywall Contractor, loudly and with profanities flying, when the very meek President of the non-profit organization came walking up behind him. Dereck didn’t stop with the diatribe, he just chose his words a bit more carefully.
Dereck relaxes by snowmobiling, four-wheeling and fishing.