I still operate a small drywall company and most days I am out in the field hanging and taping board. In addition, I do training throughout the year at trade shows and of course still write articles pertaining to the drywall industry. This business is working out real good. I find out about new products, sometimes even before they are out in the market. I field test and sometimes demonstrate a company's tool or various products.
I received a nice surprise in the mail the other day. It was a Sheetrock Brand BBQ set. It consisted of a nice spatula and fork with the same handles as its taping knives. I thought it really looked nice but I already have a BBQ set-it works fine, I'm used to it and I get good results with it. My son Brandon, who is kind of new to the barbequing job, insisted that we use them. He pointed out that the spatula has a serrated edge for cutting and was absolutely thrilled that it had a built-in bottle opener (keep in mind he's a 20-year-old college student). As a result, we currently only use this set. To be honest, we like them better than the old and barbequing is easier and more amusing.
In the past few weeks, I have received some tin ceiling samples made of vinyl (a nice product), 50 rolls of fiberglass tape, the Nailer for supporting interior drywall corners, a new tool called Rock in the Cradle (I will explain later), two battery-powered caulk guns, and the Red Tail texture gun. I also gave in and purchased a fiberglass mesh tape applicator and a 3-inch nail spotter.
Toys for the big boysI usually bring these new "toys" to work to get the opinion of my employees and subcontractors. Within seconds-and sometimes before most of them even know what it does-they decide they don't like it and would never use it.
I remember years ago, I didn't have enough help, so I decided to increase production by purchasing a tape banjo. Before I got this idea, I was strictly a hand taper and wanted to work faster and easier.
Awhile back, I also received the SuperTaper from Better-Than-Ever Tools. The tape is fed through the tool into the compound and then into a bucket hooked to your belt. The next day, I brought it to work, stood there with a bucket of compound-covered tape and I know what we were all thinking-no way is this going to work. Well, I gave it a chance and worked with it the whole day. I have to admit it's a good product and I would recommend it.
It's funny how we all think differently. Sometimes, our age affects how we view things and of course our position in the company also affects our thinking. Are we more concerned about the quality of the work or the quantity of work done? Are we the type of person who likes new things, particularly ones with a lot of moving parts or do we say the simpler the better?
All the betterMy hanger Pat is really concerned about production. He doesn't even care if something is physically harder to do, as long as it's more efficient. At 35, he is strong as a bull. I, on the other hand, am 48 and always looking for ways to make my work easier-if it is also faster, then all the better. I'd like to have my back and shoulders for a few more years.
I know convenience is a big factor and what's more convenient then something that fits on my belt? That's exactly what I like about a small drywall footlift I had years ago. It was always on my belt when needed. Even though it wasn't the best, I liked it because it was always there. Of course, it has disappeared and I have not been able to find a replacement.
The Rock in the Cradle tool supports the drywall, so when I'm cutting rippers off the edge of an already-ripped sheet, it is at a good working height. This really saves my back and eliminates balancing rippers on stacks of drywall or setting up benches. It is also a pretty good lifting and carrying tool.
In some areas of this country, the use of drywall adhesive is quite common. I live in upstate New York and only a few of us use adhesive. Personally, I think using it is great because it helps ensure the lasting quality of my work. The only downside is applying it, as it's quite messy because the tubes drip and using a caulk gun all day can be tiring. A good improvement to this work is battery-powered caulk guns. Just hold the trigger down and the adhesive comes out and when you let off the trigger, the plunger backs off a little and no more dripping caulk. The guys at work really like the battery-powered caulk guns.
I was talking to one of my sons about drywall (of course) when he suggested I get a hobby. I really enjoy what I do and think of my job as a hobby. I know this because I talk and think about drywall a lot. Anyone who meets me knows within a few minutes what I do for a living. I love drywall work and want to be at the top of my game. (But sanding on top of scaffolding and sweating with glasses steamed up isn't always a blast.)
Next time you're in a drywall supply store, walk around and see what's there. You might find something that will change the way you work; making it easier, more fun and a little more like a hobby. Or just look through this issue of Walls & Ceilings and fill out the card whenever an ad catches your eye.
Well, I guess it's time to pry open a bottle and BBQ those streaks. Nothing like two tools in one.
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENTPeople in a company think differently. I would say money is a factor for all of us but how we approach things differs dramatically.
1To some, quality is more important than quantity. For example, I like the quality look I get from using bullnose beads. It does slow me down a little but I charge more when I use this type. Others don't want to be bothered with it.
2Some see speed as the best way to make money. Get the job done, get paid, move on to the next job. These are the people who will not use a drywall lift for hanging a 10-foot-high ceiling. The work would be easier but it may be slower.
3Cost of the tools or a product is always a factor. Some only look at the initial cost not at the increased profits because of saved time and improved quality (no callbacks). Tape- or glue-on bead is a little more money than nail-on but I can install tape- or glue-on bead in less than 30 seconds and it takes me about 21⁄2 minutes to properly nail on a metal bead.
4Professionals are always a little wary of the do-it-yourselfer type gadgets or products. A good example of this is USG's Lightweight All Purpose Joint Compound Plus 3 with Dust Control. I used some on a repair job in a finished house. It is designed to reduce airborne sanding dust and thus means less job site clean up. The stuff really works.
5Some of us like things simple: a couple of moving parts, no real learning curve. Others like complicated/ bells-and-whistles material. A simple product like Wilco Drywall Tools' RockSplicer for recessed butted seams is one part and easy to use but just like somebody trying an automatic taper for the first time with its multiple parts, both require a change in thinking and methods of working.