Canadian Contractor


More on what you pay your Project Managers: David Litwiller, Litwiller Renovations and Custom Homes Ltd., Calgary, AB

"They (my PMs) were hourly paid, making $70 to $80K per year on a regular basis "

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September 16, 2019 by canadiancontractor

Hello All,

I have a lot of respect for a business person who openly shares in an effort to help others succeed. Here’s my story:

From 2005 to around 2015 we were grossing $2.5 to $3M per year. We had 3-to 5 site carpenter/foremen that essentially ran their projects with guidance from the office. They were hourly paid, making $70 to $80K per year on a regular basis and were with me 10 to 14 years full time. One fellow left for a couple of years for bluer pastures but saw the light and came back with us. Very rarely do we re-hire someone who left because it does not work out 90 per cent of the time.

Our office consisted of myself doing sales/estimating, an estimator/sales person at $80K, a front desk general support and a bookkeeper.

Total of 13 to 15 employees including apprentice carpenters. I tend to shy away from straight labourers. I want people who want to get ahead in life.

Our incentives were more geared towards learning and management opportunities and the guys generally picked up on that along with being part of a great team. I don’t know many carpenters that like working under someone’s thumb and most times they love to “run” their own projects. About twice a year I would offer to assist anyone that might want to start their own company using our forms and organizational materials. Ask and I will give. Twice I had sneaky persons take what they wanted and moved on. One of them is successful today doing what they do but I do recall years ago competing for a project and seeing my estimate sheet and agreement contract with a different name at the top. It was kind of surreal.

Every Thursday morning we had a general meeting around the shop table saw. Being late was not an option. Chairs, bar stools and saw horses. I usually got a saw horse. Together we all reviewed each job status, progress and two weeks planning ahead. This gave each person an idea of what was happening in the big picture. A guy might be a foreman this week and ordering folks around but next week he’s needed on another job and he becomes the carpenter for someone else. Keeps the egos in check for sure. For me it was very rewarding at conclusion of the meeting as I head back to my office and the guys are working together lining up next week’s work. I used Thursday so there’s still time to finish off this weeks work on site and confirm trades booked for next week.

Our projects were in the $30,000-bathroom range and up to $1MM restoration projects. Generally we were in the $100 to $350K ranges.

David Litwiller

Litwiller Renovations & Custom Homes Ltd.



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