When I was in my late 20s, after working in a few construction and engineering jobs, Calvin G. High hired me to be the first project manager for High Construction. I’d never been a PM, but he liked my local background and my work ethic. He thought he saw some potential in me.
High Construction was building $8M of work a year when I was hired and we grew to almost $40M in 3 years. I learned to be a PM by just doing it, figuring things out as I went. We had a great team of field supers and trade contractors and we worked together to build lots of fine looking buildings quickly.
Cal was a wonderful mentor for me. He wasn’t prone to much praise, but I knew when I did something right…and when I screwed up. As a devout Mennonite, Cal was committed to giving “Good Measure”. Yet he once asked me if I knew how copper wire was invented? Apparently it was two Mennonites fighting over a penny.
I developed the 10 Calmandmants, in honor of Calvin G. High and have considered them important guidelines to remember throughout my career.
1. Thou shalt never joke about money.
2. Thou shalt shudder when any price is given and ask if that’s their best offer.
3. Thou shalt never go time and materials.
4. Thou shalt pay attention to the details.
5. Thou shalt never say an item is “Not on the Critical Path”.
6. Thou shalt be frugal in all design decision, except for a few that are very visual.
7. Thou shalt landscape lushly.
8. Thou shalt wander around and look at things.
9. Thou shalt not mess thy jobsite, thy truck or thy neighbor’s tools.
10. Thou shalt obtain three prices on everything.
Transcribed by Ned Pelger in 1986 A.D.