Despite a Changing World, Building Industry Values Endure

From its first issue, Huttig® Dealer Digest was created as an industry-best resource for the latest building products knowledge, promotions and insights. That's because to those of us here at Huttig, the building industry means more than just business—it is a reflection of what truly matters: values, people, supportive environments and the act of creating something bigger than ourselves.

In the article below, Patrick Adams explores these values and explains what the building industry means to him—and how the building community is impacting the American Dream for countless others.

Patrick Adams is president of 526 Media Group, Costa Mesa, CA and publisher of Building Products Digest and The Merchant Magazine; leading industry publications serving the entire LBM supply chain for over 95 years. Patrick can be contacted at padams@building-products.com or (714)486-2735.

Am I Alone?

I'll admit it...I watch bad television. I remember when it started, but even I am amazed at what I watch sometimes. The other night, I was watching a "survival reality" show that puts two people in horrible locations around the world to see if they can survive for 21 days.

My daughter asked me, "Why are they afraid?"

I say, "Because they're alone."

"Why is being alone scary?"

"Not sure, but it seems that people, just like animals, like to have others around them. It makes them feel safe and comfortable."

She thought about that for a while and finally said, "That doesn't make any sense. Scary things can still happen even when there are other people around."

While that might be true, our industry has become a place of comfort for my family and me because I have found an environment full of people who appreciate the same things as I do: family, hard work, values and doing the right thing. Sometimes I wonder, however, if the things that surround us outside our industry are changing.

I remember when I used to think most of the world thought about things the same way that I did. I said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school. I thought about the words and they made me proud. At baseball games, when it was time for the National Anthem, I took off my hat, stood up and was emotional thinking about all that has been sacrificed so that we can have the lives that we have today. When I'm at industry events and in our offices every day, I still feel that same sense of pride.

I started watching bad TV quite a while ago because when I turned on the news every night, it convinced me that there wasn't a single good thing happening in the world. I would commute home from work and passers-by would give me the impression that I did something wrong simply by sharing the road with them. I watch our political candidates yell and scream and attack each other and act like bullies...so they can earn the right to "represent us." Is this the best we have to offer? Does this represent how we feel and what we believe? Have we entered a time where selfishness, bullying or dishonesty equals the winning formula? I don't subscribe to this way of thinking.

We are better than this! I know it for a fact, because I just returned from an industry event full of "competitors" who, like the rest of this industry, are some of the best people I've ever met. Many of them are people I call "friends"—not because it benefits the business, but because they've met my family, know our stories and truly care about us.

I've had people in this industry go out of their way to lend a hand when it wasn't expected of them or wouldn't necessarily benefit their interest. But they did it simply because it was the right thing to do. Competitors typically don't attack each other with low blows and they don't lie to customers to sell more, because that would be wrong. There are countless examples in our industry where multiple generations have followed their fathers into the business, not because it was easy or to become wealthy, but because there was a history and a legacy that meant something more to them.

I believe our industry used to be a reflection of our country at large and its values, but it's beginning to feel more like we're in a very special cocoon. I imagine what it would be like if the entire country and our leaders operated as this industry does.

Like all of you, I work in the building industry for reasons bigger than a paycheck. I suppose we could all make more money if we wanted to, but I wanted more than that. I wanted to work in a way that reflected my values, allowed me to create an environment that supports my team's lives and ultimately do something that matters. Thankfully, I've found that in this great industry with all of you. It's up to all of us to stay true to this way of thinking and to avoid the infectious behavior that we see and hear going on around us. Not because it's popular or will make us more money, but because it's the right thing to do and we're the kind of people who know our values still matter.

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me." – Steve Jobs

Articles in The Workforce | June 01, 2016