This weeks “Meet the Team” features Tommy Craig, one of our estimators that worked his way into the office after several years of hands-on experience in the field. As part of the design and estimating process it is our responsibility to ensure our customer’s experience is as fun and easy as possible. Tommy’s construction knowledge and positive attitude sets the stage for success during the earlier phases of our larger projects. We are fortunate to have him as a member of our team.
How long have you been in the construction industry? About 14 years.
What do you like most about working at Richard Aitken Builders? I enjoy the unique projects that I get to work on. Nearly everything we do is custom and one of a kind. Between the visions and ideas of our staff, our clients, and the architects we work with, I get lots of opportunities to work on and help bring to life extremely interesting and unique projects.
How long have you been with Richard Aitken Builders? A little over 10 years.
How does working at a “family comes first” company like Richard Aitken Builders for so many years impact you personally?
It brings a whole different level of work. The group of people I get to work with on a daily basis are amazing. It really makes coming in each day something to look forward to. Working together with that group for so long and having very good relationships with them not only make working a little more fun, but it gives you a larger sense of commitment and responsibility to the company, the customers, and each other.
What do you like most about working on Long Beach Island? I love this island. I grew up down here and coming over to this place every day to work is something I will never take for granted. Almost 90% of my childhood memories have been on this island and luckily I now get to allow my children to experience it all as well. There is something special about this place, this community, and the people who are a part of it that sets it apart from all these other shore areas.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Spending time with my wife and two little girls, hanging out at the beach, and training for and competing in triathlons.
Describe how the company has changed since you first started. The company has ebbed and flowed since I started here, but the overall trend of building a strong and committed workforce, both in the offices and in the field, has been growing since day one. When I started we had around 30 people total working here, now we have over 75. The infrastructure we have set up now is amazing. I remember looking at files that had Polaroid pictures stapled inside of them for reference. Now we are a (mostly) paperless company with access to our whole system wherever we are.
Why did you decide to leave the field and come work in the office? When I started in the construction business after college, I just got into it to get some work, make some money, and take a break from school and career paths and everything. I really enjoyed the work and the learning and being able to ‘make’ things from nothing. Then when I came to work here I was doing it because I still loved building but needed a “real job” at a place that I could see myself long term. It was just a matter of time when more opportunities arose to challenge myself further, learn more, and create a bigger impact. Coming into the office allowed me to really get involved in all facets of the company and our projects as well as really help me build on other areas and strengths that I had.
How quickly did you make the shift from field work to office work? Was it a smooth transition? How have you adjusted to working in an office environment? Coming in wasn’t too tough of a transition. I was very eager to dive into these newly added responsibilities and systems, plus, the people in place in the office already made it a very welcoming and simple experience. I had just as much passion for this side of the work as I did the field side so it was pretty simple to settle in and start soaking it all up.
What kind of work do you do now for Richard Aitken Builders? I do estimating and sales for our larger renovation projects and new homes. I work with the homeowners and the architects through the design process to help capture everything they are looking for in their dream home and get it all accomplished inside of their budgets.
Describe some of the challenges of building on a barrier island and how we overcome those challenges. Part of these challenges is what makes my job fun. While we are essentially building houses on a big pile of sand, with roasting sun in the summer, freezing temperatures in the winter, unrelenting winds, corrosive salt air, and hurricanes and Nor’easters that bring wind and rain that seem to move upside down sometimes, all meaning that we need to dedicate our time to perfecting every building practice we have. What works on the mainland will most of the time not stand a chance on the island. We need to analyze and perfect everything we do to ensure structural integrity, water tightness, pressure ratings, corrosion resistance, and above all, do so while maintaining the architectural designs and looks that make the homes look like they belong on Long Beach Island.