Canadian Contractor

Good guys versus bad guys

Ethical and profitable contractors operate in particular ways. Here are some of them.

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March 9, 2018 by Steve Maxwell


Last month I made videos about four contractors who had been hired to turn around serious renovation disasters left behind by bad contractors. At least one of the bad guys was simply incompetent. Another was a crook that walked off with tens of thousands of dollars of client money without doing any work. Another of the bad guys was a truly spectacular loser. He had squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars on a three quarter million dollar renovation job, forcing the homeowners to refinance their property so they could complete the project properly starting from scratch.

Now, beyond the basics facts of these shameful disasters, I don’t know anything about the bad guys. They’re long gone. But I did get to know – and pretty well – each of the four good guys who were hired to clean up the messes. The qualities they exhibit have something to teach every contractor looking to up their game.

First, the good guys were all on the ball. They were simply great to work with. Here I was, bugging these busy men for details about a relatively minor video project, yet they made time for me. My emails were answered, phone calls happened as scheduled, and details got settled in good time. No excuses, just polite results.

The good guys also understand the value of the digital world. They all have outstanding websites; they make adept use of digital communications; they have an above-average understanding of the power of video as a tool of persuasion. They’ve all invested in professionally-designed logos. From wall to wall, they’ve built class outfits.

Commitment to proper workflow and documentation is one of the biggest differences between the good guys and the bad guys. All four of the men I dealt with understood that proper projects involve significant paperwork at the beginning and end. Where the bad guys all fired up the tools prematurely, the good guys created scope of work documents, got the jobs properly engineered and reported regularly on their progress. The good guys also collected testimonials and images after the work was done to boost sales.

The good guys I worked with all have good hearts. When the owner of one company heard that a deadbeat contractor had left construction debris all over the yard of a homeowner before walking out, he dispatch two of his guys to pick up and haul away the trash for free. Another good guy I met spent hours reviewing materials with an owner who has extreme environmental sensitivities. One good guy orchestrated volunteer labor and materials to rebuild the home of a penniless single mother who’d lost an insurance payout to a bad guy.

One reason Canada is a better country to live in than most is because we are a more honest nation than most. International surveys prove it. Being a good guy contractor goes a long way to keeping our country something to be proud of.








Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell is the tools editor for Canadian Contractor magazine. You can follow him on his website (, on Facebook or via Twitter.
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1 Comment » for Good guys versus bad guys
  1. derek says:

    Good to hear that we have reliable and honest contractors out there. We sometimes need to remember that this is hard earned and saved money from clients and we are working on their biggest asset …. well generally it is.