Project Independence

We created Project Independence to solve two interrelated issues.

As contractors, our greatest challenge is finding skilled employees who share our work ethic. As members of the Charlottesville community, we also know that there are very few options for people who like working with their hands to get a start, better themselves and then establish a fulfilling career. We integrated Project Independence into our company as a way to address both these issues.

As part of Project Independence, we are hiring carefully selected construction newcomers and immersing them in a thoughtfully designed, multiyear program that stresses the skills and values needed to become expert carpenters and, ultimately, independent contractors on their own.  We are also integrating more experienced carpenters who are further along their skills acquisition path in the program.

Project Independence offers us a way to continue offering our clients the highest-quality work while also providing a future for those who join us.

In essence, we are returning to an older model of doing business, based on the transmission of skills and values from one generation to the next. By going back, we are giving back.

With the Project Independence initiative, we are working to elevate our profession as a whole, training the next generation of highly capable contractors and carpenters who share our high standards and who see home-building and renovation as a service to our community.

5 Focus AREAS

As part of Project Independence, we focus on the personal and professional development of our employees in five areas, including:

1. Develop first class technical skills

They will learn to become versatile, first-class carpenters under the watchful eye of our expert team. The goal will be to both immerse Project Independence employees in the necessary skills needed to be valued craftspeople and also to teach them to think like carpenters, enabling them to devise solutions to the unforeseen challenges that are an inevitable part of homebuilding and renovation. 

 

2. Gain comprehensive supervision skills

They will gain the practical knowledge of the other construction related trades. Project Independence employees will master what is needed to prepare a job site so that plumbers, electricians, painters and others can do their best work. They will learn how these trades are organized, the services each offers and the way they price them. They will learn how to judge a vendor’s work to determine if it meets our standards for quality. 



3. Learn the role of a contractor

They will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the knowledge needed to become a contractor from estimating time and materials for a job, to securing necessary permits, to marketing their company and meeting with future clients.

 Even if they decide not to become contractors themselves, it’s critical to their future that Project Independence employees understand how the business works from the inside out. 

 



4. Master Relationships

They will master interpersonal skills that are the foundation to operating a successful business, beginning with learning how to contribute as a member of the crew, how to listen to the clients and ask the right questions, and to be open to feedback.  

5. Embodying core principles

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they will be immersed in an environment where values such as pride in their work fair dealing, and honesty. 

For an in-depth overview of our Principles and Practices please see the page “How We Work.”

 



Is Project Independence for You?

We encourage Project Independence employees to set their sights on becoming the leaders of their own companies, either in general contracting or in one of the construction trades like electrical, plumbing, or HVAC. As they gain in skills, we support them with the knowledge, the connections, and the hands-on experience to make this goal a reality. If they chose a related building trade, we would be happy to be among their first customers.

In addition, we look for opportunities for employees to join us in creating after-work activities that appeal to their broader interests, whether they are related to construction or not. For instance, members of our crew are renovating vintage aluminum camper trailers from the ground up. They are also exploring establishing an agency that would provide guides for hunting and fishing trips. These projects can be a source of additional income.

Overall, our purpose in Project Independence is to create an organization that sees personal initiative and knowledge acquisition as the key to better serving our customers while enabling our employees to create a satisfying and rewarding career performing work they enjoy.

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We are looking for people who like building things with their hands and who enjoy working outdoors. Most of all, we are seeking achievers who are determined to do something meaningful with their lives. They must be capable of focus, investing their time and hard work in learning and perfecting their skills and mastering the elements of contracting. They might be a high-school graduate or a person in their 20s or early 30s who feels stymied by their prospects in life.

Building the skills to become a lead carpenter or a contractor is a long-term proposition. We are looking for people with staying power, who understand that they are building a career that will serve them not for a few months but for decades. We also looking for people who are friendly and good communicators, who can establish clear, comfortable relationships with our clients as well as subs and industry counterparts.

We believe in diversity and select qualified individuals regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

“We work together as a team, and everything just flows. It’s a good feeling to get so much accomplished and make sure the homeowners are happy . ”

~ Jon Morgan, team member