Phil Green, a Chicago-area tile and flooring contractor with nearly 50 years of experience, and inventor of the Back Butter Buddy and Edge Strip Kits, recently shared his thoughts on the future of the construction trades. Originally published in a post to his LinkedIn followers, he graciously allowed us to reprint the following excerpts.
“I was working today at a home and the 10-year-old son of my client was in his room saying ‘Alexa, turn on song so-and-so.’ And [the cloud-based, voice-activated device] did. Then I heard him give another command to which she responded as well. I was in a good mood, so I thought I would have some fun.
“I asked him to ask Alexa if she could help install a shower door. Alexa said, ‘You do not have Shower on your playlist.’ Then I said, ‘Alexa, can you install a toilet?’ To which she answered, ‘I do not know that one.’
“The point I am having fun making is that the trades are still a great career opportunity that cannot be done by a virtual command or outsourced to another country. We need more young blood coming into these rewarding jobs where you produce a tangible finished product. I personally have been in construction for more than 47 years and still love it. I have heard it said, ‘Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.’ This is my life verse.
“High school students, I’m talking to you now. Sure, you could stress out about which college you must attend and go deep in debt, only to find out after four long years that you still don’t know what you want to do. However, if you get yourself set up to apprentice, help or just be a ‘gofer’ on a job site, you might find out that you were made for this. If it doesn’t work out for you, you could always go back to school.”
I always enjoy reading perspectives directly from industry experts. I run into Phil a lot at trade shows, and even with nearly 50 years of experience under his belt, every time I see him, he is just as enthusiastic and passionate about the flooring installation industry as ever. You can tell this isn’t just a job to him—it’s something he lives for.
And he’s not the only one. So many of you out there are incredibly passionate, and gracious with your time and expertise. You always look to help out friends, even if they’re competitors. It’s something unique to this trade—and it’s that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that tells me even when the industry is going through rough patches, it will stay upright as long as the true professionals continue to put their attention and care into everything they do.