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.  

Through Project Independence, carefully selected employees, who have a proven track-record of excellence and hard work, are invited into a leadership program that supports them in expanding their skills and their roles. We support them to go as far as their own focus and determination will take them — including becoming owners of their own companies.

The career development pathway we’ve created is: beginner, helper, apprentice, carpenter, foreman carpenter, lead carpenter, project manager and business owner. 

Project Independence offers us a way to continue providing our clients the highest-quality work in a cost-efficient way. Using this model, tasks are divided according to skill level, which benefits the trainees, the mentors and the clients. 

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 Those accepted into the program, in five areas, including:

1. Developing first class technical skills

Once accepted into the program, Project Independence employees will learn to become versatile, first-class carpenters under the watchful eye of our expert team. The goal will be to both immerse them 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. Gaining comprehensive supervision skills

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. In order to do so, they will learn through experience the practical knowledge of the other construction related trades. They will learn how these trades are organized, the services each offers and the way to price their services. They will learn how to judge a vendor’s work to determine if it meets our standards for quality.

3. Learning the role of a contractor

Qualifying employees, who have established themselves within the company, and worked diligently to fulfill each previous role, will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the knowledge needed to become a contractor.

They learn what it takes to lead a company, from estimating time and materials for a job, to securing necessary permits, to running a team and establishing good relationships with clients. We leave no stone unturned, as we want our leaders to be fully prepared when they step out on their own. 

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. Mastering Relationships

Through example and mentoring, they will master the interpersonal skills that are the foundation to operating a successful business.

They begin by learning how to contribute as a member of the crew, work through issues with leaders and other team members, how to listen to the clients and ask the right questions, and to continually be open to constructive feedback each step of the way.  

5. Embodying core principles

From Day 1, and throughout the course of their training, they will be immersed in an environment where values such as pride in their work, respect, fair dealing, and honesty are the standard.

Most importantly, they must understand that there are no shortcuts to becoming a leader in the field, and that each role is an essential element to building a solid foundation to grow from.

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


Is Ripley Beckman for You?

We encourage our employees to set their sights high. Some will prove they have what it takes to be selected to participate in Project Independence, and go all the way to becoming the leaders of their own companies in their chosen field.

As they gain skills, we support them with the knowledge, the connections, and the hands-on experience to make their goal a reality. If they chose a related building trade, we are 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. 

Overall, our purpose in Ripley Beckman 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.


We are looking for people who like building things with their hands and who enjoy working outdoors. They must be capable of focus, investing their time and hard work in to 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. 

We are also looking for people who are friendly and good communicators, who can establish clear, comfortable relationships with our clients as well as subcontractors and industry counterparts.

Most of all, we seek achievers, who are determined to do something meaningful with their lives. 

Gaining 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 creating a career that will serve them not for a few months but for decades.

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