A man owned a small farm in Iowa. The Iowa Wage and Hour Dept. claimed he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to interview him.

"I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them," demanded the agent.

"Well, there are my hired hands," replied the farmer. "One has been with me for four years; the other for three. I pay them each $600 a week, plus free room and board. The cook has been here for 18 months and I pay her $500 a month, plus free room and board. Then there's the half-wit who works here about 18 hours a day. He makes $10 a week and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every week," replied the farmer.

"That's the guy I want to talk to: the half-wit," said the agent. The farmer said, "That would be me."

Time enough at last?

Does this sound familiar? Replace farmer with drywall contractor and I just described a portion of the readership. All too often, company owners forget that they too are deserving of fair compensation. I have had this discussion all too often with guys who don't accept the fact that their time is worth money. There was a time when I struggled with this concept, also. However, as I get older, I realize that my most valuable asset is my time.

I asked my dad one day why with each passing year, time seems to move faster. His answer: "When you are two years old, a year is equal to one half of your life. When you get to be 80, a year only makes up 1/80th of your life." Think about that. As each year of your life passes, the fraction each year equals grows smaller. This notion, if you really think about it, makes sense. My dad is a genius.

Consider the following scenario. You get a call to come measure a job. Since you are running tape that day, you have to measure it after "regular work hours." Translation: You stop by your home on the way to the job, grab a sandwich and see which kid wants to ride along. This is a drywall contractors' version of spending quality time with the kids.

You get to the job and rush through the measurements, getting the last room done just as the sun is setting. Then it's back into the truck as you try to make small talk with your 13-year old, hoping to get the Readers Digest version of the day's events. When you finally get home, you are still contemplating how in the world you will be able to reach the far corner in the open foyer you just measured.

You hope you pulled off an Academy Award-winning performance for the effort exerted when you tried your best to look sincere as your son painfully recalled his struggle with the day's algebra assignment. A quick peck on the cheek for wifey as you rush into your office to go over the numbers while they are still fresh in your mind. The clock strikes 11 p.m. as you finish up the bid. Considering your day started at 6:00 a.m., you are more than ready to hit the sack.

Just as you find that one exact position you can lie in without pain from either your blown disc or your completely worn-out rotator cuff, you remember your 10-inch box needs a new blade. Since the only thing you hate worse than sanding is starting the day by rummaging for tools, you decide to get it over with.

The next 30 minutes are spent in the garage burrowing through boxes looking for the spare blades. It's well past midnight when you finally hit the rack. The rest of your week is standard fare, juggling three different jobs. Saturday rolls around and you are up at the crack of dawn. If you play your cards just right, you can do the touchup on a house that has reached the one-year mark, and still make it to your son's football game, which starts at noon.

My word is my bond

You arrive at the game as the first half is winding down. It seems the homeowner had turned the one-year touchup into a full-blown project. Wanting to feel they got their money's worth from this service, Post-it notes (pink) were everywhere. It looked as if the house had come down with a terminal case of the chicken pox. Try as you may, you cannot explain that shining a flashlight down the walls at night (with the lights off) is not the litmus test of a good drywall job (because their brother who is a fulltime dentist, part-time contractor told them so).

Of course, your son had played a stellar first half and you missed it. You try to ignore the annoyed stares from the other parents as you step over empty soda cans and French fry containers finally reaching the one empty seat next to your wife. She half smiles/half frowns as she turns and wipes the dried compound from your face. She says to try and enjoy the rest of the game; but you know better as your mind wanders to details of the next workweek.

I have to replace the cable in my tube and check the blade.


The oil needs to be changed in the truck.

"Get him!!!!!!!!!!"

Is there scaffold at lot 66?

They were off sides!!!!!!!!!!!"

Sunday finds you hauling scaffold to lot 66, after rebuilding your tube and changing your oil. Of course, you now have your nine-year old with you as it's his turn for "quality time." He questions how carrying scaffold braces is really "quality time," and parlays this into a trip to Mickey Ds. Sunday evening, you field a call regarding the job you had measured earlier. You spend the next half-hour trying to justify the bid price, ultimately telling them to go ... well you know.

Figure out how many hours the average drywall dog spends each week measuring jobs, maintaining tools, performing service work, moving equipment, etc. Add to this the cost of taxes, insurance, equipment and fuel. Here is where many guys lose it. You must figure this into your cost of doing business. When you call an appliance repairman out to fix the washing machine, he charges you from the time he leaves the shop. And if you decide to fix it yourself, you pay him for the trip anyway.

If you spend three hours measuring a job and they end up having their dentist bro-in-law do it, you must subtract these three hours from your life. This time must be compensated somehow. This is overhead, my friends. The action you must take is to charge enough for your services to be able to operate your business and have enough left over to compensate for these negative fractions. If you are satisfied making $10 and a bottle of hooch per week, I'm afraid as the story states, you may be a half-wit.

Remember: Work is not a charity affair!