A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

How the Construction Industry Shaped Me

My approach to my clients and anyone I deal with is this; I believe we have all been given a superpower, something that we are really good at that comes naturally to us, and we are here to use our superpower to help people and improve the world we live in. No superpower is better than any other. They are all simply different but equally important. If you are reading this article, your superpower is likely building extraordinary things, contributing to building awesome things or running the office, which is necessary for building amazing things.

In this industry, we elevate each other with our differences. Over the years, I have realized that my superpower is to break down complex legal terms and concepts into plain English and find leverage in a legal situation that will move my client's agenda forward in the fastest, most efficient way possible. This superpower is just as important as repairing or replacing a roof or bringing a building to life with an amazing paint job.

The "Get Sh*t Done" Tribe

Where did this perspective come from? I was taught it while being raised by what I like to call the "Get Sh*t Done" ("GSD") tribe. These are the people out there building and creating things with their hands, showing up at a job site in the morning, and getting it one step closer to being done by the time you leave in the evening. The members of the GSD tribe never quit until the job was done because they gave their word. My grandpa was a member of this tribe, and some of my earliest memories were spending Saturday mornings visiting his current projects with him. I was only 3 or 4 years old, but I can so vividly remember climbing up into the cab of his work truck and that smell of dirt and hard work. If you have ever been in a work truck, you know what I am talking about. Then, my grandfather and I would drive all around northern Illinois to see the golf courses he was building. He was an excavation contractor that moved the dirt to make all the hills, valleys, and ponds required for a great course. Those are some of my favorite memories.

It wasn't until I was older that I realized my grandpa's excavation company went out of business because he did not get paid for a few large projects. With my skills today, I could have collected the money he was owed and saved his business. That is why I do what I do; to save the family businesses run by people who put their heart and soul into their work.

Lessons Learned

One of my first jobs was for my uncle's irrigation company, which did residential and commercial projects. I learned some of the tech for sprinkler systems, how to draw them on a CAD system, what type of converging the different heads had, and what type of head to use where. At the time, I thought I was just learning niche, non-universal skills. But looking back on it now, I learned so much more; I witnessed the struggles of a family working together to support one another, what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and most importantly, the pressures and pain points felt daily by the GSD tribe.

I learned what it is like to feel the stress caused by knowing that we won't make payroll for our team if we do not get paid for this project. I experienced multiple weeks with my uncle going without a paycheck, so his employees could have one. I saw first-hand the detrimental consequences of not understanding commercial subcontracts. In addition, I witnessed my uncle struggle with an attorney who did not understand the construction industry and never answered the phone or returned my uncle's phone calls when he had a question that needed an answer immediately. This is another part of why I do what I do, so my clients have legal representation from someone who understands the construction industry and makes sure they are a priority.

I became a member of the GSD tribe when my husband and I started our own material supply company. I have never worked harder at anything in my whole life. Starting a material supply company from scratch, just the two of us, was way harder than law school. My time building our business from the ground up taught me that when you start a business, it will only survive if you give all of yourself to it. That means time away from your family, going without paychecks if there is no money for your employees, 70-hour workweeks, and whatever else it takes to get it off the ground. Most of all, what I learned is that the effort it takes to start and continue to run a company in this industry deserves respect and protection. That is another part of why I do what I do. If you're reading this, it's likely that you, like the rest of the GSD tribe, put your heart and soul into your business. I hope that we can all put our heads together and use what we know to make the GSD tribe and the industry we all work within a better, brighter, and more supportive place to be.


About the Author:

Published author, award-winning lawyer, devoted wife and mother to three girls, and Owner and seasoned Managing Partner of The Cromeens Law Firm (TCLF), Karalynn Cromeens is a true jack of all trades. Karalynn is the Co-Founder of Morrell Masonry Supply and Owner of The Subcontractor Institute, an easy-access online educational platform for contractors. In addition to TCLF, and The Subcontractor Institute, she is also the Host of the rapidly growing educational construction podcast, Quit Getting Screwed - making cost-free industry insight available to contractors across the country. In 2021, Karalynn published two Amazon Best-Selling books - Quit Getting Screwed: Understanding and Negotiating the Subcontract and, in September, Quit Getting Stiffed: A Texas Contractor's Guide to Liens & Collections.

In the seventeen years she has practiced construction, real estate, and business law, Karalynn has reviewed and explained thousands of subcontracts. For years, she has tried saving companies that have signed problematic subcontracts and lost out on being paid for their work. Unfortunately, it was too late by the time they came to her; she could do nothing to help. She hated seeing clients lose money—sometimes their entire business—over language they did not understand and laws they did not know about. Watching these situations play out day after day was the driving force behind her two books, The Subcontractor Institute, and the firm's accessibility efforts. Providing education to contractors on a national level has become Karalynn's personal mission, and she is always doing what she can to help make it a reality.