Tim Carpenter

Masonry contractor partners with Workforce Foundation for success

TIM CARPENTER - Groveland Construction

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Tim Carpenter is the president of Groveland Construction, a full-service masonry contractor. Tim was a young 20-something looking for a job when he “fell backwards into” masonry. He started out as a hod carrier, or a mason’s helper, moving up to a position with VanWell Masonry in 2002. A decade later, Tim became a part-owner of VanWell. In 2018, Environmental StoneWorks, a national manufacturer and installer, acquired the company. As the business model shifted following the buyout, Tim also began to consider further opportunities to expand. Tim branched off on his own and into subcontracting, opening Groveland Construction early this year.

Tim first became active with ABC of Western Washington around 2007, and having previously chaired the Leadership Council and served on the ABCWW board.

We recently caught up with Tim to see how he’s been doing, what it’s like to grow a new business during a pandemic and how ABCWW has helped him in his career.  

How did Groveland Construction come to be and how have you managed through the last couple months?

After VanWell had been acquired by Environmental StoneWorks, I stayed with the company for a while. But we began to realize that sort of corporate structure was more geared toward subcontractors rather than employees. So, we began thinking that it’d be in everybody’s best interest to start turning towards subcontracting. Last year, we started talking about what it would look like if I became a subcontractor and put together a plan for that. Now, I’m still subcontracting the work that I'm accustomed to doing for the last 20 years, but it has also allowed me to go out and find my own work that will help me grow as a business.

The coronavirus hit just as we were taking off the ground. We were off for a total of four weeks because of the shutdown. I was invested enough that it didn’t hurt me personally. We all got through it and now we’ve been back to work since the beginning of May. Things are looking good again.

How did you become involved with ABCWW?

I originally got involved as I was beginning to develop professionally. I was moving up in the company I was working for, and my boss encouraged me to get involved in ABCWW because he thought it would be good for me. I got on some of the councils, helped plan events, attended meetings – I didn’t expect to get a whole lot of out of it at first. But as I got to know the people that were involved in ABCWW, they were all people just like me. They were there to learn, grow and better themselves professionally. Rubbing elbows with that sort of group of people really affected my growth positively.

What have been some of the benefits of your involvement with ABCWW over the course of your career?

If I was ever having an issue with a client or needed legal advice, I knew who to call. It's been a really great resource for me just to bounce ideas off of people. Being able to get to know the other professionals in the construction industry has been invaluable. But, far and beyond, the professional development that has been afforded to me through ABCWW has been the biggest benefit. I’ve taken every class they’ve offered. You meet a great mix of people that way and I’ve gained a lot of friends through ABCWW.

Over the years, the safety training has been a huge benefit from an employer standpoint. As a matter of fact, we're working with the ABCWW office right now to get a CPR class because we’ve got to get all our guys CPR trained before their certificates expire. Every year we have to have scaffold training, ladder training… every year we all sorts of new training – ABCWW offers all that and if you're a Retro member, it's free.

You also sit on the board of the Workforce Foundation. Can you tell us about your involvement there and its connection to ABCWW?

Years back, we were having a hard time finding good help or finding any help at all. We were in the middle of a booming economy, we'd post ads on Craigslist, Indeed and elsewhere – we just weren't getting anywhere with recruitment. I had heard from someone that we could find employees through work release – people typically at the end of their sentences that were beginning to transition back into society after being incarcerated.

Then I heard about the Workforce Foundation and Danny’s program from someone in our marketing department. We ended up hiring the Workforce Foundation’s very first client. After the fact, I found out that ABCWW was also talking with the foundation and that was cool to see. At first, I got involved because of recruitment but I then began to grow more passionate about the cause and the vision – helping people, giving the formerly incarcerated a hand up and hopefully making an impact on recidivism.

ABCWW has been helping connect Workforce Foundation clients with employers searching for workers, and it’s been a win-win for both sides. We’ve also worked to bring more attention to second chance opportunities and organizations like the foundation. We were at LegCon in Washington, D.C. last year – which the national ABC organization puts on every year – and got to speak with our representatives about what kind of policies we support as an organization. The Workforce Foundation happened to come up in conversation, and that gave us an opportunity to connect the organization with supporters of that vision in D.C. as well as increase awareness around second chance organizations.

In your masonry career, is there a project that stands out as favorite?

The one that would probably be my favorite, was the first big project that I ran for VanWell Masonry as a foreman – a condominium building in Ballard. It had all this brick detail that went on it, had a ton of brick, a ton of block and a bunch of block planters up in the courtyard. I think that was my favorite because I was able to express my talent and I flourished on this project. I was on that job for about 16 months. Until then, I was a residential mason. Commercial masonry is a different world. It was a new experience for me and it opened doors to further professional development.  

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