The importance of having a COACH and a MENTOR...
Everything I have ever experienced and known has involved a coach or a mentor of some kind. I was fortunate to have a father who was committed to raising and nurturing his sons. He was my first coach. As children, me and my brothers' main activities consisting of school and sports, with the only stipulations to remain active on the team being to model behavior of upright and responsible young men. That included respecting elders, completing chores, respectable behavior amongst siblings and friends, and maintaining good grades. These practices were embedded into our head, and became a part of our hearts as we practiced them with our hands. We learned to responsibly live out these principles and understand the benefits that resulted from work hard, sacrifice, and love.
That's me, Geno, on the far right during my college days
at Tuskegee University.
I was introduced to the construction industry as a high school student working for our next door neighbor's construction company during the summer months. In high school I took an interest in drafting class which lead me to pursue architecture in college. While I was accomplishing my final thesis - a farmers market in Montgomery Alabama - I realized working behind the drawing board did not suit me. I was more fascinated with how I could work with my hands.
After I graduated, I pursued work in the field of construction management. I worked as a laborer and apprentice for a year with a construction company until I landed a job with as project maintenance manager for a non-for-profit in the South Chicago Suburbs. I had an opportunity to play an integral part in the rehab of a building in Chicago's South Loop. While participating in that project, I apprenticed with journeyman carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. After three years, my passions of working with my hands were stronger than ever, along with wanting to move forward in life as an entrepreneur.
I went into business with a carpentry contractor where we specialized in small interior residential renovations. Our business partnership was unique. I was still young, so many experiences involved his mentorship regarding the details of customer relationships, inventory maintenance, and a sense of pride in one’s craftsmanship as an individual and a business person.
These types of experiences continued when I later collaborated with another individual who was a proficient tile setter. I had opportunities to work custom marble jobs as far north as Lake Geneva and Downtown Chicago in the Merchandise Mart. Because of the tough competitive market of being an independent contractor, I decided to return to field of construction site supervision as an employee for residential and commercial general contractors in Chicago.
Those mentoring relationships provided me the firm foundation to build upon a successful career in the construction industry as a laborer, an apprentice, project superintendent, and entrepreneur. With over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, in various capacities, these relationships have given me solid principles to live by in my area of expertise.
I am still recognized and acknowledged for my strong sense of technical, management, and leadership skills. To add to these accomplishments, in recent years I have continued to develop myself professionally by attaining the Leadership of Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional / Interior Design and Construction (LEED® ID+C) and earning an MBA in Sustainable Business with a concentration in Green Development.
All of these experiences have shown me the importance of mentorship and coaching. This is what has led me to create HC+ Apprenticeship Development for young people seeking individual and professional guidance in construction trades. I realized early that it takes many committed individuals to show responsible emerging professionals how to adjust their perspectives and position themselves wisely, so they can be successful in their careers.
~ Coach Green Gene