I first started working as a child on my cousin's farm milking cows, hoeing onions, digging corrugates, setting tubes, burning ditches, building fences, trapping gophers, and feeding calves.
I loved to work and clean. I found out that I really loved sweeping floors. It was relaxing for me, and it was the only way to ensure that I didn't have to step on crumbs.
I loved being able to do things, and as soon as the work was done, I'd go back out and build either with old farming equipment or pulling debris out of the scrap metal pile.
My first paying job came when I took over a newspaper route for a sibling. I have always loved waking up and would often wake up hours before school to watch a show, or play with toys before
I had to start school. Now I love to wake up before everyone else so I can study and read on my own.
After doing a paper route for a while, I also started mowing lawns with my older brother. We had a red Ford Aerostar minivan with the back bench taken out, and a stick to prop open the liftgate. It was a manual, and I loved driving that hideous contraption of a vehicle. My brother taught me to trim the edges of the lawn perfectly straight back from the sidewalk edge and to mow at a diagonal. We made REALLY pretty lawns for about $15 a home. I'm pretty sure my parents paid for the gas, the vehicle insurance, the tools, and also bought our clothes, and did the laundry...really bad business model...but great experience and preparation to become someone else's employee.
My next job was as a Dairy Queen Employee (the closest fast food place currently hiring). I made great friends with the store manager and learned everything she could teach me. I loved the job, and especially the desserts. I probably spent way more of my paycheck there than I should have...but I didn't need money. I really just wanted something to do with my time.
I was trained and got my Food Handler's License (my only legal certification until 2017)...and became an assistant store manager at the ripe old age of 16. With 19 different careers in that timeline, I learned a lot and became expert at tasks and production, but never obtained another certificate until way into my working life.
This same time in High School I started a Skill Training Program and learned residential construction. I built a home with classmates under the direction of a teacher. It was so fun and exciting to discover how it was done in an era pre-YouTube when people didn't carry around a little computer screen in their pocket.
Upon graduation from high school, I wanted to build homes for work, and found a neighbor who owned a wood-framing company, and asked him to hire me. He was super generous and gave me a job at $10/hr. He started teaching me how to frame. I was the "cut man", I learned how to nail and stand and level walls, I learned to "fly trusses", I learned how to do the detailed plant shelves and interior framing. I LOVED IT!
When I left to go on a mission for my church, I did a lot of construction for service projects. Lighting, Glass block walls, Structural framing, plumbing, roofing...CRAZY uninsured projects, no safety gear, no inspections, no permits, no payments, no supervision. It was natural for me to work and I just knew what to do. Tools always felt right in my hands, and I loved the feeling of making something beautiful out of a stack of stuff.
Upon return from my mission (late 2006) the housing industry was failing, and the company I worked with before my mission was not able to keep employees full time, so I applied to a Temp Agency for work.
While waiting for the temp agency, another friend (Tim Welsch) told me to try door-to-door sales for a pest control company. I started on, and it was very discouraging to get shut down and not know what to say. I followed the lead guy for a few hours and listened to his sly tactics to use the things he saw on their property to raise an alarm and create an urgency for the service we were selling.
I copied his tactics and added my own flare, and became the lead sales guy. I was always pushing myself for more sales, and the owner challenged me to sell 11 contracts in one day (old record was 7).
As a prize, I requested them to purchase an air compressor for me if I was successful. They were confused and said, "sure, but why would you want that?"
I responded that I would quit, and start my own construction company. They thought I was joking, but the day the compressor was handed over in a training meeting, I walked it out to my car, and drove to my first job (a neighbor down the road from my parents that mentioned they were flipping their home).
I walked in and said that for $20/hr I would do all the work they needed. $7000 later, I had remodeled their kitchen, installed new flooring, moved some walls, and changed plumbing, and updated many things. I had no idea why there was a letter taped to the door (their permit) or why they said things had to be done a certain way (my way was more solid) but they only wanted two supports and one layer of leveling.
I slowly increased pricing and did more tasks, and over the next 6 months, had bought 2 vehicles (cash) saved up $28000 and paid for a wedding, honeymoon, trips to theme parks, flights with my wife, and travels around. We were doing a wonderful job of helping stimulate the economy. I worked 12 hour days because I loved it, and was only charging a small fraction of the amount my "competitors" were charging.
At this time, the prophet of my church (if you can't tell, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) had given churchwide advice to the members to "obtain as much education as you can" and so I decided to walk away from my company and start college.
On my mission, my president (Dave Ulrich) knew my past grades and lack of interest in education and told me bluntly, "don't even try to get into BYU. It won't happen." So I went to a baby version, BYU-Idaho (where many of my cousins were attending) and started studying Construction Management.
After looking at the classes and deciding that I already knew as much as I cared to read about those classes, I decided to learn something more unknown. I changed my degree many times thinking, "this is so obvious, why waste time learning the details, let's try something harder..."
About the 13th time I changed my degree (116 credits in different majors) --and completing an associates degree in general studies (a default for someone with 113 different degrees in underclass studies) it was suggested to me that because of my courses in economics, business law, mathematics, and history that I should go to Law School.
While seriously considering Law School at Harvard (my grades had improved drastically so this could have actually been a thing) I worked at a friend's family candy booth at the local Fairgrounds for a week. During that week, there were times where it wasn't very busy, so I would fix the stand, broken equipment, make extra alterations to the set-up to be more efficient, and clean.
The owner of the booth asked who on earth had fixed everything and when they had time...word was passed along that I had, and he called and offered me a management position for a rental complex in Utah.
We decided to take the job.
I worked for the company, correcting poor maintenance, honing my skills as a renovator, updating rentals, creating equity for someone else, spinning my wheels making an hourly wage, and waiting for something to magically happen to make me happy in life.
I started looking at going back to college, I tried another career working in a warehouse. I did door-to-door sales for Kirby Vacuums, I was a car salesman, I worked for 7 different HVAC companies...
It was then that I went to BYU...
I really wanted to call Dave Ulrich and say, "guess what, that kid you said would have no chance getting into BYU...yeah. I got in."
However, after some contemplation, I realized that "the stars aligned" to allow me enrollment. That month, the prophet announced a change that allowed missionaries to start their missions a few years younger, and so suddenly about half of the freshman class at BYU dropped out and went on a mission. This created a vacancy statistically where the mean average of GPA and requirements for enrollment dropped as never before and allowed little me that chance of a lifetime.
Lest you take any pity on me, let me remind you that I had siblings finish high school with excellent grades. Parents who provided every opportunity, and amazing teachers and leaders.
I was LAZY!
I imagined myself as being excellent at everything and believed that my excellence was a gift from the Gods. I lied to myself and added, no work required.
After all, I taught myself to play the piano in high school. Every tool I picked up worked naturally in my hands. I could just see how to build and it always fit together with little to no training. I could climb and jump and run without physical training. I played every sport. I was THE BEST at Foosball (go ahead and challenge me--still pretty good) and since I didn't have to work hard to be good at anything...I never REALLY worked hard.
BUT THAT WAS ABOUT TO CHANGE!
I started BYU set on a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Many people including my father told me I couldn't do it...my dad failed Statics twice...surely I would fail too. I was set to prove them wrong.
I worked hard and began to excel in my courses. My 3rd semester I took Chemistry (never paid attention or learned anything in high school) and this was a painful crash course. My first exam I failed miserably! I did so poorly that the professor asked me to come in to speak with him. He explained that it wasn't too late to drop the class without repercussions...
I was shocked. I had never quit anything. I was a finisher. I was able to do anything. My stubborn self begged him to encourage me and help me come back. He did. I aced the rest of the exams and ended up with a B+ by the end of the semester.
The challenge awoke a drive in me that I had been missing. I started to look for harder and harder classes. I ran into a man that excited this passion in me. This man had formed a new college degree and curriculum. His name is Jeff Humphries. I encourage you to go find him and prepare yourself to be very confused.
He explained the beauty of Math and that all reason, logic, and science stemmed from the simple proofs of Mathematics. He taught me to expand my understanding and search until I know. He taught me to prove the world. He taught me to fail miserably until I beat whatever it was I failed at.
I was the bottom of my class and realized that my failure to learn in High School made me almost everlastingly behind my classmates. I ended up leaving the program and trying to become a seminary teacher. I ended up finishing a basic Mathematics degree in college and prepared to become a seminary teacher.
I started college wanting to accomplish something difficult. I got that fulfillment, and learned to learn. (not to love learning---that took yet more time) but I learned to push through and learn to be my best at whatever I did.
I applied to and worked for some data-analytics jobs for small startups while in the program, and for Intermountain Healthcare. I learned how to code, develop webpages, do statistical analysis, and learned how to do some intense math. I learned how to learn, and found out that I am NOT a scholar.
I do not enjoy reading. I do not enjoy writing. I enjoy teaching, but in order to be an amazing teacher...you have to really enjoy reading and writing. You have to be excellent at developing inspired questions that invoke the deepest passions and desires in those you teach.
I went back to construction and it filled up my life. It paid off our debts and prospered us.
We moved to Arizona, I was called into a bishopric and learned to administer and lead with love and patience. I met a man that encouraged me to drive a passion for money.
For a time, I worked with him to try to become rich and pursued yet another man's dream. Jeff Humphries wanted me to be a child prodigy and go from village idiot to math scholar. This man wanted me to go out of poverty to insane riches. Both of their visions were realistic, but both of them required something they couldn't get. It required my commitment.
In Arizona, I taught seminary and loved it. I was in the training process and was given a position at the same time that I felt VERY driven to build and expand the construction company and expand and grow it to be a blessing to people looking for work.
Sadly, I had to choose between the two, and I felt a very strong answer to prayers that I would be able to help more people doing construction than teaching seminary.
Since that decision, we have run into MANY people who have come to us and many who have been brought by the hand of God.
We have been brought likewise to many who needed us.
I have seen God's hand in my life guiding me and helping me in my work.
I have learned to comply with the laws of the land and pay for licenses, pay for insurance, pay for bonding, pay for workers compensation, pay for health insurance, pay for other things that are necessary in legally operating a business, but serve no benefit to me, and which I have not needed working on my own for the last 12 years, but all of which I have needed the second I gave others the opportunity to work for me.
I "have learned (indeed) by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion." (D&C 121:39) That for this cause, there is so much red tape, and legal precautions governing the independent business owner because so many have gone astray seeking after their own desires without regard to the impact it might have on others.
Many have come to me after hearing about what we do, and what has happened to us in the last year, and said, "You can't trust people." "People are bad." "How do you actually find good people to work for you?"
I am tempted to agree with them, especially on some days more than others, but the best response I can manage comes from one of our Apostles in our day, Elder Jeffery R. Holland said,
"So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you... Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we."
He concluded with an invitation which I extend to you, "... so be patient and kind and forgiving."
I have had to forgive.
I have had to forgive a man for taking $85000 from my company. I have forgiven personal loans to individuals who abandoned me. I have forgiven people who accused me of being a liar and an awful manager. I have forgiven people who have destroyed personal property of mine. I have forgiven people who have stolen from me and I have never known them. I have also forgiven people who have asked for forgiveness as well.
I have struggled to forgive and failed to forgive. I have tried many times before I could forgive. But forgiveness has always been the best solution. Even when others encouraged me to SUE, File a police report, Hire an attorney, Get Revenge, Get Even. I have been tempted to follow the trends of the world and fit into society, but as my wife likes to say, "we are a peculiar people and not going to do what the world recommends."
The hardest thing I have had to do is forgive myself. To forgive me for being lazy, and for being impatient, and angry, and selfish, and sad. Life is good, and in this country every opportunity is available. Find your dream, come to understand it and accomplish it, and enjoy the journey.