So long, Jerry

Great employees create a lasting legacy and become the heart of business

Ron Frederiksen
Guest Columnist

One of my key employees is retiring after more than 40 years as a carpenter. Jerry’s impact on RSV goes far beyond the projects he has done. He has shown me the type of leadership a company must have in order to attract great employees. The lessons he has taught me are universal. They ring true for all employees and all companies.

For the last 20 years, Jerry has been with RSV and has been responsible for coordinating our field operations. He has always been a true gentleman, a rarity in business today. His sense of humor always defuses even the most difficult situations. He is respectful of others, and commands respect from them.

I could always depend on Jerry’s accurate analysis of any situation. He was never hesitant to tell me the truth, even if the message wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Every problem came with thoughtful solutions.

Jerry was the “mother confessor” of all the field personnel. Employees were willing to share information with him that they didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone else. Jerry taught me what motivates and builds loyalty in our field employees. Because of this, we have been able to assemble a group of field people that are extremely productive and love to work together. They are friends at work as well as in their personal lives.

Every Friday morning at 5:30 a.m., my employees meet voluntarily for breakfast. This is a time for Jerry to coordinate the distribution of tools and other resources. It is also a time to pass on information about upcoming projects and new clients. The construction industry is unique in that the second you set foot on a jobsite, you are trying to get the project at hand done as quickly as possible. It’s vitally important that everyone understands their next project is ready to go, so they keep the speed up and remain productive.

Jerry was always willing to learn new skills. For the past few years, he has taken total responsibility for estimating, selling and coordinating a large portion of our tenant improvement projects. It would have been easy for him to say “I’m just a carpenter” instead of “You bet I can help with our tenant improvement work.”

When a client had problems with an existing building that no one else could figure out, Jerry was the person that I could depend on. He taught me that nothing is a substitute for experience and common sense. For example, I had a client with an existing building that had suffered with roof leaks for years despite spending lots of money on consultants and roofers. Jerry took a look at the problem as if it were his own building and was able to come up with an inexpensive, total solution.

For the past two decades, Jerry has never let me down. I never doubt his commitment to me and my company. We trust and depend on each other. He knows that I have the final decision on all issues, but that we can openly debate our differences of opinion until a decision must be made.

Jerry is a perfect example to young people who believe that loyalty to a company isn’t rewarded in today’s world. Nothing is farther from the truth, if you are working for a company that truly values its employees.

Through his years of service and dedication, Jerry has truly been able to help bond our field operations into a “Band of Brothers” and create a legacy that will long endure.

Ron Frederiksen is president of RSV Construction Services Inc., a Vancouver commercial and industrial design-build, tenant improvement and remodeling firm. He can be reached at 360-693-8830.

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