Posted by: nedpelger | July 7, 2009

Super Tips Newsletter 2009-2

Super Tips Newsletter: Training Tips for Construction Supervisors and PMs

…Learning Leads to Advancement

Newsletter #2, July 2009

Construction Supervisors work one of the toughest jobs in the world. They mash the theory of blueprints and spec books with the reality of iron workers, electricians, building inspectors and things that don’t fit. creates a community for Construction Supervisors and PMs to learn, grow and advance. We provide technical skills, people skills, motivation, humor and interaction with other Construction Leaders. I love building things and helping others build better. This amazing construction business has been good to me and can reward you also if you’re willing to learn and grow.


People Skills: Develop a Growth Mindset

Ask Ned: An Advice Column for Construction Supervisors

Basic Technical Skills: The Useful Skill of Converting Units

Trade Skills: The Structural Basics of Concrete

Quote to Remember:

Super Tips Puzzler: Win $100

Super Humor

People Skills: Develop a Growth Mindset

None of the people skills will help you unless you believe you can actually change how you live and what you do.  Dr. Carol Dweck wrote Mindset: The New Psychology of Success after much research on how people think and act. She found that people generally have either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset sees our talents and abilities as unchangeable, they are what they are. Conversely, a growth mindset knows talents get developed and abilities built over time.

When asked, most people express confidence in their ability to grow and change. Most people initially claim to have a growth mindset. Upon further reflection, though… (follow the link to find out)

Ask Ned: An Advice Column for Construction Supervisors

Dear Ned: I got laid off three months ago. I’ve worked as a carpenter, then carpenter foreman for the past 10 years, building mostly commercial projects. My boss told me he’d bring me back as soon as they get some work, but has no idea when that will be. I’ve applied to all the general contractors in the area and no one has shown any interest in hiring me. I’m starting to get freaked out, any ideas? Stressed in PA.

Dear Stressed: I’ve been there too, and it’s not a good feeling. I recall standing in an employment benefit line in 1983, when my wife was about to have our first child. My advice to you is to start by changing the way you frame the problem. Right now you’re thinking, “I need a job.” Instead, you need a career plan that makes you valuable now and in the future. Take some time to really think about what you love to do, what you seem to have real aptitude for. Then take some more time and consider how the world is changing, what directions you see it taking. For example, two friends of mine recently found themselves in a position similar to yours, they both worked on light construction project, but earlier had experience with large, heavy construction projects. They read about all the stimulus money and concluded that roads and bridges will be well funded for quite a few years. Both got jobs with a first class bridge contractor who has lots of work and a reputation for treating employees well. Take your time off as a gift that allows you to learn, to look deeply into your options and to end up at a better place.

Basic Technical Skills: The Useful Skill of Converting Units

When I wrestled in high school and college, I often beat guys that were both stronger and faster than me. How did I overcome the natural advantage of another? I worked hard at making few mistakes. I paid attention to the little details that the better athletes tended to ignore, so sometimes I surprised them by the end of the match.

In construction, I’ve encountered people smarter than me that aren’t doing as well. Their brain power leads them toward arrogance. They don’t think the little things are worthy of their attention. If, like me, you don’t have an incredible IQ and amazing memory, then you need to make few mistakes.

This little trick of the trade for converting units will help you to get it right each time. Simply stated, write the problem down (don’t do it in your head) and actually write the units, then cancel them. Seems simple, but many times a group of us stand, trying to resolve some problem and we go from square feet to acres and the guy doing the figuring is off by 10 or 100.

A simple example shows you how, follow the link for the example.

Trade Skills: The Structural Basics of Concrete

Concrete is strong in compression. So what does that really mean?

To understand compressive strength, think about several packs of crackers sitting on the floor. If you carefully stand on those packs of crackers, your weight will probably be supported, but you are putting those crackers in compression. Your weight tends towards crushing those crackers. If you jump up and land on those packs of crackers, you will increase the force applied and probably crush the crackers. You will have made the crackers fail in compression.

Now try to jump on a concrete sidewalk. You’d have to jump pretty high to make that sidewalk crush under your weight. In fact, you probably couldn’t make that sidewalk fail in compression. That’s why concrete gets used so much in construction. But the story doesn’t end with compression.

To learn more about the structural basics of concrete, follow the link.

Quote to Remember

There comes a time in the affairs of a man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation. W.C. Fields

Super Tips Puzzler

If you recall, the last Super Tips Puzzler was:

Three tradesmen work on a jobsite, Bob is older than the redheaded guy, but younger than the electrician. Mike is younger than the blonde, while Joe is older than the dark haired guy. The carpenter is the ironworker’s younger brother. Can you give the hair color and job of each tradesmen in order of age?

The solution is that Joe is the oldest and a blond electrician, Bob is in the middle and a dark haired iron worker and Mike is the youngest, one of God’s mistakes (a redhead) and a carpenter.

The winner of the $100 prize (randomly selected from the correct answers) was Jeff Mylin of Akron, PA.

Win $100 if you correctly answer the Super Tips Puzzler below. Send your answer to I’ll randomly select the winning entry from the correct answers that I receive. Make sure to include your contact information so I will know where to send the check.

The jobsite looked a mess and a couple of loads of trash needed to get hauled to the landfill. So we loaded the F350 pick-up that had a dump truck bed and headed for the dump. We got weighed when we arrived with a full load and after we deposited our trash into the landfill. As we were getting weighed the second time, I mentioned to the scale master that we would be back in a few hours with another load. He responded with the usual level of helpfulness of landfill workers. He grunted.

I’d noticed that the rear driver side tire was low, so we stopped at a gas station and filled all the tires.

We went back to the jobsite, loaded up again, stopped for lunch, and then drove back to the landfill. We got weighed before and after, just like the first time. Then my buddy noticed something strange on the weigh slips. The first time we left the dump empty, we weigh 6,420 pounds, this time our weight was 6,360 pounds.

I went into the scale master to complain that either their scales were wrong or they over-charged us for 60 pounds of trash. He called me a knucklehead and told me there was nothing wrong with their scales. Why?

Super Humor

Years ago a carpenter was putting a roof on a small church building. The carpenter was a rough-and-tumble sort of fellow and would yell “Damn, I missed!” quite loudly every time he missed the nail with his hammer. After several days of this, the pastor called up to him that he needed to stop this profanity in the church.

The carpenter sneered, “What’s going to happen, do you think God is going to send down lighting to strike me dead?”

The minister said, “Well, yes, I think that very thing just might happen.” Moments later, clouds formed, a big wind began blowing and a single bolt of lighting shot through the church roof and killed the minister.

Heard from the sky was a booming voice, “Damn, I missed!”



  1. You have always been inspirational to me. You are quite funny. I have enjoyed a glimmer of your life this evening. All of my girls are out this evening and I’m catching up on some e-mail.

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