This Q&A is taken from the full podcast episode we recorded with Henry.

Q: Can you tell us about your journey in the construction industry?

A: I started back in 1987 as a pre-apprentice and worked my way up through the ranks. I spent the majority of my career at two different companies, and at Southland, I started as a sheet metal general superintendent. For 12 out of my 17 years at Southland, I managed labor, overseeing up to 200 people at a time. Through this experience, I learned the importance of focusing on the people side of the business, developing leadership, and building communication skills.

Q: In your book “Seven Principles,” which principle do you believe is most crucial in the context of construction?

A: I believe “stop being a victim” is the most critical principle. We all face unfair circumstances in life, but if we allow ourselves to fall into a victim mentality, it will hinder our ability to accomplish anything. It’s about recognizing how we may be contributing to our own challenges and taking ownership of what we can control.

Q: What are some of the key aspects of your role in pre-construction?

A: Pre-construction involves building relationships with clients, understanding their needs, and developing trust. We work to differentiate ourselves, showcase our capabilities, and create a cohesive team that can effectively execute the project. It’s also about identifying unique solutions and opportunities early in the design phase to drive better outcomes.

Q: What are some common obstacles that teams face in executing projects, and how can they be overcome?

A: Communication breakdowns and lack of clarity around scope are common issues. It’s crucial to get the right people involved early, ensure everyone understands the project vision, and foster effective communication. Technology can help, but it ultimately comes down to the people using it.

Q: Who do you believe are the true leaders on a construction project?

A: I believe our superintendents are the true leaders. They are the liaison between the field and senior leadership, and they are directly responsible for executing the work safely, efficiently, and productively. They play a critical role in building and managing their teams.

Q: How can the construction industry address the growing labor shortage?

A: We need to change the image of the construction industry and expose the younger generation to the viable career paths available. This involves partnering with schools, highlighting the benefits of the trades, and emphasizing that construction offers a promising alternative to college. We also need to prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging to attract a wider talent pool.

Q: What message do you hope to convey through your work and your book?

A: I want people to know that no matter their background or challenges, they have the power to control their destiny. Believing in yourself, refusing to be a victim, and being willing to work hard can help anyone overcome obstacles and achieve their potential. If I could do it, anyone can.